Cubed3 Nintendo gaming, Wii and DS

The World Ends With You (Nintendo DS) Review

When Square Enix announced that the Kingdom Hearts team was turning its attention from the PlayStation 2 to the humble Nintendo DS platform, clearly people were extremely excited about the prospect of such a title. But just what would the brains of the team and outside group Jupiter come up with following the success of KH: Chain of Memories on the GBA? Something truly unique for the system that takes full advantage of both the dual- and touch-screen functions, that's what! Does the new approach to RPG gameplay quite work, though, or is this more of a failed experiment?

Players take on the role of Neku Sakuraba, a punk-styled young boy who one morning wakes up to find not only a strange message on his mobile phone that refuses to be deleted, but a timer on his hand. As it turns out, he has been enrolled on a mysterious game whereby if certain tasks are not completed within a set time limit during a seven day period, he will simply be wiped off the face of the Earth! Straight away players are thrown into a battle against some evil frogs and are taught the basics of the game in bit-by-bit stages, starting with a simple 'Escape from Battle' move. Each time something new is learned, a special pin is collected and added to Neku's collection as he attempts to overcome the 'Noise' that seem intent on not only causing general havoc, but actual physical pain to the game's protagonist and the female partner he comes across early on, Shiki Misaki, as they traverse the busy Japanese district of Shibuya in the hope of unravelling the mysteries behind the whole Game and the Reapers that help enforce the rules. On top of all this, Neku can now read people's thoughts, all mixed in with the background sounds of traffic, people chattering away and other day-to-day static...

The first day or so of the game is taken up with simply getting your bearings and trying to get your head around the innovative battle system employed, and this is where many players might be put off. Whilst the stylish 2D characters and pseudo-3D world help to make the game look extremely impressive and definitely a cut above other DS titles, and the soundtrack is littered with cool, funk-filled, vocalised songs that certainly benefit from use of earphones, the dual-screen battling may seem like a little too much for most. Basically Neku is controlled using the stylus on the lower screen, with him either walking or dashing around dependant on whether the stylus is placed near him or further away. Dashing allows him to circumvent the attacks of enemies (ranging from frogs and wolves to large bears), which gives time for his ability pins to recharge before specific stylus motions can be drawn on the screen to unleash the likes of fire balls, lightning bolts and all manner of other devastating forms of firepower as more pins are attained later in the adventure.

Screenshot for The World Ends With You on Nintendo DS - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

That does not sound too complicated, right? Well, whilst attempting to balance that aspect of any fight, players are also tasked with controlling Shiki on the top screen using the d-pad! Her attack manoeuvres all rely on combinations of directional-pad button presses, tapping variations of right-left-down several times to pull off her standard move (there are combination moves that both Shiki and Neku can pull off if either certain directions are pressed on the D-Pad for Shiki or enough chains are connected between the two leads). Trying to pay attention to both screens at the same, carrying out the necessary attacks with both characters will make your brain ache and your hands cramp up until everything clicks into place. Thankfully, though, it does not take too long to get the right balance thanks to the computer taking up the slack by controlling Shiki if she is left inanimate for a set period of time, leaving players to find their rhythm and pick things up at their own pace.

Screenshot for The World Ends With You on Nintendo DS - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

What also helps is that pretty soon in the game you are offered the chance of reducing the difficulty level, which means when there is the need to just churn through a large batch of Noise, the game circumvents the frustration that plagues old school RPGs that have ridiculous amounts of enemy encounters by making battles simpler to clear. To prevent the game from becoming too much of a cake walk, though, some of the compulsory objectives dished out by Reapers that block progression at certain stages require the difficulty level to be upped and health points manually reduced. One particular example is how specific tokens with monetary value are dropped when certain conditions are met, with lower numbered pins appearing on the easiest mode, meaning if you need to collect several higher priced ones, the settings need to be adequately tweaked. Other tasks generally involved clearing a set amount of Noise, which can be found by tapping on Neku's default pin to open up a special bubble in which he can read people's thoughts (a large chunk of time can actually pass just by playing around and reading the innermost secrets of people's minds - that is how well crafted the game's script is).

Rather than simply being an action game, The World Ends With You employs traditional RPG elements such as having players wander round stores to purchase new clothing and equipment that will aid them in battle later, as well as extract information from specific passers-by that can be of use later on by reading their thoughts. Customisation is quite a significant aspect as well, with Neku not only able to obtain new pins as the game goes on, but buy new ones from different stores, before starting to level each one up by using them repeatedly during battle (or simply turning the DS off as you earn points for the time spent away from the game as well!). In addition to this, in-game 'armour' takes the form of fashionable items of clothing and as the adventure continues wearing certain brands on a regular basis will help to mould the tastes of others around you on the street.

Screenshot for The World Ends With You on Nintendo DS - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

There is so much to offer in The World Ends With You, which might surprise those that believe '7 Days' will pass by in the blink of an eye. Between the likes of the main objectives that prolong each day considerably anyway, placing thoughts into people's heads later in the game and the whole customisation angle, plus lots of extra side elements, and even multiplayer modes in the form of 'Ten Pin Slammer' (knocking pins around an arena, last man standing wins) and 'Mingling' (power up pins when meeting people in real life), there is more than enough value for money and Square Enix's new IP proves to definitely be a winner all round...

Screenshot for The World Ends With You on Nintendo DS- on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Gameplay

Whilst initially very confusing to the point of putting people off, once the dual-screen battling clicks into place everything becomes very natural and the rest of the gameplay elements come to the forefront and begin to shine even more.

Graphics

There may be no fancy 3D techniques on offer here, but the stylised 2D approach and highly detailed hand-drawn graphics add the perfect atmosphere to this 'cool' game.

Sound

Choosing to mix vocalised song snippets throughout was a risky move that actually pays off in spades with TWEWY oozing charisma right to the very end and will leave many players desperate for the CD soundtrack.

Value

Seven days may not sound like the game will be too long, but the amount of customisability during the adventure, various side quests and general difficulty level will leave provide more than enough for most gamers.

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

About this score
Rated 8 out of 10

The World Ends With You is certainly a very big deviation from the team's previous efforts in the Kingdom Hearts series, and was seen by many as being quite a risky move by Square Enix. But the eclectic mix of a new take on traditional RPG values, thoroughly modern settings, a funk-filled soundtrack and a completely unique battle mechanic pays off considerably, making the venture one that should not be missed by fans of the genre and newcomers alike. It may seem like hard work to get into at first, but a little perseverance goes a long way and players will be rewarded with one of the freshest gaming experiences in years.

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12.08.2008

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Also known as

It's a Wonderful World

Developer

Square Enix

Publisher

Square Enix

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10 (19 Votes)

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

Reader comments - add yours today Comments on this Review

I bought this recently and pretty much hate it.

- Looks graphically horrible, the 2D sprites are all scaled and mis-shapen.
- The battle system is a total mess/too much to handle with large amounts of frantic flitting between screens.
- Fiddly controls do not help matters, SE should have took some inspiration from Ninja Gaiden DS.
- The main character's seemingly "emo" mood grates on me, more than any other "emo" character I've ever experienced (thinking Squall here).

360 Gamertag: shiptoncraig
PSN: shiptoncraig
Steam: Guess what?

...no way!!! Smilie

I loved this game and was hooked from the start...
And the battle system is fast paced and takes a bit of getting used to, but I much prefer that to slow/turn based RPGs.

Also to do most damage you should just concentrate on the screen in which the damage puck is on - that way you can do loads more damage - plus you can cut back on the confusion of fighting 2 battles at once - but I'd never leave the top screen on auto - all the computer does is slowly tap left or right. Smilie

I'd have easily given it 9 if not 10...

Avoid Games Like the Plague, productivity++
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Tough one to call as I can easily see why certain groups would easily be put off the game, yet can also see why others would absolutely love it...hence the 'on the fence' score of 8/10.

Fantastic game that has enough minor flaws to deter certain sectors from playing it long-term. On the whole, though, I have to commend Square Enix for trying something different and not completely cocking it up! It looks like the same thing is going to happen with Sigma Harmonics. Some say it looks marvellous and refreshing, whilst others seem to think it looks rather confusing to say the least!

Glad to hear that TWEWY has at least done very well in the US, where stock ran dry very quickly due to unexpected strong demand...

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

jesusraz said:
Tough one to call as I can easily see why certain groups would easily be put off the game, yet can also see why others would absolutely love it...hence the 'on the fence' score of 8/10.
Yeah I've seen either extremely negative or extremely positive opinions on this game - I'm in the loving it half. Smilie

Avoid Games Like the Plague, productivity++

Honestly, I never got into it, even though I tried. Loved the idea of the battle system but didn't like the d-pad elements, loved the music, loved the style...but just didn't feel like it was as good as everybody was saying when it was first released.

I can see why somebody would like it, it just wasn't for me. Nice one Adam. Smilie

Fair enough for those who didn\'t like ot - the best they they could\'ve possibly done is try it.

...But I have to say I freaking love it. Probably because I wasn\'t expecting much, but it\'s easily the best game I\'ve played all year, and sunk more hours into the endless customization than I\'ve played any other game since Symphonia.

( Edited 16.08.2008 22:46 by jesusraz )

Avoid Games Like the Plague, productivity++

Loved this game, sure was different to a lot of other rpg's on the market thats for sure

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

I'm glad to see more people having enjoyed the game. It really is one of those 'Marmite' style affairs with people either just not getting it or simply loving it.

Sigma Harmonics looks like another 'unusual' effort that could split people as well. It's really good to see Square Enix taking chances on DS with the likes of TWEWY, Sigma Harmonics and even horror title The Game With No Name.

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

I'm not much of a multi tasker, and i rented the game, but it was pretty good. I didnt like the fact that the music is always the same one in different areas, that and things feel a bit slow. I SAVED A RAMEN NOODLE SHOP YESSH!!!

shiptoncraig said:
I bought this recently and pretty much hate it.

- Looks graphically horrible, the 2D sprites are all scaled and mis-shapen.
- The battle system is a total mess/too much to handle with large amounts of frantic flitting between screens.
- Fiddly controls do not help matters, SE should have took some inspiration from Ninja Gaiden DS.
- The main character's seemingly "emo" mood grates on me, more than any other "emo" character I've ever experienced (thinking Squall here).

You are me and I claim my

It's going to be shit and you jolly well know it.

IANC said:
I didnt like the fact that the music is always the same one in different areas,
Really? Smilie
I'd hate it if the music kept switching every few seconds - and the songs on TWEWY have pretty long intros - you'd go to the next area before the song even properly starts! Smilie

Avoid Games Like the Plague, productivity++

Playing this game right now and I'm enjoying it at the moment.

Hm...I saw my friend playing this game and immediately I thought that I had to buy it to try it out for myself. So i went to GameStop and bought it. Best choice ever. I loved the game, the style was unique and the storyline was interesting. The main character, Neku, did have his moments with his emoness to where I really was all like "get over it already" but the other characters made up for it. The character's personalities were well thought of as well. A girl with a knack for sewing, a boy with a toughness and a "wanna-be" but sweet attitude, a sweet younger sister,and a math freak. The only character I really didn't like was Joshua, he was too much of a gary Stew and really ticked me off. The final boss was difficult and took forever to beat. I mean really, a five headed dragon? And no partners. Josh had some sort of complex.

Those were really the things I didn't like about the game, but it had a good balance of fighting and dialogue and wasn't just focused on one point. Square Enix did an excellent job on this one, even the music was upbeat.

Overall I'm hoping for a sequal and this game deserves an 8/10 rating. ^^

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