Game: Project X Zone 2
Consoles: Nintendo 3DS
Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment
Developer: Monolith Soft, Banpresto
Bandai Namco, Capcom and Sega are currently three of the biggest Japanese gaming publishers. Each of these major companies have helped create some noteworthy franchises, which have featured a long line of gaming’s most prominent characters. Back in 2013, all three publishers dug into their treasure trove of lovable icons and threw them into a universe spanning strategy RPG named Project X Zone. Now that we have arrived in 2016, it’s time once again to honor the long-lasting history of all three publishers with an even bigger sequel. Project X Zone 2 reaches into Bandai Namco, Capcom and Sega’s character vault to produce a game that relies on an abundance of nostalgia.
Fans of the first game will get more of what made them appreciate such a zany strategic effort in the first place. The character duos and solo units that make up your army are cherry picked from a number of beloved IP’s. Tekken’s Mishima clan constantly bickers among each other, but put their martial arts skills to good use when it’s time to head into battle. Dante and Virgil from Devil May Cry, plus Demitri and Morrigan from Darkstalkers represent the more demonic elements of Capcom. Streets of Rage’s Axel Stone, Yakuza’s Kazuma Kiryu & Goro Majima and even the infamous Sega Saturn enforcer Segata Sanshiro show up to fight for Sega. Even Nintendo’s Fire Emblem representatives (Chrom & Lucina) show up to do their part. Project X Zone 2’s character lineup is amazing and their initial appearances within the game’s story are shocking in a good way.
Before you engage with your enemies, each chapter begins with a lengthy bit of story exposition and dialogue between each character. The story itself is pure fan fiction fare. Portals open up, characters both good and evil come through them, worlds collide, a much more sinister force is working behind the scenes…blah blah blah blah. To be honest, you’ll come and stay for the chance to see each character fight as allies and pull off some devastating combos. Many of the interactions between the characters are full of wit and callbacks to their own games. Heihachi calls on Phoenix Wright to be his lawyer, an entire band of ninjas from all three companies speak on each other’s legitimacy and more meetings like these provide plenty of humorous moments. The plot is weak, but the opening monologues between the cast are always entertaining.
The battle unfolds in much the same way as they did before. You’ll move your party members around a grid-based map and encounter your foes in head-to-head battles. The action that erupts on your screen looks quite exceptional due to the sprite-based versions of each franchise headliner. Not only can you dish out tandem combos, you can call upon special standalone units and bring in nearby allies for even more double-digit combos. The ability to cancel out of an attack, leave an opponent hanging in mid-air and catch them with an even bigger super move creates some of the game’s mind-blowing moments. Watching Capcom’s Strider Hiryu and Sega’s Hotsuma slash their enemies to pieces while Bandai Namco’s Natsu offers some assistance is just an example of the creative character trios you’ll utilize.
Project X Zone 2’s overall structure starts out fun enough during the tutorial and main story chapters. Over time though, you may grow a bit bored with the repetitive setup of each chapter. It pretty much boils down to watching the character’s conversations with each other unfold, then hopping right into battle. There’s a few elements that look to change up the formula, such as grid tiles that offers stat boosts, harmful area tiles, stage challenges, treasure chests etc. But these don’t do enough to truly make the later chapters feel much different from the initial ones. Some of the map elements seen in Nintendo’s own Fire Emblem series (such as weather conditions) would have done a lot to switch up this game’s conditions and give you something fresh to play through.
Project X Zone 2 is a commendable sequel that should scratch the itch of 3DS owners looking for a new strategy RPG. The roster endears itself well to fans of Bandai Namco, Capcom and Sega’s storied collection of characters, which means fans of each company will find someone to love. The hilarious banter between these characters are a joy to watch unfold, but the basic plot behind this major crossover is weak. When it comes time to put your powerful characters to good use, you’ll constantly be entertained by the fighting game stylized attacks that come in good use. While the setup for each chapter makes the game feel a bit monotonous at later intervals, Project X Zone 2 still provides plenty of fun.
- The dialogue shared between each publisher’s roster provides some dream scenario banter
- The combo-heavy battles are as exciting to play as they are to watch unfold
- The character sprites seen during combat sequences look great
- The gameplay structure doesn’t do enough to keep things fresh at later chapters
- The overall plot isn’t too enthralling