The World Ends with You was one of my favorite games for the Nintendo DS. Its mix of JRPG gameplay mechanics, clever use of the DS' dual screens and its heavily stylized Japanese culture-inspired world struck a cord with me, and to this day it remains one of my favorite games in the genre.
Ever since its release back in 2008, fans have been pining for a sequel. So, when people heard Square Enix was releasing a new TWEWY game for iOS, they naturally got excited. As it turns out, the game wasn't a sequel; instead, it turned out the game would be a remake of sorts, named Solo Remix. Calling Solo Remix a remake is perhaps an overstatement; it's more of an enhanced version of the original game, with HD graphics and slightly altered game mechanics.
Being a huge fan of the game, I had to check it out. I'd been looking for a good RPG for my iPhone for quite some time, so I decided to give it a go. Aaand...yeah, it's pretty much the exact same game. But is it any good?
In The World Ends with You, players take control of Neku Sakuraba, a mopey misanthropic teenager, who one day passes out in the street and wakes up with no recollection of his past, his identity or, really, anything other than his name. As it turns out, Neku has been chosen as a participant in the Reapers' Game, a Battle Royale-esque game of life and death. Here, the players are forced to dispatch Noise (read: weird Pokémon-looking creatures), complete missions and rack up points over the course of seven days. If the players fail a mission, they face erasure at the hands of the malevolent game masters, the Reapers.
The game takes place in a fictionalized, alternate reality version of the Shibuya shopping district in Tokyo, where Neku meets Shiki Misaki, a chirpy, happy-go-lucky girl, who he's then forced to team up with to survive the game. Shiki is sensitive, caring and hyperactive -- the exact antithesis to Neku's anti-social emo brooding. Their relationship is what makes up the bulk of the story and it's a very emotional affair.
Gameplay-wise, The World Ends with You was unlike anything I'd played before. In the original game, you took control of both Neku and Shiki at the same time during combat, across both of the DS' screens. At the lower screen you'd control Neku, using the stylus, while at the upper screen you'd control Shiki with the d-pad. The iPhone, however, only has one screen, so this gameplay mechanic wouldn't really translate that well. So, the way the developers chose to solve this is with you just controlling Neku, while you can summon Shiki into combat, by tapping the enemy you want to attack. And thus, we get the title Solo Remix.
I'm not gonna go into too much detail on the game, as you've probably already played the game, or at least heard about it, if you're interested in this remake. Instead, I'm gonna go over a few of the changes that's been made to the game. As I mentioned earlier, the dual-screen combat has been removed. Other than that...there's not really that much new here, to be honest. You got some high def graphics (which, admittedly, look absolutely stunning on the iPhone's retina display), a couple of new tunes added to the soundtrack, and a pretty superflous Twitter integration, that's barely worth mentioning. Really, if you've played TWEWY before, there's not that much to see here that you haven't seen before. And to add insult to injury, the game comes at a ridiculous price, at almost $18 (17.99, to be specific, but really, it's 18 bucks, let's be honest).
So far, I've been pretty negative towards the game, but that doesn't mean it's a bad game. Actually, it's a fantastic game. It's just I've seen it all before, and so have you, if you played the original. Still, the remake isn't completely without merit. If you for some reason haven't played The World Ends with You before, and you own an iPhone 4 or 4S, I'd definitely recommend you pick the game up. If you like JRPGs, Japanese culture and/or Tetsuya Nomura, this game is for you. For everyone else, I'd say skip it and play something new, that you haven't played before.