The long awaited demo for Project X Zone dropped onto the Nintendo E-Shop the other day. I'm looking forward to the main game, so I had to give the demo a whirl. The first thing I noticed (and other people did too) was that you have a max of 5 uses for the demo. Wow. I thought the 30 for a few other demos was pushing it. I don't play a demo more than a few times, so I don't understand why they even limit it in the first place. Five seems way too small, even if I don't play it more than twice. That might sound silly, but so is limited the number of times someone can try the demo they downloaded.
I love the graphics in the game. At first I thought the cut in scenes (when using a super, or cross assault) would be 3D themselves, but they are just on the front plane. They still look great. The 3D is pretty good too, and I can actually have it on while playing and it doesn't make it harder to play. Hearing the songs I recognized from the respective IPs was simply cool (yay Sakura Wars!), so the music was spot on, even if it can be weird that it changes every time your character's turn comes up. The voices are Japanese, which I already expected since they said they weren't going to dub the game. While I would prefer it dubbed, I'm willing to do without since it means the game is coming out here.
If you have played Namco X Capcom, you will be right at home with combat in Project X Zone. Basically, the field map is a grid-based strategy RPG, or SRPG. When your turn comes up, you can move anywhere in a set movement grid. You can attack an enemy within a few panels of your character, and if next to friendly units, they can jump into your battle for an attack. You can also use items and skills before you attack an enemy. I like that you can use multiple, so you can heal multiple units before starting a fight, as only selecting end turn or attacking will end your turn.
Combat is a very pretty combo-fest. You control a team of two characters that can do multiple attacks, and each one has a lengthy animation that hits multiple times. The idea is to time your various combos and juggle the enemy (the Tekken characters should have an advantage there, hahaha.) without letting them hit the ground. This is essential on the armored or strong enemies, as you have to break their guard to do damage. If you do all the different combo attacks during your turn, you are rewarded with another attack. It didn't take long to figure out when to start the various attacks to maximize the juggle time and damage. Adding more characters did make it much more difficult.
A third character is equipped to each group, save the Sakura Wars team (in the demo), which can be summoned for more damage. It took a time or two to figure out when to best summon them for max damage. As mentioned earlier, another group can also jump in your battle for crazy amounts of damage and attacks flying around the screen. It looks awesome and I really like it, but it makes it harder to time the attacks for the best damage. You will want every point of damage you can get for the boss in the demo. She's tough, but you can easily overcome her if you rush her with all your characters when she appears. I wanted to clear out all the enemies, which cost me 2 of my units. I should have taken her more seriously.
Just for reference, the characters you are given are: Soma and Alisa from Gods Eater Burst, Ryu and Ken from Street Fighter, Kite and Blackrose from .Hack, Riela and Kurt from Valkyria Chronicles (2 or 3, I have only played the first for a bit), Gemini and Erica from Sakura Wars (the latest one on the Wii and PS2), and later Sakura and Oogami from the old school Sakura Wars. The 'solo' characters (the third that you can equip to a group) are Imca from Valkyria Chronicles, Devilot from Cyberbots, Lindow from Gods Eater Burst, and Ulala from Space Channel 5. The enemies I recognized were from Space Channel 5 and Gods Eater Burst. Geez, that's a lot of name dropping.
There's only 1 stage (set in the Sakura Wars universe) which can be completed in 30 mins or so. It's just enough to give you a taste of the combat, which was what I really wanted. I had fun playing the demo of Project X Zone, so I'm still looking forward to the full release later this month. I almost wish it were on a console so others could watch the flashy battles on the big screen. Europe is getting a second demo (their first is the same as ours), and it would be nice if that one hit our E-Shop before the game is released too.