The World Ends With You: Final Remix for Switch
The World Ends With You (TWEWY) is exactly the kind of game I wish I’d played back when it originally released for the DS in 2007. 14-year-old me probably would’ve appreciated it more.
The World Ends With You tells a bracing tale about troubled youths, the complications of the young, malleable mind, and it’s something we can all relate to at some point in our lives. The World Ends With You: Final Remix is a Switch port of the game, and with it comes a few complications that mar an otherwise memorable experience.
Set in modern Tokyo, or Shibuya to be more specific, The World Ends With You: Final Remix puts players in control of a young boy named Neku. He’s your typical sullen teenager; he wears headphones to shut out the world, believing that he doesn’t need friends, and they’re only there to get in his way.
The game’s events kick off when he wakes up in the middle of Shibuya’s iconic crossroads, with no memory of how he got there. Soon, he’s told that he has seven days to play the Reapers’ Game, or face complete erasure.
The stakes are immediately high when you get into the story. From start to finish, TWEWY is a delectable mystery with impeccable pacing that keeps you hooked. The Reapers’ Game is meant for those who have passed away. Beat the game, and you’ll gain a second chance at life. If not, you’ll remain dead.
As soon as the story starts, we’re given a breakdown of the game rules. Every Player has to form a pact with another Player, and this gives them access to Pins that let them use special powers to fight off enemies called the Noise. Right off the bat, the premise already serves as a great foil to Neku’s character. As someone who’s lived his whole life isolated from others, he’s actively forced into working with and trusting his partner if he wants to get out alive.
Without spoiling too much of the story for those who missed out on the original, the seven-day format of the game isn’t at all what it initially appears to be. Over the course of the game, Neku is forced into cooperation with several other characters, and they all play a part in shaping and molding him into someone a bit more likable.
The supporting characters in The World Ends With You: Final Remix are no slouch either. Shiki, for instance, initially comes off as your typical bubbly female character, but further introspection reveals a darker side that she wants to keep hidden from the world. TWEWY is great at addressing the common struggles we’ve all experienced as youths, whether it’s insecurity, jealousy, or just a good old-fashioned problem of trying to figure out how to convey your thoughts to others. At its core, TWEWY tells a very genuine story that resonated with me more than I’d expected, and the game often shocked me with how real it could get.
It certainly helps that the game is so damn stylish, too. The Final Remix features prettier graphics and a remastered soundtrack. The game looks and feels like a cartoonish splash screen of Tokyo street life, and the character animations as you walk from area to area are smooth as hell.
TWEWY’s soundtrack serves as the heart and lifeblood of the game. The light rap and J-Pop elements breathe life into the environments you explore, and it’s a pleasure to watch Neku stop and bop his head along to the music whenever you idle for a bit. Presentation-wise, The World Ends With You: Final Remix completely knocks it out of the park.
Unfortunately, it’s just not a very fun game to play. Full disclosure here: I’ve never played the DS version, but from what I understand, the combat system was designed with a dual screen setup in mind. You’d use the lower screen and the touch controls to move Neku in battle, and the top screen would be reserved for your partner character. The battle system in TWEWY was all about managing both Neku and his partner’s powers, and making use of them at the same time for maximum efficiency.
Because the Switch only has a single screen, the game’s combat system hasn’t exactly transitioned well here. While playing in handheld mode, the Joy-Cons are disabled, and you’re left with only the touchscreen. Moving around Shibuya isn’t so bad, as you’re simply pointing and dragging Neku around. But in battle, things can get very chaotic, and this is where the controls start to feel like a hindrance.
During battle, you can equip a few Pins with different powers. Activating these Pins also require you to perform different swiping motions on the touchscreen. In addition to that, having your partners use their powers also require specific swiping motions. So, you might have a Pin that requires you to drag Neku into an enemy for instance. However, the game might think that you’re actually trying to activate your partner’s power, which also requires you to drag across the screen. Even worse, maybe you weren’t trying to do the drag attack at all; maybe what you actually wanted to do was drag Neku around the screen to avoid enemy attacks, but the game didn’t know that. Oops. Too late, you activated your partner’s power, but now you’re dead. And don’t even get me started on the chaos that is equipping multiple Pins that require the same touchscreen gestures. It’s a mess.
Half the time, it felt like I was just desperately jabbing at my screen, trying to get Neku to do what I actually wanted him to do. You can get away with the desperate swiping maneuver in most enemy encounters, but once you get to the late-game bosses, it becomes more frustrating than anything else. In my experience, the best way to circumvent this was to just try to equip Pins that had distinct gestures, but even that isn’t entirely ideal.
Swipes and gestures aside, the combat system itself has also been simplified for the Switch. Compared to managing both Players with a dual screen setup, combat feels more streamlined with a single screen, which may or may not be a good thing for longtime fans. In a way, the simplicity is welcome because of how much of a hassle it can be to try to use your powers in battle. However, it also diminishes what made TWEWY so charming in the first place.
For example, the golden bat fight with Shiki isn’t as thoughtful as it was on the DS. Whereas you had to move Neku around to keep him out of harm’s way while also getting Shiki to turn on the lights on the top screen, in the Switch version the Player perspective will simply change as time goes on. You don’t get that same intensity you’d experience with managing two characters at once, and it can also ruin the pacing of a few fights at times. In short, the combat system and controls are definitely a mixed bag.
The World Ends With You: Final Remix also comes with a brand new story chapter titled “A New Day.” It’s an extension of the original Reapers’ Game, and also introduces a brand new Reaper character named Coco. It’s about five hours worth of extra playtime, and it certainly helps to flesh out the game’s lore quite a bit. And yet, it also falls disappointingly short when you realize it’s just a way for Square Enix to tee up a potential sequel.
The end of the original story provided players with a good amount of closure, and served as a nice bookend to Neku’s story of personal growth, but A New Day kind of ruins that a little bit. It’s an issue that’s only exacerbated by the fact that the pacing of the new story chapter feels uneven, and the content itself isn’t all that substantial. I’m certainly excited by the prospect of a sequel to The World Ends With You, but I’d have much preferred for A New Day to have a proper story arc of its own. Instead, it just throws in extra scenes and characters to hype up something that doesn’t even exist yet.
From a gameplay perspective, A New Day does feature some of the toughest challenges you’ll find in TWEWY. Most regular encounters in the game have modifiers attached to them, which will force you to rethink which Pins you want to bring into battle. There are modifiers that drain your health continuously as the battle wears on, or cause enemies to split into multiple copies if you don’t kill them fast enough. These challenges are pretty fun, and should serve as a nice time sink for players who found the regular campaign too easy.
The World Ends With You: Final Remix is a solid port overall. Still, unless you’re an absolute diehard fan of the game who has to see the new story content, I have a hard time recommending this to anyone who’s already played it on the DS. And for newcomers, if you can push past the awful touch controls, The World Ends With You provides a gripping tale that will consume you from start to finish.
Score: 3.5/5 – Fair
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