Links to reviews regarding some of the series featured in this game:
Devil May Cry (PS2)
Xenosaga 3 (PS2)
Namco X Capcom (PS2; japanese import and has been translated)
Resonance of Fate (Xbox 360)
Super Robot Wars: Original Generations 1 and 2 (GBA)
Super Robot Wars OG Endless Frontier (DS)
Sakura Wars: So Long My Love (Wii)
We’re finally here, folks. After making a few sacrifices, I was able to procure a 3DS and a copy of this game. Going into this with only a few review numbers, I was trying to keep myself surprised. 73 hours played to completion, I can now give my verdict for Project X Zone. How it holds up, we shall take a look right now! I warn you now though, there might be slight spoilers, and if you wanted to know about the other games leading to this, I’ll leave a link to previous reviews up above, and keep it there as well as update it when the other games are reviewed on the blog.
Project X Zone is a large crossover between Capcom, Sega, and Namco franchises, and the list can be found here to avoid a ton of rambling regarding each series in extreme detail. Namco Bandai handled working on the game, and there are reasons why certain series are on here. For example, Dante remains in this game for a few reasons, one of them being DmC was not released in Japan before PXZ, and the fact that Namco Bandai wanted our old favorite smartass devil hunter, over the foul mouth and boring new Dante. Anyway, back onto the game. It serves as more of a real sequel to Namco X Capcom, as well as slightly continuing SRW Endless Frontier series as well. Now as you might notice on the list, a few of the games stayed exclusive in Japan, so those in the USA that were unable to get knowledge regarding the story might be confused here and there, but luckily the game doesn’t go too in-depth, so a newbie can just pick up this game.
That was what I first thought.
You see, Namco X Capcom worked for what it was. The story wasn’t perfect and even dragged at times, sure, and it had a ton of series I did not know, but I was able to get into it and actually care about the game series I never seen. They belonged there, barring a few choices that didn’t seem right, I felt I didn’t have to know previous game history, and I still had a lot of fun. The direct opposite happened with this game. To be fair, I do know a majority of the series in this game, and I enjoyed that. The problem is that in order to have fun with the story, you really need to know about these characters and their stories to get the maximum amount of fun. Then there are questionable series choices, like Space Channel Ulala that seem completely out of place, but considering the other absurd stuff in this game, I can’t really complain too much, especially since I never played Space Channel. And even then, that might not be possible for another reason: the original characters.
Now I am not talking about Endless Frontier or Namco X Capcom originals. Those guys still remain fun and enjoyable, and do enough to not outshine the other characters. However, Kogoro (the detective/ninja/bad and brightly dressed teacher) and Mii (cheerleader/ninja/pupil/rich girl) really don’t stand out all that well. In fact, I can barely recall many instances where they became noticeable outside of the ending, and even then, it didn’t really feel as good as the ending stage of Namco X Capcom; not helped by the absurd difficulty spike the final level gives. Overall, if it felt like Namco X Capcom was good fanfiction, and Cross Edge, another unrelated crossover title felt like a horrible one, Project X Zone is right down the middle, as while the original characters were not all that noticeable, some storyparts held up really good, mainly the Mega Man X, Darkstalkers, and Devil May Cry ones; how odd that three nearly dead/already dead series from Capcom get the most from this game, the one made by Namco Bandai. My main point is that they aren’t featured a lot to actually gain personalities I can write in detail. Mii for instance is described best when my friend Luis pointed out that she could have been a simple item for use in the game, and it would have the same effect. Say what I want about DmC and its horrendous cast, at least those characters actually served more of a purpose into their plot.
…Good god, this game made me compliment DmC. Excuse me as I wash away the filth with a flamethrower:
Alright, nice and toasty, and in immense pain; reminds me of playing Xenosaga 2. Now another flaw of the story is the way it goes. While Namco X Capcom had at least some purpose of the good guys finding bad guys to beat up, they don’t get to this conclusion until after the halfway mark, over 20+ stages in. What happens during that time? Oh the usual “Oh no, this isn’t the world we wanted to go to! Oh bonkers, more enemies! It’s time for a party, let’s rock and clean house!” Maybe not in that exact wording, but it is what it feels like, and that’s aside from the prologue stages. And even when it does get to the main point, the main original villains’ plan isn’t really hinted at or revealed. It honestly makes the Soul Edge plotline from Namco X Capcom have more purpose as Saya was always chasing it, as we did see bits and pieces of her storyline coming together. Here, it isn’t revealed until the final stages and hardly if ever hinted at, focusing more on the other characters. If anything, Jedah and Seth felt like the real main villains given their motivations. And it’s also disappointing with the limited enemy variety. No Wesker, no Kazuya, no M. Bison, not even extra bosses from the other games. That’s another minus since given what is said in the game, it could be entirely possible, even possibly bringing back the Einst or the Wodan Ymir look-alike in SRW Exceed. The bottom line is that it doesn’t feel as engaging as other games do. I know I know, crossovers aren’t the best, but fanfictions can pull of better effort than this! Namco X Capcom did it, so why can’t this one?
Oh right, the reasons above.
Also, fun fact about the humor in this game: they make a joke about Mii being underage, yet the game has no problem of Vashyron hitting on Alisa from God Eater Burst a bit. I would like to remind you that Alisa in that game was 15 and THIS is what she wears. And yes, I know about the age of consent in most parts of Japan is 13, but that only makes it worse in my opinion. I must rebathe in the shower of flames. Excuse me. And yes, I’ll be talking more in-depth about this problem when I do get to reviewing God Eater Burst. But for god’s sake woman, zip up that top!
Visually, the game does shine with the anime-like sprites. These kind of graphics are simple, but effective, and I do like how they can work for these characters without having to chibi them up like in similar titles, such as the SRW series. The battle areas can sometimes be repeated through later stages, but it can be fun to see game environments be used as the battlefields for these epic battles. The animation for the attack moves also remain fast throughout the game, and I can’t ever recall the game ever slowing down that much, outside of the slow motion from defeats after the K.O. screen comes up. And as an extra addition, they decided to add in translations for what the characters say in battle at certain points, so you can see more of the characters interacting with one another. Usually there are random lines between 2 x 2 groups that make no sense at all, and then there can actually be some conversations between teams of 2 or 3 that are more entertaining.
Well they too can sometimes not make sense with random lines, and while you can partner duos with an assist character, not all of them are going to offer extra dialogue. For instance, Flynn can offer extra dialogue when paired with Yuri and Estelle, but will not when paired off with Leanne and Zephyr. As for the 3D effect, I admit that I did like to see the extra dimension added to the combo moves, my eyes eventually got used to it to the point where I couldn’t see much of a difference anymore. And while the game is drawn using an anime style, the way some characters are drawn can clash with others. I’m talking primarily about the Resident Evil characters featured, but maybe that’s just because of different nationalities. Who knows? I do feel that some portraits felt lazy, again with Mii this time around, as when the characters see her angry than before, she just looks disgusted or bored.
Gameplay manages to be both fun and challenging, and despite what some may think, no, it is NOT a fighting game, and it stems from the original Namco X Capcom battle system that has went through some evolutions when SRW Endless Frontier came out, meaning each team can pull off certain attacks depending on the d-pad and attack button are pressed, and to add to that, you can get an extra hit if you pull off all the moves without repeating another. The new addition is the fact that this is a tactical map as opposed to a JRPG, as well as another couple of ideas. Each unit is made up of 2 characters paired together, while solo units like Sanger Zonvolt and Arthur can be paired with them to add some extra damage and hits in or additional skills to use, and they all share the same health. And in the intermission menu between stages, you are allowed to at least try and master character attacks through practice, or you can even read up on character bios, which can offer some interesting information. Like did you know Demitri from Darkstalkers always carries a can of hairspray to keep his hair up?
No really, I’m not making that one up! Look at it for yourself!
Rather than an MP bar, it’s been replaced with team XP. XP is used not only to pull off special attacks whenever you wish when the bar hits 100%, but it can also be used for skills characters possess such as temporary buffs or healing purposes. The XP bar can reach 150%, though it can only ever pass the 100% mark through using cross hits, which involves using either support attacks from nearby team members on the field, or using the solo units within each 2-man team. The game allows for both to be used, and when their attacks hit at the same time, the enemy is forced to stay in the air where it was hit, allowing for a much easier time hitting the target. However, you lose the ability to cause critical hits because in order to obtain them, you have to hit the enemy just as they are about to hit the ground, causing more damage and even gaining more EXP to level up. So it all boils down to whether you want that extra XP or not, and solo units never hit that hard anyway, minus if you manage to get critical hits for them too. This is even more important as the game goes through stages, and there is absolutely no way to stay in one stage and grind forever. You get game over, its game over.
The good news is that a lot of characters are more balanced this time around, so no more broken/godly KOS-MOS. The problem comes in how repetitive it can all be. While it is true you can gain items to increase statistics for each character or grant new abilities, choose which pair units get the solo units, the lack of a good story really harms it as you realize not only are you always going to be doing this for about 46 stages (including those prologues), but you are going to be doing nothing else for the next 73 hours, which is how long I took playing this game. There are some variations in missions, like reaching one goal, but at the end of the day, a majority of missions are beat this boss or beat them all. There are also breakable items on the world map, but let me tell ya, they aren’t all worth it. If it’s something like a jar or container, yes, but things like traffic cones or guitars will contain nothing. I thought with the way minor enemies didn’t show attack animations, stages would go quicker, but the game throws an onslaught at you at times.
The final two stages are the worst offenders, basically throwing you against everyone who was ever in the game at once, and some of the characters can even be revived, forcing you tend the fight as quickly as possible against a final boss that can probably kill off your units if you don’t spend too many healing items. In fact, you have to properly manage them, and that was the most strategy I can think of for the game, outside of being able to assign solo units to pair units and equip gear. And no, you cannot switch pair units, like you can’t have Ryu and Jin Kazama as the same pair unit. Still, I suppose combat goes by faster at any rate, even if stages can sometimes take over three hours. There is a quicksave option at least.
The music is one of the stronger points of this game as well, as it does contain a few tracks from each game series, but takes out the lyrics of some songs and tries to remix them. I have seen mixed opinions, but overall I really do like them. My personal favorites include Devils Never Cry, Volcano Rim, Opening Stage of X, and anything with Sanger Zonvolt and Resonance of Fate. The one thing I cannot stand though: the Gain Ground stage. This is where the point of music is butchered. While the sound effects and such are still used effectively, this theme will continue to loop. Character themes are negated completely, and having to listen for 1-3 hours straight can be short of absolutely maddening. The music itself isn’t bad, but it gets annoying and missed the main point regarding music themes.
Themes are meant to illustrate badass moments, when the character gets their chance to make a comeback with a hell of a counter attack, like the finishers. The other problem is the lack of villain themes. These usually help balance the heroic themes by making those punishing sequences in the game feel all the worse for you, giving emotion to them and adding their own level of evil or badassery to pair off. And finally, this is a nitpick, but they use Nelo Angelo’s theme, yet he is never present in the game. This just brings up the question of why? There were even some themes cut out as well apparently, as I found extended versions on YouTube. You might check that out even if you don’t plan to buy. It’s all good stuff.
In conclusion, it’s real easy to decide who this game was meant for. If you like spending a ton of hours on stages with a lackluster story but still love seeing some of your favorite characters kicking all sorts of ass, and anything else above, by all means, get this game. However, if this doesn’t appeal to you, and in order to gain the best experience, you would have to know a large majority of these other game series, then it’s okay to give this a pass for now. It’s highly unlikely DLC will come to the game, and even then, what to add would hardly be anything, save for new units or stages. The only extra thing for this game is the addition of a hard mode which makes gaining EXP even harder, and the ability to assign and listen to the OST for the game. I was probably too hard on this game, but I gotta be if I wanna see these types of games to improve. It probably got low sales in Japan because of this as well. I wouldn’t blame them.
So no, I am not going to whore myself out just because I want more of this or I just want to see people like the old Dante to come back. I want to see good games at the end of day, and even with all these problems, I still had loads of fun.
Project X Zone gets a 3 out of 5.
Join me next time for another 3DS review, this time starring my favorite JRPG series of all time: Shin Megami Tensei, IV to be exact. I’m Final, and I am willing to whore myself for this particular game, because it’s awesome! I mean it’s not like something bad is happening to Atlus right now–