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Nintendo DS Video Game Review: The World Ends With You

“Stylish, unique and very fun to play. For those who dig Japanese pop culture and artsy games, will definitely enjoy this game. From a unique storyline to capturing a side of Shibuya on a video game never seen before. Highly recommended!”

TITLE: The World Ends With You

CONSOLE: Nintendo DS

RATING: TEEN – Fantasy Violence, Mild Language, Mild Suggestive Themes

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

Welcome to Shibuya…

Wake up, shaken up, plastered on asphalt

Phones can’t block the voices of the masses

Seven days left between you and Death

Better race, place, Reapers won’t give up the chase

Welcome to Shibuya in the latest video game release for the Nintendo DS by the folks at SquareEnix. The game was developed by the team (Jupiter and Square Enix) behind the successful “Kingdom Hearts” games and features character designs by Nomura Tetsuya and Kobayashi Gen.

Many are familiar with Nomura’s work from his character designs of “Final Fantasy VII, VIII and X”, “The Bouncer”, “Parasite Eve” and of course, “Kingdom Hearts”.

The game focuses on the character Neku, a pessimistic, anti-social type of person who somehow ends up in the alternate side of present-time Shibuya. For those familiar with the anime “GANTZ”, you can see where I’m getting at (sans the licky licky dog and the carnage).

Neku doesn’t know where he is but he knows that he has these mysterious pins and meets a girl named Shiki who is also in a similar predicament as Neku and both learn that if they don’t complete missions within seven days together, they will be erased (killed) by the Reapers.

Nevertheless, Neku and Shiki go through Shibuya taking on monsters known as “noise” and accomplishing their missions.

GAMEPLAY: The main parts of the game is based on “pins” which are literally buttons that allow a character to use a special move. By fighting more monsters, you build your pins level. So, for example you have pins such as “pyrokinesis” which allows you to use your stylus and by dragging an empty space on screen, you create a path of flames.

“Thunderbolt” allows an enemy to be struck by lightning, “Force Rounds” which is shooting a bullet at a monster, “Shockwave” allowing to slash an opponent and countless number of pins that allow you to use a variety of special attacks.

So, during a fight with a monster, on the top screen is Shiki and the bottom is Neku. A glowing green ball randomly highlights a character from time to time, thus you play both characters.

By winning, you build up your level and stats.

The overall gameplay in a way kind of reminds me a little of the NES game such as “River City Ransom” (Downtown Neketsu Monogatari) when it comes to the city sequences and shops which increase stat attributes. The cool thing about this game is that it mimics Shibuya with the crowded city dwellers walking around. You get Hatchiko the dog, you get the AX-Shibuya concert hall (know as AX-East), 109 known as 104 and many more Shibuya-references

Where “RCR” had a variety of stores in that game, “The World Ends With You” also features a variety of stores in Shibuya that allows you to purchase clothing and food to increase stats.

And of course, because it’s in Shibuya, that means you can hit trendy shops, expensive shops and gothic lolita shops. Some clothing only are unlockable if you complete certain quests, some clothing also give points. May it be defensive, offensive, health or some sort of increased attribute.

And the names of the people working at the stores are a play on names of popular Japanese performers. Tak Kimura, Yumi Sheena, Aily Ueno, Ayu Hamaguchi and the list goes on.

GRAPHICS: The world of UG (Underground) Shibuya and the fact that they incorporated the crowdedness of people walking through Japan and each character, even minor characters all in different outfits and stylish. Very Shibuya-esque. The overall environment of the buildings and street corners are very fun to see on this game. But most of all, Nomura and Kobayashi’s character designs are just really artistic.

SOUND: The sound is pretty cool. You do get a bit of the audio of the characters but during a battle or just walking around Shibuya, a full song is playing in the background. In fact, the game features a variety of songs which was great to see done for this game since Shibuya lifestyle is also big on not just style but also music. The main song is sung by J-pop artist, Jyongri and features a variety of musical artists for this game.

CONTROLS: This game requires you to use a stylus. When you see multiple “noise” monsters on screen, using the stylus, you are constantly clicking on the screen when the monsters are around to send a lightning bolt, bullet or some offensive attack on them. But once you get a hang of the controls, the game becomes much easier.

Currently, I’m on the 4th day of the game and enjoying it immensely.

Personally, I’m glad that Square Enix released this game in the US. It’s so different from their “Final Fantasy” and “Dragon Quest” games that I hope that this will be a beginning of a series that will spawn several more “THE WORLD ENDS WITH YOU” sequels or unique games by the creators.

I really enjoyed the J-pop references to the names of the characters and the style of fashion clothing offered from the ingame stores.

But I still have more game to go but so far, putting several hours into this game already, I’m really enjoying it. The game features unique gameplay, cool character designs and just the overall game because it is so different.

So, for what I have played so far, I’m enjoying it a lot and this is a game that Japanese music fans, Japanese pop culture fans wouldn’t want to miss. Even those who dig Japanese style of video games. This one is very cool!

UPDATE: I beat the game and seriously, the whole entire game from story to gameplay was so fun. To see your character level up and of course, the clothes one can purchase and the overall challenge made this game so enjoyable. Definitely one of my top games made for the Nintendo DS! Hands down!

+ Unique game. Fun, trendy, stylish, cool character designs and great gameplay!

+ Captured the cool, trendy and capturing the crowded but yet cool side of of Shibuya and allowing the character to try on Japanese fashion but also the various clothing stores was cool to see!

+ Easy to pick up and learn

+ The music actually are songs sung by the artist. No midi or instrumentals.

– The price. The price of this game is $39.99 for a DS game. This alone, may sway people to not want to purchase it because it’s expensive for many gamers.

– No option to select to Japanese dialogue

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