Earlier installments:
· The World Ends With You
Last seen in: 2008
Publisher: Square Enix


The World Ends With You

While The World Ends With You wasnít on RPGamerís Top RPGs of the Decade list, it ended up on my own list of the games that didnít make it. TWEWY had players controlling Neku, a boy who finds himself mysteriously dead and given the opportunity to earn back his life or be erased from existence. Each game chapter switched up Nekuís partner, allowing for more character and plot development. The story was accompanied by a fantastic score that fit well with the gameís Shibuya, Japan setting.

While the story and music were great, it was the battle system of TWEWY that really drew me in. Battle abilities were bestowed by pins, which could also be leveled up and evolved. Where the pin system really shined was in battle. Instead of simply selecting an ability, each pin had to be activated by a specific user action. These actions varied from tapping or sliding the stylus on the screen to drawing circles or blowing in the microphone. Where some games used the DSís capabilities as gimmicks, TWEWY managed to integrate the unique abilities that the system offered into the game in a way that felt both natural and fun.

There havenít been many RPGs on the DS lately that have deviated significantly from the traditional RPG. TWEWY offered players an engaging story, great music, and a satisfying (if not sometimes frenetic) battle system. On top of those core elements, players were given a number of collections to discover that included pins, equipment, a bestiary, and more. The unique and fun experience that TWEWY provided is something that more games should exhibit &mdash and is something that Iíd love to see again. &mdash Ken Staples

Even with the incredible library of good RPGs on the DS, The World Ends With You stands alone as the most innovative and brilliant game on the system. Almost every aspect of the game is completely different from anything that came before, and almost every other game looks primitive and awkward in comparison. It can be hard to go back to games with tedious forced battles, randomly dropped rare loot, and generic equipment that provides simple numerical bonuses after experiencing the way The World Ends With You approached these concepts. It gives the player the ability to freely choose the risks of battle, and balances out the rewards to match. It provides fun abilities in the form of pins, and interesting equipment options that can completely change the tactics of the game. Most of all, the game's unique two-screen battle system that integrates every form of input available to the DS is simply a lot of fun.

As much as it stood out with its unique gameplay, The World Ends With You had a story to match. The game is set in the real world city of Shibuya, but at the same time the developers created a complex and interesting cosmology filled with psychic powers and enigmatic beings, where everyday things like fashion and human emotions are given special power and a central role. And while this setting is a bit fantastic, the way it places humans at the center of everything helps greatly with the game's story, which draws its strength from the very personal and human struggles of its main characters. The game's distinct visual style and fantastic music also help it a lot.

While The World Ends With You may be a standalone game right now, I can't think of any other game that deserves a sequel as much as it does. While its own story may be complete, the imaginative version of our world it created has a lot more room for new stories and games. And as much as the gameplay elements in The World Ends With You are fun and innovative, they could still be further improved upon. A sequel could very well be better than the original if some of the first game's many minor issues are fixed and further innovations are added. &mdash Nathan Schlothan

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