Let’s get something out of the way first, a small matter of $20.
This is the most expensive app I have purchased, and I would be lying if I said it was an easy decision.
Having played the game before on the Nintendo DS made it a slight bit easier to hit that “Buy” button, since I paid $40 for the same game a few years back.
Or so I thought. (Insert dramatic music here)
The World Ends With You – Solo Remix continues Square-Enix’s long-standing traditions of both releasing older games on new devices at a premium price point, and also for having unnecessarily long titles for their games. I like to call the game TWEWY.
In TWEWY, you play as Neku, a young arrogant person who would prefer to be alone with his headphones that has no idea where he is, but is forced to survive a game for 7 days or be “erased”. Ominous, no?
You are joined by Shiki, a girl who seems to know much more than you do about the situation in which you are both stuck. (I am intentionally being vague to avoid spoilers. You deserve to enjoy the story to the fullest)
You discover various pins throughout the game that have various powers both in and out of combat. Most of the game is spent trying to solve mysterious missions and deleting various monstrous inhabitants of the fashion-addicted Shibuya district in Japan.
Now, this isn’t your typical JRPG, it shares more in common with games like Kingdom Hearts with a focus on action-oriented combat and extremely lengthy storytelling.
The story is pretty engrossing, however for the first hour or two of gameplay you will be getting more exposition than you likely would prefer, but then the game opens up quite a bit and allows more frequent combat and exploring, as well as shopping. More on shopping in a moment.
Combat is accomplished by using the various pins you find through the game. Each is activated with a different gesture in combat, for example one pin you simply draw a line with your finger vertically through a monster to have a giant ice column damage it. Another is activated by tapping the enemy to summon lightning. Another simply activates when you tap on it to heal your life. You also have a pin that can be used to summon your partner and do a seriously devastating attack based on how “synchronized” you are with them. Synchronizing comes from alternating attacks. You attack the monster, then have your partner attack, you attack, so on and so forth.
This is where the game diverges from the Nintendo DS version.
In the DS version, you controlled Neku on the bottom screen with the stylus, while Shiki is on the top screen being controlled by the ABXY buttons. You actually had to control both characters at the same time to battle effectively. Obviously this is impossible on the iPad but they substitute shiki activating like a normal pin. Then after you have 100% synchro, you can summon her and play a fast-paced card matching mini-game to increase the damage that will be done to all enemies on-screen.
The end result is the same but the methods are quite different, and you know what? It works.
Want to get your stats higher? Go shopping! Shibuya is the home of fashion and it reflects in the surprisingly deep “trend” system. Pins and clothing all have brands. Some brands are popular in certain zones while others may be less popular. The more popular a brand is, the more effective it will be in combat. The less trendy a brand is, the less effective it will be.
Sounds simple? The game offers amazing depth and variety in combat, equipment and even scratches that “gotta catch ’em all!” itch with pin collecting.
Everything about this game works well for the device, and it feels like it was re-designed to take advantage of the gorgeous screen the iPad has to offer. Colors pop out and the game draws you in with crisp and clear sounds, and incredibly catchy music.
Another new feature is the ability to put in keywords that the game will use to fetch tweets and bring them into your game. This has no effect on gameplay but it does make scanning people’s minds (which you do often) a bit more interesting. You can also add your twitter feed, but it again has no bearing on gameplay as far as I am aware.
Once again we come back to the big question:
Is it worth paying another $20 to play the same game if you played the DS version?
Yes, since really it is hard to qualify TWEWY – Solo Remix as “the same game”. The new additions to the combat system, as well as tweaks to the story make it a blast to play through again. However be prepared to not be able to skip cutscenes.
This is a big risk for Square-Enix, and in my opinion, worth the $20 no matter what. The amount of play and fun you will get out of TWEWY will quickly make the $20 price tag feel like a fair investment. This isn’t a “get three stars on each stage” pick up and play game, this is a full featured video game.
I’ll be honest, I dislike using a score system. It makes me want to rate the game even higher than 5 stars, even with a few flaws, but I still strongly feel this game is a benchmark of quality gaming and will be for a long while to come.