Sunday, July 14, 2013

The World Ends With You: A Retrospective

Lest I forget to review games again, here we go with something I've been wanting to write for a while now.
I didn't really discuss the plot, but that's because it's so integral to the game that I didn't want to spoil it.. I didn't describe the gameplay in-depth, so I'll go into it here. Neku controls by using the stylus and touchscreen to move him around. A lot of the controls (Even outside battle) require you to use the touchscreen instead of the buttons, since the game was designed to be used equally by lefties and righties by default, which tends to annoy my muscle-memory of always pressing A to select something (OFC I might be confusing this with GTA Chinetown Wars, which also did that). On to the combat. In order to fight, you must equip pins. Pins level-up the way you do, except they have a cap as to how much XP they can have. Also, if you don't play the game for a while you get XP for how long you didn't play it, which can be easily abused by setting the DS's clock ahead a few years. However, even after XP farming my strongest pins that way the final boss was hard to beat. In fact, even the regular bosses were hard to beat that way! The combat consists of you moving through combo-chains as your partner via the D-pad or the face-buttons. As I mentioned before, the constant tapping of the sharp d-pad on my DS lite led to me developing a rough-patch on my left thumb, as well as some cramps (Partially due to the size of the DS lite and its stylus compared to my hands, and partially because of the gameplay) afterwards. Now, the partner combat actually requires you to pay attention to what you're doing on both screens rather that just paying attention to one screen at a time, which at first proved challenging, but after a while became second nature. Neku's combat consists of you touching the screen with the stylus in a way that activates the pins he's wearing. Depending on what brand your pins are they may get a bonus or a negative depending on how popular the particular brand is in each area of the Shibuya shopping district (an actual place in Japan, and as far as I can tell, is fairly accurate). Your health-bar is shared between Neku and his partner, and when both ends of the green bar meet, you're in trouble. Same goes for the enemies, they share an HP bar between screens too. It all works together seamlessly as soon as you get used to it.  The story is very compact, and by the time I was done with it I felt some combination of worn out and satisfied with it all. A sequel would be fine, but it doesn't really need one. I'd rather it end on a high-note than have a cash-in sequel for the 3DS just because it was the second top-selling DS game in Japan and the top-selling one here.
All in all The World Ends With You is a must-own title for the DS (And by the way, the title DOES get explained eventually). I have to say that it's probably my favorite DS game, the characters feel human (Despite strange proportions), the plot is interesting, and the game is altogether fun from start to finish. There was one part where you had to wear a certain pin around certain areas in order to increase its popularity (By the way, fighting with different brands of pins can increase their popularity there, although I never noticed any pluses or minuses for having more popular pins or less popular ones, despite the game telling me so) and that's the only part of the game that seems out of place. (The pin just slows Neku down and replaces one of your regular pins)
Now, I forgot to mention the food mechanics and clothing ones. Clothes require a certain bravery score to wear them, and you increase it by leveling up, which allows you more benefits that the clothes impart. Unfortunately, without spoiling anything, when your partners leave, so do the clothes they're wearing. On the flip-side, money pretty much comes easy, so there IS that. Food gives your permanent bonuses to your HP, Bravery, or certain other scores (If I remember correctly), so it's not a worthless mechanic. I enjoyed every bit of the game, even the Tin-pin slammer minigame once I got the hang of it.
See you next week with more reviews!