When Project X Zone originally launched for the 3DS in 2012, it was met with both love and hate from critics and fans alike. The game was one giant slice of fan-service for Capcom, Bandai Namco, and Sega lovers, as it included just about every popular character you could think of from those companies, all within the same story. However, despite the flashy combat animations and humorous dialogue, the gameplay was overly-repetitive and got old fast for some.
Well, if you weren’t sold on the first game then Project X Zone 2 isn’t going to do a whole lot more to convince you to climb on board. What this game offers is essentially more of the same, but a LOT more of it. More characters have been added into the fray and the character combat animations are even flashier, making this more like a super version of the original game. However, it all adds up to an experience that is an absolute blast.
You may be wondering how characters like Chris Redfield from Resident Evil, M. Bison from Street Fighter and Ryo Hazuki from Shenmue could all function within the same plot, but Project X Zone 2 somehow makes it work. The tone of the game is very silly and self-aware of its own absurdity, and the characters’ personalities have all been properly scaled to match that. They didn’t turn the overly serious character into goofballs or anything like that, but they regularly deliver one-liners so they fit in with the more over-the-top characters.
The story itself is ridiculous and really only serves as an excuse to get all of these different characters into the same game. What it boils down to is portals opening up all over the place that results in both good and bad guys showing up in the worlds of characters from other series. The good guys band together, and the bad guys band together for lots and lots of battles. There really isn’t much of an attempt for it to make any kind of sense, but due to the game’s silly nature, it works here. The game is constantly throwing new characters at you from another one of your favorite series, which continuously made me smile each time someone else showed up. It’s pure, unashamed fan-service that is executed perfectly.
The character dialogue is also great, with each retaining their personality traits despite the ridiculous circumstances. It’s awesome to witness a new character come into the plot and briefly talk about the conflict he/she is in the middle of from whatever series they came from, and then have characters from completely different series react to it in hilarious ways. All of the characters from each series have been given a serious amount of attention to not only retain who they are, but function within this over-the-top game, and some serious respect has to be given for pulling that off.
As for the actual gameplay, things remain pretty similar to how they went in the first game in the series. You are given a series of missions that have you heading into new areas and killing all of the enemies contained within, only to have more enemies and allies show up during just about each one. The combat takes place on a grid and characters are once again paired together, but pairs appear as one unit as they move across the battlefield. Once you are next to an enemy the actual combat starts and both of your paired units appear on a screen with your foe, and that’s where the mayhem truly begins.
Each character has a variety of different moves that you can perform via different button combinations, with your paired units being able to attack 3 times per turn. During each attack you will be smashing and bouncing your opponents all over the screen, and you are rewarded for connecting your next string of attacks when your opponent is still flailing through the air. You can also call in your solo unit to dish out additional damage alongside your paired units, and even call in another group of paired units if they are standing adjacent to you on the battlefield.
Being able to team up Yakuza’s Kazuma Hiryu and Shenmue’s Ryo Hazuki is pretty freakin’ sweet
Even though the focus is entirely on all-out action, there is some strategy to be found in this game. When being attacked on the battlefield you will have the option to counter attack, defend to cut down damage or full defend to eliminate the damage taken entirely. Each of these actions drain a meter that raises as the battle goes on and enemies are defeated, but will run out quickly if you use these maneuvers too frequently. While you can usually get away with taking hits from the regular foes, boss enemies of varying degrees are regularly on the battlefield and can dish out tons of damage quickly.
As is the case with any SRPG worth its salt, you’ll level up by gaining experience points and earn money after each battle, which allows you to customize your equipment and upgrade your abilities. You can even switch around your solo units with different paired units in between battles, which allows you to really get creative and come up with some awesome character combinations. For example: the Yakuza and Shenmue series have always been described as kindred spirits to one another, so being able to team up Yakuza’s Kazuma Hiryu and Shenmue’s Ryo Hazuki to beat the crap out of their enemies is pretty freakin’ sweet.
As was the case with the first game, Project X Zone 2 is a game that will appeal more to certain types of gamers than it will to others. If you’re a fan of lots of characters from Capcom, Bandai Namco and Sega games and are interested in the SRPG genre, then you will more than likely love this game. However, if you’re looking for the deepest SRPG experience out there or for a story that is remotely comprehensible, then you might come away disappointed. Either way, I had a blast playing this game and it made me not only want to replay the games from the characters I knew, but also check out the games from the characters I didn’t. I’d say that’s quite an accomplishment.
Project X Zone 2
- Available On: Nintendo 3DS
- Published By: Bandai Namco Entertainment
- Developed By: Monolith Soft
- Genre: Strategy, RPG
- US Release Date: February 16th, 2016
- Reviewed On: Nintendo 3DS
- Quote: "Project X Zone 2 may not be for everyone, but fans of SRPGs and characters from Capcom, Sega or Bandai Namco are going to have a blast with this game."