WORKING MULTIPLE JOBS SUCKS! Moving on from that it's time for a game review, this time its "Project X Zone" for the 3DS. "Project X Zone" (pronounced Cross Zone) is a collaborative effort between Bandai Namco Games, Sega, and Capcom, and features characters and enemies from different game franchises created by said companies. Among the game franchises included are "Virtua Fighter", "Tales of Vesparia", and "Devil May Cry", there are also several new characters developed specifically for this game. Once I heard this game was announced it became the main reason I wanted a 3DS, so let's see if it's any good or not.
Story: An ancient artifact called the "Portal Stone" has begun warping space and time, opening multiple portals to different worlds and alternate timelines as a result. A group of demonic entities calling themselves "Oros Phlox" wishes to steal the stone to create a perfect world. Now heroes from these different worlds must band together to stop them.
Game Play: the game uses a modified "Super Robot Wars" battle system. Characters are placed on a large map and moved across it like a chess board; a menu will open up for the selected character where you can choose what actions you want them to take (Attack, Skill, Item, or End). Selecting Attack changes a certain number of spaces around your character yellow, you then select and enemy within those spaces to attack it, if an ally is within the eight spaces directly next to the character then you can call them in during you attack to deal extra damage. Skill opens up a list of skills that the character knows; these can do things such as increase your attack range, heal allies, or increase the number of spaces the character can move across during their turn. Item opens up your inventory, allowing you to use items on your allies to restore HP and XP (we'll get to that in a moment) or heal status ailments. Once you've selected an attack target the battle screen shows up, on the left are your characters and on the right is the enemy, to attack the enemy you hit "A" and a direction on the D-Pad, this means that each character has 5 attacks (A + no direction. A + Up, A + Left, A + Right, and A + Down) after one of the attacks is completed you have a brief opportunity to attack the enemy again with either the same attack or a different one, during the battle you have one chance to attack for every attack option you have (Starting with three at the beginning of the game and five by the end). Each attack leaves the enemy open for a different amount of time, learning the timing on the attacks in encouraged through the game though because if you hit the opponent with all five attacks then it will allow you to attack one extra time. You can also hit "R" to call in a support character if you have one partnered to you and/or hit "L" to call in another character to attack with you if one is nearby, doing either of these initiates a "X Hit" (pronounced Cross Hit) during a X Hit the enemy is frozen in place making it easier to hit them, you will also be rewarded with extra XP, XP is used whenever you activate a skill or use a characters "Area Attack" or their Finisher Move. The characters will also be rewarded with experience after a fight regardless of whether or not the enemy was defeated, you can gain bonus experience by landing critical hits, getting longer combos, by defeating the opponent, and by defeating the enemy with either your Finisher or with an Area Attack. Enemies fight almost the exact same way, except they can't use items or skills, when an ally is targeted by the opponents’ attack you can choose one of three options, Counter, Guard, or Full Guard. Counter allows you to get four attacks off of the enemy after they've attacked you, you won't gain experience though, Guard obviously lets you decrease the damage you take from the attack, while Full guard completely nullifies all damage. Each of these also cost XP though, Counter costs 20 XP, Guard costs 40 and Full guard costs 60, I bring this up because you can only have a maximum of 150 XP, so you can't spam Full Guard. Boss Enemies may also use attacks that you can't block or counter, so keep an eye on your hit points especially in certain missions where if certain allies are defeated you'll lose the mission.
Music: Out of the 40 or so tracks in the game only about eight of them are original music; all the others come from the other games series that are featured in X Zone. I don't personally like any of the original songs, none of them are bad, but they aren't all that memorable, I personally found that some of the best music in the game came from the other franchises.
Graphics: The game looks pretty damned good for a handheld; it uses a mixture of sprites, animations, and still frames. The sprites are surprisingly detailed and move quit fluidly, while all the animations and still frames are done in each series art style and the sprites are made to stay as close to that style as possible and I really like that, One thing I was a bit worried about was that with all the different art styles the game would look somewhat cluttered on the boards, that wasn't the case though, in fact it actually helps characters stand out and keeps you from getting lost and/or confused during the game.
Issues: The original heroes created for the game, Kogoro and Mii, are definitly the least interesting characters in the game (it doesn't help that out of all characters they have the lowest attack stat) and the orriginal villains aren't much better. My other problem is that there isn't much interaction between our cast, by which I mean they don't really converse with each other, nearly all of it is them going over what they know about the situation or their enemies. By pairing up specific characters you can get some unique pre and post fight dialog but it's only about a sentence or two per character and has no bearing on the story. I also would have liked to have seen Minstrel appear as a support character for Kite and BlackRose (all from the ".Hack" series) so we could have the full party but oh well, and I would have preferred Trish as a support character for Dante and Demitri (from "Devil May Cry" and "Dark Stalkers" respectively) instead of Lady (mostly because I just don't like her character).
Interesting bits: A couple character choices are a little surprising. Such as Capcom actually allowing Megaman X and Zero to be in the game along with Tron Bonne from the "Megaman Legends" games, and that Sega didn't try to shoe-horn Sonic into it. I also found it interesting that they included Sanger Zanvolt from ”Super Robot Wars" in the game since the series has never had a release in the U.S.
Final Thoughts: Overall it's a fun game and a great time waster, but I didn't really see anything that required this game to be on the 3DS release instead of the normal DS. I will also say that the more you know about the characters and games that appear in X Zone the more fun you'll have, I've at least heard of most of the games in X Zone and have played several of them myself so for me this game was like a giant fanfic dream come true. If you've only heard of the companies though and know about only one or two characters in the game (like big name internet reviewer ProJared did [note, I don't dislike ProJared, I enjoy his reviews and find him a funny man]) then this game is simply not worth your time. If you’re like me though and have been dreaming of a game like this for years you should definitely pick up a copy, I would also say that IF you can find it for a reasonable price, buy a new copy since it comes with a poster of all the characters, an art book featuring the entire cast of heroes with back story on them, and the entire soundtrack, if you’re not into all that then just get the game itself, if you’re worried about not having any info on the characters whatsoever, you needn't worry, since after someone appears in the story you unlock info on them in the "Database" menu. I'll say it once again, the more you know about the individual games and characters the more enjoyable the game will be, if you know next to nothing though "Project X Zone" might not be worth your time, it's still ultimately your choice though and I hope this helps you make your decision. Share your thoughts, comments and if you have any question o didn't cover something you’re curious about let me know and I'll answer as soon as possible, if you found this interesting or know someone who might like it then spread the link. And with that, remember, keep the getaway car running.