Dynamic double-front combat utilizing both DS screens
Engaging storyline that keeps you guessing till the end
Awesome “New Game +” feature allows you to access any day after game completion.
Dynamic characters and great dialogue
So I have a strange habit of reviewing games that came out a long time ago because, well, I’m an old-er video game geek that now has the funding to purchase the games and systems that were in production in my pre-“I actually have a decent paycheck” days. One of the games I tracked for a very long time is “The World Ends with You” which is a one-off IP by Square-Enix for the DS which made a nice little cameo in “KH Dream Drop Distance”. My interwebz amigos have all recommended it to me and I finally got my hands on it a few months ago. After a month of playing it I have come to realize that Squeenix actually has another IP that’s absolutely amazing….. that they’ll probably never do anything more with like Chrono Trigger. **sniff sniff**
Now onto the actual game. You are Neku Sakuraba, an emo teenager who hates interacting with people (wait, I just repeated myself…) and wants to simply disappear. As fate would have it, he actually accomplished this by mysteriously entering himself in “The Game”, a twisted contest where players are forced to make bonds with one other player and complete various objectives given out by the game master. Who is the game master? Why are people competing in this game? Those are the questions Neku has and must answer or else he faces erasure, or dying.
So how do you complete these objectives? Simple! You team up with various characters through the story and defeat the “Noise”, or enemies that appear when people feel angry, sad, frustrated, etc. that you can only see and defeat. Oh, did I mention that no ordinary people can see you or what you are doing? Yea, you are in some sort of a parallel world (I’ll leave it at that to prevent spoilers) where you can see anyone and nobody can see you unless you are in a shop with special marking. So objectives can be as easy as “Go to X location” or “Defeat X amount of noise” to “Shine a cat statue”. You have to complete these objectives and survive 7 days. If you can complete the week with the highest score you win and can get the best prize ever. What is it? Can’t tell you for fear of letting out some big spoilers.
Now onto gameplay. The World Ends with You utilizes both of the DS screens for combat but the majority of the gameplay takes place on the touch screen. Actually, all sub-menu utilization is based on the touch screen so the arrow/ABXY buttons are solely used for combat. Combat is split between you and your partner both acting simultaneously. You both fight the same enemies, but are on different planes (think parallel dimensions) so neither person sees one another during combat but both work together to defeat enemies. Neku (who is always controlled by you directly) utilizes the bottom screen and you can use different stylus motions to inflict damage on enemies. You collect pins that are used in combat to enact various attack, buff, debuffs, and healing abilities. You can either tap enemies, swipe across enemies, swipe empty spaces, swipe over neku, tap neku…. you get the drift. The game does a great job of allowing you to custom-tailor your attack style with the right pin setup so you can easily dominate any enemy you find. Your partner attacks either automatically or manually utilizing the D-pad or the ABXY buttons. (D-pad for righties, ABXY for lefties. Good on Squeenix to think of lefties.) Your combat is Dance Dance Revolution-esque where you have branching directions allowing you to use different attacks. If you chain the right types of attacks together, you build up your special gauge which unleashes a powerful dual-attack on all enemies helping you wipe them out quickly. While it’s important to build this up quickly, I found that simply keeping tapping right on the D-pad was sufficient to unleash a ton of damage and get a nice combo attack every once and awhile so you can keep your full attention on Neku. Your health bar (and enemies) are shared between the two characters so if you are focusing too much on one character and not notice your other character is getting punked around a lot…. you will wind up losing very quickly.
One thing the game does very well is allow you to customize the difficulty of battle through changing the overall game difficulty (affects monster stats), allowing you to customize your own personal level (affects player HP) and letting you chose how many rounds of combat you want to enter in. Higher game levels give you much better pins and more money, lowering personal levels and entering in multi-round combat allows you much higher chances to get pins. HP replenishes after each completed combat round(s) so you do not have to worry about replenishing HP after combats. The game also utilizes a “style” system where your clothes and attack pins will either get bonuses or penalties depending on how much “in style” they are. Kinda like the biggest Quicksilver V. Hurley slamdown in terms of popularity. This mechanic was rather strange because one block can be one brand as the coolest thing around, but one block over the same style is abhorred more than a Miley Cyrus clothing brand. It really doesn’t matter much in lower levels, but at higher levels, it’s worth it to pay attention because having double attack can make or break a big chain battle.??All and all, The World Ends with You is an amazing find for the DS and is strange to me why Squeenix has chosen to all-but abandon this series after only one legit installment and one cameo in Kingdom Hearts. The story is very deep and the characters really do portray issues lots of teenagers (and adults IMO) battle with all the time. Not to mention the dialogue is actually quite good and very funny at times, especially if you like math jokes. I STRONGLY recommend any JRPG fan get their hands on this and play it. Oh, did I mention there is an IOS/Android version available as well? So even if you don’t own a DS, you must get this game and play it (Great game for $18 plus it has shiny HD graphics on phones/tablets). You can Zetta thank me later.
Featured Image: YouTube user MasterEnex