Ok I've completed just over 3 vacations now and I feel ready to write my review of DOAX3. First let me say that I have seen a lot of people who bought the game giving it either a 1/10 or a 10/10, as well as Destructoid giving it a 1.5. I can now say with confidence that it definitely isn't any of those.
First let's start with the negatives:
-Bass Island, the Jungle, the Accessory Shop, slot machines, the Radio Station, and Jet Ski Racing are all gone. This severely cuts down on variety in gameplay and gravure scenes, as well as removing 90% of the inexpensive gifts, the best way to make money fast, and doing away with custom sound tracks.
-Zack Dollars are now capped at Z1,500,000.
-Earning money in Owner Mode is very hard, since watching an activity only pays about a tenth of what playing it would get you.
-The game takes place on Zack Island AGAIN! They didn't even bother explaining how it got pulled out of the ocean this time. Would it kill them to give us a new setting after 3 games?
-Tandem gravure scenes are gone. No more rubbing sunscreen on your partner.
-There is an abnormal amount of hair clipping, but still not as bad as it was in earlier builds.
-Alternate hairstyles are no longer free, they must be purchased from the Sports Shop for Z1,000,000 each.
-Wearable accessories have met their demise along with the shop that once sold them.
-The gravure scene viewer is now locked behind the Owner Level system.
-The game just hasn't evolved since its 2006 predecessor. Sure it looks a hell of a lot better, but under the hood it's DOAX2 all over again right down to the user interface and the gameplay.
And now the positives:
+The new character models are a hell of a lot better than the Itagaki plastic anime doll style. This is a massive improvement since much of a DOAX game's appeal lies in its graphics.
+The new soundtrack is vastly superior to the dated, screechy '90s tunes that made up most of the previous games' soundtracks. All I miss is the Bob Marley songs, otherwise the new soundtrack does a superior job of setting the mood.
+There's still a lot more gameplay variety than the original DOAX, where you only had volleyball and pool hopping for outdoor activitites.
+Girls will no longer trash gifts they hate, they'll send them back. This is made even better by the next improvement:
+You can now re-wrap items after purchasing them or if they were sent back to you! Just take them back to the store and get them re-wrapped for a nominal fee.
+The new rock-climbing activity is fun.
+The water slide is gone. Good riddance, that thing was terrible. I would have preferred them to turn it into something less rage-inducing, but removing it entirely is almost as good.
+Owner Mode lets you watch the girls play activities and take pictures of them. The AI handles your girl while you're free to take pictures during the volleyball match or minigame.
+There are now 2 photo sessions with no time limit available at the poolside and in the hotel room.
+They got rid of the awful retro camera from DOAX2 and give you the equivalent of the state-of-the-art camera from the start. No more blurry photos or missing the prefect shot because you were busy fiddling with the camera settings!
+The girls now have full lip sync and facial animations during their arrival scenes, as well as being physically present in the hotel room.
+Unlocking the pole dance is no longer dependent on the casino. Just gift a girl 4 special tickets to unlock her pole dance. Keep in mind the tickets are universally hated by the girls, so it might take a little while.
+You no longer need to buy expensive tickets to unlock the activities, they're available from the start for free.
+High Owner Model levels unlock cool stuff, like the ability to freeze time during photo mode.
+Gifts are now much less critical to making the girls happy, they now actually enjoy playing activities with you instead of requiring daily presents.
+Zack of All Trades is now open from the start of the vacation, which is good since it is now your only source of non-swimsuit gifts.
+Volleyball difficulty no longer skyrockets to batshit insane during the last 4 days. You can now play right up to the end with a reasonable expectation of winning.
+Controls for Beach Flags have been simplified for the better. You no longer need to alternate between 2 buttons to run.
+Each girl now has a special ending cut scene that can be unlocked if you get her to 100% satisfaction. The closest I've gotten so far was 97% with Nyotengu.
Overall I'm giving the game a 6/10. It's a fun, well-made, enjoyable diversion, but nothing you'll put on a nostalgia pedestal and remember as one of the greatest games of all time. I will also say that it does have a lot more appeal than the score I gave it would seem to indicate, I'm having a lot of fun with it despite its shortcomings and don't regret spending $70 on it. But as a game it gets a 6 (Good). If you're a DOAX fan and want a graphically updated DOAX experience, I'd absolutely recommend it. But if you just want a great ecchi game and don't mind violence in your island vacation, I'd say pick up Senran Kagura: Estival Versus, which is superior as a game. There's not nearly as much game in DOAX3 as there is in SKEV. But then again, one doesn't really buy a DOAX game for the gameplay.