5/27/2008

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having the events of the story fundamentally alter the way the world works, so that your knowledge of the premise is no longer valid.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”.

3 comments:

Sestren said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alison T-dove said...

I had to stop reading on the second paragraph and ask: Does he really say, "Oh, Snap!"??

William said...

Yes. That's an EXACT quote.