I had a pretty long list of games I wanted to hit up at Tokyo Game Show this year, and Project X Zone was right at the top of it.
A crossover between Namco Bandai, Capcom and Sega characters, Project X Zone is a 3DS game not entirely unlike Namco x Capcom for the PS2 from a few years back. With over 200 characters from all three publishers making an appearance in some form, this is pretty much Fanservice: The Game.
But is it actually any good?
The TGS demo started with Ling Xiaoyu from Tekken bumping into Batsu from Rival Schools. The two have a brief conversation (fully voiced), before realizing they're under attack by an army of zombies and monsters from Ghosts'n Goblins. The game then shifted into battle mode, which is where I spent most of my time. Playable on the battle field were Mega Man X, Zero, Chris Redfield, Jill Valentine, Dante, Demitri, Yuri and Estelle. If you can figure out what games those characters originated from, you get free Elliot brownie points.
For the most part, movement is like any other SRPG you might have played. You can move your units a certain amount of spaces and attack enemies from different directions. In battle is where Project X Zone goes crazy. Each unit is actually a pair of characters that fight together. By pressing certain button combinations (forward x, etc), your characters will perform attacks on the enemies onscreen. Juggling baddies is a big part of the gameplay and allows you to do more damage. For example, using Dante I was able to throw a zombie up in the air and keep him there with handgun fire. I wasn't sure what I was doing at first and quickly discovered that mashing buttons was not the best way to finish off my opponents quickly.
You can attach solo characters to your units, which are essentially assists that you can summon during an attack. These characters come onscreen and lay waste to enemies, enabling you to extend combos or deliver the finishing blow. The more damage you do in a turn, the more your Cross Power (XP) gauge fills, allowing you to pull off super flashy special moves, complete with character cut-ins.
Sprites looked great in motion and any concerns I had about the visual quality of the game are gone entirely. It was an absolute blast watching Mega Man X and Zero take down zombies alongside Dante and the Tales of Vesperia cast. At the same time though, I'm concerned that the gameplay will start to feel repetitive after a while. Even within the TGS demo, it felt like turns went on for just a little too long. I'm really not sure if there's enough depth here to last through the entire game.
As a piece of fanservice however, you could do a lot worse. Seeing some of my favorite characters from now-dead franchises come back for one last hurrah will probably be worth the price of admission for some folks (me). Project X Zone hits Japanese shelves on October 11, and I'll be picking it up eventually if not at launch.
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