Bringing video games from Japan to the United States has never been an easy process. Even at the apex of the Nintendo DS’ popularity at the end of last decade, when publishers like Atlus were localizing niche titles like Super Robot Taisen OG Saga: The Endless Frontier, just because a game existed in Japan didn’t mean it would be translated for the US and Europe. Plenty of excellent games like 7th Dragon, an RPG by the creator of Phantasy Star, have languished in the language they were written in rather than get the worldwide exposure they deserve.
Project X Zone for Nintendo 3DS looked like it would be one of those games when it released in fall 2012. Not only was it a Japanese strategy RPG, but it’s also a crossover between Namco, Capcom, and Sega, making it a niche title that’s also a licensing nightmare for IP holders. Project X Zone is beating the odds, though. Namco Bandai announced the game for a worldwide release on Monday.
“Project X Zone is the first title to ever combine such a large cast of characters from a varied list of game franchises into one grand adventure,” said Namco’s VP of marketing Carlson Choi. His enthusiasm for the game is appreciated, since it means that Namco Bandai has decided that there’s enough of an audience for the game outside Japan to justify its release.
Zone isn’t technically the first game to feature this sort of massive IP crossover, though. It’s not even the first in the series. Namco and Capcom have collaborated on a number of the X (which stands for cross) games, including last year’s Street Fighter X Tekken. Project X Zone’s progenitor, though, was an excellent PlayStation 2 RPG called Namco X Capcom, that pitted characters as disparate as Klonoa and Morrigan against each other. The only RPG in the series to make it to the US before now was Cross Edge, a PS3 exclusive that featured characters from Darkstalkers and more obscure RPGs like Disgaea and Maha Khemia.
Project X Zone features characters from franchises both popular and deeply obscure. Ryu from Street Fighter appearing alongside Ulala from Sega’s Space Channel 5? Strange, but fantastic.