Review by horror_spooky
If you were to ask someone to recommend you a game for the DS, the answer you will received will most likely be The World Ends With You. This games wild popularity is really no surprise with its awesome and innovative gameplay coupled with its touching manga-style storyline that draws you in and wont let you go, but if for some reason you arent entirely sure if you want to pick this masterpiece up for your DS, then keep reading on by all means.
Firstly, TWEWY is not your traditional turn-based RPG. The game is instead an action RPG, and while some battles are forced, you can skip probably 80% of the battles in the entire game if you so wish to do so. If that wasnt unique enough for you, this next bit of information probably will be: when you play TWEWY, you have to control the actions on BOTH of the DSs screens.
Thats right. For the majority of the game, you have to control two characters at once on two separate screens. The top screen character is controlled using the d-pad, and you attack by inputting different arrow combinations. The bottom screen character and the main character of the game, Neku, is controlled using the stylus and the touch-screen. This can be pretty disorienting at times and you will miss out on some of the action that goes on the two screens, but I suppose you can turn TWEWY into a co-op game by having a friend play using the d-pad.
You can navigate Neku around the bottom screen by using the stylus. You attack by equipping different kinds of pins to your character. You activate the pins powers in a variety of ways. Some pins require you to slash at enemies and other pins require you to scream into the microphone to disable your opponents movements. Its really innovative, unique, and all the pins really take advantage of the DS in unique ways that make it impossible for the game to work on any other gaming platform this generation.
The pins themselves can be obtained through the storyline or purchased at various shops. By winning battles using the pins, they, along with you, actually gain experience points. If you earn enough experience points, your pins will level up and morph into more powerful pins to use. You even earn experience points for everyday that you dont play the game!
You are also free to buy other things at these shops. Instead of equipping armor or swords to Neku and your partners, you instead can purchase clothing for them that can provide stat upgrades to their pins and their actual person. You can make certain clothing brands popular in areas by defeating a lot of enemies in that specific area, thus increasing the stat upgrades even farther. Food is also available to purchase and by feeding it to your characters they will also earn stat upgrades that way, assuming they have digested the food.
The game is separated out into seven-day intervals with a few different story arcs. Each day is different and will allow you to access different parts of Shibuya. Some days the entire town will be available for exploration and your purchasing needs, and other days you may only have a street or two to visit.
Tin Pin Slammer is a mini-game that you can play with your friends if they also have a copy of TWEWY, and there are certain parts in the game that you can do play this as well. In Tin Pin Slammer, the basic objective is to knock the other players pins off the board. It sounds simple, but its actually quite challenging in its own way.
One gripe that I had with TWEWY was that it was almost frustratingly difficult sometimes to know which direction to go. You would know where you were supposed to be, but the winding streets of Shibuya just get a little too confusing. An easy solution would have been to include a much more user-friendly map, but the map available is just plain bad and completely useless.
A major plus is the storyline. Following a similar style to manga or anime, TWEWY follows the story of a boy named Neku, who has seven days. Seven days to do what? Well, I feel obliged not to give you much more than that obscure piece of information because I dont want to risk ruining any of the plot for you. TWEWYs storyline and its characters are really great and well done, and while occasionally the dialogue would falter and some plot points were just a little silly, the game was smooth sailing until the end where it takes a nosedive in the plot department. Regardless, Square does know how to write a great story, and they did a great job once again.
TWEWY also has a very unique art style to go along with its unique gameplay. The battles are fought on planes akin to old beat-em-ups, and the characters in the game are presented as 2D sprites. Some of the environments are 2.5D as you roam around Shibuya, and the occasional cut-scene also shows off a little 3D graphics. Much of the dialogue and cut-scenes though showcase the characters as manga in style, kind of like Phoenix Wright but a little cleaner and sharper in style.
The thing I loved the most about The World Ends With You is its awesome soundtrack. Featuring Japanese pop tracks actually works amazingly well and they are all very catchy songs that you will want to listen to over and over again. I was impressed with how much music they managed to fix on the small DS cartridge, but I wish there was a play list of some sort that would allow you to choose which songs you listened to. Besides that, the occasional voice acting mixed in with the text was also very subtle and very well done, so there are no complaints here either.
You can go through the storyline in roughly eight to ten hours, so if TWEWY does have a flaw, it is definitely its short length. After you beat the game though, you can go back through every chapter and unlock hidden items and secrets for a ton of replayability. I wish the game allowed more than one save slot and I wish that there was some single-card DS multiplayer to dink around with, but theres still a lot to keep you coming back here.
TWEWY is a phenomenal video game and the definitive action RPG on the DS. Basically, its a crime if you own a DS and have yet to play this gem. Whether youre a fan of RPGs or not, youll probably find something to love with TWEWY. It could have stood to be a little longer and I wish there were small modifications to make the game a little more user-friendly (i.e. a customizable play list!), but overall, the experience was satisfying. With an awesome soundtrack, unique visuals, and innovative (if not disorienting) gameplay, TWEWY is a sure bet. You can pick TWEWY up brand new for pretty damn cheap nowadays. You have seven days to buy this game or face erasure!
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Product Release: The World Ends with You (US, 04/22/08)
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