Project X Zone is now in stores everywhere, and hopefully those that bought it are satisfied. Reviews have been mixed, and I admit, I’m at the middle of that. However, we’ll save that discussion for next time since I want to review the game as soon as possible. But such a thing cannot be accomplished, not until we covered on one of the sorta sequels to Namco X Capcom: Endless Frontier. There was a sequel to Endless Frontier, but unfortunately, that got stuck in Japan with no story translation. Developed by Banpresto and Monolith Soft and published by Atlus, it was released on the Nintendo DS and was also related to the second Super Robot Wars game, carrying references to other characters with its original cast and even providing a few story elements as well. Couple that with a new combat system evolved from Namco X Capcom, and that games like these tend to still be expensive, is it worth the price?
To be honest, for me, yeah. I first went into this game when it came out, and had absolutely no knowledge of any Super Robot Wars games, or even Namco X Capcom, and had a lot fun with it. Second playthrough, I admit, with the knowledge equipped I do question things a bit more, but overall, Endless Frontier proved to be a simple, and fun game. However, it might be a bit too simple.
The game’s story revolves around the main hero, Haken Browning, a bounty hunter who grew up in the Endless Frontier, and his partner Aschen Brodel, a cyborg with a bit of a personality disorder when she overloads, as they investigate a ship from another world, the same one relating to how they first arrived in the Endless Frontier when Haken was just a baby. Inside, they find a princess with a large chest and sword named Kaguya Nanbu, and as they try to bring her back to her homeland, they slowly uncover that things are not right within the worlds. In order to figure out the mystery, and collect some bounties along the way, your ever-growing group decides to set out to restore the world before things take that sharp turn into SOL land. Other members include Suzuka, another princess that uses wires and dancing skills to control her fighting robot, Reiji and Xiaomu of Namco X Capcom, and KOS-MOS of Xenosaga 3. As you might expect of the latter three, familiar foes will be encountered.
The strength of the plot is surprising, and a mixed bag. On one hand, the game carries a lot of humor in it, and that can be a bad thing when a lot of the jokes are centered around the female chest area, making it both repetitive and annoying. Not to mention the game likes to throw in a lot of fanservice, usually exposing some skin of the female characters in some form (bouncing breasts, bras, etc), but never to the level that a censor bar is needed. And thankfully not every character is affected by that. On the other, it actually handles things like character subplots really well, adding the drama and enough information to make you actually care about the characters and the situation, almost like that of an actual Super Robot Wars game. The difference here is that the plot is much more condensed around these characters since there are so few. Even with the addition of KOS-MOS and Reiji and Xiaomu, I never saw them there just being there for the sake of a few others. The idea of crossing into other worlds fits well with the Shinra agents, and the robot theme already present was a natural for KOS-MOS, whose design was different but at the same time really did compliment the other robot and android designs present. Granted, when it comes to the Xenosaga timeline, her presence from the point can be quite questionable.
Speaking of design, the game’s anime art-style it uses for portraits and such is pretty good, even if it is clearly limited. There are no cut-scenes sadly, but battle-sprites are well done for pretty much everything, as are the attack animations, each one colorful and actually pretty easy to see. Sadly, the good news of visual falls short, as the rest of the game from moving to environment to environment makes me feel like I am playing something out of a RPG-maker game. It can honestly be incredibly distracting when combined with what was stated above. Moreover, environments are limited, and there is a lack of extra areas. However, as you progress through the game, you can at least go back to old dungeons and get some new items you may have missed or simply didn’t have the right items to get. The music is another mixed point. The good news is that a lot of themes both new and old are in the game, and while I do like a good majroity of them, I felt some of the remixes, mainly for the Alteisen’s theme, just didn’t hold up nearly as well as I had hoped. Still, it does the job well enough, particularly when themes pop up in the middle of battle.
Gameplay is now your standard roaming a map, fight a random group of monsters type of thing. It’s quite linear, with little to no puzzles, and areas expanding enough to nab a few extra goodies. It doesn’t get any better with equipment, as they are simple to find and usually have some extra stat bonuses and such, but you can also buy those and items as well, and consumables tend to have a limit of 15, so hoarding doesn’t really benefit in the long-run. Thankfully, combat is where the game shines more. You create a combo chain and press a button, watching the character unleash one part of it before moving onto the next, and everything is limited through COM, and that amount dictates how many moves you can pull off. The idea is to keep the enemy in the air however you can to score more hits and criticals, and the weight factor does keep this, as you don’t want an enemy thrown too high up or you’ll end up missing hits, or too low that they will drop and forcefully stop your turn through forced evasion, and even counter them too. You can also cancel moves to gain more points in the Frontier Gauge to use more specials as well, though this requires timing. Skills help balance this out, whether you need more COM, or something to break through an enemy’s shield. And once you gain enough in the Frontier Gauge by building these combos, you can unleash a finishing strike that can deal a devastating amount of damage, and if it ends the battle, you gain more EXP. And as you level up, you can expand the types of moves you can use as well.
And that’s kinda it for the game. Not a whole lot to it, pretty linear, and simple. Yet after playing Project X Zone, that’s kinda the best way to do a crossover. Usually crossovers try to really cram a lot into their games, but sometimes less can be more, as you have much more room to work with the plot. The fact that about 96% of the game does feature original characters is also a big help. Now yes, I can’t really compare this game to Namco X Capcom or Project X Zone, yet I enjoyed this game more than both game as it doesn’t feel dragged out. Repetitive, kinda, but at the same time, presented enough of a challenge to use items and skills effectively in order to try and gain better combos. Couple all of this with good music and the ability to experiment with different combos and combinations, it’s not game of the year material, but it accomplishes what it was meant to: make a fun game. As stated before, you don’t need to know Super Robot Wars Original Generation or even Xenosaga to fully enjoy the game, but it does certainly help.
Super Robot Wars OG Saga Endless Frontier collects a bounty worthy of a 4 out of 5.
Join me next time, as I skip the other planned games in favor of covering main game itself and the true sequel to Namco X Capcom: Project X Zone!