A Little Look At… Project X Zone

 
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So I’ve had my Japanese 3DS for a few days now and as Project X Zone is currently the only game I own for my fingerprint-prone shiny new handheld it’s naturally been seeing a fair bit of play time (when I haven’t been downloading demos off the surprisingly good e-shop) – and it’s good! The plot is naturally completely throwaway, although it is funny seeing how the plot handles the crossovers -  99% of the characters have already heard of each other by reputation whether they’re succubi or Interpol agents and anyone who pops up from the future, a parallel future, or the past is readily teamed up with or fought without anyone batting an eyelid!
 
It’s also incredibly easy (so far, which is up to chapter 6 at the moment) – to the point where I have no idea what happens if somebody dies because nobody has ever come close. Whether this is a positive or negative is up to you, personally it’s not something that concerns me and if it did their are plenty of other SRPGs available to satisfy that sort of thing. Battles tend to throw a whole heap of units at you right from the start and I don’t think I’ve seen an enemy with less than 4 digit HP, but you actually clear battlefields quite quickly as almost all attacks can be countered, and with a solo character and/or a nearby pairing to support you there’s a very good chance you can severely damage or even completely wipe out “popcorn” enemies when it’s not even meant to be your turn.
 
The lure of the game is naturally in the fanservice, and it warms the deepest recesses of my nerdy little heart. Some of the character combinations are blindingly obvious (Ryu+Ken, Ichiro+Sakura), but the odder ones are my favourites – seeing Lei Lei and Frank West beat seven bells out of T-elos is a lot of fun! Other standout moments include watching a tiny pixelled Akira use his Stun Palm of Doom (or whatever people call it these days) or hearing “Under the Imperial Flag” play when Erica Fontaine shows up.
 
The photos in this post are of the limited edition which includes a nice music CD (thankfully weighing in at 44 tracks rather than being one of those disappointing “selection” soundtracks) and an artbook, goodies that will hopefully be recreated for English speaking gamers when the game hits the US and EU this year!
 
 
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Arcade Wishes: Numan Althetics

 

I want to start by explaining the slightly odd title – “Arcade Wishes” posts are going to be pieces where I showcase relatively obscure arcade games and possibly whine about them not getting the attention they deserve and/or money-draining ports to home consoles that would probably now be languishing in $10 BIN eBay listings if they actually existed.

The game I thought I’d start with is Numan Athletics, a game that I’m only aware of because it used to sit next to the Samurai Spirits (1) MVS cabinet in the arcade my dad used to take my brother and I to when we were kids (arcade predictably now full of fruit machines and coin-pushing games *sigh*). Released worldwide in 1993 on Namco’s pretty insignificant NA-2 arcade board, the game is a four player sports title with a unique near-future-superhero-kinda theme where almost-stereotype characters compete against each other by blowing up sea monsters and stopping trains head on instead of leaping over your puny mortal hurdles or throwing pathetic pointy sticks at grass. If you find yourself struggling the game generously throws you a bone by reducing the pass requirements every time you continue, assuming you can afford the credits!

There’s only one home port of this – it came out on the Wii’s Virtual Console service in 2009… sadly only in Japan. But all’s not lost! The game had a wonderful sequel called Mach Breakers (I’ll cover that soon enough)… that’s had no home ports of any kind whatsoever. *grumblegrumble*

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The game takes place over eight events in a linear order, here they are in full:


Turbo Dash

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Your rather standard sprint event, although to build up and maintain speed you need to alternate between the A and C buttons so it’s not as mindless as some others, although it’s still finger-destroying!

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Interceptor

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For this one your character is standing opposite a distant warship and needs to destroy the oncoming projectiles before they reach you. the faster shots are countered, the bigger the points earned! you get two goes at this, each one ends either when the time is over or if a shot from the warship hits the platform you’re standing on (should Sharon receive a direct hit the top half of her outfit is destroyed of course, conforming to the strict physics of female superhero clothing).

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Missile Toss

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This is one of my favourites! Essentially a souped-up version of javelin, although in this game that means chucking a warhead over the vast African savannah, conveniently never blowing up the elephants, lions or giraffe with the ensuing explosion. Angle is king here, but you need to judge it by sight as there’s no (puny human) gauge for it.

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Numan Sniper

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A variation of the Interceptor event set in Antarctica. With sea monsters. Instead of moving around as before this time your character is rooted to the spot and the A B and C buttons are used to fire at monsters appearing in the left, middle, and right areas respectively making this one even more of a reaction test than Interceptor.

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VS Express

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There are two phases to this event – catching the train and then building up power to push it backwards. Catching the train at the very last second gives a much greater chance of a better push back, however the chances of failing and getting hit with a train to the face are much higher!

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Tower Topper

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My other personal favourite – a dash to the top of a building, done by leaping ninja-style between them! This game only uses the B button and is actually more about timing than speed; you do much better leaps if you wait until the last second to jump, but you’re also more likely to fall.

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Nonstop Rock Chop

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This is a fun button masher where all four players can participate at the same time! A rock is dropped in front of your character and then you need to build up the power gauge above their head until it’s full by alternating between the A and C buttons, then press B to smash the rock!

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Niagara Jumps

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This is the final test, and it's damn tough. It's basically the classic triple jump but set over a waterfall in Niagara, South Africa, with the “skip” and “jump” parts occurring on the water. I’m terrible at this event, I’ve never done it first time.

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Then you're done!

Just for fun, here are a few of Sharon’s comedy failures:

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Gameplay and Opening sequences

I made these, enjoy!