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Project X Zone Hands On Preview

It's the crossover, sorry, x-over, of the century!

If you’ve ever sat around fantasizing about what the next Capcom “versus” game should be, or you’ve dabbled in the Mugen mods for fighting games, Project x Zone may be your holy grail. This is a strategy/RPG that brings together characters from Capcom, Namco-Bandai, and Sega in a story that can’t possibly make sense, but who cares? This one is all about the fan service, and if the recent playable demo is anything to go by, Project x Zone is bringing the fan service by the truckload.

The demo, unfortunately, throws you in the deep end with little in the way of tutorial. This is clearly a game with a deep and nuanced set of mechanics, and the single battle available doesn’t explain any of them. With that said, I still enjoyed what little I got to play of this interesting strategy title.

As you would expect in a game of this type, you move units on a grid and get them into position to attack the enemy. The units are set up in pairs of characters from various games, and in the demo Sega was well represented, with appearances from Sakura Wars, Valkyria Chronicles, and even Space Channel 5 alumni. Unlike other SRPGs, you don’t need to move right next to an enemy to attack; the range is actually quite generous, in fact. Initiating an attack switches the view to the battle mode, but there’s a benefit to positioning your attacking units near friendly troops, much like the support system seen in Fire Emblem: Awakening.

In the battle mode, the game becomes a pseudo-action game, similar to the early Tales RPGs. The bottom screen displays the moves that are available, which are simply combinations of a direction on the D-pad and a button. There’s a limited amount of time in which you can attack, but I was never quite sure how long I had, or why I could bust out support attacks every turn with some units while others appeared to have a cooldown timer. This was never very clear. The fights are hectic, but when you’re busting out cool combos with characters you love (I had a huge smile on my face when I saw Kite and Black Rose from .Hack) it becomes a game of sheer satisfaction.

Things get a little odd during enemy turns. First off, they didn’t seem very aggressive, with many units sitting put until I would walk up and start pummeling them. They also don’t appear to have attack animations. Instead, they simply attack and the amount of damage is displayed above the unit’s head. Before getting hit, you can spend some of your XP (different from experience points, which the game also has) to counter, defend, or completely negate damage. For a game that revels in its flashy team up attacks, it’s very odd that the enemies are only seen taking it and never dishing it out. The demo features a single boss character, and she does have attack animations, but in my experience she only had one attack that she used every turn. This could become a problem many hours into the game once the flashier moves have lost their newness.

Project x Zone manages to pull together characters from 27 different games, all with disparate art styles, and creates something that looks cohesive and whole. That’s an impressive feat, and seeing characters from typically 3D polygonal games like .Hack rendered in 2D sprites is fun to witness. It’s surprising to see sprite art used at all for a game with this many characters, but what was shown in the demo brought a smile to my face. I’m looking forward to seeing just how many obscure characters from the history of these four well-known developers can be crammed into a 3DS cartridge.

I have little faith that Project x Zone will have anything resembling an easy to follow story. There are simply too many characters from too many different universes to even try. Still, I’m really happy that someone actually is trying, and even if I find myself scratching my head at the narrative, I doubt I’ll tire of seeing Devilot from Cyberbots assisting Ken and Ryu from Street Fighter by attacking with a giant mech.


 

Comments

Jon Lewis Staff Writer

06/23/2013 at 08:28 PM

Yes, this demo was full of pretty awesome moments. Love the combat. Its simple, yet satisfying. I wish i was familliar with more of the demo characters, but they were still cool enough for me to respect them. Looking forward to the final product.

Chunopo

06/23/2013 at 09:07 PM

such a shame this isn't a beat em up.

mothman

06/24/2013 at 12:23 PM

I thought the demo was a lot of fun even though I started it off without a clue as to how to play it. I lost a couple of characters before I caught on how to keep them alive. 

jgusw

06/24/2013 at 05:21 PM

I preordered my copy a while back.  I don't own a 3DS, so I'm not sure when I'll get around to playing the game. 

Vice's Assistant

06/24/2013 at 09:11 PM

All I need to know is that pre-ordering gets you a OST. Damn you Project X Zone, you know my weekness well.

asrealasitgets

06/26/2013 at 05:05 AM

I really need to see a review for this game. I thought the demo was a bit confusing. Way too many things going on in battle.Yell

Julian Titus Senior Editor

06/26/2013 at 09:13 AM

After playing a couple of battles, it explains things slightly better than the demo did, but things are still pretty chaotic. But the second battle has Jin and Xiaoyu teaming up with Akira and Pai with Ken and Ryu to fight off Dural and Juri along with a pack of Red Arremers.

That is the best sentence I have ever written. :3

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