Today the new Project X Zone demo hit the Nintendo 3DS Eshop today, and I could not be more excited. Project X Zone is a crossover Strategy RPG similar to the Super Robot Wars series, except the characters involved here are from video game series from the companies Capcom, Sega, and Namco Bandai. Some really awesome characters combine in this series to make this a crossover extravaganza of a game. Considering how much I enjoy Super Robot Wars, this is right up my alley (and hopefully your’s too!).
The history of this game was a little tenuous. It’s one of those games that, despite having some very real western interest, would only see release in Japan. This game is something of a spiritual sequel to the PS2 title, Namco X Capcom, which was another strategy crossover RPG. That title was only released in Japan, but turned out to be a fairly popular title in certain circles. So popular, in fact, that it received a full English translation patch by the fan community.
So, when Project X Zone was announced, a lot of overseas fans lamented that it would not see any Western release. However, on September 22, 2012, the producer of the Tekken series, Katsuiro Harada, tweeted that he was advocating for the localization of Project X Zone, and not very long afterwards Namco Bandai unveiled their official plans for a Western release of the game. Today marks the release of the demo (with the full game due for release June 25).
Right off the bat, I noticed there were only 5 uses available for the demo. Comparing to other demos I’ve played on the 3DS, Etrian Odyssey 4 and Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, this is a tiny amount. Both of those titles allowed for 30 uses, so I was somewhat concerned from the start. Still, as I played the game I definitely got into it and quickly forgot the 5 try limit. The demo allows access to one map battle, and several characters to play with. You have Ryu and Ken from Street Fighter and Kurt and Riela from Valkyria Chronicles. Ichiro, Sakura, Gemini, and Erica from Sakura Wars. Additionally there’s Kite and Black Rose from .Hack, and finally Soma and Alisa from God Eater. I confess I don’t recognize all of these characters (particularly the Sakura Wars characters, a series I have no familiarity with) but they all seem cool.
The gameplay is fairly simple. It’s a strategy RPG, You take turns, and move your characters around a map to attack the enemy. Some strategy RPGs let you move all your units on your turn, while the enemy moves all their units on their turn (like Fire Emblem or SRW). Some other ones let units move according to how fast they are, no matter if they are enemy or ally. Think Final Fantasy Tactics or Gungnir. Project X Zone is like this. The movement is fairly standard, but the combat is where the game gets pretty interesting.
The combat is somewhat similar to a game called Endless Frontier for the DS (in fact, two Endless Frontier characters are in this game, though not in the demo). You have several attacks at your disposal, and you use them to combo the enemy to death. You can call in assists from your allies nearby and support characters you have assigned. You use your initial attacks to break the guard of the enemy, and then you have to time your combos and attacks to make sure the enemy doesn’t hit the ground. If they do, their guard is resumed and you’re forced to waste attacks to break it again. So the name of the game is to juggle the enemy effectively while making sure as many of your attacks connect as possible. It’s got some skill involved beyond the normal “press attack” and is fun to boot.
Beyond that, the music was great fun. Every character has themes remixed from their games (though the only themes I recognized were from Ryu and Ken) and they all sound pretty good. The game is voiced entirely in Japanese, even for Western release. I don’t have a problem with this, and it was likely a decision to keep costs down. Hopefully it doesn’t backfire in sales, though. Over all, this is a fun title I’m looking forward to a lot more now that I’ve played the demo.
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