Project X Zone is one of those rare titles that nobody ever thought was possible to release. Never before was it believed that three of gaming’s most beloved companies would ever bring some of their biggest franchises together into a single game. That is until Capcom, Namco Bandai, and SEGA joined forces to bring us an interesting SPRG title for Nintendo’s 3DS system, one that will keep hardcore fans of any company occupied for a long time. Pair this up with an original story and tons of fan service, and you have a great recipe for a handheld SPRG title that many long time gamers will take a liking to.
For those unfamiliar with the premise of Project X Zone, the game brings together characters from the universes of Capcom’s, SEGA’s, and Namco’s big franchises. Players can expect to see appearances from the likes of Ryu and Ken from Street Fighter, Heihachi Mishima and Jin Kazama from Tekken, and even Kite and Blackrose from the .Hack games. There are many faces from throughout the three companies’ history that will have some long time gamers feeling a sense of nostalgia and excitement. However instead of playing like any of the titles it draws faces from, Project X Zone instead plays like a strategy role-playing game (SRPG), where characters move along a field and do battle with enemies in turns and phases. This is similar to a previous game developed by Namco and Capcom for the PS2 called Namco X Capcom, where the battle system and story premise are similar in nature.
The story of the game isn’t really complicated, but has a long drawn out anime-like feel to it. With more than 40 chapters to go through, players will come into contact with a ton of different characters that span through many different games. And while at times the timing of some appearances or events can feel a tiny bit cliché or expected, just about every character gets some screen time to let their presence be felt. As you progress through each chapter, more and more characters from more games become available to use and customize with different equipment and items.
The gameplay of Project X Zone is almost identical to games like Namco X Capcom on PS2 and Super Robot Wars on Nintendo DS. Characters are put into teams and move along a battlefield in spaces and get into combat with enemies in a turn-based like battle system. Attacking enemies takes players into a side view where characters have a certain number of attacks to bust out on the enemy before their turn is over. This is further enhanced by support characters that can be called in to battle alongside units and unleash a flurry of attacks for even more damage.
Yet the craziness is taken even further with the use of Super Attacks, which not only do massive amounts of damage to enemies, but also involve a very sleek looking animation sequence unique to each team of characters. These attacks look spectacular on screen and can make for some great eye candy outside of the over-the-top view of the maps.
Yet Project X Zone is far from a perfect game without faults. Many of the battles in further chapters of the game can be really drawn out and take a very long time to complete. At the same time, while there is a leveling system that helps open up new attacks for characters, getting into battles can become very redundant quickly and lose a lot of momentum. Some people may find themselves completely skipping over animations for the sake of moving things along at a faster pace and getting to the next chapter. A big detrimental factor to Project X Zone however is the dialogue sections of the game. There is some Japanese voice acting in various spots throughout the game that many will appreciate, particularly each time a new character shows up in the main plot.
However, it’s the written dialogue sections that really start to get jumbled up together because of the amount of characters commenting on what is happening. During story sections in-between chapters, the main group of characters will be discussing what is happening, but rather than a few having a conversation, instead every single character will comment on the subject matter. This can be a little bit comical at times because of how it makes the story feel more in line with an old school 80s or early 90s Saturday morning cartoon, rather than a concise and exciting cross-over RPG story.
Project X Zone is a special game that tries to bring together some of the best characters hardcore fans of Capcom, SEGA, and Namco have loved throughout the years. Much like many fan-fiction stories out there, the charm of Project X Zone comes from the sensation of wondering who will show up next. Those who don’t really have background knowledge of many of the characters who appear in the game will feel a bit disconnected from everything going on, but hardcore fans will love seeing the many characters interact with each other. The SPRG gameplay won’t really excite newcomers into jumping on board, but the game has enough good elements that will appeal to gamers who have played previous SRPG titles. Those looking for a different kind of game to add to their 3DS library will find something interesting to experience here.
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This review of Project X Zone was played on the Nintendo 3DS.