Project X Zone: Chaos, Confusion And Crossover

By Laura . July 4, 2013 . 1:00pm

Project X Zone opens with two characters, a girl named Mii Koryuji and her martial arts teacher, home tutor, and hired ninja all in one, Kogoro Tenzai, discovering that Mii’s family heirloom has been stolen. The family is said to be behind-the-scenes in events all over the world, and the treasure is called a “Portalstone”. Sure enough, what results is a veritable dog pile of universes crossing over, meshing over each other in a tangle worse than a basket of strings.


Since I admit that the story may develop further after the point I left off of as I write this playtest, I can only say that what’s happened thus far can honestly be summed in three words—“chaos,” “confusion,” and “crossover”. For the first several chapters, the main group is beamed from world to world willy-nilly, each time growing as two or three new members join the fray.


Having so many characters from such different series in one game and coming up with a plot that links all the games together is almost impossible without being somewhat tenuous, but Project X Zone does okay, all things considered.


As a massive crossover game, it’s unsurprising the characters are drawn from an enormous number of franchises, some of which I’d never even heard of. More obscure franchises like Darkstalkers and Endless Frontier are present, but of course series such as Tekken, Street Fighter, Virtua Fighter, .hack, and Mega Man appear as well. Other relatively unknown series, such as Yumeria, Adventure of Valkyrie, and Fighting Vipers also have their say.  More recent franchises include Dead Rising, Resonance of Fate, and God Eater. Even the original characters from Namco x Capcom are back.


One thing I will say the game does well is seamlessly draw all these series together—not an easy thing to do, as some of these games were from the NES era, and others from the modern generation of consoles. Furthermore, their original art varies from anime-esque to cartoon-ish to realistic. In Project X Zone, though, the characters are drawn fairly consistently, with everything treated with the same amount of humor, similar type of art (I suppose it is impossible to completely standardize Mega Man and Resident Evil to one style), and same vivid expressions and poses that bring the game to life. The music also changes when a particular character’s turn comes around.


The game also makes a special effort to try to leave no one out of story events—an astounding feat when there are 60 characters in total to account for. While a line or two isn’t a particularly deep contribution, it still reminds the players that the characters aren’t forgotten. It seems like later, chapters are dedicated to certain characters periodically, too, so characters are always drawn back into a spotlight now and then.


In addition, Project X Zone goes the extra step and creates an encyclopedia covering the histories of all the characters… although players should read with caution. Most of the entries contain spoilers for that character’s entire game. It, and the battle tutorial that appears alongside it, are very helpful, though—one for understanding the characters better and the other for reminding you how some of the gameplay details work.


The gameplay itself is a crossover between different genres. On the outset, it looks like a standard strategy RPG, complete with grid system and breakable obstacles. However, once you encounter an enemy, the battle changes to what looks like a fighting game screen, with an announcer shouting “Ready, fight!” as the battle starts. That said, it differs from a fighting game in that here, your goal is to beat down one-sidedly upon your opponent while juggling them in the air for higher combos. More combos mean you gain more EXP and XP bonus after battles. Attacking right before they hit the ground brings critical hits.


Also, every attack sequence of a character contains a different set of motions that bounce the enemies different ways. When you couple this with support character attacks and solo character attacks, timing becomes very important if you want to earn XP. Speaking of which… XP is Cross Points. These fill up in a gauge at the bottom of the top screen and these are what are used to cast spells, heal, and use the special finishing moves. Using them causes massive and is extremely helpful in a boss fight.


The only way to earn XP other than ending your turn is to call in support. In Project X Zone, a character unit actually consists of a pair of characters, called a Pair Unit. These characters are usually, but not always, from the same game. For example, you have Yuri and Estelle (Tales of Vesperia) in the same Pair while Chun-Li (Street Fighter) and Morrigan (Darkstalkers) are in the same Pair. Pairs cannot be separated or broken up. Even if Ryu and Ken (Street Fighter) are in the same game as Chun Li, they are a Pair Unit, while Chun-Li is already in a Pair Unit with Morrigan. You can’t somehow combine or switch the characters around. There are 20 Pair Units (40 characters) in total.


While this lack of customization may feel annoying, the game does give you the option of switching around the remaining 20 characters, termed Solo Units. These characters can only be teamed up with a Pair Unit outside of battle, so there’s no switching within battles. You can’t input commands directly to these characters, but instead, you can call them in for an extra combo of attacks while your characters are attacking. If your two teams strike the opponent at the same time, the enemy freezes in space, allowing your characters to pummel it together and rack up the combo. Unfortunately, a Solo Unit attack doesn’t last long, and after they deliver their special attack, they leave the screen and the enemy drops from the Cross Hit’s hold.


On the other hand, you can also call forth Support Attacks if you’re standing within two blocks of another unit. They function much like a Solo Unit in terms of how they attack and the Cross Hit. You can also call them in conjunction with a Solo Unit, bringing three teams to the fight at once.


A turn in battle ends when you’ve used a set number of attacks (3-6, I believe, depending on your level) or when your Pair Unit executes its Special Attack.


The battle system is very dynamic and an exercise in timing, and even if you can’t really control your unit’s movements, you can determine which attack they use and the animation is very dynamic. Admittedly, so much is happening that it’s often very hard to tell what’s going on sometimes, but in turn it is fun to watch as you spot signature moves here and there.


The only problem is that, as the game plays on, the number of characters grows and grows, and the number of enemies also grows and grows. I haven’t had the option to choose which characters appears in battle yet, and I currently have 14 Pair Units, and more are still coming. And each time your characters fight, you’re taken to a separate screen where all the enemy juggling occurs. While the fight is interactive, it’s the same 3-5 moves until you level up.


In other words, it might get a little tedious as reinforcements arrive—not to mention, when multiple boss characters appear in each level. Bosses have massive amounts of HP, and can also dish out much more damage compared to the ordinary grunt, but you’re almost never in danger of losing a unit if you heal up with items you earn every time you defeat an opponent.


On the other hand, each battle is different as units are disabled, more allies appear almost every level, enemies teleport in, and even new Bosses appear. There’s always something happening in the battles, so while this does make the battles longer, it changes things up so it’s not “just” another battle monsters or zombies or demons and a single Boss appears and you have to beat them.


Project X Zone isn’t too difficult, and I enjoyed seeing many of the characters from series I know and series I didn’t know. It has admittedly drawn my attention to a few of the more unknown ones. The game promises to be long (it appears there are 40 missions), and while each mission may drag out, Project X Zone tries its hardest to keep you on your toes. I always find myself looking forward to what happens in a battle while simultaneously bemoaning just how long it will take.


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  • SilverSven

    “More obscure franchises like Darkstalkers”

    Time to stop coming here.

    • Well, to be fair, I never heard of Darkstalkers until recently myself.

      Just because Laura hasn’t heard of the game before doesn’t make her any less of a gamer. You can’t tell me you know every game, mainstream or otherwise?

      Project X Zone is a great way allowing gamers, new and old, to know some of the franchises that wouldn’t have known about if it wasn’t for the game.

      • SilverSven

        One person not knowing a franchise that happens to be represented in every one of Capcom’s own crossovers does not make it “obscure”.

        It makes one doubt the integrity of a website that professionally talks about video games.

        • SlickRoach

          Good point. I only played Darkstalkers once but due to crossovers like TvC and MvC characters like Morrigan, Hsien-Ko, and Felicia were already household names to me. Didn’t they even have Darkstalkers costumes in MH Frontier Online as well?

          • supervamp

            See the keyword in both of those titles is capcom and dlc costume in a game does not equal/mainstream

        • Solomon_Kano

          One particular person’s view of a series’ relevance calls the integrity of the entire site into question?

          The site is here for news, playtests are a bonus.

          • SilverSven

            Don’t kill the messenger, this is the average Joe’s point of view, not (just) mine.

            Why would said average Joe be told about video games from people who know less about video games?

            You might have taken that integrity bit a liiittle too seriously anyway.

          • Solomon_Kano

            If you were joking, then cool, but your comment doesn’t appear to be a joke.

            Why would said average Joe be told about video games from people who know less about video games?

            Not knowing about a particular series impairs the ability to report on anything else accurately? For multiple writers?

        • Your making the assumption that because Darkstalkers has appeared in in-house crossovers that it should be known? What if she hadn’t played those titles, then what? Shw still wouldn’t know.

          I hardly think her reputation or the integrity of the site would be tarnished in any way because of not knowing a game series.

          • SilverSven

            Correction, it has appeared in POPULAR AND MAINSTREAM in-house crossovers. Not having played them should still ring quite a few bells. Me? I never played Darkstalkers. Not in the arcades, not in the home console rereleases. Hell, I never played MvC or any of those other games in which they appear. But I know about Darkstalkers because it appears everywhere. It’s not obscure.

          • Having a character appear, in most recent times, in crossovers and in MvC but not in a standalone title does make it obscure.

            Morrigan, just like Felicia, stood out mostly, to those not in the loop, by their designs.

          • SilverSven

            That’s like saying Rolls-Royce is obscure because it doesn’t have its own logo on the vehicles anymore.

          • supervamp

            That doesn’t make any sense

          • Rafael Budzinski

            …have to disagree. To call Darkstalkers an “obscure franchise”, and call, for an example, Fighting Vipers and Yumeria “relatively unknow” doesn’t makes sense to me. Darkstalkers, even not receiving enough love for so many years, is always present on EVERY Capcom’s crossovers (and besides Capcom Fighting Jam, they’ve always being successful), so, I really can’t believe someone saying the series is an obscure one (c’mon, even the PSP received a Darkstalkers game not so damn long ago to be called an “unknown title”)…

    • Yan Zhao

      Except it is obscure.

      Its a series released in the 90s that only hardcore arcade goers and fighting game enthusiasts would know. Its not a household mainstream name like Street Fighter.

      • SilverSven

        I’m going to hazard a guess and say that the amount of people who know about Darkstalkers through other means such as crossover games or *american cartoon series* far outweighs the amount of people who don’t.

        • supervamp

          >Through crossover games and american cartoons
          You just dug your own grave
          They are talking about the game series it self not the most popular characters thrown in for a nostalgia factor.

          • SilverSven

            You really wanted to get your fill of “I sure told that guy” today, huh…

          • supervamp

            I’m sorry if you don’t get how obscurity works.

  • Demeanor

    So the battle system works kinda like Valkyrie Profile…

    • AnimusVox

      Kinda, though if I had to compare it to any game I’d say ‘Super Robot Taisen’ for the DS.

      • Jesse Thompson

        Indeed, it is almost identical to SRT for the DS in that it does the same knockback and bounce effects, same “combo” by juggling the enemy. Mega points for mentioning the best game of all time though, alexwordstheater. (~.~):b

  • Magnumsally

    The game is so good

  • Spirit Macardi

    If they make a sequel that actually includes characters like Klonoa, Sonic, Viewtiful Joe, Bravoman, etc. I’d totally buy it. Hell, even if they added in more characters as DLC for this one I’d likely pick it up.

    • AnimusVox

      I, personally, wouldn’t want Sonic however Klonoa doesn’t get enough love so I’m all for that addition and VJ.

    • Solomon_Kano

      Wouldn’t care to see Sonic since he’s certainly not lacking in appearances, but Joe would’ve been a cool rep.

    • lozffvii

      I’m calling a Sonic/Viewtiful Joe pair unit!
      I don’t think there’s any dlc for the game, but it would be awesome to see a sequel.
      Also, Nights as a solo unit would be cool.
      Thinking about it, if Sonic ever ends up in a sequel or something I’m betting that Shadow will be a solo unit (I’m not a Shadow fan, I’m just basing this on his appearance as an assist trophy in SSBB).

    • Lynx

      Scrap Sonic and Klonoa and just give them a crossover to themselves. I’d play it.

  • Laith Rem

    You get every character on Mission 27. And they will always be deployed, so there’s no worry about who to field and who not to.

    Also, timing is key since critical hits are not based on luck but if your hit connects when the enemy is in front of you. Special attacks are applied to this rule so you can make all kinds of silly damage.

  • GuyAlpha

    It’s a really cool game. Closest thing to another Endless Frontier game that will get localized.

    • darryl scott

      You right I wish they translated the 2nd og saga

  • Guest

    I’m currently at chapter 27 right now.

  • dragoon_slayer12

    I just finished the game last night (at 3am),and it’s by far my favorite 3ds game. The combat is addicting, and Innever felt like it was a drag. Time truly flies as you play because the combat is so amazing. The chapters get longer and longer as you play, where the last 10 chapters become 2 hours long (last chapter took 5 hours). 70 hours of pure bliss.

  • Jesse Torres

    This game is awesome.

  • game is totally sweet and seeing x and kos-mos fight side by side is such a pleasure! Gotta love the little nods to the games characters are from or the faithful representation of their personalities, like vashyron for example, though personaly i would have like to see a few different faces like edy and vyse instead of kurt and riela (though is still like em i just prefer edy and vyse)

  • z_merquise

    Really love the game. It may not be as tactical nor it had the deep customization of Fire Emblem: Awakening but it is a fun game on it’s own. It’s kind of like Super Robot Wars, it’s more on delivering powerful blows to your enemies, positioning your allies for a support attack and managing your XP (used for casting Skills, defending, countering and super moves).

    Plus it’s a cross-over game so one of it’s appeal is seeing your characters of different franchises together. Watching the banter between characters of different games is a real treat and really put a smile.

  • BloodyNights

    I just came…for Juri.


    Kinda funny how the japanese completely dismissed the game as repetitive and tedious where the west completely adores it for simple nostalgia. I wonder what this says about the differences of gamers

    • J_Joestar

      well this and Code Of Princess should prove to Japanese Developers should take a heavier look at the NA Japanophilic crowd as a viable audience.

    • Jesse Thompson

      Call me an American Japanese then, because this thing is extremely repetitive…

  • Göran Isacson

    I think I can survive the repetitive combat, if only for the sheer nostalgia and fanboy glee I feel at all these characters coming together. It may be simple. It may be indulgent. But darnit… it feels good.

  • Eric Harris

    Yes it’s repetitive but it’s still fun as hell. I find myself playing this on my midnight shift and after one battle 1 and a half hours have already passed. It really makes my night shift go by.

  • Rytan

    I love this game, but I find myself only being able to sit through a single chapter a day. The stages just take me so long to beat. Plus I think subconciously I want this game to last me until I get SMT4.

  • Bobby Jennings

    I’m loving it so far. Just got to Chapter 23, and I thank Nintendo for bringing this one over(as well as whoever else made it happen). Seriously this was going to actually make me import a 3DS for a second xD

  • I have been jumping between this game and AC New leaf and I have put quite a lot of hours into PxZ I’m on Chapter 38 now so I guess I’m close to the end but the enemies are relentless lots of bosses and enemies about. I have 46hrs now and counting.

  • Rafael Budzinski

    …man, can’t wait to play it (just one week…one loooong week), but I have to say I miss Guy & Sho and Strider-Hiryu from Namco X Capcom. But having Soma & Alisa and X & Zero this time, I think there’s still enough love…8D

  • James Enk

    so many games to look forward to

  • Jesse Thompson

    Unfortunately, the monotony of this game lost me, and the story…as much as reviewers claim they’re doing an okay job it just felt so forced. Also, a good majority of the characters act like they’ve already met each other (from previous games I’m certain), so this being the first localization of this “series” makes one feel like they’ve been left out of a lot of “inside jokes.”

    • Niermyico

      Luckily for me, I played that English patched version of Namco X Capcom. When I got to the part in PXZ where the characters stated that they’d met each other, I
      knew they were referring to NXC. I musta been confusing
      for people that have no idea or never played NXC.

  • TWE

    The enemy unit spam is a little ridiculous in this game at times. I don’t recall SRW doing it as much as X Zone.

  • King mogz

    Bought the JPN version since I never thought it would be released in the west >.> I should’ve waited…but imo it’s kinda tedious doing the same thing over and over again (while not understanding what they say), I got up chapter 25 or something and gave up seeing as it’s so repetitive and each stage lasting longer and longer (last one was about 50 minutes long)

  • Warboss Aohd

    i like it personally.

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