You know that old Cyndi Lauper song Girls Just Wanna Have Fun? The way it gives you a ridiculous smile and overall warm fuzzy feels? That’s how I feel every time I load up DOA Xtreme 3 Fortune. I’m about to have a fun, lighthearted time playing silly beach games and collecting bathing suits.
And there is not a damn thing wrong with my feels.
It’s back to Zack Island for 14 day long vacations, where the goal is to partner up and push for that 100% complete collection with each of the 9 DOA women who made the cut. I’m really missing Leifang and Tina right now, and while I can see why Marie Rose topped the polls, I find her to be the most difficult partner so far and am leaving her vacation for last. If only voting had been open outside of the Japanese Playstation Store! Things probably would have been a lot different in that case.
I still believe that at its core DOAX3 is a volleyball game, which is why I’m going to talk about that first. As with previous installments, matches are won once hit 7 points (or a 2 point lead up to 10 points). Technique points can be earned for perfect serves, spikes, and knock-downs once you’ve reached good standing with your partner, and even if you lose you won’t walk away completely empty-handed. Momiji and Kokoro are probably my two favourites at the moment, as I feel both are strong all-around players. As you cycle through each character and test out different partners for each, you’ll find some are better closer to the net than others, some have more powerful punches for long volleys and others are great for defense and spiking.
There are other activities you can do on the island. Solo, there’s rock climbing at Tranquil Beach. In this mini-game, the PS buttons appear on screen like a quick-time event and if you push the button fast enough you will move more quickly and receive a cash bonus. On either of the beaches that offer volleyball, you can also play beach flags. This one is a button masher, as you need to outrun your opponent and then dive for the flag.
Over at the pool you’ll find Pool Hopping (my personal favourite), Tug-of-War, and Butt Battle. You can pool hop on your own, but it’s so much more fun when you compete against someone. The other two are OK, but I tend to only play them when it’s required for a mission. A nice bonus if you are a fan of either of those mini-games is that bikinis will take damage when you are knocked into the water if you have the Fortune version of DOAX3.
Another thing that I am in love with is the tanning system in DOAX3 Fortune. Exposure to the sun will naturally tan your skin, which you can hurry along with suntan lotion or try to stop with sunscreen. I haven’t experimented with either of those as I love changing from higher coverage swimsuits to some of the more revealing ones and then watching as those tan lines start to fade away. I wish I knew why I loved watching this happen, but I really can’t give you a reason. Besides, does a person really need to have a solid reason for liking things?
The casino is back but the absence of Rio has left a major hole in my heart. What’s a casino without a dealer, anyway? I think DOA Paradise ultimately spoiled me. Blackjack, Poker, and Roulette are the three games available to play in the casino. Slot machines are gone, another change that I don’t know I was ready for, but I’m still pretty decent at blackjack and poker.
DOAX3 has two modes: Girl Mode, which is where you control the girl you’ve selected and earn money for them to spend, and then Owner Mode. In Owner Mode, Zack gives you missions to perform in exchange for cash the owner can spend on the girls. Sometimes the missions are super easy, eat/drink an item in Girl Mode, Play and/or Win X many volleyball games. Other times they are a pain in my butt, like when your challenged to gift a specific bikini from the owner shop to one of the girls and have her accept it. The girls need time to warm up to you, so if you haven’t been playing with them for long it’s a hell of a lot more difficult to have them accept stuff they dislike. But as you complete these missions and increase your Owner Level, you’ll unlock new items for the girls’ collections.
Some people look at the DOA volleyball games and immediately dismiss any ideas that there might be any level of fun to these games. I pity the fools. If you are so incapable of looking past the cosmetic, so insecure in who you are to feel threatened by a group of women playing beach games as so many people do in real life, then I suggest maybe other things in your life deserve more attention than turning to the internet to bash on what I and several like-minded women find to be an enjoyable way to de-stress.
Unfortunately, the only way you can get your hands on DOAX3 is to import yourself a copy. Fortune is the PS4 version, Venus its PS Vita counterpart. If your Japanese is strong, you won’t need to go the multi-language Asian (HK/Taiwan/Singapore) version route the way I and so many others have. There are differences between these; tanning and bikini damage is exclusive to the PS4 version, where you can use the touch screen on the Vita to manipulate the swimsuits to a degree. My review coverage is based purely on Fortune as I have not yet picked up Venus.
As much as I would love to stick around, I really need to update my swimsuit & Zack of All Trades collection spreadsheets. There are so many more bathing suits I need to get my hands on (I’m coming for you, Cu Sith!!!) and I can’t afford them if I’m not playing.
*This review was previously published on The Daily Crate.