|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Jupiter Corp||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Square Enix||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Apr. 21, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4 (Online)||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
August 22, 2007 - Square-Enix is an undeniable powerhouse in gaming. They've brought us the Final Fantasy series, Dragon Quest, and Kingdom Hearts, just to name a few. And now they're embarking on a completely original title, already released in Japan, entitled Subarashiki Kono Sekai, or The World Ends With You.
I know your first instinct when you hear the title is to think of a Jimmy Stewart film, but the story is miles away from all that. You play the game as Neku, who has just been informed by a shinigami (Japanese death god) that he has to take part in a sinister game that puts your very existence on the line. This game entails destroying psychic creatures known only as "Noise." And to assist you in your quest, you'll be granted some special shinigami powers. First among them is a psychic ability that allows you to read the thoughts of those around you. You'll also need to garner special badges in order to fight the noise. Succeed, and you don't know what awaits you. Fail, and you'll be stricken from existence. So no pressure.
But fear not, you will have a good amount of friends to join your noise-fighting posse. First up is the stylishly fly Shiki Misaki, who is able to execute magic attacks with a rhythmic-like twist. Then there's Beat, an overly aggressive brotherly type who is mostly aggressive but has a very soft spot for his younger sister, Rhyme. Then there's Joshua, a very mysterious boy who seems to know more about the shinigami game then he lets on.
One of the really cool things about The World Ends With You is the fact that it takes place in the real-life Shibuya district of Japan. This area of Japan is a particularly interesting setting for a game because it is basically the hip hop and fashion capital of Japan. This setting really influences the visual style and soundtrack for the game. Visually, all the characters have an edgy tokyopop stylization, and environments feature dramatic angles and strikingly unique level designs. The soundtrack will feature a techno pop sound with a very good amount of new-wave Japanese synthesizer influx to help match the gameplay with its hip surroundings. And if the character designs look a little familiar to you, it's because the character designer is the same artist who did the original artwork for the Kingdom Hearts series.
The gameplay utilizes familiar RPG elements with a mostly active battle structure (much like the aforementioned Kingdom Hearts) that challenges the user to keep their head in the game at all times. As far as battle systems go, this one will utilize Neku's psychic ability to actively seek out the noise. Once the noise is discovered, you'll be swept directly into a battle scenario. Your three auxiliary characters (Jonathan, Shiki, and Beat) will be shown on the top screen. You will have access to their different types of attacks via D-pad control in conjunction with the touch screen. Neku will be completely accessible on the bottom screen, and this will be where characters and attacks are selected. Attacks are selected via a "Badge" system which cycles through different action badges characters collect throughout the game. Since you'll literally be controlling four characters at once on two different screens, it could get a little complicated. But the good news is that you can implement character A.I. if you want to focus on getting one character's moves just right.
Overall this game looks like it has great potential. A very engaging story with a complex battle system and unique control scheme all come together to make this game look like a must-play. And even though it's a pretty solid hit in Japan, we can only hope that a localized version of this import title will be brought to the US in the coming months.
Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Freelance Writer
* Note: This game is also known as "The World Ends With You" and "Subarashiki Kono Sekai."