Stylish, Upbeat, Fun
In the game, one player is controlled using the D-pad or A, B, X, and Y buttons, while the other is controlled using the touch screen, and sometimes the microphone. The catch? These battles are played out simultaneously. Each character that is controlled with the buttons also has a unique combo ability as well, starting as just a "shape matching" game, but progressing into a complex poker-like card system. Thankfully, if you're just learning the system, your partner can "auto-play," allowing you to focus on one screen. Throughout the game, Pins can be collected for Neku (the character controlled with the touch screen) which unlock new abilities for Neku to utilize (attack directly, using magic attacks, etc).
It doesn't stop there, either. Each Pin has a certain brand, such as Jupiter of the Monkey or D+B. Each location in Shibuya has a brand chart, and some brands give boosts in stats while others cut stats in half. By fighting Noise (the enemies of the game) in an area, whatever Neku and his partner are wearing affects the brand chart of the location. Clothing is also of certain branding, affecting stats and brand charts. On the topic of items, food can be eaten and digested by fighting, giving Neku and hs partner stat boosts.
While all of this seems incredibly complicated to grasp at one time, the game does a fantastic job of presenting it all, progressively unveiling new concepts, so you don't have to learn it all at once. In the end, all of these concepts alone are simple and unique. The game does an excellent job of putting all of thfese different concepts together, forming an intricate experience. Even though all of this does sound like an incredible amount, there is a lot more to do: side quests, item creation, friendship with shopkeepers, and more.
The World Ends With You tells the story of Neku Sakuraba, an amnesiac teenager who finds himself in Shibuya with a mysterious pin. He quickly learns that he is in the Reapers' Game, a week-long game that takes place in an otherworldly Shibuya where Reapers and Noise run rampant. Each day presents a new mission, and failure of the mission provokes erasure (essentially, losing the right to exist). To be in the Game, each Player has to give up something (what they hold most dear), whether it is their memories, appearance, or love. By the end of the story (which, I can tell you, does not last one week), there were many twists that I definitely did not expect. The story and dialogue is well-written, with each character's personality growing on you, from the laid-back apathetic Neku, to the hot-tempered street-smart Beat.
The story and style of the game are woven well into the modern-day Shibuya setting. The graffiti-style menus, with heavy Japanese icons and calligraphy, mixed with variety of the music made the game much more fun to play. The game is relatively colorful, with large walls covered in graffiti art, most of it from the famed CAT. The music selection is very good--and very Japanese. From the fast-paced, rapid-fire rhythms of Twister, to the "neurotic over a leisurely tempo" of It's So Wonderful, most every tune fits the situation perfectly. The soundtrack is also available on iTunes, which is awesome.
The World Ends With You shines in a sea of shovelware Nintendo DS games. It is a fresh and upbeat romp through the city of Shibuya. The story pulls you in, the gameplay is involving, and the style fits the setting perfectly. If you own a DS, and you don't have this game, go buy it now. Just get up and go buy it. Seriously.