The World Ends With You: Final Remix Review – Knockin’ on Shibuya’s Door

The Switch version of Square’s classic is a solid remake of a classic game that deserved better.

Posted By | On 24th, Oct. 2018 Under Article, Reviews | Follow This Author @will_borger


In the decade since its release, The World Ends With You has become something a cult classic. It’s a unique game, mixing some of Tetsuya Nomura’s best (read: most restrained) character designs, an incredible soundtrack, a great sense of humor, likeable characters, and a great story with a unique control scheme and combat system that was only possible on the Nintendo DS.

Much of what made the original game work is still here: the art is beautiful; the music, both the remixed and original soundtrack, is wonderful; the characters are still endearing; the humor is charming and funny; the story is engaging. In many ways, it’s very similar to the original DS release. But it isn’t really the same game.

The World Ends With You Final Remix

"What drew me into The World Ends With You was its characters. They’re all fun, interesting people with desires, hopes, fears, and damage, and I genuinely enjoyed spending time with them."

The World Ends With You is set in Tokyo’s Shibuya district, a part of Japan known for its fashion, culture, and shopping. The story follows Neku Sakuraba, a spiky-haired, misanthropic teenager who generally doesn’t like other people and thinks he’s better off on his own. Unfortunately for Neku, he’s stuck in the UG version of Shibuya. See, the world of The World Ends With You is split into two parts: the RG (Real Ground) and the UG (Underground). The RG is basically the world we exist in: it’s a real, tangible place with stuff you can interact with. The UG operates on a different plane of existence and is run by the Reapers. The Reapers pull unwilling participants from the RG, strip them of what they value most as an “entry fee,” and force them to play a week-long game in which they must complete different “missions” within a set time or be permanently erased from existence.

Neku isn’t happy to be in Shibuya in the first place, but he’s really unhappy to find himself in possession of a pin that allows him to read minds and even more upset when he’s attacked by monsters known as Noise. He’s saved at the last moment by a girl named Shiki. The Reapers’ Game requires Players to partner up to survive, so Neku and Shiki form an uneasy alliance. They spend a week together, learning more about the Game, the UG, and each other, before, well… I don’t want to spoil too much for those who haven’t played the game. Suffice it to say, this is not going to go the way you think.

What drew me into The World Ends With You was its characters. They’re all fun, interesting people with desires, hopes, fears, and damage, and I genuinely enjoyed spending time with them. Even Neku, who initially comes off as a joyless jerk, has redeeming qualities, and the characters around him make him change. It’s the little moments – the acts of kindness and understanding between characters, the jokes, the quick dialogue exchanges – that make the game’s characters work as well as they do and provide a large part of the game’s appeal. I could hang out with The World Ends With You’s cast for a long time.the world ends with you final remix

"Final Remix features both the original soundtrack and the remixed tunes, and you can switch between them at any time. TWEWY’s soundtrack is diverse, featuring a mix of hip-hop and electronica, some vocalized, some not, and the entire soundtrack is wonderful, no matter which version you decide to run with."

Then there’s the music. Final Remix features both the original soundtrack and the remixed tunes, and you can switch between them at any time. TWEWY’s soundtrack is diverse, featuring a mix of hip-hop and electronica, some vocalized, some not, and the entire soundtrack is wonderful, no matter which version you decide to run with. I personally preferred the remixed soundtrack, but both are worth a listen to figure out which you prefer. The voice acting is good, too, and the art is absorbing and unique.

What isn’t the same is the gameplay, which is likely what will frustrate fans of the DS original. See, Final Remix isn’t so much an expanded port of the DS game as it is an expanded port of the mobile port of the DS game and the gameplay changes reflect that. To be effective in the original game’s combat system, you had to make Neku and his partner work together. That meant controlling both of them at the same time. You’d command Neku via the stylus on the DS’s bottom screen, while using the face buttons (or the D-Pad) to control his partner on the top screen. If you got the timing right, you could pass a glowing puck back and forth between the characters that charged up a powerful special move. It was complicated, yeah, but it got one of the game’s key themes – work together with others and don’t cut yourself off from the rest of the world – across through gameplay.

That system is gone completely in the remake. Instead, you have two control options: the touch screen, or the motion detectors on a single Joy-Con. The game simply won’t allow it to be played another way. See, attacking in this game requires you to make different gestures on the screen. Some require you to repeatedly click an enemy or an empty area of the screen, while others might have you make a quick slashing motion to attack up close or move your finger across an enemy, an object, or empty space. Controlling Neku often works the same way, requiring you to make quick slashes or slow movements to have him dash or run across the screen, respectively.

the world ends with you final remix

"The touchscreen controls are burdened by delay, which means that certain motions that certain pins require you to make don’t work very well, if at all. The Joy-Con controls are better, because you get to press buttons for certain things – clicking on something, running, etc – but you still have to hold the Joy-Con up to the screen almost constantly, and you’ll often have to reset the pointer to have any kind of accuracy."

This might work well for a mobile game, but it’s something of a minor disaster on the Switch. The touchscreen controls are burdened by delay, which means that certain motions that certain pins require you to make don’t work very well, if at all. The Joy-Con controls are better, because you get to press buttons for certain things – clicking on something, running, etc – but you still have to hold the Joy-Con up to the screen almost constantly, and you’ll often have to reset the pointer to have any kind of accuracy. This isn’t a gamebreaker, but it is an annoyance that doesn’t have to be here.

These changes to the control scheme mean that there is no longer any way to control your partner. Instead, they become a pin. Like any other pin, they are activated a certain way – tapping, swiping, or dragging – once they are off cooldown, and when their time is up, they disappear until they can be used again. Using your partner’s pin builds up a synchronization meter, which can then be spent on a special attack that does enormous damage to everything on-screen.

It isn’t a bad system, really, as combat is still fun, but these changes do combine to make everything very, very easy. So easy, in fact, that there’s often no point in moving your character at all. It’s much more efficient do just sit there and do the motions for your attacks, rather than try to dodge and avoid taking damage. The one upside to the new systems is that you can now play the game in co-op with another person. This not only makes battles more fun, but gets back to the spirit of the original game and forces you to communicate to get combos and actually avoid enemy attacks since you share a health bar. This is only available with the Joy-Con controls, but that’s a minor qualm when those controls are better. The only weakness of the co-op mode is that, unlike Neku, his companion characters can’t change their pins – what they have is what they get, and that’s it.

the world ends with you final remix

"Shibuya is a fashion hotbed, so the gear you wear and the pins you wear matter. See, each pin and piece of gear is part of one of thirteen brands, and the popularity of each brand varies between Shibuya’s district. Being on-trend is important, because it actually affects how well you do in combat."

Managing your gear – this is an RPG, after all – and your pins is actually a big part of TWEWY but the game adds a twist to the whole thing by tasking you with keeping up with Shibuya’s trends. The area is a fashion hotbed, so the gear you wear and the pins you wear matter. See, each pin and piece of gear is part of one of thirteen brands, and the popularity of each brand varies between Shibuya’s district. Being on-trend is important, because it actually affects how well you do in combat. Rock items that represent one of the district’s most popular brands will get you an attack boost, while being out of style will actually decrease your damage.

You can win items in combat, but you can also buy them from the shops scattered around Shibuya. Thing is, you’ll have to befriend the various shopkeepers before they’ll sell you certain items, or unlock a piece of gear’s specific abilities. Befriending shopkeeps is as easy as spending money at their stores, but it’s an interesting system that adds depth to gearing up and supports the game’s world, to boot.

The game handles leveling in an interesting way, too. Pins gain PP (pin points. Yes, I’m serious) when you use them in combat, but you also earn PP when the game is turned off. In addition, you can switch the game’s difficulty level on the fly, and even lower Neku’s level. The benefits of the former are obvious, but using the latter to handicap yourself makes enemies more likely to drop good pins and items. It’s a nice system, and I wish more RPGs would do something like it.

"The World Ends With You: Final Remix isn’t a bad game. But the game is being billed as the definitive edition of a modern classic and… it just isn’t. It’s still good, mind; TWEWY is too good a game to be ruined by flawed control schemes and a neutered combat system, but it’s not the version we deserve, nor the one we were promised."

The other big change to Final Remix is the addition of A New Day, a new storyline that adds a new plot, new characters, and some interesting battle mechanics. You might be asked to defeat a series of enemies quickly, for instance, or have to deal with a fight that constantly saps your health. This new content is solid, but it’s not anything special, and it’s hard to imagine it appealing to anyone outside of the hardest of the hardcore of TWEWY’s fan.

Perhaps that’s the real issue with Final Remix: it’s inconsistent. A lot of what’s here – the remixed soundtrack, the co-op mode – is good, and much of the presentation aspects are a step up from the DS version. But there’s a lot of bad, too. A New Day is just all right and the changes to the battle system are, in many ways, a step down from the original game. Controlling the game with the Joy-Con works fine, but the touch controls are absolutely horrendous, and it’s frankly a wonder that the developer didn’t simply remaster the DS version rather than port a version designed for mobile devices.

Don’t get me wrong: The World Ends With You: Final Remix isn’t a bad game. But the game is being billed as the definitive edition of a modern classic and… it just isn’t. It’s still good, mind; TWEWY is too good a game to be ruined by flawed control schemes and a neutered combat system, but it’s not the version we deserve, nor the one we were promised. If this is the only way you can play the game, it’s more than adequate, but it loses much of what made the DS game special in its transition to the Switch. The developer should do better by their classic games, and we should expect them to. Right now, this version is just good and it could have been much more than that. Because The World Ends With You wasn’t just good; it was great, and Neku and Shibuya deserve better.

This game was reviewed on the Nintendo Switch.

THE GOOD

Excellent artwork and character designs. Fantastic soundtrack. Likeable characters and engaging story. Interesting combat and leveling systems. Co-op mode is a blast.

THE BAD

Touch controls are terrible. Joy-Con controls are tolerable. The new content is just okay.

Final Verdict

The World Ends With You: Final Remix is a solid port of a classic, but it's far from the definitive edition we were promised.

A copy of this game was provided by developer/publisher for review purposes. Click here to know more about our Reviews Policy.

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