A Totally Xtreme Calendar

The Dead or Alive series is regarded by some as a first-rate, aggressively fun line of fighting games, while others see it as overrated, generic pabulum based on nothing more than simple, back-and-forth gameplay. Yet neither camp will deny that, high quality or not, Dead or Alive features some of the gaming world’s most unabashed attempts at sex appeal, with an ever-expanding lineup of buxom, heavy-chested female characters. Though there are some men in the DoA roster, no one pretends that the game’s attention is and always has been directed at anything other than Hitomi, Kasumi, Tina, Helena, Ayame, and any other voluptuous lasses that Tecmo’s Team Ninja have created for the latest game in the franchise.

And that latest game just happens to be Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball, in which all of the girls spike, serve, and wear even less than they do when fighting. And what, some Tecmo think tank probably asked, would be the best way to promote this attempt at making the athletic, sparingly clad women of Sega’s Beach Spikers look like ninety-year-old nuns by comparison?

Why not a calendar? Sports Illustrated has their swimsuit issues, so shouldn’t the Dead or Alive gals fare just as well in their own catalogue of sensual poses and tropical backdrops? Someone important apparently answered “yes,” and now, amid the stacks of strategy guides at your local game vendor, you just might find (no lie) the Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball 2003 Calendar.

 Comparisons between this publication and those featuring real-life women aren’t quite accurate, however, as the Dead or Alive calendar lacks any degree of sensuality. All of the females are rendered in a smooth, blatantly curvaceous style, but their computer-generated look is so artificial that they’re about as sexy as a Barbie doll. Perhaps there’s some allure to the way the girls animate in the games, but they’re little more than mannequins when placed in a static capacity. Granted, you might mistake Christie, Lei Fang, Ayame, and their ilk for flesh-and-blood models when you’re standing several feet away from the calendar and squinting, but a closer look reveals only an impressive example of video game graphics. It’s likely to titillate only hormone-crazed early adolescents, who I think are horribly spoiled by today’s video games. When I was an awkward preteen, we didn’t have volleyball titles stocked with jiggling 3-D women! We had to ogle the referee in Super Spike V-Ball! And we thought she was hot, dammit!

Anyway, there’s also the superfluous question of how well this thing holds up as an actual calendar, in which case it's fairly cheap. The light colors make it easy to write on (which is more than I can say for the largely black d├ęcor of the H.R. Giger collection that I used for 2002), but the pages aren’t nearly as sturdy as a usual calendar, and the whole thing seems in danger of falling off of the wall when it has only a single flimsy page to hold up the weight of the following months.

The calendar really isn't worth an in-store price of fifteen bucks, though it’s not a bad collectible if you can get it as a promotional giveaway with Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball for the Xbox. Yet I wouldn’t worry if you miss out, as it's little more than a semi-useful bonus and an tribute to how far Tecmo will go to capitalize on the T & A element of Dead or Alive. As such, only fans of the series will want to bother with this extra, and they might be better off saving up for Dead or Alive Wet T-Shirt Dodgeball or whatever else Team Ninja has in mind.