The World Ends With You

Though I have yet to grind out all of the secrets, or all of the extra plot information, I still judge this to be a good time to blog out my thoughts on The World Ends With You. I beat it fairly recently, and was incredibly impressed. I was a little wary of it when it first came out, because I was afraid that the Jet Grind Radio-ish style was designed to pander to younger kids, and convince them that they entire game was some kind of Mountain Dew Commercial.

I was pleasantly surprised to discover that this was not the case. The music, character design, dialogue, even the item descriptions, are all fairly well crafted to contribute to a central aesthetic, and for entirely unclear reasons, I find it delightful (as opposed to obnoxious) that when the main character finds a special item, he goes “Hey, what’s this? Oh, snap!”

To sum everything up: The music is of surprisingly high caliber, both for composition and for sound quality on the DS. The gameplay is frantic, but complicated enough to be engaging, and still provides enough customization to hook people who like powergaming. The dialogue is not incredibly inspired, but avoids being awkward, and is written with a careful eye towards how different characters say the same thing differently.

The two things that impressed me most about this game are the central aesthetic, which I mentioned briefly, and the speed at which they launch you into the story.

First, the premise behind the game is a bizarre one that you don’t entirely discover until about a third of the way through the story. Namely, ghosts playing a survivor-esque game in a metropolitan Japanese city for a chance to come back to life. Not only was I impressed with the speed at which they educated you in the intricacies of the game, but I was also very impressed with the variations they made to the status-quo of the game once you were comfortable operating within it.

Most stories that have a bizarre premise and a main character that starts with no knowledge of the world they operate in spend a majority of the story explaining how the world the main character operates in is different from the one he or she is used to. The World Ends With You does a fantastic job of starting (with a similarly uneducated main character) with this premise, teaching you about it, then having the events of the story fundamentally alter the way the world works, so that your knowledge of the premise is no longer valid.

Regarding the feel of the game, I already summed it up pretty well. Everything in the game contributes to the same aesthetic. The way the characters talk, the design of the environments, the music, the mid-battle chatter, the equipment system, the character advancement system, everything in this game contributes to the metropolitan, skater, “Live by your own rules” aesthetic. I’m sure you’re wondering right now, “How exactly can the equipment system of a game contribute to an aesthetic?” but that would be a good time to defer to “You just gotta play the game.”

Oh, and by the way, the theme of The World Ends With You is “Only by connecting with the people around you can you truly broaden your horizons”, hence the name. This is NOT the core fantasy of the game, which is “I can live by my own rules”.


Iron Man

It’s been several weeks, but I still feel obligated to wind out my thoughts having seen “Iron Man”.

Simply put, I liked the movie. A lot. It wasn’t the best movie I’ve ever seen, but I enjoyed seeing it in theaters, and will see it again if invited. (I’m not really the type to organize a get together to see a movie in theaters a second time) I could go on and on about how getting me to possibly see a movie in theaters twice is a fairly huge achievement, given my movie going habits, but the point is made. If that doesn’t convince you, one merely needs to look at the numbers: Over 430 million dollars worldwide so far.

So, why is Iron Man so good, and why is that of particular interest to me?

When Marvel Studios was first founded in 1993, they were in the business of licensing their properties to movie studios, believing that it was easier to hire people accomplished in the movie industry rather than try to build a studio themselves.

Then came “Hulk”. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hulk_%28film%29 provides a fairly good overview of the movie, but all you need to know is that critical reception was lukewarm at best, and it received the infamous title of the largest single opening weekend to a movie that still failed to earn $150 million nationally. I’m not 100% sure of how the story goes, but I’ve heard that in the wake of this film specifically, Marvel decided that their intellectual properties were better off in their own hands than in the hands of another studio. They formed a distribution deal with Paramount, and begin producing their own movies, with the outside consultation of Avi Arad, former Marvel CEO. “Iron Man” is the first film to come out of this arrangement.

Opinions are all over the place, but personally, “Iron Man” is my favorite Marvel movie so far. It would seem that knowing your intellectual properties backwards and forwards is more important than being an accomplished and established studio with previous experience in the industry. Likewise, it seems that if the people who know the property hold on to creative control come hell or high water, it won't necessarily make a better movie, but it will make a movie that delivers better on the expectations of people who go to see it, which is almost the same thing.
It's also worth noting, by the way, that I was a little skeptical about the remake of the Hulk movie set for later this year. The rumors say, however, that Edward Norton was asked to be the original, and turned it down, because he didn't think it was going to be very good.




Quick! Grab the Jet-ski!
Run it into that guy's foot!
Multiplayer sucks.

Shining Force:

No, don't promote yet!
Your stats go down when you do
Now your werewolf sucks

Fallout 2:

Hide in those trees there.
Now stab that guy in the groin!
Then the eyes. Repeat.

The World Ends With You:

I can't wear this hat?
What do you mean I'm not brave?
Guess I'll eat ice cream

Harvest Moon:

Bachelors work late nights
But husbands are home by six
Hope you fed that gnome

Rune Factory:

It's a fantasy farm
But mostly just makes Chris mad
'Cause he keeps dying

Smash Brothers Brawl:

Bowser doesn't suck
Do forward B! Forward B!
No really, that's it.

Dungeon Master:

It kills everything?
I just throw clubs at monsters?
Wow, it really does work.

Knights of the Old Republic:

You are teh failzorz
Because you can't stun a droid
AC gets hard-capped

Quiz and Dragons:

How exactly does
Knowing Shaq's role in “Kazam”
Help me beat this imp?

And here is a little supplimental Haiku, by my good friend the Fridge:

Chrono Trigger:

Though you came through time
To thwart an ancient evil
Please fight this T-Rex

Saga Frontier:

Seven Characters
None of which I care about
Lute has no story!


To play card games well
Mash the X button, unless
You want Bart to scream

I encourage you to leave your own. If the response is favorable enough, I might make it a weekly thing.


A little different

I have more to say about Core Fantasies, and would like to put in a note on my thoughts on "Iron Man", which I saw this weekend, but hat's not for now. First, here's a little something I hammered out in a single sitting today. Very rough, and intended to be solely atmospheric, but thought you might enjoy.

“In an old story, which may or may not be true, we lived, with all the tribes of humanity, at the top of our mountain.”

Auberon's father gestured lazily towards the mountain he had spent his entire life in the shadow of. Even though they were now much farther down into the valley below, the mountain seemed to stay roughly the same size.

“There were four people, two men, and two women, who left that mountain. No one remembers their names. Perhaps they were stripped of them when they left paradise, but of this you can be sure: They were strength, cunning, knowledge, and compassion.” Auberon's father stopped walking for a moment, and reached out to touch a small trickle of water coming down a rock from the waterfall above. “It makes one wonder what the mountain was left with after their departure.” Another pause. “We will camp next to the falls tonight.”

Auberon's father was by no means a small man, but he was already beginning to be dwarfed by his son, even in his adolescence. The waterfall they camped near the base of, however, threatened to swallow them both with just the mist it created. His father hadn't spoken since the cryptic comment about the mountain, choosing instead to communicate his intentions through pointing and vague facial expressions. Auberon had heard the story many times before, but in all his life, his father had never repeated himself unintentionally. “Strength and Cunning were our father and our mother, and it is said that when they stopped to rest, they carved the land to suit their purposes, and from their union sprung the entire tribe.” Auberon knew the entire story up to this point, so he had spent more time standing in awe of the waterfall than really listening. “I am an old man, and-”

The lack of the opening phrase, “And it is said that” snapped Auberon's ears to attention instantly, but his father had paused, leaving Auberon's ears little to pick up other than the roar of the water. “I'm left to wonder sometimes, how long Strength stayed with his children. I hear he traveled over the cleft, and left his mark there as well.” Auberon's father glanced off towards the more densely wooded valley below, and seemed to trace the river from the waterfall to where it disappeared in the jungle surrounding the nearby city. “I sometimes wonder too if Ninevah is as lost as we are; if our valley has seen the departure of Compassion as well as Strength...”