It’s hard to believe that it’s been twelve years since Neku first stepped onto the streets of Shibuya and entered the Reaper’s Game. While The World Ends With You: Final Remix shows its age inside the game itself, with the characters using flip phones and purchasing CDs, both the story and the gameplay have held up remarkably well–and in some cases, have even improved.
For those of you unfamiliar with The World Ends With You, or TWEWY for short, this action RPG title burst onto the scene in 2006 and enamored fans with its funky style, sweet music, and its revolutionary use of the dual screens on the Nintendo 3DS. Neko, the sullen, emo protagonist, would fight on the bottom screen, using the touch screen and a stylus, while his partner, which changes at several points throughout the game, would be controlled using the D-pad. It was a frantic, insane, difficult, and utterly addictive fighting mechanic that was unlike anything else out there.
Final Remix has upped all the things you’d expect: The graphics have been improved, sound effects and voice acting are now done up in higher quality, and the music has been remastered. TWEWY has an amazing soundtrack, and the tunes have more than stood the test of time; I have, admittedly, been humming them non-stop for the past week. If you’re old school and don’t want someone messing up your favorite tunes, not to worry! You can use the menu to switch between original and remastered soundtracks any time.
The battle system had to be changed dramatically, since the Switch is lacking in a second screen. Neku and his partner will now both fight on the same screen, and both use touch controls. Gone is the ‘action puck’ which decided if you were playing as Neku or his partner; your partner will now attack based off of different taps or swipes, and as before, each of Neku’s partners have their own, distinct fighting style. Playing on the Switch feels more frantic, but also more enjoyable. My DS copy sat unfinished for months because I was so frustrated by Beat’s playstyle that I literally couldn’t progress in the game, but on the Switch? I finished out the entire game on Hard Mode and found an unexpected love for the big, dumb skater. I don’t think that combat itself has been made easier, but controls have been simplified, streamlined, and thus, made more intuitive.
Of course, we’ve come a long way since TWEWY released, and it’s controls are no longer something revolutionary. We’ve entered an era where every phone has a touch screen and while tapping your way through a game may not be anything new or exciting, Final Remix still stands head and shoulders above your typical cell phone game. First off, there’s the pin system. Neku is able to attack based off of which pins he’s wearing, and different pins require different kinds of taps in order to activate. Some require you to tap an enemy rapidly, with some you swipe up, while with others you have to draw a circle, or tap an empty space. This means you can have as much or little variety as you like; if you’re bored with combat, try switching over to a different set of pins and see how that set feels.
I really appreciated how the the new combination of partners and pins made combos incredibly easy and natural. I tended to wear at least one pin which activated by tapping an enemy while Shiki was my partner, which paired very nicely with her tap-to-attack fighting style. When I was paired up with Joshua, who attacks whenever you swipe down, I kept a slash-up-to-attack pin on, meaning that I could alternate up, down, up, down, and unleash holy hell on those pesky Noise. I also found that Final Remix made Shiki’s Fusion much easier to pull off. Her Fusion briefly shows you a set of cards with a symbol, and after that quick look, you must identify and tap two cards which match the stem card. In the DS version, I had trouble looking at the stem card on the top screen while also seeing the flipped cards; the placement in Final Remix made this far easier for me, and it was not uncommon for me to grab four and five times damage boosts this time around.
Of course, tapping isn’t the only way to play TWEWY, you can now grab a Joy-con to dive into the game on the big screen, or team up with another person in multiplayer. I was incredibly excited for this feature, mostly because I wanted to finally be able to play as Joshua. Unfortunately, my experiments in playing with the Joy-cons were disastrous, so much so that I couldn’t even capture decent gameplay footage for this article. I found aiming difficult, and that was even before factoring in that my pointer constantly drifted, and needed to be re-calibrated (something that was, at least, easily done by pressing the Y button) several times per battle. I initially hoped this had something to do with a setting I could ajdust, but after searching for tips on how to fix this, it seems that everyone feels like playing with the Joy-cons is losing battle. It’s a real shame, because this game absolutely lends itself to coop play.
The World Ends With You: Final Remix brings the game we know and love in a new format. It’s been cleaned up, combat simplified, and converted to a single-screen experience, but it’s still the funky, frantic game featuring a surly, emo protagonist that we fell in love with in 2006. If you’re just here for the new epilogue, you’d better buckle up, because you’ve got a ways to go. A New Day can only be accessed once you’ve beaten the game and passed the tests of three Expert Mode Reapers.
The World Ends with You: Final Remix
The World Ends With You: Final Remix is a great port, so long as you keep it in handheld mode. Combining RPG storytelling with frantic cell phone game tapping, this funky, high-fashion game is still a surprisingly unique experience, but the Joy-con controls are simply not up to par. With a killer sound track, a surprisingly complex plot, and a whole lot to do after the credits roll, this DS title has more than stood the test of time.