Review: Project X Zone for Nintendo 3DS

Sections: 3DS, Action, Fighting, Genres, Handhelds, Reviews, Role-Playing, Strategy

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Project X ZoneTitle: Project X Zone
Price: $39.99
System: Nintendo 3DS
Release Date: June 25, 2013
Publisher (Developer): NAMCO Bandai Games (Monolith Software, Inc.)
ESRB Rating: “T” for Teen

Until the day it was released, I had absolutely no interest in Project X Zone. My video game history has gaps in platforms and eras, so I have a working knowledge of maybe 25% of the characters in this mash-up of heroes and villains of games from NAMCO Bandai, Sega and Capcom, of which there are over 50. Be it the fault of marketing, media, or my preconceived notions, I was under the impression Project X Zone would appeal only to nostalgia seekers and fans of brawlers.

I was wrong. It appealed to me.

Project Demo Zone

The game demos available in the eShop generally kill sales with me (I’m looking at you, Castlevania). But with no 3DS games of interest coming until Shin Megami Tensei IV on the 16th, I decided to give the Project X Zone demo a try, and I ended up buying it that day. Why? Because the demo helped me understand the battle system, which none of the early coverage did.

Project X Zone isn’t just a button-mashing RPG. Maybe you already knew that; I didn’t. Yes, the combat is mainly about chaining various combos, but it’s more about timing that twitching. Your moves are assigned to d-pad and the A button—starting out with three, and advancing up to five. Releasing them at the right time can keep your hit chaining running, as well as land criticals.

Project X Zone

In addition, you can use the L button to call help from a third character if you have one assigned to your team, as well as help from another team with the R button if you are in proximity to them when starting an attack. This is only on offense, though; when you’re attacked, you either just take the hit or use XP to defend against it for less damage or to counter attack.

Project Strategy Zone

XP is very important. Acquired in combat, it’s what allows you to use your special abilities, be they for attack, defense, health, etc. This is generally handled between fights, making sure your characters aren’t susceptible to attack from multiple enemies.

Project X Zone

But because you need 100 XP to launch your special attacks that do the most damage (and are pretty much a necessity against the multiple bosses on each level), do you risk not healing a team low on health to make sure you have enough XP for them to do serious damage to the level boss?

Project Simplicity Zone

That’s a trick question, because Project X Zone is so easy that it won’t likely come into play much. There are so many item drops throughout the game (after each battle) that you’re never stuck for health potions which don’t require XP to use. They don’t even require a turn. They don’t even require the giver to be anywhere near the recipient. Anyone can heal anyone at any time, and since you can see the turn order for your characters and the enemies, you always know when a seriously injured character will be attacked by what could be the finishing blow. As such, the battles aren’t so much about strategy and timing, but about longevity. You will win, it’s just a matter of whether there’s time to make dinner afterwards.

Project X Zone

That’s not entirely a bad thing, however. With around 40 levels to play through and many enemies on each, requiring too much preparation would drag down the whole affair. The whole point is to blast through it with reckless abandon, pausing only to enjoy the sense of humor, the fun battle animations, and the utterly ridiculous outfits that offer up good comedy throughout the game, both written and…well…visual.

Project X Zone

Project X Zone made me laugh consistently, and with my lack of knowledge of the subject matter, I’m sure there are many reference jokes I didn’t catch, too. The battles may be monotonous, but learning to time your moves for better chains and criticals keeps things fresh. The developers even managed to keep the 40 levels interesting by changing up the objectives from time to time (such as requiring you to get things done within a certain number of moves).

Project Entertainment Zone

By the time you’re about halfway through, however, you’ve pretty much unlocked every character, and the story has become completely incomprehensible, leaving you only with the combat mechanic and the game’s sense of humor. Is that enough to keep you playing Project X Zone? It was for me.

Site [Namco Bandai Games]

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