Project X Zone 2 is fan service incarnate, combining characters from popular Capcom, Sega, and Bandai Namco entertainment franchises to create a tactical RPG like no other available today.
Developed by Monolith Software (Xenoblade series, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword) and published by Bandai Namco Entertainment, Project X (pronounced as “cross”) Zone 2 utilizes a thin plot device to give players the ability create dream teams of good guys in an effort to save the world. This sequel also brings Nintendo characters into the mix for the first time, namely Chrom and Lucina from Fire Emblem Awakening and some up-and-coming fighting game series known as Smash something or other.
Gameplay in Project X Zone 2 involves moving your characters across a grid in worlds from the various franchises to engage in combat with local baddies. Once you clash, the combat itself is disappointingly simplistic. Mesmerizingly flashy when you take into account the crisp 2-D sprites and anime scenes, but simplistic. As long as you time your button mashes right, you can figuratively juggle enemies into submission.
Also striking a balance is the aforementioned array of characters in the game. While some may not be familiar to Western audiences, there are enough popular protagonists such as Street Fighter V cover boy Ryu, Devil May Cry’s Dante, and Heihachi Mishima from the Tekken games to keep you engaged. If you’re a fan of older titles from the back catalog of these illustrious companies, then you’re in luck, as a few gems are brought out of retirement to make fan boys and girls squee. Axel Stone from Streets of Rage, Ulala from the delightfully quirky Space Channel 5, and that charming Darkstalkers catgirl Felicia (BYE, FELICIA!) are among the characters at your command as either hard-hitting pairs or solo units.
I am personally most thankful for Bandai Namco’s inclusion of Kite and Haseo from the .hack series in this already lush lineup. .hack//Link was a sloppy finish for the engaging multimedia franchise that had me searching magazines and pausing anime episodes for codes to enter in the games themselves, which were hack-and-slash simulations of an MMO game, complete with all of the drama between people outside of the game world. .hack captured my imagination over a decade ago like few other games have, and vocal support in today’s gaming climate could spark a reboot.
That little rant is evidence enough of how engaging some of these characters can be, and why titles like Project X Zone 2 are made. While I could easily see this as a popular mobile game, the rich roster of characters and simple gameplay makes Project X Zone 2 a fun trip down memory lane via the Nintendo 3DS.
Project X Zone 2 is now available on Nintendo 3DS.