What is it?
The World Ends With You (TWEWY) is an action JRPG by Square Enix, first released on the Nintendo DS in 2007. It is made by the Kingdom Hearts team and Jupiter, a third party team that focuses on developing games for handheld consoles. What makes TWEWY so different from Square Enix’s other JRPG offerings is that it is set in a contemporary setting – modern day Shibuya.
The protagonist of the game is Neku Sakuraba, an anti-social teenager who has died. He is brought to the Underground and offer a second chance at life by participating in the Reapers’ Game. The game is controlled by Reapers, which includes the Composer and the Conductor. The Composer maintains the Underground while the Conductor controls the Game. Participants have to pay their most treasured possession to enter the game and for Neku, it’s his memories. The Game lasts one week and a victor is chosen at the end. The participants have to overcome obstacles every day, having to figure what they have to do is part of the challenge too. Neku participates for three rounds teaming with a different partner each them. The first is Shiki Misaki, a teenage girl trapped in the body of her best friend, Joshua, a mysterious and intelligent boy and lastly, Beat, a former Reaper trying to save his younger sister’s life.
Neku’s story is great. He starts off as a depressed loner who wears his headphones to block off the world around him, but as the story progresses, he opens up and befriends his partners. Most noticeable of which is Shiki, who becomes his entry cost for the second game. At the end of the game, his realizes that some of the burden he carries aren’t really his to carry and that the world was really wonderful after all. Note: the Japanese name of the game was Subarashiki kono Sekai which translates to This is a Wonderful World.
The game’s equipment system is very unique. The player collects equipable Pins around the world and each Pin allows them to use certain powers or upgrade their stats. However, the Pins have brands, and each day, the popularity of brands changes and affect the power of the Pins. This also applies to the clothes the player wears. So players will have to keep track of the trends in Shibuya. The battle system is similarly distinctive. It utilizes the dual screen feature of the Nintendo DS where each screen represents the Realground (our world) and the Underground. Neku’s partner battles in the top screen while Neku himself fights in the bottom. Enemies have to be eliminated in both screens to win. They also possess a puck which is passed between the characters during the battle. The character with the puck is stronger than usual and if the player can avoid being hit while the character has the puck, the sync ratio builds up and allows the characters to use a fusion attack.
One of the highlights of the game for me is the setting. It is set in modern day Shibuya and landmarks like the Shibuya Crossing, the 109 Building (called 104 in the game) and the Hachiko Statue are in the game. Other real locations are also in the game, like Starbucks (known as Outback Café in the game), to make the game world match the real world as much as possible.
The soundtrack of the game was also one of the highlights of the game. It’s composed by Takeharu Ishimoto (Crisis Core, Birth by Sleep) and features a hip-hop/electronica style which fits the setting of the game. With Neku wearing headphones all the time, it was easy to imagine him listening to the music while he running around Shibuya looking for clues to do the next task.
What I want to see in a Sequel
To be honest, I don’t have a clue what I would want to see in the sequel. Do I want another game with the Reapers’ Game or do I want something different? Like how each Persona game is different but shared some similarities. One thing I would definitely want to see make a comeback is the Pin system. The fashion trends affecting gameplay was one of the unique parts of the game that I don’t think has been replicated.
The teaser in the iOS version of the game shows an unknown headphone wearing girl carrying Shiki’s stuffed animal and standing in front of the 104 building which says “New 7 Days” with a Reaper logo on it. So that means it could be the Reapers’ Game again in Shibuya. But I hope they visit another location, like Akihabara or Ikebukuro, both of which has tons of landmarks to put in a potential sequel. Akihabara would make more sense if we take trends into consideration.
And I definitely want another soundtrack of similar caliber. This is a MUST.
It’s been four years since the iOS port was released and the teaser for the sequel that came along with said port. 4 YEARS. It’s probably, maybe, not going to happen. Probably.
That said, the developers themselves seems to want it. Or at least Tetsuya Nomura does. And he’s well… he’s rather busy with Final Fantasy VII Remake, Kingdom Hearts 2.8 and Kingdom Hearts 3 at the moment. Same goes for the most of the team that made this game. The directors of the game are also attached to other projects. (Kando’s working on Kingdom Hearts Unchained, Hasegawa is on FFXV and Hosokawa is no longer a Square Enix staff).
Takeshi Arakawa, one of the lead designers, is no longer working for Square Enix too. Hiroyuki Ito, the other lead designer, has been suspiciously quiet for a while though. He traditionally directs the third factorial Final Fantasy Games (6, 9 and 12) but he’s absent from 15. It could be that he’s working on what was supposed to be 15 and since it’s been replaced by Versus XIII, the game he’s working on is now 16. Totally possible. (Agni’s Philosophy please!) Though word on the streets (NeoGAF) is that Square Enix hasn’t been working on a Final Fantasy XVI. Either way, it’s conceivable that he could be working on a TWEWY sequel.There’s not much else I can say about the feasibility of a sequel, but I can say for certain there’s definitely a fan base in the West. It’s kinda like Bravely Default in that regard. And it’s a pretty dedicated fan base too. People were looking up trademarks two years ago and speculating whether Life is Strange is a possible TWEWY sequel. I mean, the name does kind of fit.
In any case, I hope Square Enix do work on a TWEWY sequel soon. Though they do seem to have their hands full recently. Even the B teams are working on projects like I Am Setsuna and Project Octopath Traveler. I sincerely hope they return to TWEWY someday. I feel that there’s a potential in that series to rival something like Persona.