Thursday, August 15, 2013

Project X Zone (3DS) Review

Thursday on SuperPhillip Central delivers to you a brand-new review. Project X Zone was a game we really wanted to see localized, and now that we have it available to us.... well, be careful what you wish for. Not to say Project X Zone is horrible. It's just that we were expecting so much more. Here's Phil's review.

Come for the fan service, 
stay for the... Wait. Don't stay.

If you remember my Tatsunoko VS. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars review, I mentioned that many, including myself, believed that the localization of such a game could never be done, but Capcom surprised the world by releasing it in the West on the Wii. Now, Namco Bandai has released another game that many, including myself, believed never had a chance to hit our side of the Pacific due to all of the licensing and character issues involved. However, that game, Project X Zone (pronounced Project Cross Zone), has arrived, featuring characters from three of the biggest video game publishers in Japan. Unfortunately, unlike Tatsunoko VS. Capcom, Project X Zone was not well worth the wait.

Project X Zone's plot revolves around characters from a myriad of worlds being transported to and fro with the desire of each character to return to their home world. Things get dicey when a villainous group wishes to cause nothing but trouble. It's a simple story... being you know many of the characters involved. Otherwise you might be left in the dark, as Project X Zone does little to shed some light on what's really going on. Still, if you think you can enjoy the various character reactions to one another and the sometimes funny dialogue, then you may actually like the story that Project X Zone has to offer.

Many players in the West will
probably not know too many faces here.
Project X Zone is a strategy RPG consisting of friendly units in the form of character duos. For instance, Mega Man X and Zero join forces, Ryu and Ken of Street Fighter fame are partners, Jin Kazama and Ling Xiaoyu from Tekken are a team, and so forth. Maps in Project X Zone take place on grid-based stages based off the numerous locations of many of the crossover titles featured within the game.. Every unit on your side of the game is made up of two characters with a third unit being optional, able to be called in once every confrontation.

The map sizes range from big to too big.
When moving near an enemy unit, you can enter battle. Known as the Cross Action Battle System, the battle system in Project X Zone utilizes the A button in conjunction with up to five different directions on the Circle Pad. While this might seem like plenty of options, if you want to gain the most amount of attacks in a given battle you need to use each different direction once to earn an extra attack. This means there's little strategy involved in choosing which attacks you wish to use, and seeing as how you have to watch these battle animations each time (they're in real time, after all, since you're directly controlling them), things can also get rather dull quickly.

"I'm an upper-cut above the rest."
If a friendly unit is to an adjacent square on the grid, you can summon them during a battle to serve as a support attack, dealing extra damage to your target. While your characters are dishing out damage to a given target, your Cross Power gauge increases. This gauge can grow up to 150% in length, and be used to unleash a powerful dual attack on a foe, be used to access character skills, or be used to counter or defend a foe's attack.

Project X Zone's chapters, all 40+ of them, are more like marathons than sprints. Chapters take an absurdly long time to complete, and while you can save during each mission, tedium sets in rather quickly when you're utilizing the same commands in battle and using little actual strategy in a strategy RPG. You can pretty much force your way through most chapters without much in the way of a challenge. Furthermore, bosses are merely the SRPG equivalent of bullet sponges, possessing ungodly amounts of hit points.

Unfortunately, my favorite characters,
X and Zero, don't show up in PXZ until midway.
And that is a common theme with Project X Zone. It's a game that wears you down while not providing a lot of fun. Yes, it's cool to have characters that you are and aren't familiar with from gaming's past join your party of interworld fighters, but that just means more characters, meaning turns go on even longer. Then there's the fact that after the initial ten or twenty enemies on a given chapter's map have been defeated, twenty more show up. Is this really necessary? It just prolongs the already repetitive battles and makes that negative of the game shine even brighter than before.

Slice and dice!
While there isn't much to be amazed at sprite-wise on the various maps of Project X Zone, battles are just insanely fun to watch. The sprites have a seemingly endless amount of animation frames to them, their attacks are entertaining and cool to see, and by far the most impressive visual showing is the special attacks. The sprite-based animation of Project X Zone is simply sensational. The voice work uses the original Japanese voice actors, as obviously there would be too many legal hoops to jump through otherwise for a release in the West. The music is a combination of original and remixed tunes to get you energized for the game's chaotic confrontations.

These new boxers are
Fruit of the Loom.
Overall, Project X Zone is a strategy RPG with little actual strategy involved. Chapters are way too lengthy, certainly going on for a duration that will put many players into a deep sleep due to all of the repetition involved. The chance to see a cast of characters from Namco Bandai, Capcom, and SEGA interact with one another is great, but a potential buyer of Project X Zone will have to think long and hard about whether the tedium of the game is worth the experience. Project X Zone isn't a bad game, per se, it's just not as fantastic as I would have hoped. Those who have long put away Fire Emblem: Awakening and are looking for another brilliant strategic RPG to play should keep looking.

[SPC Says: 6.0/10]

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