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The World Ends With You (DS)

The World Ends With You (DS)

The World Ends With You is Square Enix’s latest release on the Nintendo DS, however instead of crafting a fantasy world environment the game is refreshingly set in Tokyo’s real life Shibuya district.

Shibuya is a confusing place and you are instantly assailed with noise and incoming cellphone texts, the environment immediately put me in mind of Sega’s Jet Set Radio, both on a visual and aural level (which is not a bad thing).

You take control of a moody teenager called Neku and you wake up at Shibuya crossing discovering that you have only seven days to live. The situation isn’t helped by the fact that you have also lost your memory and have to quickly adjust to the unpleasant situation you find yourself in. The Reapers quickly make an appearance, wearing hoodies and playing "The Game". These mysterious people create invisible walls to halt your progress until you follow their orders. Like any self respecting teenager you receive text messages to alert you to your next mission objective. The phone signal indicator details how much noise there is in any given area, and you can control people by planting memes in their heads.

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The Game starts with Neku outfitted with a badge, this allows him to see the thoughts of passers by as well as "The Noise", creepy enemies that roam the streets. For those interested, the real world Shibuya is captured fairly accurately, however big brand store names have been replaced; for example HMV becomes AMX.

One of the games strongest points is the very stylish art creation, Shibuya becomes a living breathing place courtesy of the wonderful development team involved (Nomura is the art designer involved and is a genius in his field). Brands go in and out of fashion and these affect the strength of your items and you need to explore the shops for new items to help boost your stats. This adds a great edge to the game play and it helps put the emphasis on character development which is really the backbone of the game. You follow Neku on his journey throughout from moody teenager until you reach the end when he is older and more socially balanced. The whole experience is really focused around the life of Neku and his progression through all the adolescent problems we face, such as how to attract women and to deal with your peers, there is even gossip about the latest celebrities.

The main focal point of the game is exploration and combat, fighting is based around collectable pins which are fully customisable and they level up with use. Another rather inventive aspect of the game is the difficulty level which you can adjust on the fly if you get stuck on a section. You get bonuses in combat by wearing or using fashionable items and the pins I mentioned also earn experience when the console is turned off.

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As Neku walks around completing his tasks, the random thoughts of people nearby add to the feeling of being part of a big bustling world and they cancel out the requirement to chat to NPCs on a random basis.

Combat is controlled via both screens and is very creative indeed with the only downside being that it will take some time to fully master how it all works. You control your partner on the top screen and use the d-pad to enter combos. Neku is controlled on the bottom screen using the stylus to enter various commands that depend on the pins he is wearing at the time. The touchscreen inputs needed to be fine tuned during the development stage as they aren’t always totally accurate. When you combine this problem with the fact that you need to control things on the top screen as well it can become a chaotic experience. The only way to resolve this is to practise until it all starts to make sense, especially when you work out that the top screen can be automated to help you adjust to the plethora of controls.

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The World Ends With You is a gem of a game. The character development and RPG elements are some of Square Enix’s finest work to date, particularly the inventive control mechanic which really pushes the envelope on the DS platform. The game will appeal to the teenage audience as the production values and art direction have been developed with them in mind.

All the elements combine to create the dynamic of teenage life while still being a fun game.
About as good as you will see on the DS.
A modern soundtrack which is extremely cool and will appeal to the younger crowd.
The game lasts a long time and has replay value due to collectibles.
(Not an Average)
An excellent game for the DS and comes highly recommended.

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About Author

Stuart Davidson

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