An unbiased, fair review of The World Ends with You. I'll explain ALL pros and cons so you get the full scoop.
The World Ends with You places you in the real life city of Shibuya, one of the 3 districts of Tokyo. Shibuya happens to be the shopping district, which plays a big part in the item system for the game. You play as Neku Sakuraba, a 15 year old with no memories of how he got to Shibuya or even of his past. He receives a text that tells him to go reach the 104 building in an hour. If he fails, he dies and a timer appears on his hand, counting down the minutes and seconds he has left to finish his "mission". He is then suddenly attacked by stylized frogs, called Noise, and he is forced to make a Pact with a girl named Shiki Misaki. The two form an uneasy alliance as they try and survive a week of missions in this Reaper's Game, a week long event that grants the winners life. Spoiler, you're dead. That's not much of a spoiler, but I feel the need to add the comment. Along the way, they meet Beat and Rhyme, other players in the Game who help out Neku and Shiki in various missions. Neku will also meet Joshua, a mysterious boy who seems to have his own hidden agenda and is friends with Sanae Hanekoma, a sort of moderator for the Reaper's Game who helps Neku and Shiki through out the week.
Now, the game is spread through out 3 weeks, Neku partnering up with different characters each week. As you play, you learn more about the Reaper's Game, Neku's past, and some more philosophical themes like self-identity and acceptance of others. At the beginning of the game, Neku is just like any other Square Enix main character, an emo jackass who doesn't care about anyone else. However, through out the game, he evolves into a much more likeable character. The Reapers all have colorful personalities and strange quirks to them, so when they are actually serious, it's a scary affair. I said earlier that fashion plays a role in the game. And a big role it plays. "Armour" in the game is broken down into 14 designer brands of clothing. Regular clothing. Shirts, hats, shorts, bracelets, backpacks, even fake finger nails. Not your typical hero garb. Then again, not much about TWEWY is typical. These 14 brands are actually affected by Trends in the town. If a brand is popular, you get a boost in stats. If it's unpopular, you lose some stats. Luckily, by doing a few battles, you can actually influence the Trends (as I think about it, only 13 of the brands actually affect Trends, as "Unbranded" is a brand for some pins). Speaking of pins, pins are your main weapons in the game. Not swords and spears and magic. Regular pins. I'll get to them more in the combat system. Now, I'll explain the menus and the Player Pin. The menu button is an icon in the corner of the touch screen in the shape of a phone. The phone has 8 options: Pins, Items, Noise Report, Mingle, Friends, Tin Pin, Chapter, and Save. Pins allow you to equip your pins and prep for combat. Items allow you to equip cloths and chow down on food. Noise Report gives you details on any Noise you've encountered including stats and item drop information. Mingle allows you to leech off of other DS wireless systems to help strengthen Pins. Other people with copies of TWEWY can gain access to a shop that allows them to buy cloths and pins you currently have equipped. Friends is the basic Friend's list that most DS games have. Tin Pin allows you to play wirelessly with other people in the Tin Pin mini game. Save should be obvious, and Chapter is obtained after beating the game. Chapter allows you to visit any day of any week. Kinda like New Game +, only you pick where you start. You also have the options to increase the difficult of battles, select how quickly the computer takes over your top screen character in combat (more on that later) and allows you to alter your level to increase your item drops in combat, but lowers your HP.
Alright. Now to the Player Pin. In the bottom of the DS screen there is a pin symbol. By tapping the symbol, you can enter a kind of alternate plain. In this plain, you can find Noise and you can read people's thoughts. Via the story line, you can also imprint something called a Meme into a person, but you can only do this at certain points in the game, so it's not a big deal. Now. Noise. After tapping the Player Pin, Noise will start to appear. You can select which Noise you want to fight and they come in a bunch of different sizes and colors. The smaller the symbol, the weaker the Noise. Noise are divided into 5 colors: Red (the most common), Yellow (story related), Blue (optional Boss fights), Green (Pig Noise that drop rare pins and items) and Black (taboo). Now, normally Noise just float around, waiting for you to tap on them to engage in combat. Taboo Noise will seek you and try to engage in combat. You can select multiple Noise to fight and you'll fight them in succession on the same HP bar. This will land you more items and Pins and EXP, but can be a lot more difficult. Alright. How do you fight Noise? Well, after tapping them, they wonder over to you and you engage in combat. Combat is broken up between the top screen and bottom screen. On the bottom screen will be Neku, who you manually control. On the top screen will be your partner. You control both characters at the same time. However, the computer will take over your partner if you stand idle for too long with them. Your partner is controlled by the D-Pad (face buttons if you're left handed) and you navigate combo trees to launch attacks. Your partner can also gain Fusion Stars through various methods, and once you gain enough, you can launch a powerful special attack. Now, the bottom screen has Neku. You can move around in a big space and use various touch screen commands to use your Pins. Each pin is activated through different methods such as slashing the enemy, tapping empty space, drawing a circle, and even blowing (or screaming) into the microphone. This allows you to create unique fighting style to your liking. And, since there are 304 Pins in the game with the ability to equip 6 Pins at a time, you have a lot of options. There is also something called the Light Puck. This is passed between Neku and the Partner as you land combos on the enemies and with each successful pass, it gains power. The power adds an additional multiplier onto your combos and reaches up to x5.0 damage. Nice little boost there. Neku and the Partner share the same HP bar. The Noise do too, but that's not as noticeable. Bosses exist on both screens and have a double HP bar. Fighting also allows you to digest food, which you eat to gain additional stats.
The last feature is the mini game, Tin Pin Slammer. Think...Bayblade, only with Pins instead of tops. Using the touch screen you flick the pins into eachother and you can use abilities to help turn the tide in your favor. The game is hard to get used to, but luckily there is only 1 actual game of Tin Pin you have to win. Otherwise it's totally optional. Now then, the Pros. The game has a really deep storyline and fantastic character development. The story is enhanced by Secret Reports you get by completing specific tasks in each Day. The Mythos is really deep as well. Once you get the hang of the combat system it's a lot of fun and can keep you going. There is a lot of replayability as well. The game also has a really catchy soundtrack made of Hip-Hop and J-Pop. Nearly all of the songs have lyrics too, so it's not just repetitive instrumentation. The fact that the game is set in the real life city of Shibuya helps with the overall feel of the game, adding a lot of style. The game also portrays Japanese youth in their "natural habitat" so to speak. Now the Cons. For those who aren't very well versed in the ways of DS features, the combat system can be really punishing. There is a lot of time for you to get used to the combat system prior to getting the actual HP bar, but it may not be enough for some players. Also, a lot of people just don't get the whole culture aspect of the game. After a lot of reviews that I've read, that was a big problem for them. There is a lot that just goes over the average American player's head. Tin Pin Slammer can also turn off a lot of people, but since it's not a big part of the game, it's not that big of a problem. There is also only 1 save file.
All in all, The World Ends with You is something you need to try. No review can accurately tell you how the game is. It's just something you need to try. Despite my deep and profound love for the game, I'd honestly suggest renting this or borrowing it from a friend first, since the game is also hard to track down (though it's only $20 at the moment at local Gamestops). But, it is a fantastic experience and a welcome change to the JRPG formula that has become so warn (especially by Square Enix). Pick it up, try it out, and enjoy The Reaper's Game.
And yes. I've spent about 100 hours on this game. It is that addicting.