Crossovers between video games has always been the dream. Everybody has always wondered at least once, “what if this game character appears in another game’s universe?” Many titles have already put this into action, Marvel vs. Capcom, Super Smash Bros, Street Fighter X Tekken, Cross Edge, Dissidia: Final Fantasy, to name but a few. This time, three prolific Japanese publishers – Namco, Capcom, and Sega – have joined up for the biggest crossover yet: Project X Zone on the Nintendo 3DS. As a follow-up to Namco x Capcom, does Project X Zone fulfil the ultimate dream crossover, or does it just make you mad?
Taking place in the year 20XX, the many universes from Namco, Capcom, and Sega start to intermix as evil descends into each world. Popular icons from across the board, along with some original characters, do battle with villains from each of their worlds, as well as new ones as they find a way to fix this colossal catastrophe.
Taking over 50 hours to complete the story, you’ll gather allies one by one as you work your way through each mission. While the story has substance and is rather left field in nature so it’s interesting from the very beginning, it starts to wear thin as you gather more allies. Each character always has something to say, making cutscenes and battles longer than expected. That aside, the dialogue is actually quite varied as it ranges from serious to hilarious, meaning each character seems as believable in this world as they were in their own.
What really makes the story longer is the grid-based tactical RPG gameplay, except with less emphasis on the tactical part. You control a variety of 20 “Pair Units”, which are made up of two characters paired up and visible via the map. One example is Chris Redfield & Jill Valentine from the Resident Evil series to Zephyr & Leanne from Resonance of Fate. These paired units are the ones that can move, attack, and defend on the map. Alternatively there are also “Solo Units,” which can be attached to the “Pair Units” and can assist them battle.
Once a “Pair Unit” attacks a “Rival Unit,” a battle commences, similar to those you’d find in a 2D fighting game. Along with each “Pair Unit” having four moves via the circle pad, they also have access to a flashy over-the-top finisher for even more devastating results, and if you string these combinations of standard and special moves together at the right time, you’ll deal critical damage.
On top of these moves, you’ll have access to “Solo Units” and support “Pair Units.” During battles, you’re able to summon the “Solo Unit” that you paired with the “Pair Unit” – along with the ability to have adjacent “Pair Units” – to join in on the battle. By using these two support abilities you can perform a ‘cross hit’ that freezes a target in place, allowing you to land a variety of flashy attacks to boost your combo counter even higher meaning you can level up faster.
There’s also an ‘XP gauge’, as in not an experience gauge, that fills up by using both normal and support attacks. With the help of support attacks, you can boost the XP gauge even further beyond the point of 100 per cent. The XP gauge is a useful, powerful, and exploitable mechanic to use as it helps you use items, character’s skills and defending/countering against enemy attacks or using finishers.
While Project X Zone has the making of a tactical RPG, the tactical part isn’t really there. It’s rather simplistic and repetitive in nature, with easy objectives and tactics that you’ll use over and over without penalty. But battles can take more than an hour to complete, meaning things tend to drag on a bit. While it’s certainly playable, fun to play, and easy to pick up in small one mission bursts, those looking for a challenge or faster paced game won’t find it here.
As for presentation, it fares a little better. Graphically, character sprites are a nice touch and fit well, while the 3D effect does make the game pop during certain aspects likes the flashy finishers. Sadly, there are many bland, flat environments that offer no depth or detail what so ever. Project X Zone also has an awesome soundtrack, having remixed classic tunes from across the series hosted within.
Project X Zone offers great fan service, with the biggest crossover of iconic characters. However, it falls short as strategy game. It can be fun to play from time to time, but the simplistic, repetitive, and lengthy nature of the game might turn some people off. If you a fan of gaming crossovers, this might pique your interest, but be prepared for a lengthy time with it.
Audio/Visual – 4/5: Offering nice and detailed character sprites, along with Japanese VO and an awesome soundtrack.
Gameplay – 2/5: Simple, repetitive, and lengthy – doesn’t offer much of a strategy game.
Innovation – 3/5: Has a lot of great ideas for a strategy game, but somewhat fails to capitalize on it.
Value – 4/5: A pretty lengthy game, spanning 50+ hours of story and gameplay