Reviews: Like Japanese RPGs? Longing for a quality, yet original JRPG from Square-Enix? Kris Rosado determines whether or not The World Ends With You is the Nintendo DS game you're looking for.
When I first previewed The World Ends with You
, I was completely absorbed into it. Not only was the game not another Final Fantasy or increasingly dismal Mana title, but it was a highly experimental risk taker that you normally never see come from Square-Enix. Their M.O. of only releasing titles that have the fan base to generate profits was completely thrown out the window with the conception of this game and I couldn't be happier to have it on western shores.
In what I can only chalk up to irony, the fact that The World Ends with You
is an experimental RPG more than fits in with the overall tone of the game which is sort of a coming out of your shell tale. The game is a teenage, Emo, Japoholic's wet dream. By mixing cell phones, music, fashion, and life lessons together, the game is basically a much hipper version of your teenage years.
We have the main character, Neku, who just so happens to be the trademark anti-hero who has amnesia, waking up in the middle of Shibuya, a commercial district in Tokyo, Japan. After taking a brief moment to grasp the situation he is in, he becomes thrust into the thick of the game's plot when he is attacked by the game's baddies called ?Noise.? He then learns that he is a participant in the "Reaper's Game," which takes place over the course of seven days and failure to complete it means death. While Neku is a loner at heart, he must overcome his inhibitions in order to survive the game which he has been thrust into. Over time, he develops friendships with the other characters and basically learns the value of and importance those friendships have. The moral of the story is no one can go through life alone which is a lesson every angst-filled teenager learns rather quickly in life.
This lesson is further developed in the game's battle system which has two characters working simultaneously to fight the same foes. With one character on the top screen and the main character on the bottom screen, players must dish out rhythmic flows of pain by using Dance Dance Revolution
-like moves via the Directional Pad for the top screen character and movement-based stylus attacks for the main character. If done right (or if you find it is too much for you, just set your partner to automatic mode), the characters are basically working in sync to overcome their obstacle. Yeah, once again we have the undertones of life lessons hidden in what is a very fun and experimental change to the average RPG battle system.
Of course, the central part of every teenager's life is shopping and The World Ends with You
has tons of stores to shop at. However, the more you shop at one store, the better your relationship will be with that clerk which opens up even more items to shop for.
Every teenager has their fashion style which is important to their identity. Similarly, in The World Ends with You
, fashion is a very important part of how a player will progress through the game. With the money earned from battles, players can purchase different styles of clothes that give the characters different stat bonuses. Like adding personality to life, fashion adds personality to the game as the player decides what the characters are going to wear. Choices are nearly infinite as players have four clothes slots and coming up with the right combination of the best stats really depends on how the player chooses to play the game. Maybe you want to wear something that gives you more of an attack rating because you are angsty and want to plow through everything or just maybe you want more hit points because you like to take your time. Though maybe you're more of a trend setter and don't care for the stats and just like the aesthetics of a certain brand. Like in the real world, when a particular brand is worn around town so much it picks up in popularity and by proxy makes the wearer popular. Only in the game, players will not become popular instead picking up extra bonuses like attack up or if your brand isn't hot, you will have to put up with penalties like hp down. However, nothing can be accomplished without the bravery to do so and this goes for wearing certain outfits too. Certain articles of clothing cannot be used because your character is simply too much of a wuss to be seen in it.
The fashion senses carry over into the game's weapons which are actually magic enhanced pins, or what is often referred to as, "pieces of flare". Since Neku is the only one who can use the pins effectively, most of them require stylus motions to activate their attacks, while the rest require the use of the DS's microphone. Pins are also branded and can help raise that brand's popularity in areas. Pins are also leveled up by completing battles or by simply not playing the game for periods of time. You heard right, the game rewards you for putting down the console and living out your real life. The life lesson here: your life is passing you by, if you never look up you might miss it.
The World Ends with You
goes on to mimic teen life with by touching upon eating out. Eating food in the game gives characters permanent stat boosts such as attack or bravery. But it's not that simple, each item takes a certain number of bites which are basically the number of battles players have to participate in before the effects of the item can be felt. Limitations are further put in place by the number of bites a character can "chew" a day, only 24. Once you reach that quota, you can no longer use items.
Finally, we have the central hub of every modern teenager's existence... their cell phone. Once again the same thing is true for the game; the cell phone is the central hub for the players. Basically, it is the main menu where players will equip things, make options to how they want the game to play, and so on. You can even listen to the game's music if you want. If you are the social type, you can use the Wi-Fi features to "Mingle" or play a game of "Tin Pin Slammer" with other players.
Speaking of music, the soundtrack for this game matches the feel perfectly. As someone who doesn't usually listen to J-pop or game soundtracks, I found the music in this game quite enjoyable and appropriate. Coupled with the Tetsuya Nomura artwork of hip, spikey-haired teens, the artwork completes this teenage Emo, Japoholic's wet dream I mentioned at the beginning of this rather long piece.
? The game's battle system is easily learned, fun to use, and something I hope to see in future DS games.
? The artwork and music both come together in an awesome and appropriate manner.
? If you are not the type who likes JRPGs or cannot tolerate heavy Emo/hipster elements, this is not your kind of game.
? I commend Square-Enix on bringing over a very niche title and taking the gamble with both the game mechanics and the audience.