Project X Zone: The Dimensional Rift of Cameo Space
Mashups tend to stir up excitement depending on what is being mashed together. Take Marvel vs Capcom, one of the biggest crossovers to date thanks to the easy recognizable characters and huge company names displayed on the title. Other worthy mentionables like Kingdom Hearts have strived off two companies coming together and putting their characters in the same game. Project X Zone seeks to do the same, but instead of just two companies...it's three. Capcom, Sega and Namco Bandai bring their most distinguishable characters (and a few only the most hardcore of fans would recognize) to a 3DS near you. For someone like me, who loves anime styled games, Project X Zone left me with a bittersweet taste.
I'm not the biggest fan of the tactical RPG genre but there are a few that catch my eye and I decide to try them. PXZ is one such game though I'm not really sure I would classify it as such. It does have the RPG element as each team levels up the more you defeat enemies and you can equip items to boost individual stats. As for the tactical part, I feel more like the developers just wanted to throw massive waves of enemies at you rather than make players use their brains. The way I put it to my friend is this: "Project X Zone is the Dynasty Warriors of tactical RPGs". Carefully thinking out your next move or positioning your units in the right spots is barely an issue here. I went through the entire game, being reckless as I went and didn't really start to have trouble till the last few chapters. The enemies didn't get smarter though; they just came in higher numbers with a ton of HP.
I can at least praise the game for taking quite a long time to beat. By the time I finished, I clocked in over 60+ hours of gameplay. The missions are quite long, ranging from 45 mins to an hour. With 50+ chapters to work your way through, the time certainly adds up. However, other than the extremely long completion time, I can't help but feel PXZ is just a cameo show banking on the men and women who love these characters, to buy the game. If so, we definitely fell for it. In its first week, PXZ sold about 85,539 units. I find that number to be thoroughly impressive because simply put: It's a big number. While I don't regret buying my copy, I do feel the game could have been loads better than what it is. The story, well, the story doesn't make much sense. It all has to do with dimensional rifts and worlds colliding but it's so lackluster that I really didn't care.
Story aside, the gameplay itself is often repetitive. I really enjoyed the Cross Active Battle System, which means that using the "A" button in junction with the circlepad, players can combine moves for high damage combos and finish it off with a devastating ultimate move. What I really disliked is the use of such a awesome battle system on enemies who are essentially just cannon fodder. I felt no danger in attacking a higher level foe because there often isn't any danger. Take Fire Emblem: Awakening for example, that's a tactical RPG where any careless move could cost you the battle. Every battle makes you feel the weight of your decisions, be it good or bad. Maybe this feeling is because every tactical RPG I've played in the past was extremely difficult and that's the MO I've become accustomed to.
When it comes down to it, PXZ has a really good idea behind it but fails to execute. If the enemy forces were more challenging than a pack of rocks, I probably wouldn't feel so bitter towards the game. Instead, it feels like one big cameo fest. PXZ does shine through in a few aspects though. The soundtrack is pretty enjoyable for the most part, the Cross Active Battle System is hectic and flashy with extensive combos/obliterating super moves and the game takes a long time to finish.
Do I regret spending full price for this game? No. Would I do it again knowing what I do now? That's hard to say. I consider Project X Zone to be one of my many guilty pleasure titles. At the end of the day, it could have been so much more but instead, turned out to be just a game playing on the fond memories of gamers all over.