Square Enix have shown quite a lot of interest in the DS recently, so when I heard that the makers of Kingdom Hearts were making a game for the DS, I couldn't help but check it out. That game is Subarashiki Kono Sekai: Its a Wonderful World, a fast-paced action RPG set in the trendy Shibuya District in Japan.
--- GAMEPLAY ---
To date, there hasn't been a more exciting battle system on the DS. The whole game revolves around the touch screen, which in turn makes the batle system shine. You'll be playing as two characters for most of the game - Neku and Shiki, both of which have been forced to play a mysterious game, which would threaten their existence if they do not complete it within a 7 day time limit. The "game" involves battling enemies known as Noise. By tapping into random people's minds, Neku can see the Noise hovering around. You can use the touch screen to select any Noise you want, doing so will take you to another screen for fighting. You can also select more than one Noise on the screen at once to chain them. This will increase the drop rate of items, but you'll have to take on up to 4 battles in a row with no time to recover.
The battle system is very interesting and certainly stands out as being one of the best on the DS to date. The battles are controlled almost entirely via the touch screen and the D-Pad, but later other functions are introduced (such as blowing into the microphone).
Neku will fight on the bottom screen, while Shiki will fight on the top screen. Both of you will be fighting the same enemies, so if Shiki defeats an enemy, the enemy will vanish on Neku's screen too. You'll take on the challenging job of controlling both characters at the same time. While Shiki doesn't move around the screen, you'll have to input button combinations for her to attack. The enemies will move from one side of the screen to the other so you'll have to keep an eye out with what side they're on.
Neku on the other hand can move anywhere on the screen using the touch screen. By equipping badges found in the game, you can fully customize what attacks Neku has. Each badge has a different effect or purpose, for example, there is a badge that summons flames wherever you touch. Badges run out of energy eventually and need to "reboot", so you'll have to make sure you don't run out of attacks, because Neku will be left wide open to enemy attacks while you wait for the badges to recharge. There are so many different touch screen commands for the badges. One attack might be triggered by doing a swiping action on the touch screen, while another may involve you tapping the screen repeatedly to fire at an enemy from long range. Once an enemy is defeated you will get experience. After getting enough experience from defeating Noise, Neku and Shiki will level up and become stronger.
Once all of the Noise have been erased the battle will end. You will be given a rank depending on how well you performed. You will also get something called BP. BP acts as experience for badges. Eventually badges will level up and perhaps even evolve into a new badge if special conditions are met. Once a badge has reached it's max level it is "mastered".
What I like most about the game though is how flexible you can be with the character customization. If the game's too easy for you, put your character all the way back to Level 1. There are also 4 modes of difficulty to choose from.
Considering the game is set in Shibuya, a lot of the game revolves around shopping and fashion. There are loads of shops you'll find as you play the game, each selling different clothes, food etc. Clothing will affect your attack, defense or HP. Clothing can also have an ability that will benefit you in certain ways. There are also special "quest" items in the shops that can be obtained by collecting specifed items. With loads of clothes to choose from, the game just adds to the customization of each character.
Also, be warned - the game is text heavy. There'a a lot of talking in the game.
--- GRAPHICS ---
The presentation of this game is stunning. It doesn't matter if the graphics are 2D, because the game is full of life. Even though there's so much going on during battles, the game never suffers from frame rate issues. Even when you're out of battle and exploring Shibuya, there are literally hundreds of people walking about. Even then, the game doesn't have any problems with frame rate.
--- SOUND ---
It's interesting to see that the game has a full soundtrack, mostly with vocals. There's also a bit of voice acting here and there.
I can't really complain about the sounds either, it just seems like they've put so much effort into it.
--- VALUE ---
One problem with the game is that it's quite short. You could probably complete it in a few days if you tried hard enough. You can always go through the game again on a harder difficulty, but it might not have a replay value for some gamers.
Either way, there's a lot to do. Loads of badges and clothes to collect, so it could keep you busy for a while.
Overall, it's great to see a game like this on the DS. The game has a style of it's own, which really shows as you play through it. Perhaps it will be released overseas, but if not I strongly recommend you import it. It's one of the best DS games out so far. I'm going to give it a 9.0.
- Fantastic battle system
- Makes full use of the touch screen
- A lot of effort has been put into presentation and sound.
- Quite short
- Some bosses are too easy