THREESOMES NEVER END WELL. In theory, the idea of three people simultaneously screwing is awesome, but in practice, somebody always gets jealous and there's a big mess afterward. Somehow this serves as an appropriate metaphor for Project X Zone, a new strategy roleplaying game spawned by an alliance between industry heavyweights Sega, Capcom, and Namco Bandai. It features a cast of 50-plus characters drawn from those firms' extensive histories, along with some of the most gorgeous 2D sprite animation ever seen in a videogame. What's not to like? Everything else.

While technically a strategy-focused roleplaying game, Project X Zone demands so little strategic planning that it's actually difficult to lose any of the game's battles. You have to try to fail. What's more, the roleplaying elements are so watered down that the only time they become notable is when your characters gain a level. Combat in Project X Zone allows players to time their button presses to do more damage and unleash increasingly ludicrous combo attacks, but you'll have the timing mastered within 30 minutes, making the remaining dozens of hours of gameplay a boring slog through largely similar enemies.

Plot-wise, Project X Zone is also lacking, offering exactly enough story to (poorly) explain why all of these disparate gaming universes have come together. No, it's not Shakespeare, but hell, it's not even Twilight.

The characters are the only redeeming feature of Project X Zone, and in that light the game shines: Watching Dante from Devil May Cry throw down next to Tekken's Heihachi and Space Channel 5's Ulala is like catnip to a certain, particularly geeky gamer set. Even after hours of watching the same attacks, those characters remain iconic and appealing. Project X Zone will sell nicely due to its cast, but it's disappointing to see the companies involved put so little effort into ensuring the game's overall quality.