I have not been this excited or satisfied with a preorder as I have been with Project X Zone. Usually, preorder bonuses are just some quirky in-game DLC or a gimmicky keychain. However, preordering Project X Zone netted me the limited edition at no additional cost, which included a folded poster featuring all the characters in the game, a physical copy of the game soundtrack, and a concept artbook. Needless to say, I was quite pleased with what I got.
After tossing aside the poster and flipping through the artbook, I popped the CD into my laptop, and decided to give the soundtrack a quick listen. Before I knew it, I had spent over an hour just listening to the soundtrack, and had gone through the entire song list twice. I had gotten unbelievably lost in the sounds of my childhood, with theme songs and original remixes of songs from Megaman, Darkstalkers, and Ghosts ’n Goblins, just to name a few. Everything about the soundtrack was incredibly nostalgic of spending time after school at the arcade or popping in a new cartridge into my Super Nintendo. As much as I wanted to keep on listening to the soundtrack on loop, I had to pull myself away and actually play the game.
Now first things first, being a Bandai Namco and Capcom crossover game, there were a lot of characters in the roster lineup of Project X Zone that I wasn’t familiar with. While I recognized every single one of the Capcom characters, nearly all of the Namco characters were fairly new to me. The game instantly throws you into a giant mashup of all the characters, and then repeatedly shuffles them all around into different teams. As for the plot, it seems to be the new archetype for all crossovers to default to “crazy rapid dimension hopping to overcome massive universal collapse.” Mix together unknown characters popping around dimensions like an amped up shell game, and you lose sight of what the game is about.
Despite the lack of a decent plot, my minor grievances with Project X Zone quickly vanished. Project X Zone’s gameplay revolves around turn based battle, with each side advancing their two unit teams towards each other. Instead of pre-animated battle sequences like the Fire Emblem and Advance Wars series, the action swaps into a 2D fighting game stage. Button presses combined with directional commands allows each one of your units to launch the enemy into the air with a dazzlingly array of signature moves.
By synchronizing your attacks with a certain rhythm, you can juggle your enemies in the air, bounce them from screen to screen, and amp your power meter. Once your power meter hits 100%, it allows you to pull off penultimate team attacks. You’re given the option to skip the team attack sequences, but why would you ever feel the need to? They’re synchronized special attacks, reminiscent of the hyper combo moves in Marvel vs. Capcom and Street Fighter. However, instead of just one character hogging the spotlight, each character in your two character unit builds off of each other’s momentum, until a graphically jaw dropping final attack is performed for massive damage. I’ve yet to grow tired of any of the fight sequences, let alone the team attacks, and I’ve yet to play as all of the characters yet.
It’s amazing to watch the different combination and special moves that each character pair can pull off, and it shows a lot of creativity from the co-developers at Namco Bandai Games and Monolith Soft. Once the fighting started, I quickly forgave the game’s few shortcomings in favor of the zany over-the-top crossover battles. As if the gameplay wasn’t good enough, the songs in the soundtrack made everything flow even better. Utilizing sprite machinimas and creative battle sequences, Project X Zone crushed its lackluster storyline with top notch gameplay and one hell of a soundtrack.