With all due respect to the PlayStation Vita (and as everyone who knows me knows, I have a lot of respect for the PlayStation Vita), when it came to rendering “realistic” people, the console hit its limits. When it came to abstract visuals, such as games like Oreshika, the PlayStation Vita gave us some brilliant, visually vibrant and detailed games. But when it came to realism, it always fell just short.
I say this because now, with Dead or Alive Xtreme 3: Scarlet on the Nintendo Switch, we finally have the Xtreme sub-series in a portable form that does its stunning character models justice. Smooth skin, detailed hair and faces, and stunning beaches are all present and correct, with a minimal and barely noticeable drop in fidelity from what the powerful PlayStation 4 offers. You’ll get strange looks if you play this one in public (people will wonder why you’re not playing something wholesome like the murder simulator Fortnite instead), but, whatever. Having Marie Rose with me everywhere is the clearly the pinnacle of technological achievement, and right from the moment humankind invented the wheel, way back in the stone ages, our progress as a species has been to this point (until SEGA gets around to giving me Project Diva Future Tone on my Switch, at any rate). You can bet that I’ll be playing this a whole lot, everywhere.
Dead or Alive Xtreme 3: Scarlet is basically the same game that was released as Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 on the PlayStation 4 a few years ago, with all the patches and content additions since then built into the game. It’s missing the VR that was added to the PlayStation 4 release, but otherwise, everything is present and correct. Additionally, there are a couple of additional women added to the roster. One of the two is Leifang, one of the most popular and enduring Dead or Alive characters who missed the cut for the original game to many’s great disappointment. The other is Misaki, a woman that was created specifically for the PC version of Dead or Alive Xtreme 3, and has never actually participated in the main fighting games yet. She’s gorgeous too. I wouldn’t be surprised if she ends up being Dead or Alive 6 DLC down the track.
It’s the weekend. Be sure to dance and be merry <3 #DOAX3S #NintendoSwitch pic.twitter.com/JeMzHsYyR0
— Digisexual for Hatsune Miku 🇯🇵 (@DigitallyDownld) March 22, 2019
Other than those additions, it’s essentially the same game. You buy your favourite swimsuits for your favourite women (either using in-game currency, or splashing out for a special “premium” costume using real money). Then you play little minigames, ranging from impromptu gravure photo sessions to beach volleyball, rock climbing to tug-of-war, as ways to pass the time as you lounge around the most decadent and gorgeous tropical island resort you can imagine. As you do that, chill music plays in the background, and each in-game night you can head on over to the casino to play some poker, blackjack, and roulette for additional cash.
Across each 14-day “holiday,” you’ll choose one girl to tag along with, and you’ll be given “missions” to complete in order to level up, improve the satisfaction of your buddy, and, if you do well enough at that, you’ll eventually get treated to a private pole dance (yes, you read that right). Then you’ll get to choose another character and do it all over again. Despite the presence of those missions, there’s no penalty for failing, and there’s no overt pressure to complete them if you’d rather do something else. It’ll take a little longer to unlock everything, of course, but really, the point of Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 is simply to chill anyway, so the team behind the game have gone out of their way to make it as un-gamey as possible.
It goes without saying at this point that Dead or Alive Xtreme 3: Scarlet is for a very niche audience, and it’ll never be properly released in the west, because Koei Tecmo simply doesn’t want to deal with the social fallout of taking this sort of game to more puritan cultures than Japan. My own thoughts on Dead or Alive and its sexiness are pretty well known at this point, I’d imagine, but as a virtual pin-up simulator, I find Xtreme 3 to be far less uncomfortable than the hyperviolence of so much else that gets released on these consoles. There’s certainly a lot that can be said about Xtreme 3 – there’s a mode specifically designed purely for ogling the girls, and they’ll start to complain if you linger too long on their crotch or chest… and yet there’s no actual consequence to doing that. At other times, if one of the women likes a swimsuit you’ve gifted her, she’ll change into it right away while you shut your eyes… except you’re absolutely encouraged to try and sneak a peek. This kind of stuff would absolutely make some people uncomfortable, and certainly deserves to be part of the ongoing conversation about how women characters and depictions of their bodies are made in games.
However, as with everything to do with Dead or Alive, I find Xtreme 3 to be so over the top and hyperbolic in tone that it’s hard to take seriously as… well, erotica. It’s more playful and silly, and so completely laid-back and relaxed. Over the years one of the main reasons that I keep coming back to Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 is precisely because, after a long day or week of work, having something that isn’t there to challenge or stimulate my brain is a great pressure release. It’s not just that I love the Dead or Alive characters so much – I do, but there’s more to the appeal of this game to me. It’s also about the glamorous tropical island and the warm, vibrant music that really helps to remind me of similar tropical holidays I’ve taken in the past. Australia has plenty of islands and resorts that offer the exact same experience as Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 (minus Marie Rose, sadly). Lounging around and enjoying the sun while at a beach is the near-perfect holiday. With a beer or six, playing a game that takes me to that kind of place is pure relaxation.
It’s genuinely impressive how good the port to the Switch has turned out. The girls’ character models, and their swimwear, is rendered brilliantly on the Switch’s screen, with no clear loss of fidelity, other than an odd quirk where their mouths don’t always seem to move while they’re talking. People who are worried about importing don’t need to – the game is also fully localised into English, so as long as your console is set to English as the main language, you’ll be able to play with subtitles and menu items in your language.
It’s rare that I’m still playing a game frequently three years after release, but I’m still playing Dead or Alive Xtreme 3. Frequently. I’m going to prefer the Switch version, because I find the Switch to be the more relaxing console to play games on, and this is a relaxing game through-and-through. In other words, it’s a match made in heaven. All I need now is for Koei to add Nico from Dead or Alive 6 to the roster via DLC, and I’ll have the perfect complement to my favourite fighting game.
– Matt S.
Find me on Twitter: @digitallydownld