A Year in Games: Project X Zone (3DS)

12:44 AM

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The big mashup of Capcom, Sega and Namco-Bandai has it's turn in the spotlight! 
Essentially a love letter to their fans, Project X Zone takes some of the most well known characters from each company's vast library of games and throws them all into a single game. With 60 "playable" characters, and a total of over 200 characters in the game, fans of these company can more or less be sure to recognize a good number of these characters.
Project X Zone is a triple-threat (Capcom, Namco-Bandai, Sega) cross over strategical rpg. The battle system, which I'll cover later in the post, is really unique and is an interesting take on the combat system. Most major franchises of each company is covered, though there are a few exceptions. Not including enemy characters, each company has 12 playable characters and 6 non-playable characters. Characters are paired into units, sometimes from similar games, sometimes not. The additional 6 from each company are solo characters, free radical characters that can join a pair to give passive effects, skills and assists during battle. 

From Capcom, the main games are Street Fighter, Dark Stalkers and Megaman. 
  • Street Fighter: Ryu, Ken, Chun Li, Juri
  • Dark Stalkers: Morrigan, Hsien-Ko, Dmitri
  • Resident Evil: Chris, Jill
  • Megaman: X, Zero, Tron Bonne & Servbots
  • Dead Rising: Frank West
  • Devil May Cry: Dante, Lady
  • Rival Schools: Batsu
  • Ghosts 'n' Goblins: Arthur
  • Cyberbots: Devilotte 
From Namco-Bandai, the main game is Tekken, though other franchises are represented.
  • Tekken: Jin, Xiaoyu, Heihachi, Alisa B.
  • Tales of Vesperia: Yuri, Estellise, Flynn
  • God Eater: Soma, Alisa, Lindow 
  • .hack: Kite, Black Rose
  • Xenosaga: KOS-MOS, T-elos
  • Endless Frontier: Haken, Kaguya
  • Namco x Capcom: Reiji, Xiaomu, Saya
  • Super Robot Wars OG: Sanger
  • Valkyrie no Boken: Valkyrie
  • Yumeria: Neneko/Neito
Sega brings mostly characters from many of their older games, as well as some characters from their much more recent games.
  • Valkyria Chronicles 3:  Kurt, Riela, Imca
  • Resonance of Fate (End of Eternity): Zephyr, Leanne, Vashyron
  • Sakura Wars: Ichiro, Sakura, Gemini, Erica
  • Virtua Fighter: Akira, Pai
  • Shining Force EXA: Toma, Cyrille
  • Space Channel 5: Ulala
  • Dynamite Cop: Bruno
  • Zombie Revenge: Rikiya
  • Fighting Vipers: Genghis Bahn III
I'm sure most people who have been playing games for long enough will know that there are probably better characters than some of those on the list. From Capcom, how about Onimusha or Breath of Fire? Namco-Bandai with no Soul Calibur? Sega...sega...I don't know what else who else they could have thrown in.

The battle system really sets this one out from the average S-RPG. Battles are done on a 2D fighting game-esque screen, akin to something like Street Fighter or Dark Stalkers. Each unit has 5 different attacking skills which are imputted using 2 button commands. Enemies will be launched into the air, or bounced off the wall (side of the screen), allowing you to chain your attacks together and build up your combo (and damage) as well as an ability meter which is shared by all your controlled characters. Commands are simple button combinations, A+D Pad right, left, up, down or neutral. Moves can have special attributes which you'll want to capitolize on. Poison, Stun and Down all will come in extremely useful when in combat. Hit the enemies just before they hit the ground, and you'll score a critical hit, doing significantly more damage, breaking guards and building more meter. It's something you'll want to get good at, because it'll help take out enemies much quicker than regular attacks would. A nearby unit can join the battle as an extra assist, breaking guards or building meter.

The battles are beautifully animated with detailed 2D sprites harkening back to the days of sprite animated fight games, like the older Capcom and SNK fighting games (think SNES era). The characters comically fly and bounce around the screen when hit, and your own units (the pairs) will bounce around together as a single entity which is pretty funny to watch. The "supers", skills useable only once you've topped off your special bar, are always a treat to watch because of all the animations.

While the visual aspects of the game are great, the story is nothing to write home about. It's to be expected, considering they've taken characters from all over and thrown them into once game. It's actually impressive that they've managed to construct a story that somewhat logically (suspend your ideas of logic for the time being) connects and brings in all the characters.

Another flaw of the game is it's difficulty curve. Rather than making the AI better as you progress, they throw more enemies at you, to the point where you're often outnumbers 4:1. It makes stages go by unbelievably slow, as you'll often be cutting through some 20+ enemies units. The enemies are simple enough. The standard enemy unit might have a shield you have to punch through, but most don't. Low level enemies won't use any skills, but the higher level ones will. These higher level ones can take a long time to whittle down as they can fire off skills with their own meter, and have as much HP as some bosses do. On the topic of bosses, these enemies have ridiculously huge amounts of HP. You can typically expect to deal about 20-25 thousand damage per unit attack if you're lucky. Bosses, especially towards the end, have upwards of 120,000 HP, making taking them down a long battle. Each chapter also is more or less structured the same way: you begin with an objective, and half way through that objective will change, bringing another wave of enemies in. The battles, which were really interesting and fun earlier in the game become tedious as you have to punch the same commands in over and over to grind your way through a stage.

Flaws aside, it's a good and fun game, especially for those who are fans of these companies. I don't recommend marathonning it, or it's repetitiveness will catch up to you really quick. It's combat system is easily it's best feature, but does make it a difficult game to play on the bus. Combat can be paused, but catching an enemy after unpausing is a feat in itself.

Project X Zone was released June 25th, 2013 and is only on the 3DS.

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