Hello all! Last week I wrote about a witch with deadly high-heeled shoes.
Today, I'm checking out a strategy RPG no real gamer should be without.
Project X Zone (pronounced "Project Cross Zone") came out for the 3DS just last year in North America. Developed by Banpresto and Monolith Soft, the game is a crossover between Namco Bandai, Capcom, and Sega. As such, the game contains popular characters from each company. Lots of characters, representing Street Fighter, Devil May Cry, Xenosaga, Tales of Vesperia, and many, many more. So many more. I have neither the time nor patience to list them here. Refer to the last image in the article :)
Mostly due to the huge crossover roster, the story itself is a bit light. The story concerns the various franchise worlds colliding together. Basically, this amounts to a group of characters appearing in some world, wondering where they are and how they got there, and then ﬁghting the enemies that show up. Repeat for about 40 chapters.
It's still entertaining, however, thanks to the varied roster of characters and their interactions with each other. The English translation really nails each character's personality, making it feel like Dante, KOS-MOS, Frank West, etc. really jumped out of their own games to appear in this one.
But how does it play? Well, PXZ is a SRPG. Think Final Fantasy Tactics, and you're halfway there.
You position teams of characters (always in pairs, but represented as one character on the map) in grid fashion. Positioning them near an enemy allows you to attack. This is where things change from the usual SRPG fare. The game changes to sort of a ﬁghting game look, and you launch attacks on the enemy using the A button and a direction on the Control Pad. The basic idea is to juggle the enemy by timing your attacks. This all plays out in colorful sprites.
Being near another teammate allows you to call them in for support, launching additional attacks against your enemy. In addition, you can attach support characters to your teams, effectively turning the team to a three-character unit. Triggering all these at once leads to ﬁve-character attacks landing on the enemy, which is chaotic bliss in my opinion.
Attacking (and taking attacks) ﬁlls up your EX gauge, which can be ﬁlled to 150% thanks to Cross Attacks (two teams and/or a support member landing attacks at the same time). The EX Gauge can be used to defend and counter attack enemies, or for more fun, you can use 100% of it to launch a devastating Super Attack, like Ryu and Ken's Shinkuu Hadoken and Shoryu Reppa, to name just one.
That really sums up the gameplay experience. There's a surprising variety of items available to heal your characters, but you rarely need them until halfway through the game or so. Because while the game is an absolute blast to play, it's actually very easy. There's a ton of armor and weapons you can equip to augment your characters, but I honestly didn't even know about these throughout most of the game. Because you don't really need them. To be fair, though, the game does get harder around the halfway point, as your teams get smaller, and more varied mission objectives are introduced.
But it never stops being fun. PXZ is a huge, heaping pile of fan service, throwing together all these characters with barely any rhyme or reason, but that's ﬁne. It's always a riot seeing your favorite characters reminding you why they're your favorite.
And they look great, too. PXZ consists of sprite graphics, and seeing characters rendered in 16-bit graphics is a joy. The story sequences are handled in a similar old-school fashion, with still images of characters talking with voice balloons. A lot of voice acting is present, but it's all in Japanese, which purists will enjoy.
The music, though. The music is my favorite part of the game (if I were forced to pick one favorite part). As any Capcom/Namco/Sega fan will testify, every character has their own distinct theme music, and all of it is present here, playing as you position your characters around the battleﬁeld. Ryu's theme, Dante's, Jin's...it goes on and on. And all of it is awesome.
That's how to best sum up Project X Zone. All of it is awesome. If you're a fan of any of the three companies that made the game, you have to check it out. You might even end up discovering a franchise or two you never played, or one you might have forgotten. I am replaying Xenosaga, after all.
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Next week, I write about one of my favorite games of the last console generation. A game that is represented in Project X Zone.