6.0

The World Ends with You: Solo Remix review
What's all the fuss about?

Summary:

It seems that Square-Enix are so popular, that any game they announce will garner more attention than there is for the amount of IQ points Einstein possesses, times a hundred thousand, and it was best shown with this game. Among release, I decided to go out and buy this, however, it seemed that there were no copies about twenty minutes after the stores opened (which was when I went to the first game store). After a few weeks of dealing with this, I just went "screw this" and borrowed my friend's copy. The words he spoke upon me borrowing this echoed throughout my head - "it's not all that good". It holds true, even after the first time I played it; it really isn't all that good. It isn't as good as what everybody said, but upon some research, I found that the major contributing factors to the success of this game, lied in the paid reviewers who get paid to up the hype of already overhyped games, and Square-Enix fanboys who think that every RPG they make that is extremely mainstream is "epic" and "awesome". Of course, these are the same idiots who would trash-talk Drakenguard (which I like a lot) because it wasn't hyped up, therefore, I'll be forced to engrave the word "poser" onto their heads, because that is what they are; a goddamn poser! Drakenguard and its sequel are both made by Square-Enix, and the inferior original could destroy most of the overhyped crap Square-Enix put out for everybody! Enough of the awesome Drakenguard duo; let's focus on The World Ends With You.

To begin with, there are difficulty settings; easy, medium and hard...actually, there's only medium and hard. Easy doesn't deserve to call itself a difficulty mode. After spending ample time on easy, I found it too goddamn easy! Thankfully, the difficulty is adjustable, so you don't have to be annoyed at easy mode being too easy, or hard mode being too punishing.

Anyway, the story sounds promising enough. Apparently, Neku, the guy you play as, died prior to the beginning of the game, and is now a part of the "Reaper's Game", where he has to offer up something most valuable to him so he can try and complete a certain task, defeating some evil spirits while he's at it, so he can either come back to life in the real world, or become one of the main opponents for future contestants of the game. As for the tasks themselves, they're supposed to be tests of humanity or something, as the reapers don't seem to like humanity. Each task allows a limit of a week to be completed, and if it takes too long, then the player is ki--erm, "erased" from the game and life itself; almost like double-killing somebody (as you have to be dead to be involved in these games). Seems like a pretty cool concept, don't you think?

Well, don't get too excited, because the story actually dives downwards...because of the characters! I just can't seem to get into them! Neku starts by hating humanity and loving his music, fair enough, but his personality instantly changes during some point into the game, where he respects humanity as he is helped by humans. Nice, but the only build-up was the fact that he got a boner over his first partner, Shiki. Whoopee. I was expecting more. Besides, the change was just a bit too erratic. However, out of 3/4 of the rest of the cast, he's one of the better characters.

What about Shiki, though? Who cares!? Aside from being somewhat hot, she doesn't have much going for her outside of battle. How so? Well, the fact that I don't remember why that is should say something; outside of her looks and pretty much being the only girl of the game who has significant importance to the main story, she's a forgettable character. The rest are a little better, but a couple suffer from being too one-dimensional by only existing for that one purpose and forcing a further purpose out of them, while one... Well, with the exception of Neku, he's basically the only character who isn't forgettable or one-dimensional; he's actually my favorite character because he just has so much to offer! I'm keeping the names unknown so you get to play it and figure it out for yourself.

Looking into the game, it looks good. The graphics are nice and detailed for a 16-bit game and really make it shine. There don't seem to be any problems with framerate either, even when there's a fair amount of stuff going on. There also seems to be some urban/graffiti influences here, not unlike Jet Grind Radio for the Sega Dreamcast. To be perfectly honest, I wouldn't be too surprised if the reapers graffiti the place or the kids attacked with breakdancing moves behind the scenes. In short, awesome!

The urban influences carry onto the soundtrack, as there is a bit of hip hop put into the usual Japanese pop that gets converted to whatever the DS can handle. Basically, the soundtrack is Japanese pop (which isn't that bad, when you consider that Euro-pop is a million times worse...*coughsonicrcough*) with some hip hop grooves put into the mix. It might sound "cool" and "hip", but when you actually get to listen to it, it isn't all that good.

"WAIT SINCE WHEN WASN'T IT ALL THAT GOOD!!?!" Mainly because it's both repetitive and forgettable. I never liked hip hop, I always found it repetitive and the more obscure sort too pretentious for my liking; a LOT more pretentious than Godspeed You! Black Emperor or any band like them will ever be. Actually, I'd prefer a soundtrack done by those sorts of bands. I'd rather some ambience, the occasional weird noises, and maybe some guitar riffs here and there (but keep dead silence out of here!!!) than this ghetto ass *bleep*ing "yo we gangsta" shit. Granted that some people like it; you know what, go ahead, I don't really care if you like it, but the moment you tell me that I suck and that I'm too pretentious to appreciate the soundtrack, I'm going to break a foot up your ass verbally.

Unfortunately, as I seem to be in the minority with this, I can't really put the music down. I find it forgettable, repetitive and boring, but maybe that's because I expected some degree of...oh, I dunno, ENJOYMENT!? I'd rather listen my only infant child puking to death than any song on this game's soundtrack, but as many people seem to like it and I do want people to try this at the very least, here's some advice – don't expect top notch stuff, or you will be ranting about the music the same way I was. But hey, if you're into Japanese pop with a side of hip hop grooves, then you'll like it regardless of what I say.

What of the gameplay, or the true substance of every game known to mankind? To be completely honest, I'm mixed. I can't seem to make up my mind whether I like it or not, because there are moments I like, yet there are moments I hate, and everything else leaves me indifferent. I will say this; it does have some somewhat unique aspects to it, but what is unique...when it doesn't matter all that much in the long run?

To begin with, you move around town, hoping to get to a destination. Navigating around this town is a royal pain in its own asshole, as you often either get lost or just don't find the area you need/want to go to in this gridded town, because at first, you'll need some trial and error to navigate the town and its seemingly infinite stores - in fact, I often wonder how they would cope if a recession hit them - but once you know where everything is, you can eventually find your way around the town and to areas you need to go to in the game. You are REQUIRED to do this on a trial and error basis, as the map is terrible and leads to NOTHING! Did I forget to mention that the town is mapped out as a grid? Well, it is.

Oftentimes, you'll run into some enemies known as Noise. Unfortunately, the game decides to pussy out and allow you to dodge them thus dodging combat altogether (bad idea, bring in some random battles thanks). Of course, the game will try to be harder by inserting roadblocks. The roadblocks don't disappear just because you defeat certain amounts of enemies; it's usually because of shitty fetch quests. Abandon all hope for an amazing and unique experience, ye who enter here.

Seriously, why should there be fetch quests? Not that they're bad or anything when it's uncommon, but considering you spend a decent amount of time doing this, this will wear you out, and when you put into consideration that you're allowed to avoid combat (unless you're about to fight a boss), this will ultimately piss you off. THIS IS DS GAME OF THE YEAR 2008? Yeah! If you enjoy repetitive fetch quests, then this game is right up your alley! More like up your ass! If you're unsure of what a fetch quest is, it's basically talk to some guy and fetch something he wants, then get to him and give it to him. Sounds interesting, right? No? You're right, it's not!

Don't fret, because it's the combat and pins that everyone seems to enjoy. Battling takes place in real time on both screens, with Neku on the bottom screen being controlled by the stylus, and his partner on the top screen being controlled either by the d-pad or the A B X Y buttons. What happens is that Noise will attack both of you on each screen, and as Neku, you get to use psychic powers and such by wildly slashing with the stylus, while the top screen has you pressing a certain sequence of buttons to attack or do anything really. This takes quite some time to get used to, but once you're used to it, you can basically do this just looking at the bottom screen, flailing the stylus around!

There is a way to make it so that the top screen is automatic, and the ally AI is reliable enough, so go ahead and focus only on Neku if you want, but if you want to keep yourself somewhat challenged, control both. Either way, pay close attention to Neku, or you'll be getting your ass kicked faster than you can say "Ne--" because the enemies are vicious as hell on his screen. Yeah, I said somewhat challenged...because it gets to be a joke when you rely on the AI of the top screen, plus when you equip certain pins, victory can be yours before you can say "the world ends with this douchebag".

And what about those pins everybody talks about? Well, they're a decent addition. They work like accessories by boosting statistics such as attack and defense, though they also determine what attacks you can use. So if you want Neku to be a formidable force, you may want to equip a pin or two. With enough powerful pins at his arsenal, Neku could bring the smackdown on whoever decides to mess with him. I man, accompanied by visual effects such as swords and fire, the pins unleash hell on all who oppose Neku.

With a maximum of 6 pins equipped, you have to think...what do you want equipped? Do you want 6 scratch pins? I wouldn't, because not all scratch pins are good. Have a bit of variety in what you equip. Aside from scratchers, you have ones that work when you touch empty spaces, touching enemies, dragging the stylus, blowing on the mike, pissing on the screen and some other methods best explained when you actually get the pins themselves. There is a bit of variety, so go through all that you collect throughout your journey (or buy in stores with the money you find along the way) and equip what seems right.

Of course, the pins aren't invincible. They will run out of juice if you keep using them over and over. This saves the game from getting too easy (YAY) and also keeps combat somewhat fresh. It also helps a bit in longer battles if you have two of one sort – you need to use up all of one pin's power before you can use the other of its type. It sounds tedious and refreshing; oxymoronic, but it seems that it's just how it is. People approach it as one or the other, but I just cannot, it really depends on what is equipped at what time.

A problem with this, however, is that while moving Neku with the stylus, you could accidently activate a pin that requires the stylus. This doesn't seem bad because you could also hurt an enemy or two, but when you're trying to conserve pin energy, that gets to be a bit of a problem.

But seriously, what the hell? Since when was Neku God!? With all these pins at his disposal, he may as well be. His powers are sure god-like... But get this; he and his partner can do co-op moves, which basically destroys every single goddamn enemy on the screen. If you manage to do a certain button combination with the top screen character, he/she and Neku can dominate with extreme force.

So basically, we're going to be reducing the top screen gameplay to button mashing! WHAT. FUN! While we're at it, why don't we randomly construct somewhat incoherent sentences for an essay so we hand it up and get "best author 2009"? Because that's basically how it is a lot of the time with the top screen character!

Back to the pins; you can level these up to make Neku even more god-like in power. There are three ways, but only one makes a whole lot of sense. The one that makes sense is Battle PP – battle heaps to increase this statistic. Good thought and it does kind of make you want to battle enemies more often (YAY), but here's the kicker...THE OTHER TWO; Shutdown PP and Mingle PP.

Shutdown PP is gotten by – get this – not playing the game for a certain amount of time. So don't play it for a while, right? No, because there's a way around this – add 7 days to the DS clock, and the game will think you haven't played it for 7 days. This is one of the stupidest aspects of…clearly ANYTHING in gaming! What the hell was Square-Enix smoking when they thought of this? This is beyond pointless!

Mingle PP is equally as stupid, because you have to get some wireless signals to gain Mingle PP points. There's an old saying that I often say; experimentation doesn't always mean good; and this (and Shutdown PP) is proof enough to prove my saying right! It doesn't mean you can only cover ground you know; if anything, you should experiment, but at least put some thought into it, because if you don't, you're hurting your creation, not helping it differentiate itself from the rest of the pack, outside maybe some crappiness!

So what of the usual leveling up? After exterminating enough enemies to get enough experience points to level up, all that happens is that you gain some more HP, so that you can take a hit or two more before dying (HP at 0 = death). It's a fair call really, and at least your characters are not leveling up while you're not playing – seriously, who came up with that idea?! I WANT ANSWERS NOW!

The game tries to be realistic, in the sense that they attempt fashion trends. You wear a brand logo on your clothes and pins you buy from shops, and they're supposed to do...well, something, but the truth of the matter is that it's useless! If anything, it actually grows into a bit of a problem; they either let you beat your enemies no problem, or nearly kill you, depending on what's in style at any time, which is usually random. THIS IS USELESS! WHY!? It doesn't add a challenge in the slightest; it just makes you pissed, so screw it!

And...let's be honest here; there is too much of the game to experience, especially to fit in a review which is meant to be direct, honest and to the point. That seems to be another weakness; it's just too much! It seems like every little thing was given a whole heap of attention, but the plot at the beginning and middle (towards the end was pretty awesome thankfully), the characters ands a fair amount of bigger gameplay elements were rushed so this game could be rushed out to make a few bucks. Inexplicably, people believe that this game is the best DS game out there. What a joke.

Despite my nitpicks, this is still an alright game, and one well worth your time. However, at the end of the day, it's just another title developed by Square Enix that really only provides decent gameplay we've seen often before, an awkward storyline, good graphics and a soundtrack you'll either love or hate. If you were expecting the best of the best out of this game, the disappointment will hit you like a hundred flicks to the nuts. If you expect nothing more or less out of a DS game you would most likely be playing every once in a while as opposed to 24/7, sure, why not pick up this title?

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0 thumbs!
^
NeOsX Mar 6, 11
Nice review, however your critique about how well does the characters grow on you seems mostly about personal tastes and not about what each of them provide to the gamer. The story is fresh compared to any of the other generic stuff that's on the DS (like luminous arc or fire emblem, not saying that they're bad titles but they are more of the same..) Lastly about the gameplay, you are able to move the pins around the screen so they fit your style of gaming plus if you're not comfortable with controlling 2 characters at once you can always leave it in auto.

*By the way im not a SE fanboy, honestly i hated all final fantasy games from 8 onwards...
0 thumbs!
^
Vergil Ties Mar 8, 11
Yeah, I think the character section needs to be rewritten. Unfortunately, I can't really do much about this until I get around to playing through it again. The good news is that at least I still have a copy.

I'm not going to acknowledge the other two points, mostly because my memory of this game sucks, though if I do remember it correctly, it was that the ending sucked balls, and pretty much wrecked the story. Can't remember why, maybe it was one of those "resolution? derr what are those" sorts of endings.

Thanks for the comment either way.
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