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GamerTell Interview: Mashing things up with Namco Bandai and Project X Zone

Sections: 2D, 3D, 3DS, Developers, Exclusives, Features, Game-Companies, Genres, Handhelds, Interviews, Originals, Publishers, Role-Playing, Strategy

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Project X Zone is a gamer’s dream game. I mean that literally. You know how sometimes, after a day of playing your favorite games, you’ll see the casts enacting the most epic battles as you doze. That’s what happens in Project X Zone, except here you’re limited to stars from the biggest and best Namco Bandai, Capcom and Sega games.

Simply put, it seems amazing and it’s a happy surprise that North America, Europe and Australia will actually end up getting Project X Zone sometime this summer. GamerTell was so excited that I had to find out more from Namco Bandai’s Austin Keys, Producer of Project X Zone. We talked of story, gameplay and characters that would have been awesome in the 3DS game but didn’t make the cut.

Let’s get right to it and see what it’s like when iconic characters congregate in one dimension!

project x zone
GamerTell: How important is the story in Project X Zone?
Austin Keys: The story is important in setting the stage for why all these characters from other worlds, times and dimensions have managed to cross paths. In that respect the story does a great job in not taking things too serious, facilitating the unthinkable to happen, and letting the characters drive things forward through their stylized conversations.

GT: Would you say the overall tone of Project X Zone is humorous, serious or a healthy mix of the two?
Keys: I would say the overall tone of Project X Zone is entertaining. We have a good balance of serious characters and humorous characters put in situations where they all have to work together and interact with each other in order to survive. All of the characters stay true to their nature, so a lot of the entertainment you get from the characters is listening to the conversations had amongst them.

This overall entertaining tone also carries over into the game aspects. This Strategy RPG is made up of maps, locations, items, and situations that all reference the fun from their original games the characters come from. On top of that, they included beautiful drawn and animated character sprites as well as graphic cut-ins for the special attacks that are great to look at and really drive home the entertainment value all the characters bring to the game.

GT: Is Project X Zone all about fan service, focusing on it while neglecting other elements, or is it more balanced with equal care paid to gameplay and story?
Keys: The development team in Japan did a wonderful job of balancing all elements of the game to make sure everyone would be entertained from start to finish, while packing in as much fan service as possible!

The main story and battle conversations are entertaining, the sprite graphics and animation as well as the cut-in graphics are all beautifully done. In addition to that, the map-based strategy, Unit pairing, and Cross Action Battle system are all set up to be easily playable with plenty of strategy elements built in.

GT: How much of each character’s personality do we get to see in Project X Zone, considering how many party members there are?
Keys: There are over 50 ally characters in this game and the team did a great job of presenting a feeling of depth to all the characters be focusing on both character-specific highlights and situations that deepen the group dynamic.

Character-specific highlights are presented during the battles in the form of combat animations, special attack cut-ins and character conversations. Seeing all the different visuals of the characters and listening to their combat call-outs really creates a sense of personal closeness to the characters.

Group dynamics come into play as the main story unfolds and all of the characters in the party confront common enemies and shared predicaments. Having all of the characters talk amongst each other about how they can get out of the situation they are in really melds all of the characters and the world together.

project x zone
GT: How have you been handling the localization and introduction of characters like, whose games haven’t been released outside of Japan?
Keys: Creating the English “voice” for a new character is always a challenge.

For Project X Zone, we do have the original Japanese voice over performances for the characters play with subtitles in the game, so we focused on getting the text you read on screen to best match up with the Japanese performance you hear, while still holding true to the core ideas of the language being used.

GT: In Project X Zone, players have access to Solo Units and Pair Units in battle. How are these two units used in the game?
Keys: Solo Units can join up with any Pair Unit to make one movable Unit of three characters. All the skills and special effect for all characters in that Unit are selectable during that Unit’s turn on the map, which will allow for one method of strategically customizing the Units to your liking.

For example, matching up a strong attacking Pair Unit with a Solo unit that has the skill to move farther, attack in a wider range, or not be susceptible to counter-attacks from the enemy, would build a strong offensive Unit to complement other Defensive and Supportive Units.

The Solo Units also come into play when you engage the enemy in combat. Strategically call in your Solo Unit at any time to set up for a Cross Hit (both Pair Unit and Solo Unit hit the enemy at the same time) to lock the enemy in place to allow for a more stable linking of combos.

Since all of the skills and attacks are unique to the Solo Unit character, I would recommend changing up the Pair and Solo match-ups at the end of every level and really spend some time mixing and matching characters to find your favorite types of pair-ups.

project x zone
GT: What’s your favorite cameo so far?
Keys: Chun-Li (Street Fighter) and Morrigan (Darkstalkers) are a very versatile Pair to use in game, and I would match them up a lot of the time with Vashyron (Resonance of Fate) because I like that group of three characters.

GT: Are there any classic Namco Bandai, Sega or Capcom characters you love and wish had been included in Project X Zone?
Keys: Is this question some sort of psychological test?

Well, I’m sure my answers will get me into trouble with fans worldwide and all the executives on the publishing side of all companies, so here we go!

From Namco Bandai, the King of All Cosmos and The Prince (Katamari Damacy) as a Pair with maybe. Rick Taylor (Splatterhouse) as the Solo Unit. [Laughs] That’ll get me in trouble.

From Sega I would want to see ToeJam and Earl (ToeJam & Earl) as a Pair Unit with Taro Yamada (Rent-a-Hero) as a Solo Unit. That would be very entertaining.

A lot of my favorite Capcom characters did make it in to Project X Zone, so I’ll say a Pair made up of Phoenix Wright and Franziska von Karma (Ace Attorney) with Vanessa Z Schneider (P.N.03) as a Solo Unit would make for an interesting group.

Site [Namco Bandai Games]

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