Project X Zone is a wonderful mash-up of a tactical turn-based game that pits some of the most memorable video game characters against each other in an all-out death match. It is true that because of this game’s turn-based nature is it nearly barrier free, but there are a few choices that lower it just a bit from the high mark that games in this genre usually set.
To start with, Project X Zone is not as accessible for players with visual disabilities as other games such as Fire Emblem. This is because there is a lot of in game text, and a vast majority of it is confined to the smaller 3DS touch screen. Although this can be alleviated by using a 3DS XL, it’s kind of annoying that Project X Zone is so wordy because it forces player to flip through page after page of rules. And if you want to understand the rules, you’ll be squinting through the blocks of tiny white text to find the information you need. Even more frustrating is that you’ll have to do the same if you want to access the Crosspedia, the really neat database that tells you exactly who each one of the 200 characters are and what game they originated in. You don’t even need all of the rule information because the gameplay is very simple. You’ll be able to enjoy the game just using basic attacks and specials, so a deep understanding of the rules isn’t even really helpful, let alone necessary. But the bottom line is, the game is so simple that even though the rules are hard to read, you’ll be able to figure it out within the first couple of levels. And even though there is a bit of color coding, the game play is so forgiving (no permadeath here) that nothing vital is communicated in the color coding.
Players with fine motor disabilities will also run into some minor disappointment when playing Project X Zone. Usually in turn-based strategy games like Pokémon, the entire game can be played by pressing buttons one at a time, and thus only requires the use of one finger. But for some reason the developers at Namco Bandai have done something really weird: they instituted a two button combo system to execute moves. As a result, players will have to be able to press the D-pad and the face buttons on the 3DS at the same time—and the shoulder buttons if they want to get certain special moves. While not really much of a hindrance in accessibility, this barrier shows up starkly when compared to the accessibility of other games in the genre.
The only disabled gamers who will have no problem whatsoever with this title are those with auditory disabilities. Ironically, this game was never converted into English voice acting, so unless you speak Japanese, you’re not missing anything by not hearing this game’s dialogue. Similarly, nothing else in the game uses sound to communicate, making it completely accessible for players with this type of impairment.
I may be being overly harsh on Project X Zone, but the reality is that other games in this genre have done such amazing things when it comes to accessibility, that it is hard to understand why this title doesn’t measure up.
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The Bottom Line for Disabled Gamers: Project X Zone
– Nothing is communicated by color alone.
– The main gameplay interface does not use fine detail.
– Most of the in-game text is small and hard to read.
– This game allows players to take turns against the computer, eliminating the need for quick reflexes.
– The gameplay is extremely forgiving.
|– This game cannot be played with one hand.|
– Nothing is communicated using sound alone.