Crossover games are nothing new, but finding ones that are as enjoyable as Project X Zone can be a chore. Project X Zone takes characters from beloved franchises from Sega, Namco Bandai and Capcom, throws them together and presses the chaos button.
Some of the characters were from games I had never played before, while featuring some from franchises very dear to my heart. Characters ranged from Dante (Devil May Cry) to Zephyr and Leanne (Resonance of Fate.)
Since there are so many characters, both pro and antagonists, it is really hard to put into words what is going on in the game, not only because of the sheer amount of characters, but also because of the convoluted storyline. The main plotline follows all of the characters needlessly jumping around dimensions to follow the stolen Portalstone. Dimensions open up and drop enemies into levels, characters get thrown around dimensions and characters are put into massive battles that seem more at home in a Lord of the Rings movie.
Beyond that, the plot is so convoluted and confusing I have no idea what is going on. Main villains seem to have no motives behind their actions, and consistently double cross each other throughout the game. I’ve never been more confused by a plotline and I’ve never cared less.
After about five introductory chapters, where I learned about a few of the characters and how to play the game, X Zone spits you into the first of around 40 chapters. The first few chapters were relatively short, but eventually each level ends up around 50 minutes to an hour and a half. There is no overworld map in between chapters, no true customization screen, and no random battles. X Zone isn’t your average tactical RPG. In between levels you have the opportunity to save, and drop solo units with pairs – I’ll get to that shortly – as well as check abilities and stats.
Each chapter plays very similarly. A few characters fight some enemies for a few turns until more enemies and bosses show up or are warped to the dimension you’re in. The rest of the playable characters you’ve gathered so far show up as well. Massive battle ensues, chapter end. Lather, rinse, repeat.
Despite being repetitive, the combat is incredible. X Zone is easy to pick up, but consistently fun. The fighting is somewhere between that of Fire Emblem and any of the Tales titles. Instead of pressing the attack button on the unit placement screen and watching the battle, a la Fire Emblem, pressing the attack button puts you into a battle which you control, in the vein of the Tales titles.
Each character has a set amount of inputs you can perform before that character’s turn is over. Each attack can send enemies up into the air, or launch them across the screen. Whatever the result, they come back to you. Timing in X Zone is everything. Timing an attack well can result in critical hits, and juggling. If enemies with a block attribute touches the ground between attacks they gain their block back and players must attack their way through the armor again before they start to take damage.
The playable characters in X Zone each have a partner. For the most part, series characters stick together. For example, X and Zero from Mega Man, Chris and Jill from Resident Evil, as well as Jin and Ling from Tekken. As you progress through the game, you unlock solo characters which you can place with any pair you choose. Placing certain characters with a certain pair can yield better results than others. For the most part, picking placements is up to you.
When engaging in a battle, solo characters can assist pairs with special attacks to deal bonus damage in the form of actual damage and give the character XP for engaging with cross combos. Each pair has an EXP bar that once it reaches 100% the pair can unleash their special move, resulting in a massive attack that deals a tremendous amount of damage even after all attack inputs have been entered.
Graphically, X Zone is very impressive. Each chapter features a uniquely designed arena and is slightly dynamic. One level a few turns in had a tank from Valkyria Chronicles pop up in the middle of the level; the majority of that level I was battling on top of a giant tank. Every character has a well-designed and colorful sprite that performs each action.
The special attacks are the most impressive. Upon unleashing, there is a mix of sprite animation and hand-drawn animations. Seeing these massive attacks mix the two seamlessly was brilliant and insanely fun to watch. While the combat is repetitive, I did not mind it at all since everything on the screen was so beautiful and vibrant. The chaos that ensues within each fight never gets old.
Knowing where each character is from ultimately is helpful but not necessary. A nice feature that the game includes is the Crosspedia. The Crosspedia is an oasis of information. It features helpful insights as to the background of each character, so even if I didn’t know what game a character was from initially, I was able to figure it out and get some backstory.
From the fan service to the combat, Project X Zone impresses. There is a lot of content in here, from 40 chapters to New Game+, players will be playing the game for a while. That’s not a problem considering how much fun the game is to play.