Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Full Review: The World Ends With You (DS) / Part I: Story & Game Mechanics

So I finally got around to it, hunkered down and finished The World Ends With You, which I've been playing for a good number of months now.  I've also been looking forward to composing this "Full Review."  However, during the last couple of days (both in-game and real life), I'd been feeling that a single post for this game would either not do the game itself justice, or it would become unwieldy and long, so I've decided to break the review up into the following parts:
I: The Story & Game Mechanics
II: The Music

I don't know what it has about writing this review, but it has taken me multiple starts over the course of a couple of weeks.  A large part is that the game did so well and that so much has already been written about the game that I didn't just want to be a rehash of the 265 million other articles out there.  At the same time, I knew that I had not discovered something brand new about this six year old game. So once I got beyond my own insecurities, I finally managed to complete the following posts.

I would also like to point out that at the very least, Part I will contain SPOILERS since I feel talking about the story in the game would be incomplete and I feel like I wouldn't be able to write it as effectively without bringing up at least a couple of SPOILERS.  This review will contain SPOILERS.  Now that that's out of the way. . .

The story. . . the story. . . {SPOILER} is a pretty dark one.  It revolves around a group of people who find themselves in a game put on by some supernatural organization calling themselves the Reapers where they take recently dead people and have them play for a second chance at life.  It may be that the people involved in the game had to have died in Shibuya, the area of Japan that the game takes place, I'm not sure.  Throughout the game, you're trying to figure out a number of things, one of those being who killed you, Neku, and how to survive the game.

Along the way, you meet up, and team up with various characters who all have varying degrees of personal issues.  There's the girl who doesn't like how she sees herself (who may have died from comitting suicide), there's the brother who didn't see his life going anywhere and along with his sister, die in a car accident, and a "boy" who turns out is the whole reason why you're there.

The game initially starts out like a typical Japanese RPG in that there's some confusion, then it's fighting monsters to "level up" and trying to "save the world," or in this case, saving your life.  As the game progresses, it becomes apparent that there's more to it than pseudo-cliche's in the form of characters.  For me, it was about the time you find out that your character, Neku is dead, along with everyone else, and that Shiki (the bubbly hyper-attractive girl) only looks the way she does is because she really liked the way she looked despite coveting another girl's appearance while she was alive.  It's a little more complicated than that, but that's the point of playing the game, or even reading a book, to find out for yourself and experience that great Keanu Reeves' "whoa" feeling.

There's a B-Story aspect too that I didn't explore too much.  In the game it's called "Tin Pin Slammer" and it's also the way that two people who own physical copies of TWEWY can "fight" each other.  The basic point is to knock the other players' Pins off a board by sliding them into each other.  Each Pin has a weight and a number of special attacks.  There was only one or two required Tin Pin Slammer battles that were required to progress the storyline, and I think that's all I really did.  Maybe I just need to play against human players.  Or not.

I talked a bit about how the battles are run in my Initial Review so I won't talk too much about how I button mash with the top character.  That tactic held true for the next two partners that join up with Neku, although with Beat, your third partner, his way of attacking was so initially difficult and confusing that I had to hand over his controls to the computer.  Only half way through Act III did I start taking control of Beat when I felt that I could do as good a job or better than the computer.  And that I wouldn't be killing myself by screwing up with Beat (both characters' life meters are connected so Beat could totally fuck things up while Neko remains untouched and you will still die).

While doing background for this article, I also discovered something new about the combat system that I did not know about while playing through the game.  With each of Neku's companions, if they complete/earn a certain number of Combo Stars, it allows them to perform a combo attack with Neku.  If you earn another combo attack before using the first earned combo, you get a level 2 combo which does a lot more damage.  This I thought was the max as I never seemed to earn anything beyond it.  Turns out you can earn a level 3 combo attack.  Huh.  Ah well, I still managed to defeat the final boss.

Let's talk about the Pins now.  The Pins are akin to Pokemon.  They're out there in the world, you want to collect them, level them up and everyone has their favorites.  They're what you use to cause damage or modify other Pins during combat.  Now the game has some pretty ingenious ways to level up your Pins and to gain experience.

  1. Earn experience by defeating enemies
  2. When you have the game turned off (not just closing the DS), you will earn experience for the amount of time you're away from the game.  I don't know the exact numbers, but it's something like Day 1: 144 ; Day 2: 100 ; Day 3: 70 and so on.
  3. While the game is still running, but you're not playing, you can set the game to "Mingle" while enables you to "interact" with other WiFi signals, people playing other DS games, or people playing TWEWY.  You can "interact" with up to 10 signals before you have to accept those signals which are converted into exp and you have to re-select Mingle again.
Now, obviously, earning exp from enemies, in my opinion, is the best way to level up Pins.  The reason is that about half way through the game, you have 6 Pins to use during combat and they all have to have different ways to activate as the game will tell you that you can't equip two Pins that say, have you 'slash vertically on the noise.'  So you have 6 Pins, all with different effects and ways to execute their abilities.  That takes a bit of practice and memorization, especially when one Pin's abilities are recharging and you have five others to choose from.  

Options 2 and 3 for earning Pin experience are really only a good way to go if you have Pins that you have no interest in using and only want to level them up to complete your collection.  I can recall there only being a couple of Pins that I didn't like using, but felt dedicated enough to level them up to full.

At the moment, I think this about covers it.  I know, I know.  I didn't develop my thesis and my citations were a bit lacking.  And, I ended the first sentence of this paragraph with a pronoun.  I also feel that this review could go on a lot longer so I just need to nip it in the bud.  Part II: Music will be up this next Friday and while I can't promise that it will be a shorter length, I can promise that there will be music.

I Should've Just Given Her A Name


  1. Thanks for playing and reviewing this game. I picked it on a recommendation and that combined with the square/enix stamp; I hoped it would make a good gift.

  2. oh - also, spoilers are a tricky mistress, but the storyline twist sounds really cool!

  3. Oh, that reminds me,

    The different xp systems are really cool! I actually had an idea kind of along those lines. I think it would be cool to have a co-op RPG game where one player can just play tetris the whole time, and their scores will give xp bonuses to the other player. I like the idea of different games interacting that way.