Namco X Capcom

Here's our in-depth look and comprehensive verdict on the zany collaborative RPG Namco X Capcom, along with a truckload of gameplay videos.




Version
PS2
Developer
Nacmo
Publisher
Namco
Genre
RPG



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By Heidi Kemps

The announcement of Namco X Capcom took everyone by surprise. It wasn't like it was the first inter-company video game crossover ever, but it would certainly be the most ambitious to date. The early press releases promised an epic strategy-RPG boasting a roster of over 200 characters culled from 20 years worth of games from each company - including surprise additions from some of the most obscure annals of arcade history.

With expectations high, it would have been very easy for the game to turn out to be a disappointment. Thankfully, Monolith Soft has not only delivered on the promise of a fun, epic strategy/RPG that combines the legacies of two of gaming's most influential monoliths (pun not intended), but they have done so with a surprisingly versatile action-oriented combat engine and a fantastic representation of all the properties involved.

The game begins with a lengthy animated opening (complete with a theme song by the much beloved Yuzo Koshiro) by Studio IG of Kill Bill fame, introducing almost all of the playable characters you'll encounter throughout. Familiar faces like Jin Kazama and Morrigan will be instantly recognizable, while hardcore fans will take delight in seeing characters like the Unknown Soldiers of Forgotten Worlds and Taizo Hori from Dig Dug/Mr. Driller again.

Unfortunately, the graphics never reach the quality level the intro might suggest, and you can see this right from the outset. While I love hand-drawn and animated sprites, Namco X Capcom almost looks like it could have been done on the Saturn. When you compare it to other hand-drawn SRPG titles like Disgaea and Phantom Kingdom, or even traditional RPGs like Namco's own Tales of Rebirth, it winds up looking shockingly weak. But, in stark contrast to this, the sound is fantastic, with remixed theme songs for all the characters in your party as they take their turns, and voiceovers for all the characters in battle (and sometimes in story as well).

The story - wait, the story is actually pretty lame. It basically boils down to "the walls of all the different worlds and dimensions are opening, and it's up to our team to find out why and put a stop to it!" Reiji and his 765-year-old female fox-spirit partner, Xiao Mu, are two agents of the secret organization Shinra. Their job is to investigate dimensional disturbances, which have been occurring around Shibuya, Tokyo. As the plot progresses, things tend to happen for no real reason other than to introduce new locales and weave more characters into the fold. The main villain is a rival fox spirit, Saya, who is manipulating things behind the scenes for - surprise, surprise - a dark and nefarious purpose!

But as clichéd as the story is, the character dialogue is fantastic. Monolith has done a wonderful job of really capturing the personalities of each and every character present - which is no small feat when you look at the size of the cast! The interactions between the characters are a lot of fun to see unfold, and the conversations are often very funny. It really helps add a lot of flavor to the otherwise unremarkable backstory and lengthy cut scenes.

Speaking of which, in grand Monolith tradition, NXC has a whole lot of story cut scenes before, after, and during missions. With around 50 missions in total, that's a whole lot of dialogue and reading to do. Thanks to the great writing, it's not often a chore to read if your Japanese comprehension is decent. However, players who don't know a lick of the language may find themselves frustrated with the amount of text they have to wade through to get to the main gameplay.

So what about the battle engine? Well, this is where NXC really shines. Monolith has taken a bold step in trying to infuse psuedo-realtime combat sequences with a traditional turn-based SRPG engine, and it works to create a fun and intuitive experience.

The battles are based around a gauge of "AP." Basically, characters start with a certain amount of AP, which increases as the battle time progresses in "phases." Whenever the battle advances a phase, units regain 1 AP. Characters are able to act when they reach 10 AP. Many of the actions they can perform, such as movement, attacking, opening up item boxes, etc. cost a certain amount of AP. (However, using skills and items has no AP cost.) A unit who only moves during their turn will receive their second turn faster than a character that moves and attacks, for example. Defensive abilities also have an AP cost.

When you choose to attack an enemy, you are brought to a pre-battle screen. Here you can see what sort of attacks you can perform on the enemy, as well as the damage they will cause and whether or not the enemy has resistance to attacks of certain elemental affiliations. (You can cancel the attack if it looks like your skills will be ineffective.) From there you progress to the battles, which are realtime and action-based. You start with a certain number of "branches." Different D-pad and button combinations result in different attacks, each of which consumes 1 branch.

These attacks can be chained together in combos like a fighting game to earn bonuses, such as increased damage, items, or extra branches. When you run out of branches or the enemy is KOed and hits the ground, your attack ends. There's also an SP gauge for each character which builds up as they attack and defend, much like in a fighting game. You can execute super attacks during your turn if you have a full SP gauge. The combat is a lot of fun and adds a refreshing dash of action gameplay into a genre that's typically very passive.

Every character (or character pair) is different in their attacks. For starters, they all have varying attack ranges. Many are strictly short-range (Jin, Strider, Stahn & Rutee), several are only long-range (Tron, Tobi & Hiromi, the Unknown Soldiers, and some have both types of attacks available to them (Reiji & Xiao Mu, Ryu and Ken, Lei-Lei & Fong Ling). Short and long range attacks have different properties: short-range attacks are typically more damaging and easier to chain, but leave you closer to the enemy and have less variety in elemental affiliations.

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Video Coverage
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Namco X Capcom
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Previous Videos

Namco X Capcom
Official trailer 2 (480x360, 1Mbps)
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Direct feed trailer (640x480 (expanded), 2Mbps)
3.43m 39.1 MB WMV
Namco X Capcom
Direct feed trailer (640x480 (expanded), 2Mbps)
3.43m 39.1 MB WMV

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