The World Ends with You

released on Jul 26, 2007

In the game, Neku Sakuraba and his allies are forced to participate in a game that will determine their fate. The battle system uses many of the unique features of the Nintendo DS, including combat that takes place on both screens, and attacks performed by certain motions on the touchscreen or by shouting into the microphone. Elements of Japanese youth culture, such as fashion, food, and cell phones, are key aspects of the missions.

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joshua made me homoerotic and neku made me insufferable as a child

So far pretty fun, great music and artstyle. Also fun combat with tons of difficulty adjusting.

Eu provavelmente nunca joguei algo com um sistema de combate tão divertido antes. Nenhuma versão chega nem perto da original do DS, principalmente se você jogar no sistema original. The World Ends With You é fantástico, de longe tem a minha estética favorita em qualquer videogame.
O jogo ser baseado em J-POP e moda anos 2000 do Japão ajuda muito a fazer ele se destacar de qualquer coisa do mesmo período.

If I died and woke up in shibuya I would be so happy

There are four experiences a person could've had while playing TWEWY:

- those who were living the aesthetic and the setting that this game portrays in the moment (Shibuya-based teenagers who played this game upon release),
- those who grew up in that setting and got to re-experience it through playing this game later,
- those who are completely alien to this setting and take this setting as just another visual style, and
- those who were aware of the vibrant, grafitti and hip-hop influenced urban culture of the era, but could only watch from afar.

I fall onto the latter category. As a kid in the mid to late 2000's, I was aware of this culture and similar cultures throughout other countries. My local MTV was full of urban-esque imagery tinged with frutiger metro backgrounds and hip-hop soundtracks. Third-wave emo was dominating the alternative charts with their peculiar clothing and dramatic hairstyles, and anime was inching closer to the mainstream and also being influenced by that style (just look at Bleach's openings, endings and promotional material). I was awed by all of this, though too young to partake in any of it. I dreamed of the day I could be a cool teenager and "rep these fits, yo". Little did I know we would undergo a huge cultural shift, but alas.

When I played TWEWY for the first time last year, I was rushed with nostalgia. These clothing trends? this fascination with pins? this artstyle? I've "been" there. I had a DS around the time this game came out, I had firsthand experience with these graphics, these sounds. There was an immediate emotional connection. The reason why I have this completely subjective paragraph in what's poised to be an objective review is to illustrate how well TWEWY does what it sets out to do: represent a scene. I can only imagine how personal this game must feel to those who actually lived in that environment. It had a vision, and it executed it to perfection.

This atmosphere is the driving force of TWEWY and everything else is shaped around this stylistic expression. For example, the amount of combat options is immense, and your character is forced to switch it up and customize himself tons in accordance to passing trends. Each new neighborhood you hop in you have to change your clothes to fit the local trends, completely altering your attacks and moves. Like a teenager trying to find his place in society. See? this game is genius.

Of course, this also ties into the character arc of the main character, who learns to accept himself and his place in the world throughout his journey. This is why the game is named "The World Ends With You". It has a deep significance to the story, despite at first sounding like JRPG Engrish mumbo-jumbo.

The story itself is very engaging, and I found myself really invested in seeing it through the end. I wanted to see the conclusion, I wanted a certain character to come back, I rooted for the main character and his friends and I was entertained by the machinations of the situation they were all facing. Of course, all of this was enhanced by the gorgeous Nomura character designs, the overall great presentation and the wonderful soundtrack.

Not all is perfect, very unfortunately. The gameplay takes the hit. They could only do so much with such a premise and the limited DS hardware. They sacrificed playability in favor of irreverence. You control two characters simultaneously in this game, one on the bottom screen with your stylus and the other one on the top screen with the D-pad. Unless you sink an ungodly amount of hours rewiring your brain to do two things at the same time, chances are you're going to be mashing the D-pad in the general direction of the enemies while doing your usual combo routes with the stylus. This is really disorienting, but the game offers the convenient solution of having a really fluid difficulty setting that you can customize any time (which also ties into the customization motif of the narrative). That being said, making the game easier doesn't make it any less disorienting. The hard fact is that if they removed a screen, the game would be too boring and easy, so only a total combat overhaul could solve these issues.

As it stands, TWEWY is a fantastic representation of a bygone era with masterful amounts of ludonarrative harmony and impeccable visuals and soundtrack, though one that is often tedious and confusing to play through.