IMPRESSIONS: First European Project X Zone Demo

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

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Project X Zone demo

There’s been a lot of hype surrounding Project X Zone for the 3DS that I never bought into. I thought it was just going to be another fighter akin to Street Fighter full of characters I didn’t know. Sure, Monolith Soft had helped work on it, but I’ve never been a fan of fighters, so I just couldn’t get myself excited for it. I certainly wasn’t planning to buy it.

Then, I tried the demo.

First of all, I was completely wrong on what the game was. Yes, there is a slight fighting element, but at its core, Project X Zone is a tactical game with some RPG elements. Both your allied characters and your foes are placed on a square grid, and you can move your allies around the grid to beat up the opposing characters. This will sound familiar to players of Fire Emblem, but this is where the similarities end. Project X Zone has a totally different execution to Intelligent Systems’ series.

Project X Zone demo grid

The fighting part of the game comes into play once you attack a foe. You can pull off a number of combinations by pressing the A button, either on its own or while holding down a direction on the D-pad. Using certain attacks will fill up your XP gauge; the attacks required to fill it will be displayed in the bottom-right corner of the battle screen, directly above the gauge itself. Pulling off all of these combinations will give you an attack boost. I’m assuming it’s only temporary, though I’m not certain. The XP gauge caps at 150 XP.

All characters travel around in pairs, and some pairs have a third character wandering the map with them. In battle, this third character can be made to attack using the L button, for a total of three characters in battle. The R button can be used to bring a nearby pair of allies into the fray; combine this with the L button, and you can have five characters beating the living daylights out of your unfortunate foe. Outside of battle, the shoulder buttons can be used to rotate through enemies within range of your attacks. If you have multiple allies within range and able to support you, you can swap between them using the Y button.

Bringing allies into battle can be pretty useful. Obviously, they’re going to be dealing more damage for you. But on top of that, bringing in an allied pair will place a great green X on your opponent. This X will stay there for the entire time the allied pair is attacking, and allows you to do bonus damage while it’s present.

Project X Zone demo cross

See the green X to the left of her head with “CROSS” stamped across it? So long as that is active, you will do extra damage.

Defeating enemies will net you experience points, which will allow your character to level up and gain skills. These skills can’t be used in battle, but can be used on the map before you attack to grant buffs, restore health—the standard fare. They can be used as much as you like, provided you have the required XP.

Turns are counted in Project X Zone—reach 99 turns in a battle, and you’ll fail the mission (though I don’t think that will be too great a concern). The Overall Turn ends after everyone has moved. The order in which units move depends on their speed stat. Some other abilities and such may alter the order, but this is what determines it, for the most part. On the map, numbers hover above friend and foe alike, denoting the turn order so you know when everyone will move.

There is also a Crosspedia containing all sorts of information about your allies, foes and other things. Unfortunately, in the demo, the entire thing was blank.

Project X Zone demo

As I said earlier, I don’t even know any of the characters in the game. Yet I still managed to enjoy myself. I have no idea what it will be like for those of you who actually know and really like these characters. It seems like it’s going to be a pretty solid game, and I will never question Monolith Soft’s judgement again. Project X Zone‘s demo managed to turn me from someone with zero interest in the game to someone who now really wants to buy it.

The next European Project X Zone demo will be out June 27th, and the full game will release there July 5th. North Americans will be getting the game a little earlier, on June 25th. Nothing heard on a North American demo yet; hopefully, word of one will reach us soon.

Project X Zone demo

  • smacd

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who got the completely wrong impression of what this game was based on the Bamco marketing. I said as much the other day here, but a lot of people misunderstood what I was saying. The marketing here for the game has portrayed it as a fighter, not an RPG- targeting the completely wrong demographic. Of course there is other material out there, but if the official trailer shows me a fighter, why would I be inclined to do more research?

    At least they released a demo in Europe, they haven’t (yet) in North America. Without appropriate marketing or a demo, as someone who SHOULD be in their target market, I haven’t seen anything from Namco Bandai that actually sells me on their game.

    • HeroOfGames16

      “Why would I be inclined to do more research?” Because being a wise customer is better than being an ignorant one?

    • smacd

      You again?

      I see a trailer for a game, it looks like a fighter. I don’t like fighters. So I dismiss the game.

      That is what most people would do. Again, I’ve DONE the research, but only because I follow most anything labeled an RPG. Many gamers don’t. I’m pointing out a massive failure in marketing.

      And I’m sick of you, you clearly don’t understand what I’m saying, and your responses are completely irrelevant.

    • HeroOfGames16

      No, I understand the marketing failure of Namco Bandai. Not the best way, then again, they’ve just brought up two trailers and an European demo, so hopefully we’ll find get more trailer insight later on.
      Secondly, whether a company does it bad or not, a customer ought to do research himself/herself. Just blindly following what a company itself presents to you without showing some scepticism and looking further into it is what a flawed consumer would do.

    • smacd

      The entire point of marketing a game is to find the target audience and show them why they should want to buy the game. The onus is on the company to sell me on a game, not for me as a consumer to go out of my way to find more information that the company isn’t showing me that would actually make me, as the target audience, interested. They want my money, so therefore they should be working for it.

      Sure, digging around I could find that this is a game I might want, but how would I know that I should dig around in the first place if I’m only a casual RPG gamer, based on what they’ve shown me?

      And further, if they AREN’T showing me the “RPG” part of this game, I have reason to be skeptical about why they aren’t showing me that. I can only assume that it isn’t any good, since they are making me go out of my way to get the relevant information. At this point, I can only assume they are trying to trick people who are interested in fighters into buying a tactical RPG.

    • HeroOfGames16

      Fair enough. We’ll see the consequences of their actions on June 25th and July 5th.

  • John Ellis

    At first I was really that bothered about the game. I was only getting it for the charcters. After playing the demo I’m pretty impressed by the depth of the gameplay.

  • HeroOfGames16

    I’ll definitely get the game, but I’ve played the demo and I still have some mixed feelings. By that I mean the battle system. While I like SRPGs, I think using an EXP gauge for certain actions could bring negative consequences within the gameplay (for example, all your enemies are like freakin’ strong and you’re still around level 13 because you continuously used that EXP gauge during each battle and chapter). Also, I have still not completely figured out how attack combos work. At times I manage to hit my opponents with a 50-hit combo and sometimes it’s just a measly 20 a 30-hit combo.

    • Charlotte Buckingham

      It depends on the attack you use. Take note of how many attacks each button combination will give you. It varies from pair to pair as well. And if you can use the Y/shoulder buttons… Your combos will get even more crazy.

      Also, the XP gauge and the EXP gauge are separate. XP stands for X Points, and EXP is experience. That’s what I could gather, anyway.

  • I hope North America gets the demo. It’ll give me a good sense as to what this game is before I buy it, because I still have no freaking idea what’s going on here without it.

  • The battle systems actually reminds me a lot of Smash Bros. I wish I read the text tutorial (I’m sure the full game will have a playable one) before I started the demo, as I was quite clueless about pretty much everything, but did start to get the hang of it near the end.

    Also, despite my lack of knowledge of a majority of the characters I loved the music in the game. Especially when you got to control Ryu and Ken and various different Street Fighter songs would play. Definitely gonna download this of the eShop when it’s available.

  • Kashi Persona Canpy

    I got interested in the game when someone told me it was an RPG. But after seeing a fighting demonstration I realized it was more like a fighter (in which im horrendous at) which made me not really want the game. But thanks Charlotte, maybe my fears are unfounded now if it really is true that it plays with only A and the pad. I suppose I will see either June 25th or if North America gets a demo.

    • Charlotte Buckingham

      I don’t like fighters at all. You don’t need to keep mashing buttons in this game to get combos; you just need to press A a couple of times per battle to get off really long combos. I really cannot stress enough how miniscule a portion the fighting section of this game is. Just half a dozen button presses per fight; no more.

      If you don’t like fighters, that won’t matter for this game.

  • The battle system is just like in Namco X Capcom and a lot like Super robot wars OG side story saga.

    • Mantiskilla

      Hopefully it plays MUCH better than Namco x Capcom did. That game ended up being pretty subpar at best and at times had horrible framerate issues. It was a waste of import money IMO and well now it just collects dust on my shelf granted it is a PS2 game. I’ll give this one a shot but I’m not going to go in expecting it to be all that much better