Games of the Past REVIEW: The World Ends with You

Saturday, August 4th, 2012

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The World Ends With You

The World Ends with You is a DS game co-developed by Jupiter and Square Enix, who also published the game. It was released in 2008 and gained a cult following amongst those who played it, as gamers loved the unique mechanics and gameplay. It has a great plot filled with terrific characters, and every moment, whether important or not, is made memorable by the soundtrack.

The World Ends With You

Two Reapers that pop up quite often. That’s Uzuki on top, and Kariya on the bottom.

The World Ends with You starts out with Neku Sakuraba waking up in the streets of Shibuya, Tokyo, with no memory of who he is or how he came to be there. While Neku’s memory loss sounds like typical JRPG fare, it is actually well explained in-game. He has found himself caught up in the Reaper’s Game, and for the next seven days he and his partner, Shiki Masiki, must survive the daily missions given to them by the Reapers. Failure to complete a mission will result in their death, or as the Reapers like to call it, ‘erasure’.

Neku starts out as someone who hates everyone else, but as the game progresses his attitude changes ever so gradually and he becomes a much more likeable character. The same can be said for the rest of the cast. As the plot unfolds with its twists and turns, each character in the game shows an unexpected amount of depth and personality as you learn of their past and their motives. All of the characters in The World Ends with You seem so real and believable, and after finishing it, the dedicated gamer is able to find more information pertaining to the rules of the Reaper’s Game, the characters themselves and the setting.

The Reapers send out Noise to attack the players and hamper their progress in their game; falling to Noise results in erasure. There is a Noise database that can be filled by fighting all of the Noise on each of the four different difficulty levels, as at each difficulty they will drop different Pins. Additionally, Neku’s level can be adjusted at will in the main menu, allowing players seeking a challenge to take on bosses at level 1. There is further incentive for dropping levels in that the lower Neku’s level, the more likely his opponents are to drop Pins.

What are Pins, you ask? Weapons. The battle system in The World Ends with You is utterly unique. You are simultaneously in control of both Neku and your partner, Shiki. Neku wields Pins, and each Pin has its own ability that is activated via the touchscreen. There are quite a few different types, and there will be some to match everyone’s playstyle. Personally, I prefer the Pins that utilise quick slashing and tapping of the touchscreen, but there are many other types as well. Pins gain PP to level up through battle, and will also gain PP while the game is switched off, so when you boot it up again your Pins will have gotten stronger. Controlling your partner is done using the control pad or, for those who are left-handed, the ABXY buttons.  A series of cards is shown on the top screen, which must be navigated through to the end card to earn a star. Earn enough stars, and Neku and Shiki will unleash a powerful fusion attack.

The World Ends With You

The first Noise to attack Neku. These are known as Dixiefrogs.

‘Threads’ are this game’s armour. Threads come in different types (headwear, top, footwear, etc.) and a single character cannot be wearing more than one of the same type of thread. There are thirteen different brands; the Reaper’s own brand and one for each animal of the Chinese zodiac. Each area of Shibuya has its own popular brands, or trends. Trends are affected and can change depending on the pins and threads the player is currently wearing.  Using Pins of a popular brand increases their power, while unpopular brands get weaker. Trends can be checked on the main menu.

The World Ends With You

I always liked to think that the music I was hearing was what Neku was actually listening to through his headphones.

Character stats are upgraded via stickers and food. Food can be bought in some stores, and will be digested as you fight battles. A maximum of 24 bytes can be digested per day in real time. Stickers are found as you work through story events or can be located in shops, to be exchanged for items. Some stickers even increase your partner’s maximum fusion level, which equates to more powerful attacks in exchange for more stars!

The music. I haven’t heard another soundtrack like it. Where the soundtracks for the majority of games are comprised almost entirely of instrumentals, most of the tracks in The World Ends with You have lyrics. And they sound brilliant. Different tracks play on different days, and the more you progress through the game, the more tracks you get to hear. The soundtrack for The World Ends with You had a strong impact on me personally, in a way only two other games have managed to do. There is hardly a song that plays that I don’t enjoy, or that doesn’t fit well with the context.


Between the characters, the music and the battle system, The World Ends with You is an unforgettable game that everyone must at LEAST try at some point in their life.

Review Score

  • I have beaten hundreds of games. This one will probably always rank somewhere within my top five. This is the absolute BEST game for the DS. Bar-NONE.

    • 999 is also quite good which I recommend, it takes a saw like story, and combines it with deep interesting characters.

    • I still need to see about tracking 999 down. Maybe I’ll ask for it for my birthday…

    • You can easily find it online, Amazon should still have copies.

  • caleb1993

    My favorite game of all time. Glad to see it get such a glowing review.

  • AnimeRemix

    I love TWEWY a lot… Hands down my #1 favorite video game ever. Just loved everything about it! The gameplay, the story, the characters, and even the music. Just reading this review and seeing a great rating for the game really makes me feel good! TWEWY really is a game that any Jrpg lover should play! =D

  • Great review, I absolutely loved TWEWY. I loved every bit about that game. The art style, the music, even the battle system that a lot of people frequently complain about.
    Easily a 10/10. There just had better be a sequel in the works.

    • The music! I love the music so much! And yeah, I think the battle system will be what makes or breaks it for people. It’s VERY strange and I really didn’t get the hang of it till the end of the game.

      I think there will be a sequel, given Neku’s recent inclusion in KH:3D. I mean, why else would they put him in there?

    • The sound track was pretty nice. Another great jrpg on the ds.

    • You don’t want that. You might think that’s a good idea, but trust me, it isn’t. ESPECIALLY if Nomura’s making it.

    • That’s an ignorant and rather stupid way to look at it, especially since you don’t go to any length to explain why it’s such a bad idea.

    • Oh, don’t you worry. I’ll explain my opinions on the matter veeeeeeery soon.

    • If those opinions are anything like the seemingly endless stream of “Nomura sucks, he’s ruined Kingdom Hearts!” threads I’ve read, then you really needn’t bother. It’s been done ad nauseum and mostly boil down to personal opinion regarding what the Kingdom Hearts series “should” have been versus what it actually is.

      In short, it’s a lot of whining from people that are annoyed that the series isn’t for them with painfully contrived reasoning as to why that shouldn’t be the case and that it’s Nomura’s fault.

    • I’m not going to be talking about Kingdom Hearts too much in my article. I don’t honestly think Nomura “ruined” Kingdom Hearts, per se. The games are still as fun as they always were (most of them, anyway). I just think the story (and Nomura, to some extent) has just gotten too goddamned crazy at this point.

  • Easily one of the best games on the DS and one of the best games that Square Enix has produced in the past decade. The characters and story really hit home for me, and the gameplay made great use of the DS hardware. Truly, I can’t think of any part of the game that isn’t wonderful. This article was a great read.

  • You know a game left a large impact on you when you start to think of it for no reason.

    I say my Biology exam two months ago. I sat down, looked down at my paper, and then suddenly thought:

    “Sit and pass the exam for BIO1011.
    You have 150 minutes. Fail, and face erasure.
    – The Reapers.”

    It took all of my strength to not burst into giggles in the exam room.

  • I really liked this game on of the best DS games you can find from the music to the gameplay this on is just a win all over.