Review by SoreThumb

"Shutting down the game earns EXP, too!-- that is, if you could stop playing."

What makes a game good? What makes you lose sense of time when it comes to a videogame? The "Flow" theory in Videogames suggests that in game design, there's a point where you get immediate feedback for every action, can move at your own pace, and the game's difficulty will move to match your speed of engagement.

The World Ends With You, has many engrossing elements that have rarely been seen in videogames on any platform. Because of these innovative choices in gameplay and its masterful talent with videogames as entertainment, I suggest TWEWY to be on ANY Gamer's list of 'must trys'.

If you'd like a summary, please review the closing paragraphs.

Graphics: 10/10
(This is split into: Style / Talent , Engine & Contrast:
10/10 Style / Talent , how the game looks and feels while you play it,
10/10 for Engine's use of Hardware and Visual Contrast-- this means that the game pushes the DS to visual limits, and you won't lose any comprehension of what's important

Many videogames have graphical styles that seem to fit their console: powerhouses have full 3D graphics that can use lighting and color to help show off the player, while lighter systems show few colors to help promote the contrast and visibility of the player. The World Ends With You impresses players due to the art direction, the importance of images in the game's universe, and deliberate use of graphical size. Character images are full and vibrant, monsters are uniquely identfiable, and the game always seems to impress with an enticing graphic of at a clear enough size at the right time. The art's style is felt throughout the whole game, affecting characters, settings, and even menus, meaning that the game is clear, consistent, and a visual feast.

The World Ends With You needs to portray a certain type of location and depth, and pulls it off in impressive new ways regularly unused by other games. Now, I'm an old SNES and NES gamer-- back in the days when the 256 colors of a videogame in 1991 impressed me. When videogames showed a background scaled down to have, let's say, a flying ship (FF2/3), a jet racer ( F-Zero), or a general overworld ( Terranigma ). 3D Graphics that show a building stretching into the distance usually lend a great sense of depth. TWEWY manages to pull this sensation off with only scaling and altering graphics in various height and width dimensions while you play. This places you right into the Shibuya suburb you play in.

Plot: 9/10
(This is split into: Character and Character Development, Plot, and Pacing:
8/10 Character and Character Development, showing who you encounter in the game and whether you love them or love to hate them,
9/10 Plot, generally a story that has its own merits,
9/10 Pacing, how quickly you tell a story, and what details you tell when to engross your listeners.)

The World Ends With You has many characters, but due to the length of its story, the amount of people you meet is appropriate. Many of them have their own foibles and severe faults, but the story development has you sympathizing with some, mystified by others, and hating the worst of the worst. Because the game's story and feeling hinges upon style, all characters are easily identifiable and thematically unique.

The plot has many twists and complex interactions. There are many twists and many elements revealed later (see pacing). The World Ends With You starts with the player knowing almost nothing about his character, the game, the situation, or motivation. However, characters and the player's challenges are presented to them soon enough to keep player interest.

One major issue with the story is its pacing inside the plot--the pacing is simultaneously confusing and intriguing, because many elements are skipped and discussed after they have happened. Example: The plot is left hanging, and the user left to assume a character has died. Surprise, though: the character is not dead, and the true plot revealed. Other plot elements are discussed in this 'flash back' format. This is useful, as it can discuss elements not needed unless the player has accessed them, but often it feels like a cheap mechanism due to its constant usage throughout the game.

Music: 9/10
(This includes sound effects as well as soundtrack).

The World Ends With You's gameplay owes much of its interactivity through the constant usage of sounds and feedback for the player. I can prepare for boss attacks, or realize my special move is ready simply based on which sound effect has just played. Furthermore, they are memorable and distinguishable.

TWEWY's graphical style and direction as a whole has an influence on its soundtrack, which has voice audio on top of music jazzy enough to be on the radio. The game places a heavy emphasis on style inside the game, so seeing the game practice this sense of style and experience with the player itself is impressive.

Though there are no memorable 'central themes' that you get in other games, the music is memorable in its own respect. The sensations and elements of the music are memorable in my head.

Action and Action System: 9/10
(This includes many of the heaviest elements: Primary Challenge/Interaction, Difficulty, and Action)

The game requires a lot of practice to become a master, but for those of us with lives, the game offers many rewards for day-to-day breaks from the game, as well as methods to personalize the difficulty and its benefits. Many times, games have a constant difficulty level that is unshifting-- if you make it to the last level and find out that your difficulty level is too high for you, you're in trouble. This is not so in TWEWY. However, though you can make TWEWY easier at any time, the rewards you get are altered significantly-- this means that players who are dedicated enough to surmount the hardest difficulties will obtain items to make them even stronger for that difficulty. This shiftable difficulty enhances the game for any player of any talent.

One of the most exciting and painful elements of the game is how the battle takes place on two screens at once. If you don't know, the game allows the player to use the ABXY or Directional buttons to control the top screen and the stylus to control the bottom screen. This is intuitive, and will allow any experienced player to easily switch his/her glance between the two screens and focus where he/she needs it. At his/her best, the player could see the important details on both screens at the same time. However, the reason that this is a painful experience is that peripheral vision-- the ability to see out of the corner of your eye, requires practice to develop. That means that in the beginning of the game, your main way of fighting on 'both' screen is to only attack on one screen actively and hit the same button or make the same stylus movement on the other. This is not a major issue however, since the game's difficulty is adjustable, and TWEWY gently adds elements and eases off on truly difficult situations until the user is likely to be confident in the gameplay.

The game adds an exciting dimension of collection, because there is a vast array of attacks the hero can use, but can only use a small amount from his incomplete and collectable collection of attacks. The game gives the user many new moves throughout the game, so actively obtaining more items is not absolutely necessary. However, due to the high dimensions of personalization, this is likely to engross any player.

Replay Value: 8/10
Please keep in mind that this value is high for any RPG.

The only reason why I gave TWEWY eight is because of its replayability does not add much new difficulty and reward to the game besides satisfying collection desires earlier mentioned. When you complete the game, there are new rewards presented that allow for more opportunities to challenge yourself. However, many challenges do not offer plot as a reward, and only a few offer new, deep insight to the game's plot.

However, none of the above complaints may withstand a player who has beaten the game--the game has many elements that ask the player to keep playing and keep accumulating new items. Furthermore, the game's reward for turning the game off and picking it back up offers an incentive to be placed back into a bored player's hand a few days after the game is shut down.

SUMMARY: 9/10

The World Ends With You is a game that any bored gamer or videogame connoisseur would appreciate. The depth the game's developers put into a visually appealing product is just as impressive as the thoughtfulness placed inside the game's rules. Many plot elements are a great motivator for any player to find out why the game's events have been set in motion, and you will likely have fun collecting attacks and items as you play.

I would love to tell any wary gamer to not feel pressured to buy this gem. It's so hard to say this, as this is one of the few games likely to make your gamer heart beat. Buy this game, I doubt you'll be disappointed.


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 04/30/08

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


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