The World Ends With You has garnered a bit of a cult following, partly due to the game’s unusual setting and aesthetic but also because of its interesting take on the typical action RPG formula originally utilising the Nintendo DS touchscreen to great effect with a combat system that required quick reflexes and the ability to focus on both screens. How has the game transitioned to Nintendo’s latest device and what’s new?
When The World Ends With You (or TWEWY) came out back in 2007 it was a breath of fresh air. An action RPG that cast off the traditional fantasy genre and took you to a very stylised modern version of Tokyo’s Shibuya district, tapping into its cultural significance as a destination by making fashion and music central to the games design. In 2018 it’s not quite as refreshing or significant as it was then, but it’s still undeniably stylish with its graffiti art aesthetic.
For those who’ve never played TWEWY, you take on the role of Neku, a typical spiky-haired emo loner, who wakes up without any recollection of how or where he is when a timer appears on his wrist and gets dragged into something called The Reaper’s Game. Paired with another player pulled into the game, Shiki, they have to complete timed tasks set by the Reapers else face “erasure” whilst unravelling the hows and whys of the Game as they try to survive it.
Instead of spells and magic, the modern Tokyo setting uses pin badges as a vessel for what the game calls Psyche abilities. These range from physical attacks to summoning lightning or ice columns. These are activated in combat by specific actions, typically tapping an enemy or slashing an area on the screen. Neku can ultimately equip up to six badges, which allows quite a lot of room for customisation especially when combined with the outfits you can buy that give a variety of bonuses as well as make a fashion statement.
Fighting the various enemies, called Noise, has a chance of providing new badges, different enemies providing different pins. You’ll also find special green Noise, pigs, that award guaranteed pins when you take them out. You can also bolster your chances of getting badges by adjusting the combat difficulty and deciding to take on more Noise at once, adding a risk/reward element to grinding out that badge collection.
Combat in the Nintendo DS original used both screens, Neku on the lower touchscreen and your partner on the top screen, meaning you had to focus on both screens performing pin attacks with Neku by tapping and dragging whilst also using the face buttons to input commands for your partner on the top screen. This was changed when the game released on mobile a few years ago to make it work on a single screen and it’s this take on it that is used in this Switch release, as your partner is now functionally similar to a pin in that they have a bit of a recharge (or boot) time, but can then be activated with specific motions.
Alternating attacks between Neku and your partner build up a sync rate meter which allows you to trigger a fusion attack. Fusions bring up a quick card game depending on partner that will determine the strength of the attack before unleashing it on your foes. Shiki for example attacks enemies when you tap them, and if you have a pin like Thunderbolt that also activates on tap you can get an easy one-two combo that makes building sync fairly simple if not particularly effectively.
This brings me to control; Final Remix features two control methods, touchscreen when in portable mode which works exactly like the Nintendo DS original with you tapping and swiping to move and attack enemies whereas in docked and tabletop mode it uses motion controls utilising a single Joy-Con, and this doesn’t quite work as well as it should. The concept is pretty straightforward, tilting the Joy-Con moves a cursor on the screen, and you use one button to move towards the cursor and one to simulate pressing on the screen to allow you to tap and swipe. You can also use the analogue stick to move around in this mode which is nice.
For the most part it works but it suffers from drift quite badly needing you to hit the recentre button more than you’d expect, swiping also doesn’t feel as natural to perform when you are pressing a button, making a motion and then releasing it either which makes it feel a bit clunky. It’s an interesting, functional if not perfect compromise to allow playing the game on a TV but playing the game handheld is definitely the more satisfying experience. Due to the game only requiring one half of the Joy-Con it does open up the game’s new co-op feature which allows someone to use the other half to play as your partner, which is a nice addition at least.
Playing on the TV allows you to really appreciate the visual boost the game has received however. The stylish pixel art from the DS game has become stylish high resolution art with beautiful clean, crisp lines that look absolutely gorgeous on both the TV and the Switch itself. Everything from backgrounds and character art through to badge art and menus look absolutely wonderful. The game’s sound also gets a bit of love with the ability to switch between remastered and original soundtracks; luckily the music is fantastic whichever way you listen.
The big new feature in the Switch port of TWEWY however is the additional chapter, “A New Day”, which acts as an epilogue of sorts. This is something you have to unlock by performing specific actions as you play, but provides some new information (and perhaps teases more than it answers for fans of the game). It’s a nice extra and it does hint at the promise of more to come for the franchise, but it’s probably not worth buying just to experience it alone.
The World Ends With You -Final Remix- is a solid port of what is widely considered a cult classic from Square-Enix’s relatively recent past, and is well worth playing if you’ve never played the game or want to revisit it. The new chapter adds a couple of hours but feels a bit of a tease rather than adding any major revelation to the plot established in the main game. The altered combat isn’t necessarily worse than the dual-screen nature of the original, but it does lose some of the unique charm of the DS version.
Changes to combat can be seen as a positive or a negative depending on how fiddly you found the original and the control issues are a shame, but all in all The World Ends With You -Final Remix- is still a unique and fun RPG experience with a compelling and interesting story that hasn’t really got anything to compare it against and is well worth experiencing.
The World Ends With You -Final Remix- (Reviewed on Nintendo Switch)
This game is great, with minimal or no negatives.
TWEWY -Final Remix- does a stellar job with updating the DS originals visual and aural design. Some control issues and changes to combat mechanics to fit the Nintendo Switch are unfortunate but the story and game systems are still excellent and will still have you eagerly trying to survive the Reaper’s Game.