Crossovers are not a new concept in video games. For example, Marvel vs. Capcom and Super Smash Bros. are both well-known and commercially successful crossover games. Of course, games like the Super Robot Wars series, Konami Wai Wai World and even Jump Ultimate Stars were never released outside of Japan. There are many reasons why crossover games aren’t localized, whether it’s a perceived lack of interest in the Western market or the possible licensing nightmares that go along with the title. Project X Zone certainly meets the above criteria but by some miracle (or a bizarre interdimensional rift) it has actually made its way outside of Japan.
Project X Zone is a strategy RPG containing over 200 unique characters from various games within the catalogs of publishers Namco Bandai, Sega and Capcom. While there are also original characters that were created for the game’s story, the main draw of this game are characters from other games such as Street Fighter, Virtua Fighter, Tekken, Darkstalkers, Resident Evil, Tales of Vesperia, Ghosts n’ Goblins and lots more. That means players can lead an army of famous characters such as Ryu, Ken, Chun-Li, Morrigan, Heihachi Mishima, Tron Bonne, Ulala and even Bruce Willis! I’m not kidding about that last one. Go look up Die Hard Arcade.
(While he has been re-named “Bruno Delinger” in this game, the character is otherwise a dead-ringer for Willis’ “John McClane” character.)
How did all these characters get together? Interdimensional time travel, courtesy of mysterious portals popping up in different eras and worlds! The heroes eventually team up to fight a greater evil responsible for these interdimensional disturbances. It’s no big secret that the game’s plot is a hokey excuse to bring all of these characters together. However, some character interaction (e.g. Frank West photographing an attractive female character for a scoop) results in some hilarious dialogue.
Project X Zone plays like any tactical role-playing game, similar to Super Robot Wars and Fire Emblem, but it’s not as taxing in the strategy department as the other games. Those looking for the next “____ vs. Capcom” game are going to be disappointed because Project X Zone is not a fighting game. While it’s true that the battles contain detailed sprite animation and feature a “one-on-one” presentation, it’s all an aesthetic. When fighting enemy units, your units will have a few chances to land attacks, and while there’s no button mashing, the presentation looks like a fighting game and like a fighting game, timing your attacks wisely results in combos which can deal more damage. Using supports and solo units along with your attacks will result in CROSS hits, which help build your Cross Meter much faster in addition to dealing lots of damage. When the Cross Meter reaches 100% and higher, a special attack can be unleashed towards a single enemy or a mob of adjacent enemies for massive damage. It’s really satisfying.
Those looking for something like Fire Emblem or Tactics Ogre will be mildly disappointed because there isn’t much strategy involved other than move, attack, defend, counter, heal and repeat. It gets troubling later in the game where there are more enemies to fight per chapter, and with the higher HP counts, it takes longer to kill them. It takes me about thirty minutes to an hour (give or take) to clear a map.
However, what Project X Zone does have is fanservice. The amount of fanservice found in this game borders on shamelessness. It’s not hard to see that fanservice is the game’s selling point: I bought a copy because of the idea of playing a game starring a mishmash of these characters is exciting for a turbo-nerd like me. And I don’t mind it. There’s really over-the-top battle animations, full voice acting, superb musical remixes and, um…”assets”. Lots and lots of “assets”. There’s a little something for everyone here in this game, and while I don’t even know every single character found in the game, they’re interesting enough to learn about and in between chapters there is a helpful “Crosspedia” that will help get you up to speed.
Project X Zone is a terribly niche game with a thin plot that can be a little on the repetitive side, but it’s also a decent game with slick production values featuring some of the most popular video game characters in the world. If you don’t mind the fanservice, then I’d recommend it.
Hint: There’s a free demo on the Nintendo eShop if you’re curious enough to check it out.
by Ray N.