June 5, 2008

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The World Ends With You (DS)
Square Enix, April 22, Rated T
By Glenn "Ten-Pin Slammer" Given production@hippopress.com

SquEnix gets back to its roots: impossibly coiffed brat teens tasked with saving the world and spouting goofishly translated Japanese slang

Though, for once this language is right in keeping with the seting and time. TWEWY is set in Tokyo’s Shibuya district (kind of a Times Square plus Lower East Side epileptic seizure) and follows Neku as he is drawn into convoluted multi-dimensional game for the amusement of the personification of death. It’s all a blisteringly confusing anime plot full of lost memories and tween angst. Over the game’s four chapters Neku and his partners battle simultaneously across dimensions and DS screens, tapping, slashing and drawing on the bottom screen to activate “pins” (collectable weapon/accessories that gain abilities by earning pin points in battle, connecting to other DS users over WiFi or by powering down the system) while a partner on the top is controlled by the handheld’s directional pad and button in a vaguely Dance Dance Revolution-meets-Memory button sequence. You might suspect that simultaneously coordinating both battles would be overwhelming and you’d be damn right! Luckily you can set your teammate actions to various degrees of automation with acceptable intelligence. The fun bit, though, is in the clothes. Ridiculous Asian fashions (nearly all of which feature enough superflous zippers, buckles and belts to remake Michael Jackson’s Bad in eyeball-screaming technicolor) offer various stat boosts or reductions based on how in style they are with a certain neighborhood.

There are a lot of intersting ideas vomiting forth from TWEWY, and acclimating oneself to the hectic battle system may be a hurdle nigh-insurmountable to traditional turn-based RPGers. But fans of SquEnix’s style, and specifically of the Kingdom Hearts series, will find a lot of hay to make herein. AGlenn Given