The World Ends with You is a DS game co-developed by Jupiter and Square Enix, who also published the game. It was released in 2008 and gained a cult following amongst those who played it, as gamers loved the unique mechanics and gameplay. It has a great plot filled with terrific characters, and every moment, whether important or not, is made memorable by the soundtrack.
The World Ends with You starts out with Neku Sakuraba waking up in the streets of Shibuya, Tokyo, with no memory of who he is or how he came to be there. While Neku’s memory loss sounds like typical JRPG fare, it is actually well explained in-game. He has found himself caught up in the Reaper’s Game, and for the next seven days he and his partner, Shiki Masiki, must survive the daily missions given to them by the Reapers. Failure to complete a mission will result in their death, or as the Reapers like to call it, ‘erasure’.
Neku starts out as someone who hates everyone else, but as the game progresses his attitude changes ever so gradually and he becomes a much more likeable character. The same can be said for the rest of the cast. As the plot unfolds with its twists and turns, each character in the game shows an unexpected amount of depth and personality as you learn of their past and their motives. All of the characters in The World Ends with You seem so real and believable, and after finishing it, the dedicated gamer is able to find more information pertaining to the rules of the Reaper’s Game, the characters themselves and the setting in the postgame.
The Reapers send out Noise to attack the players and hamper their progress in their game; falling to defeat Noise results in erasure. There is a Noise database that can be filled by fighting all of the Noise on each of the four different difficulty levels, as at each difficulty they will drop different Pins. Additionally, Neku’s level can be adjusted at will in the main menu, allowing players seeking a challenge to take on bosses at level 1. There is further incentive for dropping levels in that the lower Neku’s level, the more likely his opponents are to drop Pins.
What are Pins, you ask? Weapons. The battle system in The World Ends with You is utterly unique. You are simultaneously in control of both Neku and your partner, Shiki. Neku wields Pins, and each Pin has its own ability that is activated via the touchscreen. There are quite a few different types, and there will be some to match everyone’s playstyle. Personally, I prefer the Pins that utilise quick slashing and tapping of the touchscreen, but there are many other types as well. Pins gain PP to level up through battle, and will also gain PP while the game is switched off, so when you boot it up again your Pins will have gotten stronger. Controlling your partner is done using the control pad or, for those who are left-handed, the ABXY buttons. A series of cards is shown on the top screen, which must be navigated through to the end card to earn a star. Earn enough stars, and Neku and Shiki will unleash a powerful fusion attack.
‘Threads’ are this game’s armour. Threads come in different types (headwear, top, footwear, etc.) and a single character cannot be wearing more than one of the same type of thread. There are thirteen different brands; the Reaper’s own brand and one for each animal of the Chinese zodiac. Each area of Shibuya has its own popular brands, or trends. Trends are affected and can change depending on the pins and threads the player is currently wearing. Using Pins of a popular brand increases their power, while unpopular brands get weaker. Trends can be checked on the main menu.
Character stats are upgraded via stickers and food. Food can be bought in some stores, and will be digested as you fight battles. A maximum of 24 bytes can be digested per day in real time. Stickers are found as you work through story events or can be located in shops, to be exchanged for items. Some stickers even increase your partner’s maximum fusion level, which equates to more powerful attacks in exchange for more stars!
The music. I haven’t heard another soundtrack like it. Where the soundtracks for the majority of games are comprised almost entirely of instrumentals, most of the tracks in The World Ends with You have lyrics. And they sound brilliant. Different tracks play on different days, and the more you progress through the game, the more tracks you get to hear. The soundtrack for The World Ends with You had a strong impact on me personally, in a way only two other games have managed to do. There is hardly a song that plays that I don’t enjoy, or that doesn’t fit well with the context.
Between the characters, the music and the battle system, The World Ends with You is an unforgettable game that everyone must at LEAST try at some point in their life.