Review by Dawngarde
Reviewed: 06/26/08 | Updated: 01/14/09
Watch it, or it'll be Game, set, match for you. Reaper's Game, that is...
This is The World Ends With You or Subarashiki kono Sekai, literally It's a Wonderful World in Japan, just changed to The World Ends With You due to legal stuff. Sounds cooler, in my opinion. The World Ends With You (from henceforth now abbreviated as TWEWY), is a unique action-RPG, praised for it's absolute originality, unique gameplay, the story, cast of characters, and so on and so forth.
The story is beautiful. It's just... beautiful. Here's how it starts. Neku Sakuraba prefers not to open up to others. He has his own values... and wants others to keep theirs. He awakens in the scramble crossing, in the Japanese city of Shibuya, with no memory of how he got here. No one can hear him, no one can see him. Seems perfect for him, but it turns out, a mysterious message tells him that he is assigned a mission which is timed, in which failure costs him erasure. While Neku thinks it's a joke, it was no joking matter at all. This is the Reaper's Game. Neku has also gotten a pin in the shape of a skull, which makes him read thoughts. Neku is forced to partner up with Shiki Misaki, and learns to deal with others-- something he wouldn't want. The story then unfolds, and the characters have their own personal struggles to deal with, as well as the Reapers, who compete against the Players. The characters have problems that you can reflect upon toward real-life problems, making you relate to the characters. It's seriously touching, and I love it.
Please note, while it does say that you have a time limit, take it with a grain of salt. You have as much time as you need. The game is divided into chapters. I won't spoil how many, but there is one after the game is done, and that chapter has hilarious dialogue. You will always hear it mentioned on the boards!
Let me talk about Reapers. They make walls, and give a task like erase from Noise, to get past. However... some are special. They are called Harriers. They get more freedom, but still have to abide by rules. The wall Reapers are Support. While the higher Reapers are Officers. Higher than that is the Conductor, in charge of the Reapers. Above him is the Composer, the one who runs the Reaper's Game... The goal of the Reaper's Game is to last the week, completing missions assigned from the Game Master, a Reaper Officer, sent by the Conductor, to challenge the Players. What happens when you win? You'll see. What happens when you lose? You lose your right to exist.
This game has perhaps the most interesting battle system I have ever seen in any video game. See, you use two screens... which is easier than it seems. But the learning curve toward it has been criticized a bit. However, this is remedied easily-- the difficulty can be set from Easy to Hard (and an even harder difficulty later), as well as how the top screen is controlled.
So, two screens, hm? Basically, on the top screen, you use the pad (or buttons) to navigate through a "Combo Map", by following the arrow it's pointing toward. You do damage as you go through. On the touch screen, you obviously do lots of things such as touching an enemy, touching an empty space, slash across an empty space, press down on an enemy-- so on and so forth, even utilizing the microphone's capabilities. On the touch screen, you use Pins, the name of your arsenal of things in the touch screen. If you can't manage, you can change the difficulty, you can allow the top-screen to be on Auto-Play, which does the work for you until you get used to the controls, and it's not that hard. In the overworld, Shibuya, you basically walk around, use the Player Pin to scan for Noise, the enemies of the game, and use your pins to erase them. Simple. You can also read people's thoughts (for fun). You touch the Noise symbols to start a fight (no random encounters! HAH!), though some have special properties. Later on, you can fight up to 4 at once, and even later, 16. As that battle progresses, the Noise get harder and harder, but drop more pins.
You wear threads, your equipment, to boost stats and give abilities. You have to earn the cashier's trust (...by shopping a LOT.) to get the abilities, and get chances at new items and whatnot. To wear these threads, you need Bravery, a stat that is required to wear threads. The higher the better, because you'll need a LOT to wear the best threads. But that's for the post-game. There are pins as mentioned, stickers, which are permanent add-ons to things (your attack increasing, etc), food and books. The books give you info on things, of course. Food? What the heck? Yes. Food. You can eat food, and it's determined by a meter... called bytes. You eat a Hot Dog that's like... 8 Bytes, or something. You fight 8 battles, and you digest it, giving you a stat up. However, the game keeps track of what you ate. For one byte digested, a grey byte is in it's place. Those grey bytes don't go away until a day passes, so that limits how much things you can eat in a day. You'll however always have six bytes open-- use that for a small stat or two. You can buy an item later on to bypass this, so that no grey bytes exist. You can lower your level. What!? Well, the lower it is, the higher chance Noise will drop pins, so that's always good. It's also nice for a challenge.
And now the pins! There's tons of them, and they do many things. Some are limited use (you touch them most likely, likely to heal), most have a gauge and some are support, which activate on their own. Take a Shockwave psych pin for example. Slash an enemy, and you... well, slash it, and do damage. Pins can be mastered and leveled up to stronger forms and such. Some are complicated and require other pins to be in your deck. They also have classes, from --- to Reaper/Angel. Say that Shockwave pin had a class of A. Only one Shockwave pin in your deck. But another pin has a --- class. You can have as many of those in your deck as you want, while only one Reaper and one Angel, no matter the pin. Some might evolve and be completely different pins and such, and you need PP to do so. Battle PP is gained from battling, easily the most simple choice. There is also Shutdown PP and Mingle PP. Shutdown PP is gained when you turn on your game, and it stores up PP depending on how long you haven't played the game for. So you get PP even when you don't play-- that's always cool. Mingle PP is gained when you Mingle, an option in which you can detect other Nintendo DS's or other things. Those two are the only way to get some of the strongest pins, because Battle PP just won't do it. Areas in Shibuya have a brand chart, in which the brand of your pin can affect the trend. So yes, pins have brands. The top brand gets a 2x attack bonus for it's pin. However, the worst brand gets it's pins attack halved.
As far as mini-games go, there is a marble-slash game in which you use your equipped pins to battle other pins, by slashing the pins into the other pins. You have Whammies, which are your weapons. There's a rock-paper-scissors element to this, in which the hammer beats the spiked ball, the spiked ball beats the dive-bomb, and the dive-bomb beats the hammer, while a hand can save you from falling off.
The graphics are pretty anime/manga-like, while the character designs are very interesting. Everything is absolutely freaking modern, and it's wonderful. I am not sure if it's a first for Square Enix, but it's definitely original and awesome. For legal issues, things like the 109 building, in the real Shibuya, has been changed to 104 building. Mark City to Pork City. Etcetera.
As for music, pop, dance, hip-hop, and rock make up the soundtrack. Some are in Japanese. It works pretty well, with the whole modern theme. The sound quality is excellent as well, and things are to an extent, voiced. Imagine fighting a boss with freaking hip-hop music. Or dance music, rather than the standard bleeps and bloops of normal video games. The best part is, it's never the same boss/enemy music each time. It's always different, also in the overworld.
The only thing I can say bad about this game is that the dual-screen battle system is a little hard to grasp at first, and it'll take quite a while to max out the character's stats. Those are very minor, however. The battle-system isn't too hard to grasp, and even still you can help it via difficulty adjusting and top-screen adjusting, and as for the second thing, I'm just impatient. However, it will require grinding, a lot of it, to max out stats. Though, that is after the game is done, so don't let it be a concern.
Overall, this is perhaps the most unique game I have ever played in my life. This is simply amazing. So many things to love about this game. The original battle system, the unique gameplay elements, the colourful cast of characters, interesting music and graphics, like... seriously. WOW! 10/10 for me. Buy it now. You won't regret it. If you rent it you'll just be miserable. It's a very nice departure from Kingdom Hearts, Final Fantasy, the recognizable titles by Square Enix-- and it's originality will pull at your heart strings every step of the way.
If that's not enough, one boss uses math in EVERYTHING he says. He makes it look AWESOME.
Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Product Release: The World Ends with You (US, 04/22/08)
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