This week for review we have a game that is near and dear to me, now fully redone for the Nintendo Switch and a brand new audience! After eleven years, from all the way back on the Nintendo DS, we have The World Ends With You! Let’s get into it!
In The World Ends With You, you play as Neku Sakuraba, an angsty teenager who doesn’t like interacting with people, living his life in the ideological war zone that is Shibuya. Just stick with me on this, it gets better. One day, Neku finds himself on the pavement in a crowded intersection, he doesn’t know where he is or how he even got there. He finds himself thrust into what’s known as the Reaper’s Game and is given a grave choice, complete the mission or face erasure. To figure out more about this Reaper’s Game and make it to the end of this seven-day ordeal, Neku must face his asocial nature, as to survive in Shibuya, you have to trust your partner.
Now there have been a few different releases of The World Ends With You, the first of course on Nintendo DS, but there was also a mobile release for iOS and Android in 2012. This is important to acknowledge, as the DS version utilized both screens in its design, and the mobile version reworked everything to work on one screen, which is the base from which the Switch version comes from. I will be bringing up the other two versions going forward in this review, to highlight the major changes this latest version adds.
When it comes to visual design, The World Ends With You has a rather unique art style. With its hard shading and unique character and enemy designs, TWEWY sets itself apart from the word go. The visual design meshes well with the sound design, setting, and story, creating the unique experience that is this game. When it comes to the art assets themselves, they look to be updated versions of the assets from mobile version, fitting well for the Switch’s larger screen. As a side note, some people may notice some visual similarities between this game and the Kingdom Hearts series, and those comparisons are justified, as Tetsuya Nomura, the main character art designer, was a major designer for both this game and the Kingdom Hearts series.
The soundtrack in TWEWY is a mix of rock, electronica, hip hop and more, combining into this unique mix that somehow perfectly conveys the feeling of early 2000s Shibuya, in its rare and incomparable combination of ideas, customs, and cultures from many walks of life. The Switch version has new remixes of the original soundtrack, amping up the original soundtrack. For those looking for a more 2007 experience, the option for either soundtrack, original or remix, is available in the settings.
Gameplay of The World Ends With You can be quickly summed up into two categories: exploration of Shibuya and battling enemies, with more of the action of the game in the latter category. In TWEWY, you have a collection of pins, also known as psychs, that give Neku a variety of powers to fight enemies, otherwise known as Noise. These powers can range from starting fires under enemies and slashing them with raw force to flinging trash cans and motorcycles at them or summoning typhoons to fill the area. Pins have a certain amount of use you can get out of them, whether that’s the number of uses or time being used, before needing to reboot, becoming inoperable for a short period before being usable again. You can collect and swap out these pins outside of battle, making it easy to find the right combination of pins to suit your play style. In addition, you have your partner who you can call on for more attacks, acting kind of like a unique pin you have access to no matter what.
With the Switch version, there are two main modes of play, Pointer and Tablet versions. The Tablet version works as the mobile version does, where you use the touch screen to slash and dash your way through the enemies. The Pointer version has you using one Joy Con, pointing it at the screen to maneuver and fight. The Pointer controls can be finicky, and I found myself needing to re-center my pointer often, but there is an upside. Since you only are using one Joy Con, the other Joy Con can be used by another player, enabling co-operative play, with the second player manually controlling your partner. This can also be used to play as both Neku and partner simultaneously by wielding both Joy Cons in Co-Op mode, and can make for some interesting, if tiring, gameplay.
As you fight off the Noise, the pins you have equipped gain experience, or Pin Points (PP), and can level up, dealing more damage or gaining more uses. There are two types of PP available, Battle PP and Shutdown PP. Battle PP is rewarded from combat, whereas Shutdown PP is received from having your system shut off, and the amount of PP rewarded this way increases for the length of the shutdown period, up to seven days. These two types of PP are important as your pins can evolve into more powerful versions based on the PP they have when you max out their level. Some pins need more Battle PP, some pins need more Shutdown PP, and some pins don’t evolve at all. This system is actually simplified from previous versions, as prior to the Switch version there was a third type of PP, the Mingle PP, which was gained by having your system in Mingle mode.
Exploration of Shibuya is important, however, as many of the missions of the Reaper’s game require you to traverse the city for answers to get to the goal. This often comes down to completing small challenges to unlock areas, and then doing a bit of puzzle-solving with the areas, stores, people, and Noise you can interact with to clear the mission. You may find yourself going over the same three or four areas looking for some clue or person to figure out what you’re supposed to do. Overall, the puzzles presented aren’t difficult, and often leads to character development for the various people of Shibuya, even if those people are sometimes massive goofs.
To wrap things up, The World Ends With You is one of my favorite video games, and I am happy to see it get some attention in the form of a port to the Nintendo Switch. This Switch version is basically a port of the mobile version, but does come with additional content over previous releases, in the form of some bonus challenges and an extra chapter at the end, continuing the main story. If you like unique RPGs with a focus on story, games based in modern Japan, or liked the innovations that the touch screen of the DS had to offer, this could be right up your alley. If you think that this game could be right up your alley, give it a look on the Nintendo Switch. If you don’t have a Switch but still want to enjoy TWEWY, you can find it available on the iOS app store and the Google Play Store. If you’d like to experience The World Ends With You in its original two-screen format, you can look for a copy for the Nintendo DS, and while I can recommend this version, finding it may be a bit of a challenge.
Thank you for reading!