Meet the heroes and helpers of Project X Zone
Are you ready for Project X Zone? The tactical RPG crossover was recently confirmed for US release, and it features a huge collection of familiar (and not-so-familiar) faces from Namco, Capcom, and Sega's extensive histories.
Are your favorites in the game? Need some background on the many obscure, Japan-only games that are referenced? Check out the roster and see who you'll be playing as...
Mii Kouryuuji & Kogoro Tenzai (Original)
Taking a page from Kingdom Hearts' book, the star-studded cast of Project X Zone is led by a couple of original characters to ease audiences into the fray. The Namco Bandai-designed Kogoro Tenzai and Mii Kouryuuji might have shorter backstories, but that certainly doesn't imply humble beginnings.
Kogoro is a private detective who's also a highly-trained ninja assassin, while Mii (no relation to Nintendo's familiar player-surrogates) is a churlish high school student, trained by monks to use a gun that's taller than she is. So now that the normal characters are dealt with, on to the game's more flamboyant entries...
Chris Redfield & Jill Valentine (Resident Evil)
Once an inseparable pair, these two have spent their last couple of appearances fighting to rescue one another from relentless onslaught of zombie death. Finally the long-suffering heroes of the original Resident Evil get to fight side-by-side just like old times, though likely with fewer keys to collect.
The pair are evenly-matched in their hand-to-hand combat and gunplay proficiency, and both are defined by their dedication to eradicating the flesh-eaters of the world. Fans know that when these two are together, nothing short of a T-Virus enhanced ultra-mercenary can stop them.
Demitri Maximoff (Darkstalkers) & Dante (Devil May Cry)
Capcom's Dante and Demitri may have originated in different franchises, but as grim antiheroes on Hell's home-team, the exiled vampire king and estranged devil prince have plenty in common.
Devil May Cry purists will no doubt be thrilled to see the return of Dante's pre-DmC look in Project X Zone, whereas longtime Darkstalkers fans are probably just glad to see their game's undead underdogs put in an appearance anywhere.
Ken Masters & Ryu (Street Fighter)
These are doubtlessly two of the most recognizable non-mascot characters in the medium's history. Ryu and Ken represent the entire industry in dragon-punchin', hadouken-chuckin' form: a stoic Japanese journeyman and his flashy American counterpart, the stars of a series that goes from strength to renewed strength the further we get from its fairly rubbish opening act.
Capcom's old reliables are no stranger to genre-crossing either, having appeared in the likes of Puzzle Fighter and Street Fighter 2010. And after Street Fighter X Tekken, they're more than ready to kick butt in their newest crossover.
Chun-Li (Street Fighter) & Morrigan Aensland (Darkstalkers)
Few characters have consumed as much fan-ink as Darkstalkers' seductive succubus and the Street Fighter series' high-kicking bunhead. Both have sustained popularity for decades (Morrigan's 20th anniversary comes next year), and they outlasted countless imitators to become standouts of the Capcom cast.
Besides the obvious sex appeal--which, let's face it, is hardly a scarce commodity within the video game heroine populace--Chun-Li and Morrigan share a focus on quick, precise combat that ought to translate well to the RPG arena.
Mega Man X & Zero (Mega Man X)
Fans can't get enough of Mega Man, whose adventures run the gamut from pixelated old-school romps to slick RPG-style platformers with a penchant for cancellation. Here Capcom's tenacious cyberman teams up with Zero a.k.a. X's rival that was first introduced in the original Mega Man X. Zero later went on to star in his own line of spinoffs.
Both are crossover veterans of titles such as Marvel vs Capcom and Tatsunoko vs Capcom, but Project X Zone's cross-franchise team-up marks the first time the pair have appeared playable, side-by-side outside a Mega Man title.
Riela Marceris & Kurt Irving (Valkyria Chronicles III)
Sega's Valkyria Chronicles franchise may not have the international clout of a Golden Axe or Shinobi, but the continuing series commands a loyal following--particularly in Japan, where PSP owners are still keeping up with the story via 2011's dark-'n'-edgy Valkyria Chronicles III.
Out of the series' sizeable cast, it's VCIII's star-crossed leads, Kurt and Riela, who've been chosen to team up for crossover exposure. Seeing as how VCIII never came to the US, we don't blame you for not recognizing this pair.
Frank West (Dead Rising) & Hsien-Ko (Darkstalkers)
As an avowed hunter, decapitator and general humiliator of the undead hordes, you might expect Dead Rising's Frank West not to take too kindly to Hsien-Ko. Why? Because she's officially a jingsh (literally, Hopping Corpse), and she was first introduced in Night Warriors: Darkstalkers' Revenge.
However, their team-up appears amicable enough, with the Capcom stable-mates apparently choosing to put bygones behind them and bond over shared interests--jumping, corpse-killing, incongruously huge sawblades, etc.
Sakura Shinguji & Ichiro Ogami (Sakura Wars)
Even Sega diehards may be forgiven for drawing a blank on these two, as the Sakura Wars franchise didn't see Western release until the PS2/Wii debut of Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love in 2010--almost 15 years after the series began life in Japan.
The cross-media property tells the continuing story of a worldwide squadron of demon-fighters whose lives, as it turns out, are a lot more like a soap-opera than you might suppose. Ichiro Ogami is the leader of Flower Division, the central squad of the series' initial entries, which counts Sakura Shinguji amongst its singing, dancing, demon-vanquishing members.
Erica Fontaine & Gemini Sunrise (Sakura Wars)
While Ichiro and Sakura both hail from Sakura Wars' Tokyo-based Flower Division, Project X Zone's second team from the franchise expands its scope considerably. Reporting to the New York Combat Revue and Groupe Fleur de Paris respectively, samurai cowgirl Gemini Sunrise and gun-totin' holy-woman Erica Fontaine lend PXZ an international flavor. However, we worry what the theatres of Paris and New York will do if demons invade while Project X Zone's adventures are taking place, we can only guess.
Pai Chan & Akira Yuki (Virtua Fighter)
These two began their digital lives as crude approximations whose character models boasted less polygons than there are words in this sentence. Flash forward to now and Virtua Fighter's Akira and Pai have hung on until the technology existed to make them look as good as they played.
Both skilled fighters have appeared in crossover titles before, most recently making guest appearances in Dead or Alive 5. Akira has also been seen behind the driving wheel in the original Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing.
Toma & Cyrille (Shining Force EXA)
Dual protagonists of the PlayStation 2's Shining Force EXA, Toma and Cyrille are an RPG power-couple if ever there was one. He's an orphan boy who dreams of being the world's greatest swordsman, and she's a taciturn magic-user whose origin and motives are shrouded in intrigue.
Sure, their backstories may lack originality, but you've got to hand it to those weapons. Even by Project X Zone's high standards, those are some distinctive outsized battle implements.
Zephyr & Leanne (Resonance of Fate)
Veterans of the PS3/Xbox 360 RPG Resonance of Fate, Zephyr and Leanne could be accused of having a somewhat unfair advantage in that both are kinda-sorta immortal: Leanne is a suicide survivor and Zephyr's debut saw him shot in the head after destroying the seminary where he was raised. Then again, merely-human characters are in short supply in a game about robots fighting vampires and demons, so the Resonance of Fate duo ought to fit right in.
Yuri & Estellise (Tales of Vesperia)
Representing the tenth canonical installment of Namco's popular Tales series, Yuri Lowell and Estellise Sidos Heurassian address the all-important disillusioned knight/naive princess dynamic. Any JRPG worth its XP finds a way to incorporate those archetypes sooner or later.
By porting the characters over from 2009's Tales of Vesperia, Namco Bandai cannily manages to get twice the mileage out of the tough-'n'-magical pair, which is clever. But then, you don't get to be a world-renowned media conglomerate by shelving perfectly good characters after they've served their initial purpose.
Jin Kazama & Ling Xiaoyu (Tekken)
Two of the best-known combatants from Namco Bandai's flagship fighter, Jin and Ling manage to encompass pretty much the dueling tragic and comic tones of Tekken. He's the demonically-possessed son of tragic antihero Kazuya Mishima, infused with an ancient evil that grants limitless power in return for the host's soul. She's an amusement-park-obsessed playgirl whose best friend is a panda called Panda.
If you've never played Tekken, congratulations, you're basically an aficionado now.
Kite & Blackrose (.hack)
Namco Bandai's .hack series debuted ten years ago, and managed to construct a cogent storyline based around life inside a high-stakes MMORPG years before the likes of World of WarCraft were household names. Namco earns extra points for cross-media planning, stretching the story over multiple games and anime series.
Removed from that context, the series' hero Kite and his fellow player Blackrose are less meta-gaming archetypes and more just two kids with really big swords and an appetite for destruction. By that reasoning, they ought to fit right in.
T-Elos & KOS-MOS (Xenosaga)
Xenosaga fans will no doubt be delighted to see series mainstay KOS-MOS joined up with her long-standing antagonist T-Elos for an adventure (comparatively) free from esoteric techno-babble. Newcomers to the series probably don't need to know that these two girlish battle-robots are constructed to be the ultimate intergalactic spiritual fighting machines. They also could go without hearing that KOS-MOS is programmed to think like Biblical supertramp Mary Magdalene while T-Elos is constructed primarily out of the resurrected body of same... but it can't hurt.
Soma & Alisa (God Eater)
The stoic Soma Schicksal & Alisa Ilinichina Amiella occupy supporting roles in God Eater, a game that was published in America as the enhanced Gods Eater Burst. With names that unwieldy and fighting skills that prominent, it's hard to imagine the professional monster-hunters playing second fiddle to anyone other than their cartoonishly oversized weapons.
No longer overshadowed by their co-op partners in Project X Zone, the pair finally have the limelight to themselves, and might celebrate with a weapon upgrade or two.
Haken & Kaguya (Endless Frontier)
Say hello to Haken Browning and Kaguya Nanbu of Super Robot Taisen OG Saga: Endless Frontier. If you're in the elite group that played the DS original, you'll be pleased to reacquaint yourself with the game's bounty-hunter protagonist and his ample sidekick.
If you didn't, well, he's a cowboy bounty-hunter semi-based on Captain Hook. And his companion's prominent chest was the first thing you noticed about her, shame on you, but rest assured this is a recurring theme in the original game.
Reiji & Xiaomu (Namco x Capcom)
Project X Zone co-developer Monolith Soft isn't new to this whole crossover RPG business: X Zone serves as something of a follow-up to 2005's Japan-only PS2 title, Namco x Capcom. PXZ's final team, Reiji Arisu and Xiaomu, serve as the missing link between the two titles. The two were Namco x Capcom's protagonists, created specially for that title. Here's hoping the awkward relationship between the two--Xiaomu is some 730 years older than Reiji, yet still kind of fancies him--carries over to the new title.
That's all Project X Zone's team units: keep reading to see Support characters from Ghosts 'n Goblins, Rival Schools and more...
Lady (Devil May Cry)/Arthur (Ghosts 'n Goblins)
The imaginatively-named Lady serves as a recurring sidekick for Dante within the Devil May Cry series, starting with her appearance in Devil May Cry 3. It's in that game when she establishes herself as having provided the series' title through a throwaway observation she made about Dante. You're welcome, continuity-nerds!
If Lady's appearances are mysterious and fleeting, Arthur the Brave Knight is front, center, and has nothing to hide. The (sometimes) boxers-sporting crusader has been battling his way through demon-infested graveyards and monsters' bellies since before many of you were born. Based on how incredibly tough his games are, he's got to be one of the toughest guys in the game.
Batsu (Rival Schools)/Juri (Street Fighter IV)
Rival Schools hero Batsu Ichimonji has served in more than his share of crossover titles, with the team-up-happy developers at Capcom sticking him into anything with a Vs in the title. Here he serves in a solo support capacity, a role he earlier played in Capcom vs SNK 2: Millionaire Fighting 2001.
Juri Han, meanwhile, appeared as recently as Super Street Fighter IV and quickly established herself as a fan favorite to rival series mainstay Chun-Li, appearing in Street Fighter X Tekken alongside fellow bad-guy M. Bison. Will she reprise a playable role in later titles? Juri's still out (we're here all week, tip your server).
Ulala (Space Channel 5)/Bruno Delinger (Dynamite Deka)
Ulala is a dancing intergalactic superstar who starred in 1999 rhythm-action adventure Space Channel 5. In addition to sharing the stage with Michael Jackson (billed in-game as Space Michael), Ulala is a news reporter that use her style, grace, and laser pistol to halt alien invasions.
How many video game crossovers guest star Bruce Willis? We're betting only Project X Zone. Bruno Delinger, star of 1997 Saturn action game Dynamite Deka, is clearly inspired by Willis, or at least developed with clear reference to the Die Hard actor. Ultimately Bruno appeared as John McClane in the game's English-language release Die Hard Arcade.
Tron Bonne & Servbots (Mega Man Legends)/Devilotte (Cyberbots)
Tron Bonne is an antagonist in the Mega Man Legends franchise, and even starred in her own spin-off. There, as in PXZ, she besieged opponents with Servbots, which non-Mega Man fans might recognize as one of Frank West's costumes in Dead Rising. Tron and her LEGO-ish bots hung out with her pirate family whenever she wasn't antagonizing Mega Man Volnutt.
Princess Devilotte de Deathsatan IX, meanwhile, is also a pirate's daughter, and also originated in the mid-90s, through Tech Romancer predecessor Cyberbots: Full Metal Madness. It's far more likely you know her from guest appearances in titles like Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo and Marvel vs Capcom.
Bahn (Fighting Vipers)/Vashyron (Resonance of Fate)
Bahn, self-styled Genghis Bahn III, was second lead in the second most popular polygon-based fighting title released by Sega in the mid-90s, Fighting Vipers. If you missed it in the '90s, it's worth looking up the recent rerelease for PSN and XBLA.
The roguish Vashyron was second lead in 2010's Resonance of Fate, voiced by Nolan North in the English-language versions of the game. As you might expect, he's nearly as dashing, rugged, and good with a gun as his voice brother Nathan Drake.
Imca (Valkyria Chronicles III)/Rikiya Busujima (Zombie Revenge)
Imca takes a solo support role here, though she's a co-lead in Valkyria Chronicles III alongside Kurt and Riela. A heavy weapons specialist, Imca reprises the position in Project X Zone, which is obvious based on the incredibly heavy weapon she's carrying in the above picture.
Rikiya also takes a supporting role here, unlike the lead role he played in 1999's lesser known Dreamcast beat 'em up Zombie Revenge. Still, that game was a tougher, punchier spinoff of House of the Dead, so this appearance is arguably a step up for him.
Flynn (Tales of Vesperia)/Valkyrie (The Adventure of Valkyrie)
Flynn may be rough when you first meet him in Tales of Vesperia, but he eventually became one of the most popular characters in the series. A longtime friend of Vesperia and PXZ co-star Yuri, Flynn is a skilled knight that knows how to use magic in a pinch.
Valkyrie is one of Project X Zone's most senior characters, having originated in Namco's Japan-only NES title, Valkyrie no Bken: Toki no Kagi Densetsu. The Zelda-esque battler saw similarly untranslated sequels on PC Engine (the Japanese TG-16) and SNES. The character has also appeared in numerous Namco titles since, including cameos in the Tales and Soul series.
Like the Jin/Ling Xiaoyu team, the solo cast also includes two stars of Tekken's massive roster, Alisa Boskonovitch and Jin's grandfather Heihachi Mishima. Heihachi has been with the series since the first title, appearing as both a boss and playable character at various points. He's mostly known for his cruelty and love of throwing family members off mountains.
Alisa, meanwhile, didn't appear until relatively recently--2008's Tekken 6: Bloodline Rebellion--but her fresher pedigree is offset by the decision on the part of her designers to skip the character development and go straight to the bit where you design a peppy young cyborg with chainsaws on her arms.
Sanger Zonvolt (Super Robot Wars: Original Generations)/Lindow Amamiya (God Eater)
Sanger Zonvolt, the self-proclaimed sword that smites evil, begins PXZ as your rival and wields a weapon known as the (aptly named) Colossal Blade. Eventually he joins your team and adds his huge, demon-killing weapon to your arsenal of massive armaments.
Meanwhile, Lindow Amamiya--the third God Eater cast member in PXZ--wields a Long Blade. Despite the name, it's not even that big compared to most Project X Zone weapons. Perhaps that's why he's merely a support character.
Neneko (Yumeria)/Saya (Namco x Capcom)
As you can see from Saya's provocative dress and snide facial expression, she's either the villain of a fantasy RPG or heading to Comic-Con for the weekend. We're pretty sure there's no Comic-Con in Project X-Zone, so yes, this is the villain of Namco x Capcom recycled for another adventure. She's a Support unit, but begins as a rival thanks to her evil roots.
Neneko, however, isn't bad, just... kind of special? A supporting character in the Yumeria anime and Japan-only PS2 game, she's a girl who thinks she's a cat and whose fully-grown alter-ego, Neito, only comes out when she sleeps. Also she has a huge hammer which ought to acquit this Support character well.
Obviously Project X Zone's lengthy list of in-jokes and references to established Capcom/Namco/Sega continuity doesn't begin and end with the cast list. Stay tuned for further explorations into the game's wealth of allusions and guest appearances, as we anticipate the game's English-language launch this summer.
Get the 411 on Project X Zone in our initial news story: Project X Zone: The tactical RPG crossover coming to the US. Revisit RPG ephemera in Attack! 10 turn-based JRPGs that dared to be different, or keep up with The games of January 2013.