Game Reviews Nintendo 3DS Project X Zone

Project X Zone Greg Schardein Featured

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Written by Greg Schardein     June 30, 2013    
 
6.2
 
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Release Date
June 25, 2013
MSRP $
39.99
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Possibly the largest mash-up of videogame characters in one game. Does the gameplay hold up to its epic roster or should you X this game off your list?

The first information I ever received on Project X Zone was in a YouTube video I’d happened upon earlier this year. The lengthy trailer I witnessed coupled epic sounding music, characters from multiple franchises, and some seriously badass-looking combat that looked straight out of a fighting game (not to mention the number of characters that showed up from fighting games). My first thoughts were that not only did I have to get my hands on the game, but that the meshing of RPG and fighting game was something I hadn’t seen before (I’ve seen my share of mash ups such as Shin Megami Tensai: Devil Survivor’s mixing of tactical and classic RPG styles or Sigma Star Saga and its strange mash up of classic RPG with shoot-em-up gameplay). After a bit of research, I then discovered Namco x Capcom on teh internets and found myself wondering why I hadn’t heard anything about the series until now.

Having finally received my copy of Project X Zone, I began my trek through the quirky RPG adventure in hopes of yet another wonderful 3DS title to keep in my 3DS case. Essentially two factors would be all that I needed to determine the worth of this game: was it a worthy tactical RPG and were the fighting elements strong enough to make the game’s twist more than a forced gimmick. Unfortunately, I wasn’t as thrilled with the resulting gameplay as I was hoping to be.

First of all, I went into the game knowing that the story would be something absolutely bizarre, and not the major selling point of the game. I know that in any mash-up, story takes a backseat to gameplay and the notion of having several characters from different franchises on screen at any given time is the main draw. Thus, Project X Zone didn’t surprise me with a stellar story and that was completely okay. The story centers around dimensional warping from game to game and thus you’ll see familiar locations from the characters’ respective games (which was a very enjoyable portion of the game). I also enjoyed the dialogue at times.

In terms of a tactical RPG, though, the game feels like a bare bones shell of other RPGs on the market. Though there are a large number of characters with unique moves and such, each has essentially the same generic results. Thus, though different characters will give you different dialogue and animations, effectiveness is not really dictated upon the individual characters but almost entirely upon your success in each individual battle as well as the placing of your units on the map.

There are a few unique tactical aspects of the game including the XP system which allows you to gain experience and bonuses based on your battle success. You can then use XP to trigger special attacks during battle or trigger actions outside of battle (such as countering or blocking an enemy attack). Another element involves attacking enemies while within close proximity to an ally unit on the battlefield. This will allow you to call them in for a support attack in the vein of a fighting game. Characters do gain levels and learn new moves but since the game features chapter-driven gameplay without a world map, levels become of less importance along the way as you’ll gain them at a rather constant rate through your journey.

Though the tactical gameplay wasn’t anything to write home about, the battles were really of the utmost importance to me. I had hoped that these interactions featured gameplay that mimicked that of fighting games. What I found out is that battles are no more than tactical rhythm games. Essentially you input attacks using the D-Pad/Joystick along with the press of a button. There are sequences of attacks you can press in order to gain a bonus attack but the biggest problem with combat is that input is only needed once every 5 seconds or so and only 3-5 times per battle. Though this type of gameplay is certainly suitable for those not wishing for a fighting game experience, I was hoping for something a little more fleshed out. No, I’m not asking for a large variation of inputs from character to character (I understand the reasons why they couldn’t do that) but instead just combat that felt more attuned to fighting game battles (or at least the option to make the game more like a fighting game).

Amidst all of the negatives, though, the game does feature great looking anime battles and a fun soundtrack (it isn’t the highest quality of instrumentation but it feels fitting for the game). The environments in the tactical portion of the game are a little more drab but they do reach familiar areas from the characters’ games. Also, there are enemies that show up from the different universes. Finally, the most obvious appeal is seeing so many different cameos throughout the game and getting a small glimpse of how these characters would react outside of their usual environment. If you’re only in the game for nostalgic purposes (and you know many of the cast from Capcom, Sega, and Namco games), then this may be a game for you.

Editor reviews

Project X Zone had me excited when I saw the list of characters from 27 different franchises from Capcom, SEGA, and Namco Bandai and after I witnessed the epic trailers that surfaced before its release. Unfortunately, I wasn't as happy with the game as I'd hoped. With such a diverse cast of characters, personalities, and environments, it's a shame the gameplay feels so generic (both as a tactics RPG and as a miniature fighting game mimic). If you still just want to play the game for the nostalgia or enjoyment of seeing such a wonderful cast of characters in one game, maybe wait for this game to drop in price to experience it. You will have a large game on your hands, but chances are you'll feel that there's still a lot left to be desired.
Overall rating 
 
6.2
Gameplay 
 
6.0
Presentation 
 
8.0
Value  
 
7.0
Fun Factor 
 
5.0
Tilt 
 
5.0
Greg Schardein Reviewed by Greg Schardein June 30, 2013
Top 10 Reviewer  -   View all my reviews (103)

Project X Zone

Project X Zone had me excited when I saw the list of characters from 27 different franchises from Capcom, SEGA, and Namco Bandai and after I witnessed the epic trailers that surfaced before its release. Unfortunately, I wasn't as happy with the game as I'd hoped. With such a diverse cast of characters, personalities, and environments, it's a shame the gameplay feels so generic (both as a tactics RPG and as a miniature fighting game mimic). If you still just want to play the game for the nostalgia or enjoyment of seeing such a wonderful cast of characters in one game, maybe wait for this game to drop in price to experience it. You will have a large game on your hands, but chances are you'll feel that there's still a lot left to be desired.

Videogames

Gameplay
With such an amazing cast of characters, it's a shame the gameplay feels generic and doesn't hold up to the epicness the trailer videos might portray. I was hoping for more interaction in the battles, maybe akin to a fighting game. Finally, the tactics portion of the game lacks a level of depth that most tactics games thrive upon and the widely varied range of characters feel all too similar in terms of their overall gameplay mechanics (there isn't a large enough difference in each characters' style/movesets).
Presentation
Though the story line is predictably, unabashedly wacky, the hand drawn sprites look great along with vibrant looking combat animation and moves. The tactical environments are a little less visually appealing but their inspiration from different games is still nice. Finally, the music draws from all of the different franchises featuring remakes from each of the respective games. Though the arcade feel of the music suits the game, the instrumentation is lacking.
Value
The game is actually quite long so from start to finish, there is a lot to be had. However, it lacks the usual depth and customization that I'm accustomed to seeing in tactics RPGs. With such a large cast of characters, I was disappointed to see such a lack of variation in each of the characters' styles in battle, despite the beautifully different looking battle animations. Thus, I'd say the lack of overall customization and depth of gameplay weighs down the lengthy story.
Fun Factor
I admit that seeing different cameos throughout the game was extremely appealing (especially if you don't read into the game and spoil some of the more bizarre ones). However, the game felt like a trudge at times as the experience doesn't really change much from start to finish.
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