By: Stephen Duetzmann, Editor-In-Chief
ESRB Rating – T for Teen
June 25, 2013
Available on Nintendo 3DS
Project X-Zone is quite possibly one of the most absurd games I have ever played. The game is, on the surface, a solid turn-based role-playing game. At its core is a dense ball of concentrated fan service the likes of which we have never seen. The game features characters from Capcom, Namco-Bandai, and Sega franchises and throws them into whirlwind plot that puts the entire universe at risk for reasons I still don’t understand.
Did I mention that it was also a lot of fun?
I struggled initially with how to put the exhilaration I felt while playing this game into words. At one point my army consisted of: Chun Li, Morrigan Le Fay, Chris Redfield, Jill Valentine, Ryu, Ken Masters, Frank West, and Hsien-Ko. (For those of you who don’t play games a lot: This is the video game equivalent of an episode of Game of Thrones featuring House, Ted Mosby, Sheldon, Walker Texas Ranger, Tommy the Green Ranger, and ALF.) Seeing some of my favorite characters in such a bizarre mash-up made me laugh openly as many of the characters were introduced.
I have always been a fan of turn-based strategy games. I don’t have the best reaction time so shooters and fighting games, while fun, are very hard. Turn-based games give me as long as I need to take to think out my next move. Project X Zone performs well enough here. The environments are interesting, and the ability to destroy objects adds an interesting level of exploration to the game play. I did have some issues with some of the more grueling fights. As the game went on some of the fights were so long that I would have to stop midway to take a break. This game is definitely NOT intended for people with short attention spans.
It was not without its weaknesses, but the crazy character lineup and cartoonish action do a good enough job making up for them.
Family Gaming Assessment:
The animation in this game is where it earns its T for Teen rating. The character models for the women are all HIGHLY sexualized. Many of them have cleavage spilling out all over the place. I’m a grown man and some of the character models made me feel a little uncomfortable especially since one of the main protagonists is a teenager. Morrigan also makes more than a few implied sexual comments. She never comes out says what she is implying, so it should go over the heads of littler kids, but the potential for understanding is always there. With all that said, younger kids wouldn’t be as impacted by this. Morrigan’s comments would probably go right over their heads, and the provocative clothes wouldn’t mean anything.
The violence is there, but it is nothing more intense than some Saturday morning cartoons. The only exceptions are that several of the characters use guns. If you are uncomfortable with your kids using guns in their games, then that is something to keep in mind here.
This game is the epitome of a T for Teen rated game. There is no one facet of the game that crosses the line into being completely inappropriate for younger kids, but it dances near the line long enough to make it questionable.
This is a strategy game, so some of the game play will be too challenging for younger or more inexperienced players. The game plays out on a grid so I suppose a good analog would be a game like chess. If they hand handle the basic concepts there then the game should playable.
Once the different units engage, the action is resolved with simple two button combos: a direction on the circle pad and one of the face buttons. This is easy enough and the results are easy to see. Experimentation will net some interesting results.
There is voice acting, but the tracks are entirely in Japanese. Those of us who are native English speakers will have to rely on reading to understand what characters are saying and to navigate the menus. Early readers will probably struggle with this game.
I had a lot of fun while I was playing Project X Zone, but most of my appreciation was derived as a result of the characters themselves. I don’t know that people who aren’t fans of the characters to begin with would find it nearly as entertaining. As a result, I can’t really recommend this game for general audiences.