Review by ElDudorino

Reviewed: 04/28/08

An interesting story plagued by terrible dialogue. Oh, and they forgot to attach a GAME to it.

The more of these rave reviews I see, the more I find myself thinking that everybody except me has gone crazy. If you clicked my review, it's probably because it was a 5/10 in a sea of 10/10s, and you're probably wondering why I gave this game a low score and nobody else did. Well, I'll tell you why. It's because this game just isn't fun. It has a reasonably interesting, though short, story but the horrible dialogue and lack of fun gameplay cancel it out. Allow me to elucidate.

Graphically, the game isn't half bad. Dialogue scenes play out like well-drawn comic books, although character expressions are a little too exaggerated and anime-ish for my tastes. Gameplay graphics are well-drawn and make good use of color, and battle animations look pretty good, even if they aren't especially fluid. It seems like they could have used a few extra frames for most animations, but the game doesn't really suffer for it.

Graphics may be decent, but as far as sound goes I give this game a C-. The soundtrack seems to be a collection of J-Pop, much of which is very repetitive. One song in particular is something like an 8-second loop, which really grates on my nerves around second 17. Choosing a specific genre of music for the soundtrack was rather risky, and I'd have preferred if they hadn't taken the risk. I think they should have just used some standard "video gamey" music like most Nintendo DS games have, because you can listen to it regardless of your preferred genre of music. As for speech, well, during the comic book dialogue scenes there usually is no speech, but when characters make their exaggerated anime expressions you hear them shout "BWAAAAA!!" for good measure. During battle, your allies speak to you and repeat obnoxious phrases over and over like "That was tight, dawg!" While I was playing, every once in a while the music seemed to be suited to the situation or my allies would say a line I hadn't heard before, but all-in-all I found no compelling reason to keep my volume up.

The story, as I've mentioned, is short yet interesting. It's short enough that I can't really say much without spoiling the whole thing, but essentially you wake up in the middle of a crowded street with amnesia, and nobody can see you except for a handful of people and monsters who are trying to kill you and a smaller handful of others like yourself. You're caught in the middle of some sort of twisted hunt which you apparently signed up for, and you have to survive the game long enough to figure out why you're there and what's going on. There are some reasonably interesting plot twists, and in any other game the story might have been pretty cool. Unfortunately this game brings it down, and now I'm going to tell you why.

The dialogue in this game is horrible. HORRIBLE. It sounds like Eugene Levy when he's trying to relate to teenagers, or like it was written by the same people who write the new EXXXTREME versions of old cartoons. In short, it sounds like what middle-aged suburbanites sound like when they try to bond with their children. When the incredibly hostile and introverted main character Neku meets and insults the thuggish skateboarding character Beat, Beat tells his friends something akin to "Yo fool, this busta be disrespectin, I'ma drop him like he's hot, aight yo?" Now let's be honest for a moment here. Even if you've occasionally met somebody in real life who both begins AND ends every sentence with the word "yo," NOBODY sounds anything remotely like this. It's like a badly failed attempt at combining the lingo of '80s, '90s and early '00s rappers. Neku then tells the idiot that he's "full of fail," which I think the audience is supposed to find cool, but which I'm fairly sure has never been said by anybody outside of the internet. Aside from the horrid dialogue itself, the game decides after a certain point that the main character will immediately perform a complete 180 with his personality and switch from being hateful and introverted to being loving, compassionate and motivated by art. Although the events in the story at that point do seem to be leading up to a long-term change of heart in our young Neku, his instantaneous personality implant is awkward and questionable at best. The character writing in this game is some of the worst I've ever seen.

As for the gameplay in The World Ends With You, it's, well... non-existent. Or close enough to it. I think they really did forget to include a game with TWEWY, and tacked one on at the last minute as an afterthought. Essentially, you have an inventory of pins and fashion accessories. Different pins and accessories rise and fall in popularity in each area of the game, so in theory you're supposed to continually change your equipment to match the scene though I doubt anybody really does that. The accessories provide boosts to your base stats, and the pins provide you with attacks to be used in battle. The entire game consists of accessorizing (which is easier at first because you have few accessories) and then finding a man in a hooded sweatshirt, who will then ask you to either battle some enemies or answer a quiz about in-game enemies and locations and, of course, classical composers like Mozart. Answer the quiz or defeat the monsters and you can move on to another area where you will have to... answer a quiz or defeat some monsters. That's the whole game in a nutshell. Sometimes in the case of the battle mission they will also request that you wear certain accessories or pins for the duration of the battle. At any rate, provided that you were not asked to answer a quiz, you will then have to fight some monsters. The bottom screen will be occupied by you, and the top screen will be occupied by an ally. You must fight on the bottom screen in the same manner as in Ninja Gaiden, by swiping your stylus across the screen in patterns. You must also simultaneously fight on the top screen by using either the D-Pad or the ABXY buttons (depending on if you're left- or right-handed) in order to survive. Since the game's developers realized that playing two fighting games simultaneously would be impossible, they made each half of the battle very simple. That way you can sort of pay attention to the top screen, sort of pay attention to the bottom screen, walk and chew bubblegum all at the same time. The battle system is shallow and controls poorly, and overall the gameplay for this game earns an F. Minus. That's right, an F-. I can do that.

This game could have had some potential if the gameplay had more depth to it, or if they'd stuck with making one well-developed fighting system instead of leaving us with two simple ones. The dialogue could have made sense if, instead of a bunch of 50-year olds trying to write teenagers using the booklet "How to Act Hip," they just asked some actual teenagers to do the writing for them. But because the game failed so horrifically in both of those respects, it has failed to be enjoyable. I wouldn't even let one of my friends rent this game, let alone buy it. But hey, it looks like all of the other reviewers on this site (as of April 27th) disagree with me. So who knows what you'll think of TWEWY?

Rating:   2.5 - Playable

Product Release: The World Ends with You (US, 04/22/08)

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