Review by BriboBaggins
"A roller coaster ride for the emotions!...or perhaps just a solid game for the DS."
The newest game from Square Enix has us playing the role of Neku, an average 15 year old loner who wakes up in what seems to be the Shibuya district of Tokyo, Japan. As per usual with RPG protagonists.. he has.. AMNESIA!!!! He has no idea why he's there, or how he got there. He opens his clutched hand to find a pin which allows him to read minds. Soon after discovering this ability, his phone rings and he is left with a text message.
Reach 104. You have 60 minutes. Fail, and face erasure. -The Reapers".
Neku has to make it through 7 days of these missions in order to survive. He is essentially playing the Reaper's game, so there are rules he must follow. Neku quickly makes a pact with another player, Shiki, and they go day by day until the end of the week. There are twists and whatnot, but I'm not going to get into that on the chance that you want to play it.
A somewhat normal plot, nothing out of the ordinary.. the setting of this game is what sets it apart from others. You play in modern day Japan, you eat to gain stats, you can buy clothes, influence trends...all while listening to J-Pop, hip hop, rock, and other modern music.
The combat system is also completely unique, no other game has anything like it. Taking full advantage of the DS, Neku and a partner fight simultaneously... Neku on the bottom, his partner on the top.
The way you fight are with pins. You find pins throughout the game, from fights, buying them in stores, or from events. The majority of pins can be levelled up, either through battle, through mingling with other DS, or simply having the game turned off. All the pins have different effects such as dragging your stylus across the screen to make a wave of fire, tapping the screen to shoot energy bullets, or slashing an enemy with the stylus to make Neku slash the enemy in game. You drag Neku with the stylus to make him dodge attacks or reposition himself.
At the same time, your partner is fighting on the upper screen. Each partner you get throughout the game has a different way of fighting, but it stays somewhat the same. You push combinations of directions to initiate combos. Depending on the style, when you do certain combos, you'll get fusion points, which allow for a devastating attack that has both characters attacking all adversaries at once. The partner also has a dodge ability which is different and ranges from jumps to ducking. As you cannot move your partner out of the way of attacks manually, the only way to avoid damage is to dodge the attacks outright.
Sounds confusing? Both characters also share one life bar, so if you don't dodge on the upper screen, you may find yourself dead... and vice versa. To top off the features in battle, when you finish a heavy hit with Neku, it shoots a "light puck" to the upper screen. Finish a combo with his partner and it adds extra damage, and shoots the puck back to Neku. This makes it so you have to pay attention to both screens individually AND as a whole.
If it's too complicated, you can have the computer control the partner at all times, but you lose out on a lot of the charm of the game and some of the more intricate decisions of combat. I, for one, was very confused and crappy at the battle system when the game first started... but once I got a few more pins and grasped the concept better, I fell in love. The controls don't seem gimmicky at all and turn out to be a great feature. I don't foresee this kind of fighting being in any other games, but it works perfectly here.
There are many options for difficulty, as well, if you're still having trouble. Pros can turn their stat level down and the difficulty up to gain more items than normal and items that can't be acquired any other way. People that have trouble can set it to easy and breeze on through, enjoying the story. The only trouble (other than starting out) that I have had are on certain bosses, but once you lose, you are given the option to retry on easy difficulty for the quick win.
The World Ends With You is fairly short, beatable in a couple days.. but the replay value and original game play more than make up for it. To people who want a fresh experience, this game delivers. Just ignore the cliched hero. You pretty much ignore that EVERY RPG, anyway! I've had a lot of fun with this game, and can see myself playing through it again years later.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 04/24/08
Game Release: The World Ends With You (US, 04/21/08)
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