Gaming to Go: The World Ends with You

matthew madeiro
m. madeiro|07.24.08

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Gaming to Go: The World Ends with You


That's The World Ends with You for the lot of you, though any Japanese readers might know by it a seemingly happier name. But no matter what you call it, doesn't that acronym just rock your pretty pink socks? Seriously, stop reading and say it aloud. Do it right now. Let the letters roll off your tongue and perhaps you'll get a tantalizing taste of the title we've been raving about for the last few months. You also might sound a little silly. My bad.

But what's that? You've already played The World Ends with You? Good for you! I might be treading well-worn ground with this week's edition of Gaming to Go, but Square Enix's latest epic deserves mention for one simple reason: it makes fighting fresh, fast, and -- most importantly -- fashionable. Tired of tedious turn-based battling? Tired of donning drab, colorless garments whenever you step into the war zone? TWEWY might be just what you need!

What other game actively rewards you for playing in short bursts? That feature alone makes The World Ends with You an easy recommendation for a gamer on the go. Hit the jump if you need further convincing, you fashionista, you!

Perhaps you've been living peacefully under a rock since April and haven't heard of TWEWY'S unique approach to warfare. Wipe the dust from your eyes, my dirty friend, and check this out: two characters, two screens, and a whole lot of pins, the combination of which is just as crazy as it sounds. You'll primarily control protagonist Neku on the bottom screen, scribbling and scratching to victory while keeping an eye on your partner on the top. Said partner is perfectly smart enough to fight on its own, though you'll have to watch and control both characters if you have any intention of mastering the battle system.

Seem complicated? Well ... it is. You can be forgiven for doing an awful job in the beginning, as it'll take a bit of experience to manipulate both screens like a pro. Once you get the hang of things, however, you'll be blazing through battles in no time at all. It helps that TWEWY's battle scoring system rewards a quick finish, as netting the best grade requires you to hone your skills to perfection. I vividly remember receiving the worst ranking every time I fought in the beginning, so don't feel too bad if you put Neku through a lot of pain and suffering when you're just starting out.

There would be little point in practice if fighting wasn't fun, however, and here again TWEWY stands out from the competition. Destroying the Noise monsters is made infinitely more exciting through the introduction of pins, each of which comes with a special psychic power. Equip a few of those and suddenly you'll be starting fires, flinging cars around, and wielding a whole slew of powers that are undeniably sweet.

In true RPG style, you'll have to grind your way through many battles to level those pins up and unlock their true power. Yeah, it can get repetitive, and yeah, some of the cooler pins can only be accessed through the magic of the grind, but TWEWY still makes battling a far more entertaining affair than most of its portable brethren.

That realization is an important one. For a column devoted to games best suited for a busy lifestyle, RPGs are not what any sane gamer would expect to see covered, right? Yet TWEWY takes the age-old mechanics of number-crunching and makes them both snappy and enjoyable. Sure, you'll be grinding, but here's the thing: you'll probably like it.

Battles are quick and the action is intense, so it's hard to walk away unsatisfied. The speedy nature of it all is even better for a gamer on the go, as working your way through a few battles at your next lunch break lets you smother the Noise with fire and eventually upgrade your pin to brutally roast even more! Good times, man.
I imagine most of you have popped the game in at least once to see what all of the hubbub is about. I imagine a few of you then popped it right back out, as the early stages of the game feature young Neku generally acting like an ass for no reason at all. Those of you who then took a deep breath and came back to the game probably noticed one of TWEWY's most unique features: it rewards you for not playing!

Or something close to that, at least. Whenever you take a break from the game for more than a few hours, your currently equipped pins start gaining experience points, the amount increasing the longer you leave the DS off. I'm not entirely sure what the plot reasoning for this is, but I do know one thing: it's pretty freaking awesome. How often does a game actively cater to players who can only pick up and play in short bursts?

Knowing that you're accomplishing something in-game while you're not even playing is a fantastic feeling, especially when you consider the game is technically grinding for you. Never thought you'd have time to work through an RPG while still working from 9 to 5? Square Enix disagrees. The fruit of their efforts, an RPG that takes age-old mechanics and updates them for a fast-paced and portable world, is a title I heartily recommend for a gamer on the go.

Ready for the stat sheet? You don't even have to roll any dice!

Sleep time: TWEWY doesn't pause a battle if you should slam the lid down mid-fight, so stay sharp when you open it back up.

Load time: Around twenty-five seconds will pass from the moment you turn the DS on and load a saved game. If you're starting fresh, however, it'll take a good ten minutes to go through the introduction tutorials and get to the first save point, giving you ample time to reflect on just why you haven't tried this game yet. The crushing guilt that should follow will sync perfectly with Neku's insufferable angst!

Play time:
Battles shouldn't last more than a few minutes, provided you're actually trying to get a good ranking. I wouldn't recommend attempting a boss fight, however, if you only have a few seconds to spare. Either I really suck, or those fights typically take multiple minutes and multiple tries.

Tick tock of the clock ringing in your ears? Tell your timepiece to shove it! We live busy lives, but remember this: there's always time to game. Check back with Gaming to Go every Thursday for the latest and greatest titles you should spend your precious few minutes with.
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