Good news for fans of Capcom, Namco-Bandai and Sega! The demo for the much-anticipated Project X Zone has hit the Nintendo 3DS eShop today, and we have hands-on impressions!
From what I’ve played of it thus far, it handles like a cross between an SRPG and a brawler. You maneuver the battlefield in a grid-based fashion as your character of choice, then select your target of attack. From there, you instigate a battle on a 2D plane that consists primarily of mashing buttons and the D-Pad to form combos. Once you’ve done that enough, you can activate a special attack which plays out in an elaborate and entertaining cutscene.
Aside from these core mechanics, there are supports and other characters who pop up to lend their hand. In this demo, Ulala pops in and peppers the enemies with blasts (in time to a beat, of course), and if two sprites are within a certain distance of each other, they can team up to take down a foe.
The gameplay itself, though, is kind of a mixed bag. On the one hand, it’s deeply satisfying to pummel opponents as some of your favorite characters. On the other, the battle system is a tad bit repetitive, and it remains to be seen if it can be consistently entertaining throughout the entire game. Another issue I have is the difficulty; I understand this is for seasoned gamers, but the demo seems a bit too punishing for anybody who just wants to give the game a try.
Graphically, it’s very attractive. The character animations are really beautiful, and their colors pop right off of the screen. Sprites are lovingly detailed and adorable, and the map is pretty open and full of life. What really struck me, however, was the amazing usage of 3D. I’m typically not impressed by this gimmick in games, but this was definitely one of the rare titles that has an extra layer of depth added to it by having a third dimension.
All-in-all, it’s a very bright and dizzying experience, with some solid combat and more nods to fans than you can shake a stick at. That being said, the difficulty does seem a bit steep, and the gameplay is a bit more rudimentary than I would have hoped for.
While I would definitely recommend it, I really have a hard time seeing this break outside of its niche audience. But who knows, maybe average consumers will recognize some major characters on the cover and give it a whirl? Only time will tell.
If you’re curious about the game, and have a 3DS, what are you waiting for? Go check it out right now to express your support for Sakura Wars! Hopefully, with the large number of Sakura Wars characters featured (Ogami, Sakura, Erica, Gemini, Ayame Fujieda, and Ciseaux), Project X Zone will help to introduce Sakura Wars to a wider audience. If more people become aware of the series, maybe a publisher will take note and consider a localization of the first four games.