The whole Dead or Alive: Volleyball
series has been continuously presented as one of the worst things ever made. They're little more than mountains of disgusting fan service, tied together with a microfiber-thin story and with no actual game to be found. Their mere existence demeans the equally fanservicey, but still awesome fighting series, and they should be stricken from this earth with fire and salt.
And then I picked up this unholy abomination for two bucks, just to finally see for myself. And after a couple hours, it struck me. The game isn't all that good... but it's not fucking terrible, either.
Granted, most of the criticism is perfectly valid. The plot is unspeakably stupid, especially compared to the "great for a fighting game" story from the main games. Everything pretty much exists just to excuse a bunch of martial artists running around an island for two weeks in the smallest bikinis ever imagined. And yet, it works. Really, there's not much to complain about technically. The graphics aren't that impressive, but then again, it's a first-generation 360 game. The controls are responsive, and some of the games are actually not that bad. (Except for that "flag race" game. It can go to hell.) I actually love the volleyball here; it's basic, but still a lot of fun.
As I mentioned, there's not a whole lot to the game. The premise is spread pretty thin to accommodate the fourteen game days. The developers tried to compensate by making you grind for just about everything. It's over 500,000 points. Want to give your partner a new swimsuit? You have to grind up your relationship values to a relentless degree, and even then, it's almost pure luck if she'll accept.
I also rented the PSP port, Paradise,
just to see the difference. A lot of features and items were removed, but the things that remained were improved significantly. In particular, most of the grinding was eliminated; it's now far easier to get credits and unlock features. The new character, Rio, doesn't particularly fit the motif, but then again, it's just fanservice.
Once again, these are not great games, but they're not horrible. They're decent time wasters, and for what they are, actually pretty fun at times. If you can get past the blatant eye candy, grab a copy for next to nothing and give it a try.