The World Ends with You

The World Ends with You
The World Ends with You Cover
Platform DS
Genre Tokyo Hip RPG
MtAMinutes to Action 6
Score 6  Clock score of 6Gameplay: 7
Fun Factor: 6
Gfx/Sound: 6
Story: 5
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The World Ends with You is a new action RPG for the Nintendo DS released by Square Enix. Unlike their Final Fantasy or Kingdom Hearts series, The World is set in modern day Tokyo. Battles are fought at a fast pace and the game is ripe with Japanese pop culture, music, and style. This is a unique game and proof that Square Enix still takes chances now and then. It has rewarded them well too as the game is getting great reviews and I'm sure it is selling well. Enough talk though, let's get on with the review.

Minute by Minute

(minutes are in bold)
00 - I point at New Game and the first hour of The World Ends with You begins. A cutscene starts on both screens. Some punk kid with spiky hair is yelling at the people around him. "Shut up!" "Just go the hell away!" Man, someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed. "I've got my values, so keep yours, all right?" What is this emo's problem?

The World Ends With You Neku Emo

01 - We're looking at a busy Tokyo street, looks like Shibuya. The kid is laying on the road with everyone walking around him. He looks at his hand, there's a skull on it! I now have control, well, all I can do is click the bottom screen to advance the dialogue.

02 - The kid can hear voices in his head. There's some J-pop playing in the background. He doesn't know where the skull came from, turns out it's just a pin. I'm now able to run around the street. I press the skull icon in the bottom right corner of the screen.

03 - Neat, I can see the thoughts of people around me. Some guy just got fired from his tenth job, ouch. It seems the pin is allowing him into people's minds. Not everyone in the area, but a couple of people.

04 - His hi-tech phone beeps, "Reach 104, you have 60 minutes" reads a text message. Cryptic. "Fail and face erasure! - The Reapers." Death was on the phone! Haha, he thinks it is spam, deleted. But it comes back... woah.

The World Ends With You Palm Timer Hand

05 - Now he's going crazy, a 60 minute countdown has just appeared on his hand! Now there are frogs running around the street too. They're big, and attacking our "hero".

06 - My first battle, but the game doesn't let me do anything but run away. Boring. Stupid frogs. Ah, the kid's name is Neku. I had a cat named Neko. Not quite the same I suppose. I can drag Neku around to make him dash.

07 - Everyone on the street is ignoring Neku, guess they get weirdos like this quite a bit in downtown Tokyo. The title screen appears, oh, looks like it is the opening song.

08 - Flashes of the game's characters go by while some J-rap plays. The game has a unique art style, kind of reminds me of Jet Set Radio for some reason. Must be the urban, spray painted style. The opening credits end.

The World Ends With You Graffiti Underpass

09 - Two characters are talking now, just text though, no more voice acting after the initial "shut up!" outburst. These guys are obviously bad guys as they're shrouded in dark and look mysterious. The guy has orange hair while the girl has pink, they're also abnormally skinny. They discuss the game they're about to play. Must be the Reapers. Don't fear the Reaper!

11 - Uhh, I guess the general public can see the monsters now? As there was a short cutscene where they were whisked away by some spirits. Suddenly a girl runs up and demands I forge a pact with her. Together, we can beat the noise! Weirdo. Neku agrees to the pact. A Sailor Moon style cutscene flashes with the characters blankly staring forward as we fly by Neku and the girl's bodies.

13 - The girl gives me a pin with a flame on it. Flame on! Sorry. I torch the frog in battle while running away from him. Two more frogs go down and frog legs are served. Just drag on empty air to start the flame, but it takes a few seconds to recharge after using it.

The World Ends With You Neku Shiki Fire Pin

14 - Neku can't believe he just shot flame out of his hand, the girl explains it is a psych power.

15 - The girl's name is Shiki Misaki. And the freaking same J-pop song is still playing. They talk about the Reaper's game which lasts seven days. Don't think I could possibly listen to this song for that long.

16 - Neku tries to ditch the girl, I now have control again on the street. We're at the Statue of Hachiko. Ugh, the girl whines some more about the pact we made and how we have to stick together.

18 - Neku and Shiki are still arguing... just shut up already.

The World Ends With You Neku Shibuya

19 - I try to enter another area but an invisible wall blocks us. Our way to building 104 (our destination) is blocked. Oh, some guy in a red sweatshirt is staring at us. And suddenly the wall comes down and we can proceed. Whatever.

20 - We reach the building and our timers disappear, guess that's the end of day one. Not that hard. Oh, not yet, we have to fight some more frogs! But this time together as a team.

22 - Well, that was kind of interesting. Neku still controls with the stylus but I can use the D-pad to trigger moves from Shiki, kind of like Zell's limit break from Final Fantasy VIII. I'm not sure if I'm coordinated enough to keep this up though. That was just one frog!

23 - Shiki will attack on her own if you don't do anything, that should be helpful. One of the game's tactics is to pass a green ball between the two screens during battle. The game calls it the puck and you build combos with it, whomever has the puck should be the one attacking. That should assist in my concentration.

The World Ends With You Neku Shiki Battle

24- Someone stop the music!

25 - A boss battle against a giant gray bear. I focus on "passing the puck" and the battle is slightly easier to understand. I get some pins from winning.

26 - Training time! A four page tutorial on the... save menu? Come on. There's even a section on "Why to save."

27 - Day one of the game is officially over. Six more to go. Neku and Shiki are back to arguing. And the music is still playing.

The World Ends With You Main Menu

28 - A new text message comes in, "Set the cursed sculpture free. You have 60 minutes." Dang you Reapers! You know, I don't think the timer actually matters. I had 60 minutes last time and it only took me about 20 minutes but I still only had 20 minutes left on the timer. Suspicious...

30 - Shiki is wearing a GIANT hat and Neku has obnoxious large purple headphones on. Shiki is also proudly showing off her gross looking hip bones. Fashion these days.

31 - I regain control and see one of those sweatshirt wearing creeps. He doesn't want to talk. I walk to the left and run into another invisible wall. What now? Shiki honestly thinks we'll never finish the mission. Have some heart, woman!

32 - Neku tries to read the red hoodie's mind with no luck. But he decides to help us anyway, kill the bad guys in the area.

The World Ends With You Gray Bear Battle

34 - I can only see the noise in mind-reading mode. But I can't walk around while doing that. Can't Neku walk and read minds at the same time?

35 - Still jabbering on, Neku reaches into his pocket and finds a ton more pins to use. I go into mind reading and challenge the first set of frogs to battle. Two new pins, one shoots balls of electricity like a gun and the other summons lightning from the sky. Kinda cool, and relatively easy to use. Of course, I didn't have to worry about Shiki during that battle.

37 - Next battle gives me the flame pin and some kind of hand... I have no idea what to do with that though, but after the battle the game clues me in: it's for flinging objects at enemies. Like cars and signs. Just flick the object at the baddie. Why don't they tell me this before the battle? Whatever.

38 - I only get one pin in the final battle of the area, it is called Shockwave and basically serves as a melee attack at close range. Shiki is surprised Neku can use all the pins. The next area opens up to us.

The World Ends With You Flame Pin Battle

40 - The two lovebirds are fighting each other now. How annoying. Neku finally runs off to the next area.

41 - Oh snaps, some brute runs up and challenges us! I think there's a case of mistaken identity. His pact partner shows up and explains things: the two of them are Players, just like Shiki and Neku. The older kid thought we were Reapers. I wish.

42 - Neku ignores the two as Shiki introduces us. This kid is quite anti-social. The two other players explain the use of cell phones. You can pick out which pins you want to use in battle on them. Should be useful. They give us a soda can pin. Must be for the sugar rush.

44 - The four minus Neku blab on about the game a while longer. Speculating about useless things that we'll obviously find out in due time.

The World Ends With You Neku Whip

46 - I finally regain control! The soda can pin is for HP regeneration. I go into the phone menu to check things out. A seven page tutorial opens up about the top screen's layout. You can adjust the level of difficulty and your character's levels. Interesting. Well, you can only adjust to a level you've reached, so I'm stuck at level 1. I am able to save my game though.

47 - Checking out the pin menu, an eleven page tutorial opens up. Man, this game is wordy! Square Enix at its best.

48 - I sell a couple of pins that are meant to be sold and then select my "deck." I'm going to start out with the slashing melee attack and the flames. Should work well I believe.

49 - Neku goes into mind reader mode, no enemies, just more people complaining about their life. This is a pretty cool concept though. Last time I saw mind reading in a game used to this extent was Golden Sun, and it was executed relatively poorly in that game.

The World Ends With You Pin Menu

51 - Another red-hoodied man signals the time to do battle with the Noise in the area. Bring it on. Well, after Shiki and Neku bicker for an hour.

52 - Just had a sweet puck bouncing battle against a wolf. We receive a B rank, not bad. I have to defeat all the enemies in the area to life the curse.

53 - Ugh, that was obnoxious. E-rank! Neku couldn't decide if he wanted to run around or use his flame attack. I almost die in the next battle, and get another E-rank.

55 - C-rank and a level up! 10 consecutive hits. Nice! You get 100% health after every battle which is convenient.

The World Ends With You Shibuya Neku Closeup

57 - I didn't destroy all the Noise but I met the objective... okay. Guess I just had to defeat the one over the statue. The clock is still ticking though so I suppose that wasn't the right statue to uncurse.

58 - We run to the Statue of Hachiko but are stopped by an obvious really bad guy. Oh, we weren't stopped, he was just him watching us from the distance. Creepy bastard.

59 - Not sure what just happened but I fought a pig and got an A-rank! My life is complete. I think that was a special Noise as there are none others in the area.

60 - Shiki points out that something is literally wrong with the statue, looks like I need to scrub him off, but time's up! The first hour of The World Ends with You is over!

Time for some scores out of 10.

The World Ends With You Statue Of Hachiko

First Hour Scores

Minutes to Action: 6

Gameplay: 7
There's a heckuva lot of clicking in this game. Tap the stylus to advance text seems like all I was doing in the first hour, though it was much faster and efficient than a game like Hotel Dusk. The battle system seems like it has incredible potential. The game uses pins like Final Fantasy VII used materia, and using both hands to fight on two different screens is a great challenge that will take a lot of practice. One problem with the gameplay is that sometimes the game doesn't know if you want to make Neku run around or attack. I think it just takes some time to get things down correctly though. I did like how The World didn't hold much back right away, it thrust me into battle and expected me to fight. It's nice to see a game not baby me so much. Though the excessive tutorials on using the menus is suspicious.

Fun Factor: 6
The World loses most of its points because of the sheer amount of talking it features in its first hour. The characters bicker, argue, banter, and sulk like there's no tomorrow, and all during this you're listening to the worst soundtrack imaginable. Battling was the most fun and delivered a nice balance between games like Final Fantasy and Zelda. I believe that if the game dropped the pointless conversations (yes, most of it was pointless and just went to solidy even more how much of a jerk the main character is) and just let me fight more, this would be an awesome game.

Graphics and Sound: 6
I mostly enjoyed the game's anime look and colorful palette, but seriously, the music is simply awful. I don't hate J-pop, heck, I used to listen to it kind of regularly, but the music in this game is just plain annoying. Each track seems like it is 10 seconds long and on infinite loop of the most obnoxious part of the song. I could have turned the volume off but then I wouldn't really be experiencing the game for this review, so whatever.

But like I said, the graphics are nice and detailed. The character sprites look great though I can't say I'm a fan of the art that much. Like so many anime characters, Neku and Shiki are abnormally skinny and their skin clings to their hips in super creepy fashion. Maybe that's what people look like nowadays in Shibuya as I haven't been there in a few years.

Story: 5
The World Ends with You's first hour story is one of those where it just tosses you into a mysterious situation that neither you nor your protagonist have any idea what's going on. It reminds me of the first hour Bioshock, but this is executed much worse. But BioShock isn't burdened by Square Enix's need to have a ton of boring exposition and a multitude of chatty characters. I think the concept of being sucked into a game of death puppeteered by some evil shadows is interesting, but of course, nothing new. The modern day setting though really saves this game. If this was set in a medievel castle town or a pristine space port, I would have been bored to death, instead, I was just simply bored.

Overall: 6
The World Ends with You features a slightly above average first hour but honestly has a lot of potential. I'll compare this to another DS role-playing game that I recently gave a 6, Shiren the Wanderer. After playing an hour of that game I really feel like I've played 75% of what it's going to throw at me, The World on the other hand feels like I've only seen about 10%. And that's a good feeling for a game and the right kind of attitude I like to have when coming out of its first hour.

The World Ends With You Art