The World Ends With You
Platform: Nintendo DS
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Square Enix
Genre: Action RPG
Format: Cartridge
Release: US 04/22/08
Japan 09/18/07

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Mosh Grizzly
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Ramen Don, yum.
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Colorful menus
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A frantic battle
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Neal Chandran
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Neal Chandran

The World Ends With You, aka Subarashiki Kono Sekai, is a unique DS RPG by Square Enix. Unlike proverbial RPGs that take place in medieval fantasy settings and employ swords and sorcery themes, The World Ends With You has a distinctly contemporary setting with themes based around cultural trends in modern Japan. These modern appointments carry through to other aspects of the game as well, such as with the music and gameplay.

The game takes place in an alternate reality form of Tokyo's Shibuya district, known for its shopping, hip street culture, and for being a gadget paradise. Shibuya sounds like a pretty cool place to be, but protagonist Neku Sakuraba does not want to be there. He is not sure why he wound up there in the first place, but he is now trapped there and subjected to the "Reaper's Game." He is not alone, though, as he meets a girl named Shiki and some other kids who are also in this alternate reality Shibuya agains their wills. They have seven days to solve the Reaper's Game or be permanently erased from reality. Of course, the powers that be will not make it easy for our young heroes, for they will be battling "Noise," the manifestation of peoples' negativity into scary monsters. With Shibuya being the shopping mecca it is, Neku and his friends can surely find and purchase ways of battling and protecting themselves from Noise. Those cool looking buttons you wear are more than accessories, they affect characters' abilities and growth.

The visual style of the game is heavily influenced by brightly colored street art and may remind gamers of the Dreamcast game Jet Grind Radio. Square Enix stalwart Tetsuya Nomura, along with Gen Kobayashi, are responsible for the character deigns and their cartoonishly exaggerated versions of Shibuya street fashion fit the look and vibe of the game. Characters and enemies are represented by detailed, colorful sprites and the backgrounds consist of colorful shaded polygons. Video footage indicates that the characters animate fluidly in-game and during the semi-animated cutscenes.

Battles are not random and are initiated by tapping a Noise with the stylus. The battle system is called the Stride Cross Battle System and requires use of both the stylus and the arrow keys. Neku will be on the bottom screen and players will use the stylus to control his actions, such as drawing shapes to use magic, slicing up cars in the backgrounds, and even using telekinesis to throw car parts at foes. One of Neku's party members will be on the top screen and the D-pad will control his or her attacks. Screen shots indicate Dance Dance Revolution style combination attacks consisting of sequences of D-pad arrow presses culminating in a deathblow. Gamers will be expected to control both characters simultaneously. This is a reminder of the Atlus music/rhythm game Ontamarama where gamers had to simultaneously do arrow button presses to the music while tapping little blob creatures. This may be like patting your head and rubbing your tummy simultaneously, but should prove to keep combat fresh. Menu screens indicate that there is an auto-mode for your partner's actions that can be set to take over after various amounts of time.

The World Ends With You released in Japan last year but should be released in both Europe and the US in April.


© 2007-2008 Square Enix. All Rights Reserved.

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