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The World Ends With You
The World Ends With You

Nintendo DS
Genre: Role Playing Players: 1 (2 Online)
Developer: Square Enix Official Site: http://www.theworldendswithy...
Publisher: Square Enix Classification: TBC
The World Ends With You Review
Review By @ 01:01pm 03/07/08
DS
Despite our embracing nature of all things Japanese of late, it’s still an odd land that truly embodies the term “foreign”. Especially when we’re given Western versions of their ardent creativity.

For years and years we’ve been ingesting the staple Japanese RPG blueprint that very rarely strays from its own rule-set, but often amidst these titles we also come across utterly foreign concepts and ideas in gaming. To mind the likes of Katamari Damacy, Viewtiful Joe, Killer 7 and No More Heroes offer a pretty daring glimpse at the Western world working toward not only accepting fresh, new ideas, but to also open the world of videogames to universal levels. It’s a stretch, because there’s a clear cultural divide, but with each and every newly unique title that makes its way across the pond we come one step closer to bridging the “foreign” gap.

Ahead of the game (so to speak) is JRPG forerunner Square-Enix whose DragonQuest and Final Fantasy titles have graced the West since the days of NES and SNES gaming. No stranger to creative fortitude though, for every 80th instalment of either of the aforementioned series, the publisher also brings something different to the table; in this instance, The World Ends With You.

What’s immediately different about this game is its presentation and expectation that anyone playing it, is going to understand its decidedly Japanese look and feel. It’s a stretch (especially with the overbearing J Pop soundtrack), but getting past the initial uneasiness will reveal a game worth getting to know, despite its differences to what currently populates the JRPG landscape.

TWEWY is set in the Shibuya shopping district of Tokyo, Japan. The game’s distinctive art-style is also derived from the mix of cultures among the youth who frequent the area, and anyone who has ever been there will likely see this immediately. Our main character, Neku Sakuraba, has awoken to find he can hear the thoughts of others and is apparently a participant in some cruel game run by a group called the “Reapers”.

Early on, most of what the game throws at you is pretty disorienting (deliberately), but as you progress the ultimate goal becomes clear. One thing I want to avoid, however, is spoiling anything because, like so many other Square-Enix titles, The World Ends With You is about story and this one is a doozy. Suffice to say though, typically our hero is reluctant and unsure of himself, but soon finds he has power enough to make a difference, which is ultimately where you and your stylus come in.

One of the most unique attributes of TWEWY is its battle-system. Basically, players are whisked into a battle arena where they fight bad-guys with strokes, taps and general movements of the stylus. Moves, weapons and abilities are determined by various pins gained and adorned throughout the game. Some enemies require you to draw a path in front of, or over them, others need you to tap the screen or even hold the stylus over them. You’ll battle with a NPC partner who occupies the top screen, while you fight on the bottom screen and each share a health bar. It’s an interesting system that works well when you start playing with the pins. Working out various attacks and stringing them together along with abilities and the like is pretty cool and then having to act them out makes for some great interaction, which is a neat feature for this type of game.

Moreover, as the game is based fairly heavily on the youth and consumer culture of Shibuya, you’ll strive to buy new clothes and accessories to become the most stylish person you can. Certain combinations will work better in various sections of the game-world and can enhance abilities and affects based on where you are and what you’re wearing. Again, it’s an interesting idea, but one very Japanese – given the obsession with consumerism and fashion.

The game’s story is broken into three chapters, each representative of a week. Missions are then given to you on a day-by-day basis throughout each of these weeks, which is just a clever way of creating a narrative-driven level structure. You’ll have daily goals to achieve, and finishing them off will progress you through the week in a nicely driven story kind of way.

Visually there are few games that look like this, and while most of what you see is pretty much sprite-based art and animation, there are also bits and pieces of pseudo 3D gaming (mainly in battles and exploration). It’s not pushing the DS hardware to any new heights, but it’s definitely a unique looking game.

As mentioned earlier, the game is riddled with J Pop sounds, and while the oddly cool J Hip Hop track will find its way through it’s mostly pretty annoying. That said, if you’re a fan of J Pop, you’ll be in heaven here. The voice-acting is pretty cool, though very over-the-top anime style, but I don’t mind that so much being an anime fan anyway. It’s a bit of mixed bag overall, but if you don’t like any of the above, you’d be better off playing with no sound as this is a very noise intensive game through its soundtrack, voice-acting and game-world ambiance (the shopping district of Shibuya is teeming with life).

Ultimately DS owners would do well to pick this up for its uniqueness alone. It uses the touchpad intuitively with an engaging battle-system while the ardent story should keep most people playing through.

The soundtrack can be overbearing if J Pop isn’t your thing, but if you have an ear for it, you’ll love it. Above all else though, this is a pretty clever piece of fiction derived creatively from real-life cultures and the Japanese obsession with fashion, shopping and looking cool. It touches on ideas of loneliness, belonging and angst, but deals with them in a mature manner and never once lets them become an overbearing part of an otherwise enjoyable story.
What we liked
  • Great art-style
  • Pins system and Shibuya exploration are great ideas
  • Battle-system is cool and utilises the DS really well
  • Interesting and compelling story
What we didn't like
  • Soundtrack can be a turn-off
  • Can take a little while to get into the game
More
We gave it:
8.0
OUT OF 10
Latest Comments
Bah
Posted 09:46pm 03/7/08
One thing I want to avoid, however, is spoiling anything

I think this is a bit of a spoiler Spoiler:
The games story is broken into three chapters, each representative of a week.


Its a good game, but another ds-trashyourscreen-athon with all the different touch screen rubbing going on, it kept me interested until the end, and even a little bit more. Only slightly annoying thing might be the different ways pins evolve which you could only know by exhaustive playing or game guides, but that really only matters if you are completely anal about 100%ing the game.

last edited by Bah at 21:46:12 03/Jul/08
zuzu
Posted 08:35am 31/8/08
are you able to play as rhyme?
and what happenes if you complete everything 100%?
as in you get everything, pins, clothes, items, noise reports....ect~?
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