Crossovers are just fun. Even if they might not make the most sense, it’s just cool to see your favorite characters interacting. If you’re a big fan of several Sega, Capcom, and Namco Bandai franchises, then the original Project X Zone should’ve been a dream mash-up. Sadly, the keyword is “should’ve” as the strategy role-playing game largely fell flat after a promising start.
Now Namco Bandai has a second chance to fulfill its potential with Project X Zone 2. While there aren’t any huge sweeping changes that will immediately impress gamers, there are a bunch of small enhancements that make for a much better experience. The biggest change is just how much better the presentation is in the sequel. The user interface looks spiffier, the area in-between levels is now a substantial shop, and it’s visually just more impressive.
The gameplay has largely stayed the same, as players will still lead a cast of characters (ranging from Virtua Fighter’s Akira to Mega Man) around an enemy filled map in a turn-based manner. While it’s a pretty simple strategy game, so don’t expect the satisfaction that you get from Fire Emblem or Disgaea from these battles, there are some new touches that add some much needed depth to the formula. Each character’s attacks can be upgraded between fights thanks to an in-game currency, and while the upgraded attacks aren’t noticeably different it does give the game a better sense of progression. This is important, as the original Project X Zone became monotonous over time.
“While it’s a pretty simple strategy game, so don’t expect the satisfaction that you get from Fire Emblem or Disgaea from these battles, there are some new touches that add some much needed depth to the formula.”
These small changes are far from game changers, they actually add up over time. This is a game you’ll be spending dozens of hours with, so any addition will pay off major dividends by the time your journey ends. The game’s story is still largely nonsense overall, although slightly less so than the original game’s convoluted plot, but the real highlight is seeing characters from different series interact. It’s just plain cool to watch Phoenix Wright deal with Goro Majima from Yakuza, and the cast is full of great characters. Nintendo even let some of their iconic stars appear in the game, as fan favorites from both Xenoblade Chronicles and Fire Emblem appear in the game.
While the crossover interaction is definitely the star, it’s largely due to the well done localization. Each character’s personality is intact, and the dialogue is genuinely hilarious at times. Sometimes the dialogue can go on a bit too long, and there are some sexually inappropriate scenes that don’t add anything to value to the game, but overall it’s an enjoyable read. It’s also worth mentioning that should you ever get fed up with the amount of dialogue, you can now completely skip to the next section by pressing the start button.
Despite Project X Zone 2’s main story being largely nonsense, it does manage to create some awesome moments. It’s cool to see so many villains teaming up, and you also get to visit fantastic locations from some famous games. Some of these locations are ripped straight from the original, though, which is disappointing at first. There’s enough new locales in the game, though, so it never feels like a total retread.
As you can tell by now, Project X Zone is largely a by-the-numbers sequel where everything is bigger and better. It also means that a lot of the core problems remain from the first game. The attack animations for characters, while awesome, still take way too much time to unfold. There is too much time spent watching the same exact attack play out, and it would’ve been nice if there was a way to speed up the gameplay. Even squash battles take a decent amount of time to get through, and that can be annoying. There also isn’t enough depth to keep it feeling fresh throughout. The customization options are cool, but it still gets repetitive just like the first game (although not quite to that extent).
If you enjoyed the original Project X Zone then picking up the sequel is a no-brainer. It’s a bigger, better experience with a better cast of characters. That said, if the original left a bad taste in your mouth there isn’t enough sweeping changes to make you change your mind on the formula. Despite Project X Zone 2 being better than its predecessor in every way, it still suffers from a lot of the same issues.
***A 3DS review code was provided by the publisher***
- Fun to see gaming’s greats
- The presentation is a huge step up
- It’s a ridiculous fan fiction
- Battle animations go on too long
- Eventually the novelty wears off
- Not enough depth