Who Am I in Dead or Alive Xtreme 3? Or, Why I Want to Pretend to be a Girl on Holidayon October 12, 2016 by Oscar TK
I can appreciate video games as a form of escapism as much as the next guy. I absolutely love that about them. I’m one of those disgusting nerds that would sometimes just walk around JRPG towns with no purpose, just chilling, taking in the world slowly.
The Dead or Alive Xtreme series can very much be about taking a nice relaxing break from the in your face punching and terrific kicks of the main fighting series proper. But I can’t get that out of Dead or Alive Xtreme 3.
The reason is a little weird. It’s because, more than anything, I want to be a girl. Well, not just a girl. I want to be one of the 9 girls proverbially “on offer” in Dead or Alive Xtreme 3. I want a vacation from both my life and more trying games. These girls are on vacation on Zack’s new island (literally titled New Zack Island). It’s a perfect match. Let’s vacation together and have a lovely time. Get in a few rounds of butt battle or pool hopping or whatever. It sounds great. And it looks like it will deliver at first. Relaxing island noises, tropical music, warm colours, a lackadaisical pace. But again, I can’t get behind all of this. But really though, Oscar, why can’t you get behind this? Because I don’t know who the fuck I am anymore, okay!?
Take it easy, I’m not having an identity crisis. Well, I am, but only in-game, which is fine, because it’s an escape. Except, it isn’t. Because I’m constantly flung between two worlds in Dead or Alive Xtreme 3, and I have no idea what I’m meant to be feeling most of the time.
Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 has two modes. “Girl Mode” sees you stepping into the shoes (or feet I guess as they’re in swimsuits without sandals or anything 24/7) of the girl you’ve chosen. You actively participate in the mini-games, you relax, you can pick out your own items and swimsuits as you please, spending those sweet, sweet Zack dollars.
But there’s also “Owner Mode” a more hands off approach where you’re meant to be the girl’s manager or something. You can still do pretty much all of the same stuff as in Girl Mode, but at a distance. If you choose to relax, you watch the girl doing it and can take photos. You choose a mini-game and you watch them play it themselves, taking photos if you so choose. You can buy things with a separate wallet of Zack Coins to gift to the girls.
The Owner takes the lead in the Casino, a collection of gambling mini-games that involve the girls but don’t even model them in-game, just using portraits of them instead. This is where you will lose all your money, along with your chances at wooing the girls, all without even the benefit of chilling with 3D models of the girls in the Casino. It’s bleak and dark. Gambling, are you? As punishment, you get some weird, more budget version of the game. I’d say “no thank you, I have 42 All Time Classics (AKA Clubhouse Games) on Nintendo DS, I don’t need any of this”, except it’s pretty much the way to make some of that sweet, sweet owner cash which you need for a bunch of Zack’s missions. Ahhhhhhhhh!
Owner Mode is all fine and dandy as a mode in and of itself, but a bit too passive for my taste. The main issue? You can constantly flick between them pretty much wherever you are in the menus (and a lot of the game is menus) by pressing the touch pad. Well, it’s not that you can, it’s that you’ve kinda gotta. As I mentioned before, missions frequently require you to be one of the other. I’m constantly pushed back and forth. Rather than relaxing, I’m dealing with an identity crisis over here. It’s not that the line between Girl Mode and Owner Mode isn’t very clear. It’s all too clear. And it’s happy to shove me over the line as it pleases.
I simply can’t relax and settle down into a role in Dead or Alive Xtreme 3. I want to be able to drift away under the summer sun and enjoy a lovely holiday, but instead I’m constantly flung into doing dodgy PR for Zack, and then losing my wages in his own Casino. Rather than getting away from my problems, it keeps pulling me back into problems that hit a little too close to home. Senran Kagura: Estival Versus might have fast paced ninja battles, but it’s way more of a relaxing experience to me.
At the end of the day I play games like this for the escapism. And if I don’t know what I’m escaping into it’s kind of hard for me to enjoy as a relaxing experience. I just want to pretend to be a pretty girl having a lovely holiday and enjoying some friendly competitive sports and games with her friends. The best I can get in real life is a discount holiday at Pontin’s Holiday Park off-season, and I’m on the blacklist now so I can’t even get that. Well, it’s not like they accept Zack Coins anyway…