The World Ends With You is one of the most enjoyable games released for the Nintendo DS. Unfortunately, it didn’t manage to perform that well financially. Part of the reason I feel this happened was due to the limited appeal of the game. Even if talented artist Tetsuya Nomura worked on majority of the art for the characters, there was plenty of competition at that time of its release therefore it flew under the radar. This was mostly experienced by a niche subset of fans but with time, it led to the game approaching a ‘cult status,’ which means fans were clamoring for a while to return to this world.
There was a key reason it was hard to release The World Ends With You on other platforms. It was because the game’s design completely revolves around using the dual screens of the Nintendo DS. It was unusually hard to replicate this on a single screen, even if Square Enix tried doing exactly this with a port of the game to Smartphones. It never managed to get the same praise as the original Nintendo DS release. So presently this begs the question, do we at long last have a definitive version of The Worlds Ends With You on Nintendo Switch?
The location and designs for The World Ends With You feel inspired by Shibuya city in Japan. Neku and other leading characters represent the youth culture of Shibuya. This gives the game a distinctly modern aesthetics of a metropolitan city. The character sprites are now in high-definition and show many neat improvements over their DS counterpart. They feel closer to the mobile port in term of visual quality. Stylistic conversations dictate the flow for the story making it feel like you are reading a comic panel. The game’s presentation reeks of a style that is rarely seen in most modern RPGs.
The World Ends You: Final Remix places you in the shoes of Neku, who wakes up with amnesia and retains no memory of what has happened to him or how he wound up here in Shibuya Scramble. As he wanders around, he notices it is possible for him to interpret the thoughts of other humans. This is a story of life and death where Neku has to not only figure out how he ended up here, but also deal with a constant threat where a mysterious countdown appears on his hand signaling to some ominous end.
The opening provides an excellent sense of mystery and keeps you interested the more you engage in the game. As Neku heads farther into this city, he encounters a girl called Shiki – one of the three partners – who joins him forming a ‘pact’ that binds them together. Soon both get attacked by a group of enemies termed as ‘noise’ and forced to learn combat moves to defeat them. If you have played the original on the Nintendo DS, the combat feels like a step backward here, but I think it is not a terrible alternative. The novelty factor is gone now, but at least you can experience the story and characters on a more modern platform.
The backbone of the combat is the pins system with the ability to equip a variety of pins for employing their powers on enemies. Neku starts with just two pins and can gradually unlock and expand his collection. You can attack the enemy with the power of these pins and execute moves with touch or motion controlled gestures. Swipe to start a fire or slash at enemies, touch to target magic at them, or tap an object to fling it. The pins control what move you can do in the combat, and the outcome can depend on which pin you have equipped before triggering a battle.
I don’t think I have played any action RPG similar in style to The World Ends With You. It offers a unique and fun combat system to play but also keeps you on your toes. The game is not that difficult once you manage to learn more of the combat system, but the mobility and choice offered during each battle is refreshing. In addition, you can also use the JoyCon controllers to bring in a partner and play it in co-op, something that I didn’t manage to test much. Basically in this mode, each player controls a single character and can use the various motion controlled moves to attack the enemies. It is a decent alternative for the dual screen where you manipulated the two characters simultaneously.
Most of the time, The World Ends You feels like it is best suited for the handheld mode, because a touch screen is essential in the combat. You can’t really feel the same precision or accuracy of the touch controls over something like the motion pointer of the JoyCon. One issue with the motion controls is how the pointer you control on-screen tends to get lost and you have to reset it to the middle of the screen with the press of a button. This suffers a more drastic impact during exploration and feels unintuitive.
Soundtrack was a huge part of the appeal for The World End With You, and for this version, there is the choice of picking either the original soundtrack or the new remixed one. Personally, I found the remixed one better than the original. It might not sit well with those who have played the original though, and in that case, they have the choice to stick with it. There is no negative side effect of having an extra remixed option here.
The biggest draw for the Nintendo Switch version is not the remixed sound or the co-op, it is a brand new scenario set after the ending. The reason it is important is it ultimately acknowledges one the most requested questions by fans of the game. It teases a potential sequel for The World Ends With You. Of course, as we know, this will only happen if this sells well enough, but there is always the hope that Square Enix nevertheless decides to continue with a sequel.
It was exhilarating to play through this scenario called ‘A New Day’ because of the promise of new story content. It takes 2 to 3 hours depending on how much time you want to spend on the grind, which is unfortunately present here. It never feels as well designed as the main campaign but at least you get to meet some new characters like the reaper named Coco. The repetitive nature of the gameplay here is a stark contrast from the main game which always feels fresh and exciting. Although, It does add more value to the package making it more of an expansion than a straight up remaster with minor QOL improvements.
The World Ends with You: Final Remix Review (Switch)
Game Reviewed on: Switch
Game description: Take control of real-time, action-fueled RPG battles using touch controls or Joy-Con™ controllers. With new features in addition to all the content from the Nintendo DS and mobile versions, the definitive version of this modern classic is finally here.
Final Score - 8/108/10
The World Ends With You still holds up well today despite releasing years ago. Some of its appeal is lost in the transition to a different platform, but the story and combat system is still enjoyable. The soundtrack with the choice of a remixed option gives the fans an opportunity to experience it all over again. New types of gameplay options including co-op support and an original story scenario only adds further appeal to this otherwise fantastic action RPG.