Well... I just got done playing some Geometry Wars on my computer and while I love its simple, retro charm, sometimes I'm just in the mood for a portable RPG with an incredible amount of style. With one of the best explanations for the title, a memorable quote that will stick with you through the very end of the game, The World Ends With You is not your typical run-of-the-mill RPG. As stylish as you can get without being a trendy Abercrombie shirt or something.. this game has got a very Japanese/Graffiti-driven art design. An amazing blend of hard spray paint and anime goodness. Character models are well defined, the environments scream of unique traits, the unconventional menu's make you long for the days when game systems weren't plagued with the ever-present shovelware epidemic. True... shovelware has always been on game systems, dating back to even the Atari 2600, but today finding an original title is amazingly difficult, if not impossible.
The battle system is very unique, boasting both top and bottom screen battles at the same time. You control the top screen battles with the D-Pad, and the bottom screen battles with gesture-based stylus attacks. This can be overwhelming at the start of the game, but luckily this is a game you can play any way you want, but we'll get into that later. When you get into a zen of attacking with the top screen while dodging with the bottom, then switching offense and defense, then back again, you become completely involved in the experience. Its like finding that sweet spot in Gradius or Geometry Wars, you just feel it. The game becomes an experience, a feeling, a fleeting moment of being one with the game. Unfortunately, you have to play quite a bit to experience that feeling. One thing that really helps connect you is the music.
With a song library that rivals Jet Grind Radio in terms of catchy-ness, song quality, and number of tracks. Its hip-hop, rock, classical, and very Japanese. Almost pretentious in the way the music of the game starts out, you'll be off put by the tunes when you first turn on the game. I really didn't care much for the soundtrack until about 15 minutes into the game. Then... just like any good video game soundtrack, it'll be rocking in your head for the rest of the day. This game takes the music very seriously. You can even walk into stores to buy certain songs that can be played by touching them in your inventory screen. One song in particular: Hybrid, is particularly catchy. I'll admit it: I'm a sucker for a good soundtrack, I don't believe a game can do a good job of involving you in an experience without one, but this is my favorite portable soundtrack thus far.
But what's an RPG without story? While I won't delve into spoilers, the story starts out as one of the most bland, generic pieces of shit I've ever experience. Besides the graphical quality, I hated this game for the first 15 minutes I played. Neku is emo, "Doesn't get people...", refuses to cooperate on any human level, and is completely down on the world. Fuck. How lame can you get? Luckily, the character grows on you and he doesn't stay in this awkward middle-school phase for long. Insert uber-cutesy Japanese love interest. Again, stereotypical, squeaky voice. Blah, blah, blah. OH FUCK AMNESIA STORY INSERT! Yea.. that old card again. The story start off terribly, an epic fail in the world of RPG's. But! If you stick with it, through this awkward, semi-retarded stage, it starts to open up and show you one of the most unique worlds I've ever experienced in an RPG. Trust me, it's worth your time. While we usually stick to classics at this site, we can't just ignore the world around us either. Try this one out, I'm sure you'll like it.
By the way: Thanks IGN for the screenies, kinda hard to take DS screenies with a college budget.
Amazon.com - The World Ends With You (No Rom here, just a link to go buy it)