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May 18, 2008

Review: The World Ends with You

The World Ends With You
Square Enix, Jupiter Corp
Available now for Nintendo DS

It’s not very often that Square Enix produces an original game title nowadays, but maybe that’s with good reason. The World Ends with You, the newest title to spring from the makers of Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest, is such a new and original concept that you barely recognize it as a Square game. The controls, art style, music and attribute system are so different from any previous game you’ve played from the Square library that fans of the company should think twice before running out to grab this title, because they might not like what they see.

Of course, Square may have created a completely different style of game play, but God forbid they use a different storyline for once, instead of the usual surly loner hero with amnesia storyline we‘ve played multiple times over. The game follows Neku Sakabara, a trendy young teenager as he wakes up in downtown Shibuya, Japan with no memories of how he got there and a mysterious text message telling him he’s going to die in 7 days if he doesn’t complete a task a day within an allotted time. From here on out, Neku must team up with other players to complete missions set by the evil Reapers, the controllers of the game, before the timer runs out on them forever.

Neku has a skull pin that allow him to listen in on the thoughts of the inhabitants of Shibuya, which comes in handy during some missions since he can’t talk to anyone except those involved in the game. Pins can also be used as abilities during battles and will level up during battle and while your DS is turned off. Enemies in the game are known as the Noise can only be seen by using Neku’s skull pin. The Noise, which appear as ghostly wolves, bats, werewolves and such in battle are actually seen as ghostly masks on the over world screen.

Missions given to Neku and his partner are given in riddle form and usual involve several steps to complete. Some missions will require you to clear the Noise floating on the screen, but even if they don’t, it’s always good to kill a few to level up for harder boss battles. Red-hooded Reapers will block your path sometimes during missions too and ask that you complete task before you can move onto a new area.

Battle controls have you using your stylus to sliding Neku across the screen to move him, or tapping on Neku to heal him and on enemies to attack them. Problem is that the attack doesn’t always hit what you tap on or Neku doesn’t always slide when you do. Your partner can be control by tapping the proper directional button in time with the Dance Dance Revolution-like display on the top screen, but it’s so hard to control both characters at once, it’s better to just to use auto-attack mode here. Even with auto-mode though, battles are incredible frustrating, so don’t be surprised if you die a lot.

Neku and your partner can purchase new clothes and items that boost their stats based on what is apparently in style. The trendier the item you wear, the more it boosts your pins and stats. I found this to be really confusing and it took me a lot of battles to even have the proper stats to even wear clothes in my price range. Rely on your phone, which tells you what’s hot and what’s not.

The art direction in the game is probably the only great part about this whole thing. A modern graffiti style reminiscent of Jet Set Radio with a bit of Kingdom Hearts thrown in for that Square touch makes it definitely stand out from the usual Square Enix art designs. The music was repetitive, annoying and actually made me turn it off after a while. The lyrics actually seemed to repeat every 30 seconds. What, they couldn’t spring for more lyrics in the budget?

I’m really disappointed that the only the new game that Square Enix has put out in a long while, turned out to be a complete mess. The game play, the controls and the item system are impossible to understand without reading the manual every 5 seconds and no gamer wants to put up with that. And that music! Could someone please shut that bloody woman up?

Rating: 3 out of 10
Forget it


Niels K. said...

Did you play more than 5 seconds? Sure it takes some time to pick up the controls but after two or three hours it's not really hard and actually really fun. All other stuff is explained bit by bit throughout the game and touching the manual isn't necessary because everything gets explained. The only part that can be annoying is changing equipment and pins on a regular basis for maxing out and that there boss fights in which you have to go unprepared w/out being able to save before but still one of the best games out there (like what the rest of the net is saying)

Faith said...

I actually played the game for 3 weeks before I wrote this review, and I found even with the auto-play on, the controls were terrible. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and everyone plays at different levels. Some people like challenging control systems, but I think Square throws too much on the screen for anyone to deal with at once. Worst of all, auto-play doesn't help because your partner fights horribly and you're stuck dealing with the monster pretty much on your own.

But you liked it, so enjoy. I personally will be moving on to the next game.