The World Ends With You is the latest action RPG offering from Square Enix and the creative minds of Tetsuya Nomura and Gen Kobayshi, the guys responsible for Kingdom Hearts. The game starts out with the main character Neku waking up in the middle of Shibuya and not knowing how he got there. To make matters worse he receives a call on his cell phone from a mysterious person stating he has to complete a specific objective before a timer engraved on his hand reaches zero or he will die. Shortly afterwards, he links up with a girl named Shiki who basically explains to him that they’re players in a game going against a group known as the Reapers, and that they have 7 days to win this game with the prize for winning being their lives.
The World Ends With You is oozing with style. From the slick menu presentation, sound effects, Japanese pop soundtrack, character models, backgrounds, and so-on, this game has it all by the ton. The graphic styling comes off as a cross between the graffiti, cell-shaded, sleekness of Jet Set Radio, mixed with the 2D effects of Paper Mario.
The setting of Shibuya is a sprawling city made up of different districts, all very rich with life. There are people everywhere and you can hear the hustle and bustle as they go about their everyday lives through the tiny DS speakers. At all times on the bottom screen you will see and control Neku and his partner who stand out against the back drop of NPC character models. On the top screen you’ll see buildings for the current area against the backdrop of the rest of the city’s skyline. It’s a very nice effect that conveys being in a city environment flawlessly. Occasionally you’ll see an important NPC which will display a comic bubble box with “…” which means you should talk to them to advance the story or gain access to another area.
Cut scenes are brilliantly handled by mixing comic panel style animation with light sound effects. Characters will move their arms and change stances to convey emotion but some of the sound constraints can be a little annoying. While characters will grunt and scream, they mostly end up gasping, which sounds very prepubescent and will grate your nerves after the 20th time you hear it.