The World Ends with You: Final Remix (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Renan Fontes 10.10.2018

Review for The World Ends with You: Final Remix on Nintendo Switch

Widely considered to be one of the strongest games in the Nintendo DS' line-up, The World Ends with You captivated audiences with its incredibly stylish aesthetic, surprisingly poignant story, and masterful use of the Nintendo DS' hardware. TWEWY is one of the only titles on the handheld to truly use everything at its disposable in order to create a game so ingrained with what can be done with dual screens. Fans have been clamouring for more ever since and Final Remix marks the supposedly last chance the series has to spawn anything more than just ports and cameos in Kingdom Hearts.

At its core, The World Ends with You is a story about identity and individuality. Amnesiac, Neku, does not know who he is, but he does know he wants nothing to do with anyone else. For him, individuality goes hand in hand with solitude. Over the course of the narrative, he has his ideal challenged, gaining new perspectives in regards to what it means to be an individual.

Individuality is the RPG's driving force as a whole. Every major character has their identity brought into question thematically, and the theme of individuality through solidarity is thrown in Neku's face by the end of the game, allowing his arc to circle back to who he once was by journey's end. Characters are developed incredibly well, and the ones left on the backburner manage to stand out thanks to fantastic characterisation and designs.

Even Shibuya's Underground has a clear visual identity of its own. While the layout of the world is inspired directly from the real world Shibuya, the art direction gives the city a stylish flair unique to TWEWY. There's a potent graffiti aesthetic at play that helps Shibuya maintain its reality within the confines of the game. It is a genuine, living city polluted with noise, and scanning each available NPC to hear their thoughts gives a great deal of context and levity to the overarching plot.

While the cast does ultimately steal the show, the story itself is quite strong, even for Square Enix. The script has an appropriately modern flare, especially considering it was written in 2007. Dialogue is natural, with characters having their own distinct voices through the strength of the writing. Even NPCS, with just a few written lines, end up coming out with an individuality of their own.

Screenshot for The World Ends with You: Final Remix on Nintendo Switch

Given that The World Ends with You's final message is the importance of relationships with others, along with demonising individuality through alienation, the original Nintendo DS release extended this concept to the gameplay by having Neku begrudgingly team up with partners during battle.

In the original release, both characters would be controlled at once. Neku would be controlled on the bottom screen via touch controls, while his partner would do damage from the top screen via the DS' face buttons. Where Neku had more manoeuvrability and variety in his controls, his partner would have their own set of combos to pull. Even though the mechanic could be confusing at times, the partner system only enhanced the story's themes, while adding depth to the combat.

The DS release could actively show Neku working with his partners, pushing a message that would not come into play until later on into the game as early as possible. On top of that, the dual screen management resulted in a unique style of play to both the genre and medium. For, as initially confusing as combat could be, the sheer level of skill and versatility at play at all times worked together to craft a truly unforgettable battle system.

Which, in itself, ends up being Final Remix's biggest problem. The Nintendo Switch does not have dual screens so, naturally, it cannot emulate the original combat as it was intended to be played. Rather, it takes cues from the iOS remake, Solo Remix, which edited the gameplay to be playable with only Neku in the lead. Unfortunately, while the end result is playable, it is not nearly as memorable or enjoyable as the DS original.

Losing the top screen alone already removes a considerable amount of depth from the combat, but the Joy-Con's gyroscopic controls do not help mitigate the remake's issues. The Joy-Con are never unstable to the point where they actively ruin the gameplay, but they also are not stable enough for the type of reflex-based action battles demand from players.

Fights move far slower in the Switch release than they ever did on the DS, at least as far as the gyroscope is concerned. Trying to pull off slash attacks with Neku is genuinely more effort than it's worth most of the time. The World Ends with You is a title so ingrained in its Nintendo DS roots that the transition to the Switch is far from smooth.

Screenshot for The World Ends with You: Final Remix on Nintendo Switch

When it comes down it, battling in Final Remix simply isn't as fun as it was in the original release. The Switch remake's combat is nowhere near as fluid as the DS'. Even without the need to switch focus over to the partner, battles seem to go by slower. The action has less depth and the gameplay suffers as a result.

It is possible to add a version of the partner system back into combat by triggering co-op from the main menu, but the sheer amount of willpower necessary to make it work with one person is simply too much. Controlling Neku with the single Joy-Con can already be frustrating for anyone familiar with the original control scheme; adding another Joy-Con to the mix is overkill.

That said, though, co-op is a nice feature in and of itself. Playing with a friend doesn't exactly give the combat anymore depth - in fact, it might actually take away from it given how the partner is invincible - but it does make for a unique co-operative experience that hammers in the narrative's main theme rather well. Playing undocked does fare better as Final Remix more or less just adopts Solo Remix's control scheme. It is by no means the ideal way of experiencing the RPG, but it makes for a significantly better experience than playing docked with two Joy-Con. The touch controls simply do not translate well enough to gyroscopic controls, but Solo Remix's interpretation at least keeps the spirit of the DS original alive, albeit neutered.

What makes the transition so poor stems mostly from how the original battle system was built. Neku can equip Pins, which allow him to use different Psychs, and each Psych category was clearly designed with the DS' touch screen in mind. Drag, Slash, and Circle-based Psychs are adapted the worst with Touch and Press Psychs making the cleanest transitions.

As the partner system cannot be realistically implemented into the Switch version, Neku's partners are instead delegated to Pins that can be used in battle. It is a fine enough work around that makes sense, but it pales in comparison to the original dual screen system.

Screenshot for The World Ends with You: Final Remix on Nintendo Switch

The gameplay changes may have been necessary given the Switch's hardware, but that in no way exempts Final Remix from criticism. That said, it is still worth playing if only because The World Ends with You is such a strong game that even a poor remaster cannot hurt it. Even if the gameplay falters, the story, atmosphere, and music are just as alive as they ever were.

It is a genuine shame that the gameplay translates as poorly as it does because the new additions are legitimately fantastic. The UI is incredibly clean, character sprites are downright gorgeous, action is seamless from a visual perspective, and the new soundtrack is familiar enough without carving out a musical identity of its own. The original soundtrack is even included for any fans attached to Ishimoto's original score.

The Final Remix exclusive post-game also adds quite a bit to TWEWY's mythos, as well, clearly playing set up for a sequel. As the original story was complete enough as is, the new additions don't do much to actually enhance the narrative, but more world building for the series is never a bad thing. That said, A New Day is not particularly long, but the new Psychs Neku can attain do at least spice up the gameplay.

The World Ends with You: Final Remix is a title that simply came out too late on a console where it was never going to transition smoothly onto. Square Enix should have developed the remake for the 3DS where it could have at least resembled and expanded the original in a meaningful way. As is, Final Remix's many strengths are owed entirely to the original release, while its weaknesses stem almost exclusively from its nature as a DS game on a system with only one screen.

Screenshot for The World Ends with You: Final Remix on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

A mediocre remaster of a great game, it is critically important to recognise that Final Remix is in no way whatsoever the definitive release of The World Ends with You. Presentation wise, the Switch remaster both looks and sounds great, improving upon the original mobile remaster wherever it can, but the gameplay is severely neutered when compared to the original Nintendo DS release. Combat will never be as smooth with the Joy-Con setup as it is with touch controls, and the modifications made to the partner system in order to make gameplay work on one single screen remove a great deal of the original battle system's charm. Final Remix is a good game as it is still, at its core, The World Ends with You, but it is a deeply flawed, deeply disappointing reimagining of the DS classic.

Developer

Square Enix

Publisher

Nintendo

Genre

Turn Based RPG

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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