Developer: Monolith Soft, Banpresto
Publisher: Namco Bandai Games
Platforms: Nintendo 3DS
Release Date: June 25th, 2013
It is that time again, Summer. This is where video games take a break until early fall. Now there is no better time for Project X Zone, a tactical turn-based strategy Japanese RPG that lasts about 40 hours for those long Summer days.
A Dash of Anime
Our story begins with a heist at the main character Mii’s mansion. What is stolen is the Portal Stone, this is the Koryuji clan’s special treasure. With the Portal Stone missing, it is causing interdimensional rifts. These rifts open up different places and times were our heroes are from. They will need to stop the evil villainess Due Flabellum from opening more rifts and return home to their respective worlds.
So this is every Otaku’s wet dream to have all of these characters mashed together for one epic adventure. The story is your typical middle of the road anime filler sub plot that only stays coherent for about 80% of the time. However, don’t let that put you off. Where the story really shines is the character interaction. You get a perfect sense of comradery when these characters are engaging in conversion with each other.
Frank West easily has the best interactions with any of the characters
Frank West easily has the best interactions with any of the characters. For example, Frank notices that T-elos is a super attractive female robot and needs to take pictures of her. So you see the camera view finder appear on her and it says “erotic” just like in Dead Rising. One thing I didn’t mind was the voice over track is only in Japanese, but I do want to mention it since some like to have English voice over.
What makes Project X Zone so special is its active combat system. Project X Zone‘s turns are very similar to game like Fire Emblem or Final Fantasy Tactics. However, the movement and combat are completely different. Unlike those games units can move freely within their range on the field map. While on the field map there is no turn penalty for accessing treasure or destructible objects prior to attacking. Using any healing items or unit special abilities doesn’t forfeit a turn either. If you choose to use a map attack which is good for taking out multiple enemies, it will take up that character’s turn.
Attacking is undoubtedly the best aspect of the game
Let me give you a run down on attacking. Attacking is undoubtedly the best aspect of the game. Attacking brings you to the battle screen, which is where it gets interesting. Project X Zone plays like a rudimentary fighting game. The key to battle, like many fighting games, is to keep the enemy juggled in mid air and to build up your Cross Points. Cross Points allow you to unleash powerful super moves that deliver devastating damage. Don’t be so quick to burn that meter. Meter is also used for your units special abilities, defensive abilities, and reviving fallen comrades.
Managing your meter is required for battles to go your way. Run out of meter and say hello to a unit getting bombarded with a series of attacks taking full damage. I really enjoyed about this aspect is that it provides a great risk reward system. Should I burn my meter and finish off this unit since his turn is next or save it and defend since a powerful unit is closing in. One problem I ran into during my time with the game is that in the beginning you find yourself doing the same combos over and over. Later on it gets better when units start learning all of their moves increasing the variety of attacks.
I found myself noticing that only the boss type and other non generic enemies gave me a challenge. This makes combat in the game overall pretty easy. I was able to make way too many mistakes without proper repercussions. Don’t worry if you lose an ally in combat. They will appear in the next mission and are not gone forever. After missions you will be brought to the intermission screen. Here you can equip items found in the battle. You can pair any solo unit to any other duo unit in the game. Some of the items I found throughout the game were extremely over powered. When obtaining these items the game just became a cakewalk.
Project X Zone is absolutely drop dead gorgeous
Let me put this out there, Project X Zone is absolutely drop dead gorgeous. Somehow Monolith Soft was able to translate these 3D characters into pixel perfect 2D representations of themselves. Project X Zone doesn’t shy away from using a bright color palette either. This allows the colors to really pop when 3D mode is active. The only problem I had with the visuals is that the map screen sprites are very lack luster and don’t capture the essence of the character like the battle sprites do. Not only are the battle sprites awesome, but the animation is out of this world.
This is easily some of the best new age sprite animation I’ve ever seen. With the insanely crisp and amazingly clean sprite transitions you’ll never see any kind of blemish. When you witness Ryu and Ken executing their combos from Street Fighter 4 in battle you really see the effort Monolith Soft put into the game.
I would like to mention that 3D works great in this game. At first I didn’t really like, but after a few missions it grew on me. Having the sprites on top of a 3D background gives the game great depth. During the dialogue scenes the text really pops out making it easier to read.
If you are a fan of Fire Emblem or Final Fantasy Tactics you will feel right at home here. The story can be a little Anime cliché and the combat can stagnate over time, but that is no reason to ignore this game. Honestly, it is an absolute miracle this game got localized in the first place. Please spend your money on this game because it truly deserves it.
BOG’s Project X Zone Review Score
|8.5||Why so high?
Great turn-based elements mixed with real-time combat, Excellent character interactions
|Why so low?
A story that doesn’t always stay coherent, Easy difficulty