★★★RPG Review #100: The World Ends With You★★★NuMetalManiak It's done, we have finally hit 100 reviews of RPG games on TheTopTens! Ever since 2014, I've been independently playing these games in the hopes of leaving concise reviews of games that are worth (or not worth) checking out, and five years later, on July 2nd, I have done it. I have hit the grand 100 marker. Am I stopping here? Why would I? I've already stated before that unless I've completely run out of games, there's not a single moment to spare. So expect this to continue for as long as I can. So what is our 100th RPG to be reviewed? Why it's none other than The World Ends With You, a game developed by Jupiter and Square Enix for the Nintendo DS. With a workable art style and urban fantasy elements, this was a worthwhile experience that needs to be reviewed.
Gameplay: This game does utilize practically every function on the Nintendo DS to make an action RPG that is incredibly unique. What's interesting here is that The World Ends With You can allow button usage for either the D-Pad or the buttons, because believe it or not, a good amount of the game will involve the stylus. So much that for the lefties out there this game will cater to them too. Overall navigation is confined to one city, although certain areas are usually locked off. Shops are divided, some offer food items, which don't actually restore health but rather involve permanent stat boosts which takes a while to "digest" so to speak. Other places are clothing stores, and where there's clothing stores, there's clothing brands. These brands actually follow some sort of trend, which can be impacted by what pins are worn and what clothing is also worn, so bonuses (and penalties) are given in battle because of which brand is the top brand (or the bottom).
Which leads into battles and pins. The World Ends With You has the Stride Cross Battle System, perhaps one of the most unique battle systems I have come across, in which BOTH the DS screens are used to full effect. On the top screen is the main character's partner, and while you can leave this partner to do combos by themselves after a while, the main deal is that the button commands are used to make combos for the partner to attack enemies with (think of it like fighting game combos). On the bottom screen is the main character, controlled entirely by stylus. Dragging him moves him, but also with the pins being collected, they can function as his main means of attack for enemies. Different types of moves can work, slashing the screen with the stylus, rapidly tapping the screen, pressing the screen, drawing a circle, or even using the DS mic are ways to work it.
The two characters in battle are apparently synchronized, which is important because they both share a health bar. That and you'll have to look out for the "light puck" a green glowing thing that amplifies damage to whomever has it and goes to the other person after a successful combo. The top screen has cards at the top, either Zener, number, or suit cards based on whichever partner you have, and with the successful retrieval of stars from these combos, a fusion attack can be made, which you can then attack all enemies on the screen with. There's a boatload of complications to have with this battle system, so it's not entirely perfect, but still, it is unique, very fast-paced, and actually difficult too.
About pins, well, these pins are used for attack, they are leveled up, and their descriptions tell you all you need to know (the best part is that Square clearly describes so much stuff) They can be mastered, some of which are simply money pins, and then discarded, which earns you yen in this game. Some pins can evolve, but there are different methods. Some evolve after battling a lot. Others require shutdown, which involves NOT playing the game and then coming back, earning them Pin Points or PP. Others require Mingle, a mode which involves leaving a DS idle while you, well, mingle with others. Biggest thing to note is that on a pin's experience bar, the blue, green, or pink needs to be of a certain majority for a pin to evolve, otherwise it will simply be mastered instead.
This game's encounters are not random, they are seen upon scanning by touching the lower right pin, which also allows you to scan people's thoughts (creepy). Biggest thing to note is that battles can be "chained" for multiple rounds. Also the difficulty can be selected at any time, from easy to Ultimate. Prizes after battle are bigger for higher difficulties naturally. Man, there's so much to this game it's a good thing Square gives enough tutorials to explain things. Grade: A
Neku Sakuraba: This anti-social headphones-wearing dude is our main character, so he's the one played via the stylus. He doesn't "get" people, and tries to stay out of the way for the most part, but like any other RPG antihero he's gonna warm up.
Shiki Misaki: Shiki's the first partner for Week 1 and the sole female partner. She uses this weird puppet Mr. Mew in battle, and actually has the body of her best friend for the game. Her cards are Zener cards.
Yoshiya Kiryu: Known by the name Joshua, he is the second partner in-game for the second week, using number cards in battle. He's a very suspicious lad, and also is one with levitation abilities later on.
Daisukenojo Bito: Known as Beat, this skater punk is the last partner, and is a rough-and-tough character who uses suit cards to aid in battle. His sister Raimu Bito (Rhyme) is his partner for the first week.
The characters you see in the game are actually known as Players, playing what's known as the Game. To make things even more complicated, these characters are actually dead. Yep. The Game is a second chance at life, the Players give up their most prized possession as an "entry fee" and if they win they get to return to life. Opposing the Players are Reapers, who create walls and/or attack players directly, "erasing" them from existence using Noise (which are the main encounters of the game, creatures of all sizes). The Composer is the big enchilada controlling the game, with the Conductor being the rule-setter. Being dead, the Players are invisible to the people of the real world, and are in fact in an underground version of a city known as Shibuya. Grade: A+
Plot: So I pretty much described the premise of The Game above, Players are dead, in an underground version of Shibuya, invisible to those in the real world (but not in stores actually). Neku awakens in the Scramble Crossing of Shibuya, without any memory of anything. Attacked by Noise, he's rescued by Shiki, who forms a "pact" allowing Neku to survive, because without a partner he'd be erased fairly quickly. The two then have missions from the Reapers to deal with to avoid erasure, and they must do it within a time limit (note, don't worry that much about your play time, it's just a cosmetic thing). Along the way Neku and Shiki meet with Beat and Rhyme, partnered players, as well as the enigmatic Mr. Hanekoma. Neku has no memory as to how he died yet, but Shiki basically tells of how she was jealous of her friend Eri and wanted to be a fashion designer, and her form in the UG is actually that of Eri. Near the end of the week Rhyme is erased and Beat has to bargain to survive. The three are the last Players left in the game after the week's Game Master, Yodai Higashizawa, is beaten. Shiki scored the highest, and is the only one to return to the living.
Or so you think. For Neku, he chooses to play the game again, and this time his entry fee was actually Shiki. In the second week, he is paired with Joshua, a man he actually doesn't trust and seems rather suspicious. Meanwhile, the second week's Game Master, a math geek by the name of Sho Minamimoto, makes his grand appearance, being all math-y and zany. Joshua, the enigma as he is, ends up being revealed as talking with Mr. Hanekoma, whom Neku reveals is the artist CAT. Neku also figures out why he died, and initially blames Joshua, who in a flashback seems to have shot Neku. Later it was revealed that Minamimoto was also at the scene, seemingly the one who killed Neku then. Meanwhile, Beat's now with the Reapers, attacking Neku and Joshua at times, and is trying to make ends meet. Taboo Noises (which attack Reapers as well) show up near the end of the chapter, erasing Players and Reapers alike. After the boss fight with Minamimoto, Joshua makes a sacrifice to save Neku.
Neku is forced to play the game for one last time, with a twist in that the entry fee is all of the other players, so now he fights the noise alone. But he is saved by Beat, who defects from the Reapers, making him a fugitive. Beat reveals the circumstances of his and Rhyme's deaths, and the pink Noise with him was Rhyme all along, although the last Game Master Mitsuki Konishi, known also as the Iron Maiden, erases her Noise form on the spot. Also around this time Shibuya acts strange, mostly due to the red pins everyone is wearing, making both real-world people and Reapers brainwashed. Neku and Beat get to the bottom of things and defeat Konishi, but not before running into Minamimoto again. They then meet up with Shiki and find the Conductor, Megumi Kitaniji, who was responsible for the red pins. He's basically the final boss, and he's at odds with the Composer involving Shibuya's ultimate fate. After Kitaniji's defeat, the Composer reveals himself to be Joshua all along, who wanted a good Player to challenge Kitaniji, and that Player was Neku. Even worse, Neku was actually killed by Joshua for this scheme. Neku is then challenged to a duel for the final time as the game ends then. It does end on a happy note, as Neku is alive and meeting with the friends he made. And there's the post-game which I currently am at right now. But to make a Game within a game and make it quite exciting is a fantastic feat and The World Ends With You delivers so well on it. Grade: A+
Music: You think the music will be bad? Think again. The World Ends With You has a fantastic soundtrack of songs, and you can collect CDs in the game for your menu music too. Different music plays in the overworld and in battles, and given the urban street setting, you can expect the music to be rap-based. Gotta admit, it fits like a glove. Best songs include Calling, Deja Vu, Long Dream, Twister Gang Mix, Owari-Hajimari, Detonation, and Transformation. Grade: A+
Overall Grade: A+
You know a game with an A+ has gotta count towards the best, and The World Ends With You does exactly that. For Square Enix, this sure is a high point. A very unique game with unique art-style and unique plot, with many twists and turns, loads of customization, you really should not pass this game up. Now I will work towards the post-game content this game had to offer, and then maybe I can try my 101st RPG at some point thereafter. But not before I do something major on my blog, which I will also link in a future post. Anyways, this is NuMetalManiak, happy to continue playing RPGs and happy to have finally hit the 100th one.
100th review... that is something alright. Coming from the guru of the RPG genre. - visitor
Welp, post-game content finished. There was this "Another Day" which mostly involves a mini-game called Tin-Pin Slammer (think of it as a poor man's Beyblade) and defeating a group of thieves who steal pins, and every character in this scenario is familiar in some way. Then there's the Secret Reports, which means revisiting chapters and finding secret items or fighting bosses on Hard Mode, then the reports are shown to be written by someone who's just as behind everything as the Composer. To think that I played all that to read some interesting conspiracy theories. - NuMetalManiak