Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
Square Enix The World Ends With You
- Features a ton of content and things to do. Nomura's art style and the music work together well
- The battle system is overwhelming at first. Stylus input isn't particularly precise
The World Ends With You is another winner for Square-Enix
Price$ 69.95 (AUD)
Set in the trendy Shibuya district of Tokyo, The World Ends With You is as frenetic and fast-paced as the city that it takes place in. But don't let the breakneck pace of the game fool you: World Ends is a worthy addition to Square-Enix's impressive portfolio of titles.
ADHD to the max
In World Ends, you play as Neku, a typical angsty teen who wakes up in the middle of a crowded Shibuya intersection with nothing but a few pin badges in his pocket and the ability to hear other people's thoughts. Before Neku can get his bearings, he finds himself partnered up with a girl named Shiki and battling his way through a mysterious game run by "Reapers". The story is somewhat typical RPG fare, but thankfully the game's battle system helps set it apart.
Dubbed the Stride Cross Battle System, it employs both halves of the DS screen during battle. You control Neku on the bottom screen while simultaneously controlling a partner character on the top screen. While you're swiping and tapping away at the bottom screen, you must input arrow commands with the D-pad for the top screen. It's a pretty daunting task at first but if you can wrap your head around it, the system adds tremendous depth to the gameplay even if the system isn't perfect. The touchscreen can be a bit flaky and in the midst of your stylus-mashing you will sometimes fire off the wrong attack.
Death becomes you
There's also plenty of depth in the rest of the game. In true Square Enix fashion, there are a myriad of things to collect, purchase and level up, from pins to clothing and food items. There's a quirky trend system that dictates your battle stats according to fashion. Clothes and pins are branded with logos, and if you're caught wearing the wrong one, your battle stats will take a hit. This could have degenerated into a never-ending equipment swap as almost every area has a different popular brand, but you can actually affect trends by wearing certain pins and fighting battles. This can add a bit of strategy to the way you play and what you wear.
World's End is fast, not only in combat but in plot development and game flow. Mission days are short, and any intermediary quests can be completed quickly. For those looking to pump more time into the game, there are scores of enemies to battle, item drops to discover and badges to level up. You also have complete control over the game's difficulty setting, meaning you'll never really have to take time out to level up to advance—though there are perks if you do challenge yourself. In fact, you still gain pin exp for the time your DS is switched off.
Life is short
The briskly moving plot and the unique battle system adds up to yet another winner for Square-Enix. Tetsuya Nomura's trademark character designs work well with the game's urban concept. The quick pace keeps you engaged while the J-Pop music provides a nice backdrop. Though the many nods to real-life Shibuya will be lost on gamers in other countries, the creativity, depth and unusual battle system will shine through no matter what.
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