The World Ends With You has got to be the most… how shall I put it? Different? Unorthodox? Those will do. It’s a Nintendo DS game that focuses both on the touch-screen and the D-pad/ABXY buttons simultaneously during combat. Combat, in this specific case, involves using pins, cell phones, skateboards, and cat dolls in order to obliterate your music-themed animal foes. The thing is, you won’t just be playing for the overwhelmingly enjoyable combat. Oh no. The insane depth of TWEWY’s plot will practically force you to play until you’ve achieved every last thing there is to achieve. Or, you’ll look it up online, in which case you’re a loser, please die.
Neku Sakuraba is dead. He’s taking part in a series of contests called the Reapers’ Games, in which players compete to win back their right to live. These contests take place in a realm known as the Underground, or UG, in which living people may not, can not, and will not notice players. The Realgrounds, or RG, are only accessible when entering certain shops or restaurants that are marked with the skull-shaped player insignia. A Reapers’ Game lasts exactly one week, and each day, players are presented with an enigmatic puzzle or challenge that they must complete, lest they face erasure.
Gameplay is not straightforward. I’ll say that right here and now. I’m glad to see that some developers are striving to avoid the typical control schemes so common in games these days, yet all the same, this one’s a tough nut to crack. You as the player must select a series of different pins to equip Neku with, each of which is activated by a different stylus action. Tapping, scratching, spinning, holding, flicking, slashing, lifting, so on and so forth. There are a hundreds of pins to use, and all of them have different applications. It’s your goal to use these seemingly miniscule weapons to conjure blades, fire, black holes, and explosions in order to destroy the animalistic Noise enemies that assault you.
But that’s just the touch-screen. On the upper screen, you must use the D-pad and buttons in order to fight and defend against the very same enemies. Neku and his upper-screen partner share a health bar, and so do the enemies in both screens. There are several ways you can go about handling this. For one, you can super-focus Neku’s offensive abilities and destroy the Noise before they can terminate your HP through thrashing your partner. Or, you can play the evasion game with Neku and attack opportunistically, leaving the primary offense to the simpler, upper-screen action. The best way to fight, however, is synchronicity; use Neku and his partner efficiently and simultaneously. The game’s enemies play off of your inability to synchronize. United you stand, and divided you fall.
There are a great many different enemies you have to deal with, harboring different elemental and attribute-oriented defenses that can render some pins utterly useless. I wasn’t kidding when I said you can’t just dive into this game haphazardly. Along with a valid strategy and foresight, this game requires a quick reaction time, balanced aggression, and a knowledge of enemy properties. Oh, and right when you think you’ve got it down, in come the black and bleak Taboo Noise. Only the player with the light puck can damage these fiendish Noise. Good luck. I seriously mean that.
So, what is my personal take on The World Ends With You? It’s probably the best DS game made thus far. I have a tendency to say that a lot, but this instance has more truth to it. The modern electronic and hip-hop music selections make combat enjoyable to hear, the quirky and aesthetic art style really expresses character personalities, the colossal plot will immerse you like none other, and the different pins will make you WANT to fight stronger enemies so you can use your treasures more often. The only reason I’m not still playing it is because I recalibrated my touch-screen, not knowing that it would ruin it forever.
The World Ends With You is a god-like game, and if you play it, you’ll get the pun. You need to play this to understand, and an emulator won’t do. Any reviewer that doesn’t give this game the maximum rating is lying through their teeth.
James Newton’s got the right idea. You don’t really need a different take, since I guarantee you’ll love the game if you play it, but here’s his opinion anyway. For the sake of inclusiveness, and because he makes several great points about the mechanics. Here’s the digital portal: http://www.nintendolife.com/reviews/2010/06/world_ends_with_you_ds