Backlog Gaming: Project X (Cross) Zone

11:00 PM

60 hours, I've spent on this game. 60 hours. I'd say, playing extremely well, and skipping avoidable battles, you could probably finish this one in a minimum of 40 hours? You'd have to be playing really, really well, and skip a lot of the animated supers to shave off as much time as possible.

This has been one hell of a game. Crossing games from Capcom, Bandai-Namco, and Sega is no easy task. They managed to stitch together a working story (note 'working', not 'good') that ties all the different games into one. It reads like a big, ambitious fan fiction, but serves it purpose just fine. The real draw of this game is seeing all the crazy action and interactions between characters and companies. Some pairings really just work too well and lead to some funny conversations.

The guts of the game, the combat is what really differentiates it from other SRPGs. While the overview is typical, grid based movement, the combat is active, combo-based fighting game-esque. You input simple commands to get a 'move', with up to 6 moves per battle. You also get a solo unit as an assist, as well as a support pair if you're near to another pair unit, calling back to games like MvC's assists. It has all sorts of crazy mechanics in this, such as when you can score critical hits, or ways to build up meter to pull off the powerful super skills. The combat adds a welcome element of skill to the game, but as cool and interesting as it is, it eventually, and rather quickly, becomes increasingly difficult, repetitive and tedious.

The neat battle mechanics make it unique, but also work against PXZ. Battles take long, require concentration and attention, and, especially in the last handful of chapters, you'll be faced with several dozen of them per chapter. Chapters take at least 2 hours, because of all the characters on the map need to take their turn, and believe me, the game has no problem throwing several dozen enemies at you. There isn't really cannon fodder either, once you're in the late game, as you really need to be able to reliably land critical hits, which really up your damage output, to be able to take out the weaker enemies in one character turn.

The chapters can be quite frustrating as they're almost always multi-stage. You start off given a mission objective of "Defeat all enemies". 8 turns later, a boss warps in, bringing about 15 new enemies, changing your objective to something like "Reach the destination within X turns". Once you get there, another boss shows up, bringing along even more enemies, changing the objective to 'Defeat the boss', accompanied by the title drop of the chapter. That's a typical mission progression, which can really grind your gears when the intrigue of the combat has worn off.

A tip for those interested in the game. If the objective isn't to kill everything, don't try. I don't remember much of the early game, but the last chapter's objective is to defeat the final boss. All the regular enemies on screen, however, are all bosses from the previous chapters, meaning they're all packing over 100,000 HP, hit pretty hard and number well past 20. There's really no way to beat all of them, so I made a bee-line with a small hit-squad of nearby units to chip through the final bosses 200,000 HP and 10 square long shield. I ended up beating his ugly face in with the final hit of Kogoro and Mii's (main pair unit) super. Spent the entire super animation dreading the thought of leaving the boss with a few hundred HP (easily dealt with when your characters average 10-20,000 damage per turn), and being 1HKO'd by his counter super. If the main pair unit goes down, it's game over and boy, that last chapter is not one I want to do ever again.

I started this game almost 2 years ago, when it released on my birthday back in 2012. I think I got about 3/4 of the way through before putting it down for a good year or so after getting really tired of how long chapters and battles got. To the story's credit, it's kind of tough to know what's going on, or what will happen because of all the crazy stuff that happens.

Like Bravely Default, a big driving reason to finish the game was the reveal of PXZ 2, which likely will be localised, but no word on when it'll be released state-side. With Atlus now part of Sega, I'm hoping for them to make an appearance in the game. They fit the requirements, are generally rather popular and fit the rest of the cast.

Next game I'm working on will either be Etrian Odyssey 4 or Cave Story, neither of which I'm particularly looking forwards to.

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