Product Type: Square Enix Nintendo DS games
Newest Review: ... where he must fight monsters and take part in a sinister competition to stay alive. I won't spoil the plot here but needless to say that it... more
Fail to play this game, and you will face erasure!
The World Ends With You (DS)
Member Name: Anti
The World Ends With You (DS)
Date: 04/08/11, updated on 25/08/11 (20 review reads)
Advantages: Innovative battle and equipment system, great story, brilliant artwork and animation
Disadvantages: Controls very difficult to master
'The World Ends With You' is a role-playing game on the DS, released in 2008. Now, most Japanese style RPGs can be pretty generic in fashion and easy to rehash: you control a party of four characters, travel round the world, defeat monsters in turn-based combat, traverse dungeons and beat a really powerful boss monster/person before getting some treasure, rinse and repeat to the end of the game. However TWEWY has been credited with turning the genre on its head with its use of real-time based battles, a locked world map based on real-life Tokyo and unique stats and battle system. This was something that put me off getting the game as I'm not a fan of real-time battles (I'm pretty bad at making impromptu decisions) and heard that its controls were difficult to get used to. Well my sister got the game and got pretty far; she enjoyed the game and I enjoyed watching her, so I decided to give the game a go myself with my own playthrough.
TWEWY is set in an alternative Shibuya, an actual district within Tokyo. Our main character is an angsty boy named Neku who prefers being alone and listening to the music from his headphones. So when he wakes up in Shibuya with memory loss, hearing the thoughts of passers-by he can't communicate with, and being attacked by frogs, you can bet he's pretty freaked out. Neku has been forced into the 7-day Reapers Game; for seven days he is set timed tasks, such as get to a certain area of the district in 30 minutes. If he fails them then Neku will be erased from existence of both here and the real world. He must also defeat Noise- basically the monsters in the game- and partner up with another challenger to fight properly. I liked the story because there is a lot of character development for the main cast, especially from Neku because he is forced to fight with others rather than on his own. There are messages to learn and tough decisions to make, and it results in a great story from start to finish.
You control Neku around Shibuya by dragging the stylus in the direction he wants to go. There are many different areas within the district and various shops which sell clothes and food (for stat boosts), although some might be blocked for plot reasons. Fighting monsters is actually optional as opposed to inevitable- to do so, press the Scan button in the corner of the screen and Neku will start scanning people's thoughts and nearby noise in the area, and selecting that noise will draw it closer to you for a fight.
Now TWEWY's battle system is a refreshing shake-up of traditional RPGs. It takes up both DS screens because your partner fights Noise on the top screen while Neku fights the same monster at the bottom. Neku fights Noise with badges bought from shops or gained from key battles. Each one grants him special abilities such as shooting fast bullets, dragging flames across the floor and causing mini quakes. They are activated by doing various touch screen movements (e.g. the flame ability just involves drawing the path of flames on the screen but many only work for a couple of seconds and take time to recharge. How well your badges will work don't depend on the type of enemy you're facing but how trendy its branding is in that area of Tokyo; a hip brand means they get an attack boost but those at the bottom of the charts will have their power halved. Meanwhile your partner at the top unleashes melee combos on the foe by pressing a sequence of the directional buttons in order, and choosing certain combos will allow you to unleash a double- attack between both characters. I enjoyed this battle system a lot because it was great to combine different badge attacks to keep pummelling your enemy and I soon found my favourite brand ("Jupiter of the Monkey"). However the controls for combat are very difficult to get adjusted to. Your attention needs to be divided between the two screens as you're moving the stylus for Neku's attacks while frantically pressing buttons for his partner, something which I found impossible to do well. Fortunately the developers recognised this and can let the AI control the top screen for you if you're too distracted, which considering how frantic and powerful the bosses get was a necessity for me!
The graphics in TWEWY are great, because while they don't push DS capabilities every design is colourful and fits the intended mood of the game- Shibuya itself is mostly a mix of black and gray, but your characters stand out in terms of colour e.g. Neku and his mostly purple clothing and orange hair. It's all pretty realistic looking as well, which isn't a surprise since Alternative Shibuya is based on the real Japanese district, to the point of many buildings and areas being based off reality. The battle animations are seamless even against the final bosses that take up both screens. I further enjoyed the game's soundtrack which had catchy electro-pop Engrish songs, and these will get into your head as you're fighting or running around. One thing people might nitpick is the English voice-acting, but this is minor because it's only during battles (outside them characters just exclaim or laugh) plus I personally didn't mind that much as they were fitting enough for each character.
With hours upon hours of gameplay and even the opportunity to replay certain days (and one extra day), 'The World Ends With You' is a brilliant role-playing game that's a must-play for DS owners. Even non-RPG players should give this game a chance seeing as its setting and gameplay result in such an original take compared to games of its calibre. Heartily Recommended!
Summary: A fantastic role-playing game that shakes thing up for once. Buy it!
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