Tomonobu Itagaki has been accused of inappropriate behaviour recently. This is the man who brought us Dead or Alive Extreme Beach Volleyball – along with developing numerous lady models etc. He’s one of the most flamboyant games studio staffers (especially of such a high profile, even if he’s no longer with Tecmo) out there, but if this accusation is true, obviously his behaviour leaves a lot to be desired. Do, however, his games?
Dead Or Alive (since 3 at least) has had a strong focus on the ladies. No other beat-em-up (Rumble Roses excepted, pictured below) has as many female playable characters. The models have invariably looked good too. What about the notorious age system and physics though? Whilst there are some spurious hentai games out there in the Far East, only DOA really offers scintillating ladies with their own gravity generating bosoms… that can be changed via the age rating. Crank it up to 99 and you’ll see something rather strange happen to their décolletage. What does this say about games?
Well, games are a new media. They are as a form of entertainment less than a third of the age of celluloid. So movies are now over 100, TV about 60ish and radio is older than that. Nonetheless, I’d suggest games matured remarkably quickly. The first sign of that coming of age was Sony making sure gaming became mass-market. Say what you like fanboys, this was a very powerful move – the business effects can still be felt today. This includes the way in which games have interfaced into popular culture and of course the strength of the Sony brand.
Another sign of maturity of the industry is branching out, franchising and technological development. Whilst the two former statements may sound contradictory, they aren’t. Think of it as organic process finding, answering questions like ‘what works?‘ and ‘what do people want?‘. Creative industries have growing pains. Is DOA a sign of this? I don’t think so. Much like any other product, it is serving a need – playing on our desires (sex being one of our most basic). Sex sells – though this doesn’t change the understated gameplay. Whilst I can’t see this product changing greatly in the future, perhaps we could see more of a focus on gameplay than on a skin-flick.
Essentially though, Dead or Alive Xtreme 2 falls down simply because it is just okay; ultimately falling down as it falls short of what it is aspiring to. It still worries me that the games industry is still modelling itself on Hollywood for some reason, but that’s an analysis for another time. Learn from the mistakes guys and gals and make the industry into something even greater than it already is.