|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Jupiter Corp||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Square Enix||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Apr. 21, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4 (Online)||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
and Amazing Depth
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
At first, The World Ends With You seems to be a hodge-podge of Square-Enix's most tried and true clichés. You've got the spiky haired male lead with a heart of stone. You have the ditzy but occasionally insightful female lead with an outrageous outfit and curves to match. And of course you even have the two friends whom you occasionally see and who become very important to the plot later on.
It's amazing how many games you can think of that can satisfy this simple description. But when you think of these games, can you really say that you had a bad experience playing them? Did the archetypal characters and visual cues really put you off so much that you didn't enjoy Final Fantasy X or Kingdom Hearts? Some of you might say yes, but I would venture to say that the majority of gamers would say they enjoyed these games. Although The World Ends With You largely conforms to the Square-Enix tried-and-true style, it is nonetheless a great game. There is enough here in terms of storyline, unique characters, and depth to make it a worthwhile experience
The game's main character, Neku, has awoken in a strange place and has no idea where he is. As he starts to wander around his new surroundings, he reflects upon how much he hates people. But then a strange girl comes out of nowhere and asks him to forge a pact with her. This girl, Shiki, reveals you are now part of a reapers game where you must complete bizarre daily tasks or your existence will be erased forever. Along the way you will also have to fight noise, which are spirits that can possess inanimate objects or even other creatures.
It is with this simple but intriguing premise that you take control of not one but both of your main characters. You generally walk as a pair, but when you enter battle mode you have to control both characters' fighting movements at the same time. And this is no turn-based RPG. The battle system is completely active, and you'll have to fight with Neku on the bottom screen via the stylus as well as fight with Shiki via the d-pad (or face buttons for lefties) on the top screen at the same time. If this idea sounds like it might be a little complex and confusing, trust me it is. This is compounded by the fact that success in battle is absolutely impossible unless both characters are performing certain timed attacks at precisely the right moment. The battle system will take some practice. The key is generally finding a rhythm that works and sticking to it fairly religiously. Even if you think that by controlling Shiki for an extra long period of time might benefit you short-term, know that if you don't stick to the rhythm you will probably get burned, at least in the beginning.
But once you grasp the concept of controlling two characters at once in battle, the other components of the battle system fall into place rather nicely. Neku's attacks are controlled via the stylus and resonate from various pin-on buttons you receive during the game. You can keep an infinite amount of buttons in your pockets, but you can only wear and activate a few during battle. These buttons give Neku special elemental powers, psychic powers, and few even have status and health effects. The button system is probably where this game stays truest to form in terms of being an RPG. You can combine many different button attacks to form your own strategy, and going on side quests for different buttons is an exciting facet of the gameplay. Shiki, your partner in crime, is controlled via the d-pad, and you have to perform some DDR-esque moves with the D-pad in order to initiate her attacks. When you are executing moves for both Shiki and Neku in some sort of synchronization, then you will be able to use special power-up moves to purge your enemies once and for all.
One really cool facet of this title is its real-time elements. Although most of the game is played in game-time, certain facets like digesting food or regaining health are triggered in real-time. The game actually encourages you to take a break from playing by enhancing your powers in real-time for up to seven days while the system is off. When you turn the system back on, you can see how much your status has increased since the last time you played. When you eat status-raising food in the game, you also are measured in real time. You can't eat over a certain amount per day, and you have to wait a full 24 hours in real time before the effects of the food you ate are truly felt. Sorry marathon gamers, but it looks like this game really forces you to put it down in order to achieve success.