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The World Ends with You, known in Japan as It's a Wonderful World (すばらしきこのせかい, Subarashiki Kono Sekai), is an action RPG for the Nintendo DS handheld video game console. It was developed by the Kingdom Hearts team, Square Enix, and Jupiter. Character designs are by Tetsuya Nomura and Gen Kobayashi. The distinctive art style is inspired by the aesthetics of Shibuya youth culture.
Most of the gameplay focuses on finding clues and battling Noise. Players can use Neku's mindreading abilities to hear people's thoughts by using the touch screen of the Nintendo DS. The game's combat system, called the "Stride Cross Battle System", uses both screens of the Nintendo DS. Neku has one of three partners, different in each chapter of the game. The player can freely choose which partner to use once clearing the game. The partner is displayed on the top screen, while Neku is displayed on the bottom. Battle actions take place simultaneously between both characters. The touch screen is used to move and attack with Neku, whose abilities depend on the pins equipped. On the top screen, movement can be controlled with the D-pad, which is also tapped for specific techniques.
The game is divided into three chapters, "Shiki Chapter" (シキ編, Shiki-hen), "Joshua Chapter" (ヨシュア編, Yoshua-hen), and "Beat Chapter" (ビイト編, Biito-hen). An extra story, "Another Day — It's a Wonderful Day" (アナザーデイ ― すばらしきこの１日。, Anazā Dei ― Subarashiki Kono Ichinichi), is accessible after clearing the main game and fulfilling every day's reports. A pin collection system allows players to use new abilities by collecting pins scattered throughout Shibuya, obtainable either through defeating Noise or purchasing them in stores. Different pins allow Neku to use a variety of abilities. Players can buy clothing and food for Neku and his partners in the stores located all across Shibuya, to increase their Brave points, offense and defense points, or synchronization percentage.
HP between Neku and his partner is shared, and when Neku and his partner lose all their HP during battle, the game is over. The player is taken to a selection screen to choose an action: retry the battle, retry the battle on Easy Mode, flee from battle (unavailable for key boss battles and when black Noise symbols are chosen for battle), or return to the title screen.
Players can also play a mini-game named Tin Pin Slammer, a game similar to the Western marble game ringer or similar to the battles in beyblade. This is played by dragging and clashing pins to knock off the opponent's pin off of the arena. Each pin a has different weight and special attacks.
Neku Sakuraba, a 15 year-old boy with a hobby for music and graffiti, wakes up in what seems to be the Shibuya shopping district of Tokyo, Japan. With no idea why he's there, he opens his hand to realize he is holding a strange black pin. After flipping it with his hand, the thoughts of the people surrounding him began to flow into his head at once. Surprised, Neku discovers he is able to read the minds of others, and assumes it has something to do with the black pin he is holding.
A cellphone starts to ring in his pocket, and he can't tell whether it is his or not. A text message appears: "Reach 104. You have 60 minutes. Fail, and face erasure. -The Reapers". After discovering he can't delete the message, a timer of 60 minutes imprints onto his right hand. Neku is in Shibuya to play the "Reapers' Game" (死神のゲーム, Shinigami no Gēmu, which spans a total of 7 days. All Players of the Reapers' Game have a black pin with a skull embedded on it. The Reapers' Game has certain rules, which prevent him from leaving the Shibuya district. If Neku doesn't complete the game, he will be stricken from existence along with Shiki Misaki, a girl who is another Player in the game. Shiki and Neku forge a pact to work together with her for the week.
The Reapers monitor the duo's actions and invite them to dangerous and difficult tasks. In order to survive, Neku and Shiki have to defeat the "Noise", physical manifestations of people's negative thoughts and feelings. The Noise are based on animals such as pigeons, wolves, and bears and can also take the forms of objects and historical monuments in Shibuya. Neku's psychic talents are essential not only to gather clues and hints from the people, but to also detect the Noise that sweep through the roads of Shibuya. During their week in Shibuya, Neku and Shiki run into other people who have become involved in the Reapers' Game.
- Neku Sakuraba (桜庭音操, Sakuraba Neku)
- Neku is a detached and apathetic boy who is forced to play the game. He is distrustful of others and does not want to risk himself for other people's sake. His hobbies include listening to music and creating stylized graffiti. When first introduced, Neku hated his world to the degree of wishing to be the only person in it. When Neku wakes up in Shibuya, he realizes that he has amnesia and is unable to remember how or why he's there. He slowly regains his memory through each passing day.
His talent of tapping into people's minds to gather clues is essential to complete his ordeal in the game. He is able to dish out attacks by using a series of pins, which can be leveled up by acquiring pin points (BP for "badge points" in the Japanese version), shutdown points (SP), and access points (AP). He is voiced by Kōki Uchiyama in the Japanese version and Jesse David Corti in the English version.
- Shiki Misaki (美咲四季, Misaki Shiki)
- Shiki is a stylish girl who makes a contract with Neku. She is outspoken and can easily befriend others. She has an avid interest in the latest fashions, and had a dream to become fashion designer. Shiki keeps a photo of her best friend, Eri, and herself on her cellphone and looks at it frequently.
Her fighting style involves magic attacks; her actions in battle are executed by a stuffed toy cat named Nyan-tan (Mr. Mew in the English Version) that she carries with her everywhere. Like Neku, Shiki can use psychs, which she uses to control Nyan-tan during battle. She is voiced by Anna Hachimine in the Japanese version and Heather Hogan in the English version.
- Yoshiya Kiryū (桐生義弥, Kiryū Yoshiya)
- Yoshiya is a mysterious and self-confident boy who acts quite friendly with Neku even at their first meeting. Instead of his given name, he prefers to call himself Joshua, (ヨシュア, Yoshua) which according to him, was the nickname given to him by his parents. Clever and a fast thinker, he has suspicious motives.
He knows a lot more about the Reapers' Game than he lets on. In battle, he uses arrow combinations much like Shiki, but instead he uses a cell phone to type out number combinations that let him attack the Noise. He is voiced by Ryohei Kimura in the Japanese version and Aaron Spann in the English version.
- Daisukenojō Bitō (尾藤大輔之丞, Bitō Daisukenojō)
- Daisukenojō is a muscular and aggressive boy who wears contemporary street clothes and acts overprotective around his younger sister Rhyme. He is nicknamed Beat (ビイト, Biito). He is hot-headed and stubborn and his reasons for coming to Shibuya are a mystery. Fighting as Beat entails a similar technique to Shiki and Joshua – but, this time around, one must match up card combinations to defeat enemies. He is voiced by Subaru Kimura in the Japanese version and Crawford Wilson in the English version.
- Raimu Bitō (尾藤来夢, Bitō Raimu)
- Raimu is a young and optimistic girl who never leaves her older brother Beat's side and acts as the voice of reason to counter him. Her nickname is Rhyme (ライム, Raimu). She is a very bright and cheery person, and is an all-out earnest girl. Neku mistakes her for a boy at first because of her androgynous appearance.
She is not a playable character but can appear in battle in the form of a summoning pin for Neku. She is voiced by Hitomi Nabatame.
The antagonists of the game, the Reapers (Shinigami) are the Gamemasters of the Reapers' Game. Their insignia is a stylized skull and crossbones.
- Uzuki Yashiro (八代卯月, Yashiro Uzuki)
- Yashiro is a mauve-haired, seductive young woman who is the first of the Reapers that Neku encounters. While she acts high and mighty before Neku, she is in fact quite a low-ranked member of the organization and has only been in it for two years. She often loses Koki Kariya's little games and ends up paying for his ramen. In battle she utilizes a gun with a strange appearance. She is voiced by Hitomi Arai.
- Kōki Kariya (狩谷拘輝, Kariya Kōki)
- Kariya is an orange-haired, bespectacled young man, always holding a lollipop and wearing a skeleton-themed outfit. He is quite cocky, and more powerful than he lets on. He declined several promotions so that he could stay with his partner, Uzuki, and since he enjoys the action that the city provides. He often reminds Uzuki of rational things to do at times. He is often seen hanging around with Uzuki Yashiro. He is voiced by Anri Katsu.
- Yōdai Higashizawa (東沢洋大, Higashizawa Yōdai)
- Higashizawa is a dreadlocked giant with one glowing yellow eye, and the Gamemaster during Shiki Chapter. He takes great pride in his overwhelming strength and ability to split the ground in two. He has a soft side among the group, as he gets very emotional very quickly. His Noise form is a giant, winged bull. He is voiced by Kenji Takahashi.
- Mitsuki Konishi (虚西充妃, Konishi Mitsuki)
- A trendy beauty with glasses and the Gamemaster during Beat Chapter. She is one of the highest-ranking members, and orders the others around. She usually speaks in a formal and polite manner, even with lower-ranking members. Her Noise form is a winged tigress. She is voiced by Hitomi Nabatame in the Japanese version and Lara Cody in the English version.
- Shō Minamimoto (南師猩, Minamimoto Shō)
- He has dark skin, yellow eyes, violet-ash hair, and dresses in black trendy clothing with a red bandanna underneath his cap. He is the Gamemaster in Joshua Chapter. He is very intelligent with an obsession for mathematics, but has an even more violent, cruel and heartless side to him. He is one of the highest ranking members, as well as the most successful, but at times acts as a messenger, despite his ambition to one day become the Composer of the Game. In battle, he uses various dark-energy techniques as well as various math tricks. His Noise form is a bipedal lion. He is voiced by Takayuki Fujimoto.
- Megumi Kitaniji (北虹寵, Kitaniji Megumi)
- Megumi is the Conductor of the Reapers' Game. He carries out the will of the game's Composer and determines the winner of each game. He has black hair and a goatee, and always seems to be wearing sunglasses so his eyes aren't revealed. He wears a pair of red headphones like Neku's around his neck, and dresses in an 80's fashioned, dark snake skin-suit. With a constant smile on his face, he always looks somewhat cheery and playful. Megumi has 30 days to defeat the Game's Chosen One and 'save' Shibuya. In battle, he utilizes Noise-type attacks which resemble snakes. His Noise forms are a winged snake and a multi-headed winged dragon.
- Sanae Hanekoma (羽狛早苗, Hanekoma Sanae)
- Hanekoma is a self-described 'dandy café owner' of the Wild Cat Cafe. He is a valuable ally to Neku and his friends, usually giving them helpful advice and saving them from foul play. He is also on good terms with Joshua. He is voiced by Kanji Furutachi.
- Eiji Ōji (王子英二, Ōji Eiji)
- Ōji is a very popular fashion leader, who gives advice to Neku and his friends, like Hanekoma. Shiki admires and idolizes him.
The Japanese title, It's a Wonderful World, was not used internationally due to copyright issues. Instead, the game will be released in North America and Europe under the name The World Ends with You.
The music in the game is composed and produced by Takeharu Ishimoto. It includes a large variety of music with an influence of hip hop and techno. The main theme of the game is "Lullaby For You" by Japanese pop artist, Jyongri. Various vocal artists featured in the game include:
- Makiko Noda
- Ayuko Tanaka
- Mai Matsuda
- Cameron Strother
- Andy Kinlay
- Nurlie Nurly
- Londeil "Taz" Hicks
Versions and merchandise
The World Ends with You was adapted into a two-chapter one-shot manga by Shiro Amano. The manga ran in two issues of Monthly Shōnen Gangan. In North America, the manga is currently being released online via the Square Enix Members website.
- 1Up = A-
- GI = 8.25/10
- GamePro = 9/10
- IGN = 9/10
- NP = 9.0/10
- Thunderbolt = 9/10
- Edge = 8/10
- EGM = A-, A-, B
- Fam = 35/40
Overall, The World Ends With You has been well received among videogame critics. Many critics note the departure from other popular titles such as Square Enix's Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts series. Thunderbolt gave the game a rating of 9 out of 10, citing its refreshingly original story, integration of urban culture and spiritual myth, and intuitive, fast-paced combat via the touch screen; while bringing up its conceptual departure from more traditional Square Enix series like Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts. GamePro also awarded the game a 9 out of 10. Game Informer gave the game an 8.25 out of 10 along with the Handheld Game of the Month award for May 2008. IGN has given the game three different reviews, each from a different regional branch (UK, US, and AUS), and scores of 8.9, 9.0, and 9.1 out of 10 respectively. All three have awarded the game Editor's Choice Award.
- ↑ Riley, Adam (2007-12-05). Nintendo DS News. Cubed3. Retrieved on 2007-12-05.
- ↑ Geddes, Ryan (2007-12-17). 'World Ends With You' Confirmed For U.S.. IGN. Retrieved on 2007-12-17.
- ↑ Vuckovic, Ryan (2008-02-22). The World Ends with You heading to Australia in Autumn. Vooks. Retrieved on 2008-02-27.
- ↑ It's a Wonderful World Translation Guide. Gamebrink.. “…Neku Sakuraba wakes up in the bustling streets of Shibuya and finds himself part of the “Death God Game”…”
- ↑ Rogers, Tim (2007-05-31). This Week in Japan. Next Generation. Retrieved on 2007-06-20. “…a Square-Enix representative at the Square-Enix Party event a few weeks back specifically told us not to officially refer to the game as ‘It's a Wonderful World’, as that name is already copyrighted and will not be used in America…”
- ↑ 2007's Famitsu Scores Archive. Famitsu Scores Archive. Retrieved on March 31, 2008.
- ↑ Justin Boot (2008-03-27). The World Ends With You - DS Review at Thunderbolt Games. Thunderbolt. Retrieved on March 31, 2008.
- Player-maintained wiki (gameplay, item lists, etc.)
- Official Japanese Website
- Official North American Website
- Official European Website
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