The ultimate collaboration?
People get very excited about crossovers, be they in videogames or any other type of media. The idea of a favorite character being able to interact with another favorite character from a different franchise is the stuff of fanboy dreams. So imagine how many dreams became reality with Bandai Namco’s Project X Zone on 3DS back in 2013. Bringing characters together from a whole host of different games was a great idea and, despite the actual gameplay not being particularly noteworthy, Project X Zone was destined for a sequel.
Making reference to games from Bandai Namco, Capcom, SEGA and even Nintendo, the developers Monolith Soft, those of Xenoblade Chronicles fame, offer the ultimate cross publisher collaboration with Project X Zone 2 on 3DS, a tactical RPG with an abundance of fan service.
A huge chunk of that fan service comes from the vast variety of different characters from different games. With characters from the likes of Fire Emblem, Resident Evil, Tales of Vesperia, SoulCalibur, Yakuza, Devil May Cry, Shenmue and Street Fighter, to name but a few, Monolith Soft are obviously casting as wide a net as possible to catch the fans. And it is incredibly impressive to see so many characters from so many different games come together in one place to fight evil and defend the world.
Of course, all of that hard work falls flat if the player has nothing more than a passing interest in the games referenced in Project X Zone 2. Aside from the huge roster of characters, further fan service comes in the ways that these characters interact, and the foes they face. While it is great to see one character poke fun at another from a different game, many of the little jokes and quips will be lost on players who don’t follow those particular games. Much of the enjoyment will come from being in on the inside joke, and those who don’t know certain games will miss out on all the fun. That’s not to say unfamiliar players will not enjoy Project X Zone 2, just that they will enjoy it less that the fans. The same can be said for the previous game in that players don’t need to have played it, but the few references to the previous game will be lost on those who haven’t.
So there needs to be a story to tie all of these incredibly different characters together. Giant golden chains that are appearing through time and across dimensions, giving the perfect excuse for such varied characters to come together and presumably save the world from an evil fate. I can’t say that I found the story particularly involving, but there is enough character interaction to keep the player entertained that the story shortcomings are not a big issue.
Gameplay wise, players move characters around invisible grid levels and pick fights with enemies, all in a turn-based manner. Some strategy is added through the placement of characters and whether they approach enemies from the side of behind for combat bonus. When it comes to a battle, play changes to a side view and gives the impression of a side-scrolling brawler or a 2D fighting game.
And that is not too much off the mark. The combat is quite simple and button mashing will get the player a surprisingly long way. However, there is some depth to be had with the moves available to each character, along with when to activate special moves, save moves to increase their effectiveness next turn, defend or counter. Combos, team ups and support characters all add some flavour, and there is even a way to slow down time to aid in keeping those combos going, but it is rarely worth using.
The combat animations are another standout feature for Project X Zone 2. In fact, the entire game looks pretty good on the 3DS. But the combat animations are so gloriously over the top and enjoyable to watch. There are no simple punches here, with each attack throwing all manner of spins, kicks, throws, explosions, fireworks and special effects into the mix. The only downside to these combat spectacles is that it can become difficult to see what is going on through all of the showboating. But still, it does look cool…
In fact, Project X Zone 2 is a pretty cool game, and a good sequel in the improvements that have been made. There are plenty of options for fans to play with, and the soundtrack of remixed tunes from the original games is another offering to appease the fans. However, the game does still suffer from repetition, and anyone not affected by the fan service will feel that repetition much more acutely.
Project X Zone 2 is a game that will appeal to the fans of the various game series that are referenced. For the fans, there is so much here to like. However, for the not so fervent fans, there still remains an enjoyable, if slightly repetitious, tactical RPG offering with a massive cast of strange characters. If you played the previous title, and enjoyed it, then Project X Zone 2 will likely blow you away.