The World Ends with You (すばらしきこのせかい Subarashiki Kono Sekai, lit. "It's a Wonderful World") is an action-RPG for the Nintendo DS and the first installment in The World Ends with You series. The game was released in Japan in July 2007, and in PAL regions and North America on April 22, 2008.
The game was developed by the Kingdom Hearts team, Square Enix, and Jupiter. The character designs were made by Tetsuya Nomura and Gen Kobayashi. The distinctive art style is inspired by the aesthetics of Shibuya’s youth culture. The development of the game was inspired by elements of Jupiter's previously released game, Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories.
The story is focused on a antisocial teenager named Neku Sakuraba and his new allies who are forced to participate in a mysterious deadly game called the Reapers' Game in which they will die by being erased from existence if they do not complete daily missions. The battle system uses many of the unique features of the Nintendo DS, including combat taking place on both screens, and attacks performed by certain motions on the touchscreen or by shouting into the microphone. Elements of Japanese youth culture, such as fashion, food, and cell phones, are key aspects of the missions.
A port titled The World Ends with You -Solo Remix- was released on iOS and Android mobile phones on August 27, 2012.
The Nintendo Switch remaster titled The World Ends with You: Final Remix released September 27th, 2018 in Japan, and elsewhere on October 12th, 2018.
The anime adaptation, titled The World Ends with You The Animation, was released in 2021.
A sequel, titled NEO: The World Ends with You, was released on July 27th, 2021 for the Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4, with an upcoming Summer 2021 release date for PC.
The World Ends with You is an action-RPG for the Nintendo DS, and uses many intricate gameplay elements.
See Also: Combat
The combat system in The World Ends with You, called the Stride Battle Cross System, utilizes both DS screens to function. The top screen is occupied by Neku's current partner, and the bottom screen is used by Neku himself. The two places are called "Zones", and in each Zone, there are the same Noise, the enemies in the game. The enemies inside the Zones share an HP bar between them, meaning that attacking an enemy in one Zone will damage it in the other Zone as well. Neku and his partner are synchronized as well, and therefore also share a HP bar. Being synchronized also allows their access to powerful Fusion attacks which attack all enemies for large damage. During battle, a Light Puck will pass from Neku to his partner as attacks are used. The more the Puck is passed around, the higher the combo built up and therefore the higher the damage.
The bottom screen is used to control Neku. Various touches of the bottom screen make Neku perform specific actions and move, depending on what pins he has equipped. These can range from short slides on the enemy to tapping at the air to shoot projectiles, but only 6 pins at maximum can be equipped at once. The top screen, containing Neku's current partner, is controlled by pressing the directional buttons, or the control pad, in specific directions to select a pathway of arrows. What lies at the end of each arrow varies by partner, however. If the right set of commands are met, the player gets a star, which contributes towards a Fusion attack.
For example, Shiki has arrows leading to cards, based on Zener Cards, and matching them with the cards on top gives a star. The partner cannot directly move, but can dodge, block, or in Joshua's case, float. Once a Fusion command has been acquired, it can be tapped on the touch screen to use it, and special cards can be used to upgrade these to a higher level.
"Psych pins", equipped out of battle, are decorative pins which possess powers that usually only Neku can activate while wearing them. Psych pins are used for combat, used for "Tin Pin Slammer/Marble Slash", or scrapped as trade value for money or equipment. All pins can be traded, but many of them have low trade values to deter the player from selling the valuable ones.
Most pins, particularly those used in combat, can become more powerful as the player accumulates "Pin Points" (PP) which may lead to evolution of the pins into more powerful and valuable versions. Pin Points are commonly earned through battle, but can also be earned through a period of inactivity with the game, seven days maximum, or by interacting with other DS players or randomly if none are found. Each of these methods influences the growth of pins within the game, but battling increases it the most.
For a full list of pins see:
- The World Ends with You/Pin List
- The World Ends with You/Pin List (Sortable)
- The World Ends with You/Pin Damage
- The World Ends with You/Pin Acquisition
Tin Pin Slammer
The mini-game Tin Pin Slammer, also known as Marble Slash, consists of the player, NPCs or up to 3 friends who also have the game, selecting Pins and choosing to play with them. However, Multiplayer mode is only enabled when both players have acquired the "(S) Tin Pin Versus" Sticker, available from the Shibuya Department store. Any Pins can be used to play the game, but there are several which are specialized specifically for Tin Pin.
The game basically consists of both players shooting their pins towards the opponent's pins, and attempting to knock them off the stage. There are also special abilities which can be used to aid the player while playing. These include jumping up in the air and crashing down, and turning the pin into a spiky ball. If the other player's pin is affected by these abilities, it suffers a Stun Period in which it cannot move.
Daily missions and exploration
The story is arranged into three chapters, or "weeks", in each of which he has different partners while participating in the Reapers' Game. Each chapter is further divided by each day of the week. The player controls Neku while walking around Shibuya, and his partner automatically follows while they attempt to complete the mission set for the day. Although most missions require completion within a certain time period for Neku, his partner, and all the Players, this timer is not connected to the passage of time for the player. Missions are often riddle-like in nature, and require careful exploration and interrogating other characters. There are also various unmentioned sidequests with rewards on each day.
Shibuya is divided into many districts, some of which may be inaccessible on certain days or blocked by a wall. These walls, guarded by Support Reapers, can be removed by satisfying the request of this Reaper, such as erasing Noise symbols, putting on a certain brand of clothing, or bringing an item. The first wall in the game is even cleared by simply forming a pact. Neku can scan the area by activating his Player Pin in the bottom right corner of the touch screen. This scan reveals the thoughts of the non-player characters in the Realground (Players cannot be scanned) and Memes, which may help to progress the plot. The scan also reveals the Noise symbols that drift about the area, or float around a specific character experiencing negative emotions.
The aforementioned Noise come in different shapes and colors, signifying what they are and their difficulty. For example, green symbols are always Pig Noise, which always drop pins upon defeat. The player initiates a battle by touching these Noise symbols; each symbol constitutes one round of battle. Selecting more than one Noise symbol at a time results in a multi-round battle "Combo" that gradually increases in difficulty with each round, but conversely leads to greater rewards upon success. The overall difficulty of battles can also be changed in the menu to also lead to better rewards. This can be changed at any time while walking around Shibuya.
Each district has fashion trends that affect gameplay. By wearing pins or clothing from the more popular brands in that district, positive effects will come to the player, but conversely, wearing the least fashionable items will do the opposite, and no effects, or even negative effects happen. However, the player can increase a brand's popularity in one district by repeatedly fighting battles in that district while wearing items of that brand, explained in Week 1, Day 6 when the Red Skull Pin must be promoted as a mission. Though players are invisible, the player can enter shops with red marks outside which make them visible. There, the player can buy new pins, clothes, and food items that are gradually consumed during battles to improve the characters' basic attributes.
After completing the game, the player can return to any day in the story and play those events again, keeping the characters' current statistics and inventory. "Secret Reports", written segments that reveal background elements of the story, can be unlocked through doing this by completing specific missions during each day. Completing the game allows the player to access "Another Day" from the game's menus, an additional day of missions that explains certain events related to the main storyline.
Main Article: The World Ends with You/Characters
The World Ends with You features five major main characters, all of whom are players, but only four of them are playable. Each Player has an entry fee, the most important thing to them, so that they can enter the game, explained below. These are:
- Neku Sakuraba — Neku is an asocial fifteen year old boy who prefers to avoid people. Throughout the course of the story, Neku learns the importance of having friends in his life and becomes very close to Beat, Joshua, Rhyme, and Shiki, as well as Sanae Hanekoma. Neku is very good at utilizing psychs, and can use every pin he is confronted with. His first entry fee was his memory, his second was Shiki, and his third was all of the other players, showing how he progresses from being distant to forming bonds with the other survivors of the game.
- Shiki Misaki — Shiki, Neku's partner for the first week, is friendly, but she harbors jealousy for her best friend, Eri. She makes her own clothes and toys, including her attire and Mr. Mew, but (as she claims) only due to Eri's inspiration. Because of her jealousy, her entry fee for the Reapers' Game was her identity/appearance, causing her to look like Eri. Shiki's true appearance is only ever seen properly at the end of the game, and her face is not shown. Shiki is one of Neku's best friends by the game's end. She uses Mr. Mew to battle, and the mini-game involves cards. In the DS version, selecting the correct card from the bottom menu to the ones flipped over at the top earns the player a star.
- Joshua (real name: Yoshiya Kiryu) — Joshua is Neku's partner for the second week and is sly and clever, finding enjoyment from teasing others, and harboring dark secrets. Neku believes that he has finally found someone who he understands in Joshua, but it is apparent near the end that he is not the person who he is thought to be. He is not actually dead, and therefore not from the Underground, making him an illegal player, and leading to him not having an entry fee. As the game progresses, the player finds out that he is Shibuya's Composer and Neku's killer. He uses psychic powers to battle, using nearby objects as projectiles and is able to float, allowing him to use powerful beam attacks. In the DS version, his mini-game is a number-matching game, in which the player must select a card which is lower, higher, or the same as the cards above, depending on the card.
- Beat (real name: Daisukenojo Bito) — Beat is Rhyme's older brother and her partner for the first week, as well as Neku's for the third week. He says that he dreams to be the best skater in the world and can skateboard very well, using this as his battle style. While he acts tough in front of others, he is truly caring and open. After Week 1, Beat joins the Reapers to avenge Rhyme after she was erased; however, when he is asked to attack Neku and Joshua, he does not erase them as he should, and joins Neku as a player again in the third and final week. He expresses how sorrowful he is that he has no actual dreams and how he is not all that bright compared to his little sister, who is the exact opposite. His entry fee was Rhyme's memories and love for him, leading to a very traumatic experience for him when she did not recognize him. The mini-game used when battling is a matching game where the player must select cards of the same suit and match them up in a row to gain stars.
- Rhyme (real name: Raimu Bito) — Rhyme is Beat's younger sister as well as his partner for the first week. On the fourth day of the first week, Rhyme is erased by Reapers. Mr. Hanekoma then binds Rhyme's Soul to a pin, with which Beat forms a pact to turn it back into Rhyme again. When acquired and used by Neku, it summons Rhyme's Noise form to attack the enemy. Her entry fee is unknown, although it is implied it was her ambitions and dreams.
- Uzuki Yashiro (a.k.a Pinky) - Harrier Reaper and partner of Koki Kariya.
- Koki Kariya (a.k.a. Lollipop) - Harrier Reaper and partner of Uzuki Yashiro.
- Yodai Higashizawa - Game Master for the first week.
- Sho Minamimoto (a.k.a. Pi-Face) - Game Master for the second week.
- Mitsuki Konishi (a.k.a. Iron Maiden) - Game Master for the third week.
- Megumi Kitaniji (a.k.a. Shades) - the Conductor.
- Sanae Hanekoma - Mysterious guide to the Players.
- Eri - Shiki's best friend.
- Sota Honjo and Nao - Two other Players.
- Mina and Ai - Two girls living in the RG.
- Makoto Miki and his boss, "Shrimp"
- 777, Tenho and BJ - members of the band Def Märch.
- Futoshi - Def Märch's technician.
- Shuto Dan - Tin Pin player.
- Ken Doi - Owner of the shop, Ramen Don.
- Itaru Yokoyamada - Tin Pin player.
- Eiji Oji (a.k.a. The Prince)
Setting and Themes
The setting of The World Ends with You is heavily based on the Japanese city of Shibuya, including major landmarks like the Scramble Crossing. It even has the same currency, Yen (¥), which is used in shops. Many elements of the game are also based on Japanese culture, including the food, fashion and artwork in the game.
The game's story follows Neku over the course of the three weeks in which he plays the Reapers' Game, paired with three partners, Shiki, Joshua, and Beat, for each week. The game begins with a confused Neku waking up in the Shibuya Scramble crossing. He lacks knowledge of where he is, what he is doing there, or any of his memories. He is immediately forced into a "Pact" with a stranger called Shiki, as he tries to destroy some enemies called Noise which attacked him.
Throughout the week, he learns of his purpose in the UG (short for Underground) as a dead person, that "The Reapers' Game" is a ploy for dead people, the "Players", to prove themselves that they can return back to the living after proving themselves throughout a week. He also learns, while accompanying Shiki on the journey, that he should let other people in and to live life to the fullest.
During the week, they meet a variety of characters, including: Beat and Rhyme, whom Neku is rude to at first, but eventually accepts them as friends; the two Harrier Reapers, Uzuki Yashiro and Koki Kariya, whom appear to be the main antagonists at first, as they end up erasing Rhyme; and Sanae Hanekoma, a strange man who runs a coffee shop on Cat Street and gives advice to Neku and Shiki.
Music for The World Ends with You was composed by Takeharu Ishimoto, who has also composed other Square Enix games such as Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII-, Dissidia and Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy, and Final Fantasy Type-0. The soundtrack includes many genres of music such as rock, hip hop, electronica and orchestral pieces. Artists included on the soundtrack are SAWA, Leah, Ayuko Tanaka, Makiko Noda, Wakako, Mai Matsuda, Hanaeryca, Cameron Strother, Nulie Nurly, Andy Kinlay and Londell "Taz" Hicks.
The ending theme is Lullaby for You by J-Pop artist Jyongri who sung the song in both English and Japanese for their respective releases. In the ports, the ending theme was changed to Runaway by Stephanie.
The game's soundtrack had to be shortened to fit on the Nintendo DS cartridge, and the English and Japanese versions both contain some unique songs to their own region. Later ports of the game include full-length songs and remixes.
The game's full soundtrack was released over four albums: The World Ends with You Original Soundtrack, Subarashiki Kono Sekai + The World Ends with You, Subarashiki Kono Sekai -Crossover-, and Subarashiki Kono Sekai Crossover ~Tribute. Several songs also appeared in The Death March album. Most of the soundtrack is available on English-language iTune stores.
Development for the game began in 2005 during the development of Kingdom Hearts II under the title "Emotion Edge". Neku was imagined as wielding a katana as a weapon, but this was scrapped into development in favor of psychs. Originally, the game was a rhythm game featuring Dance Dance Revolution-like gameplay requiring precise button timing to attack Noise. At some point, the game's development title switched from "Emotion Edge" to "Mini Metal Master" and a music video was made for it. The idea for the name "Mini Metal Master" likely refers to Neku's ability to use the psychs of all pins.
In 2006, the game was re-named It's a Wonderful World, likely because they thought it captured the themes of the story more, and the game was announced to the public in late 2006. Although not much material of the game was shown, one of the early key arts revealed was the main box art of the cast.
It was released in Japan in July 2007 to positive reviews. Western audiences had to wait another nine months for the game to be localized and come overseas, a common practice of the era. It was revealed that the title of the game would change from It's a Wonderful World to The World Ends with You to avoid copyright issues with a film released in 1939.
Near the launch of the English version in mid-2008, Square Enix initiated a contest on DeviantArt, seeking artists who could create concept art inspired by the game. The 10 winners received free copies of the game.
The World Ends With You received positive reviews for its graphics, soundtrack, and integration of gameplay into the Shibuya setting. The game's replay value has also been praised, with many items and pins to collect. The game has an 8.8 Metacritic by critics. In the week of its release, the game was the second best-selling DS title in Japan, and the top selling DS title in North America. Shiro Amano, writer and artist of the Kingdom Hearts manga, later created a very short manga based on the game. While the game's sales were decent, they were not high enough for Square Enix to pursue a sequel until over a decade later, as their Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts brands were much more popular.
Its story has also been well received and found by many as engaging and emotional with various plot twists, and it is not uncommon to find fans of the game who mention the story impacted the way they view the world, or helped pull them out of depression. The story explores themes and issues many teenagers have had to deal with, such as strained relationships with parents, being popular, trying to get good grades in school, being jealous of friends, self-esteem, body image, connecting to people and making friends. While one of the major themes of the game is death, the story also explores the idea of living life to the fullest. The story also occasionally focuses on issues adults have to deal with, such as Ken Doi trying to salvage his failing ramen business among competition.
One more subtle theme is implied to be trauma, as it is heavily implied the protagonist Neku became the way he was due to the loss of a friend, but the game never explicitly confirms this, much like real life and how people don't always know other people's histories. The game does not ask the player to empathize with Neku and the character has left both positive and negative varying impressions on its players. Neku's character growth has been likened to a Holden Caulfield for the 21st century. Regardless, Neku's off-putting attitude in the first few hours of the game turned many players off to the point some players quit the game and has been decisive, although others have mentioned that Neku's gradual slow changes feels more realistic than unearned sudden changes.
Due to its unique gameplay style and the steep learning curve of the battle system, the game has often received criticism for being difficult for newcomers, although the game has an Easy mode as well as an Auto mode for the top screen partner. However, those who stuck with the game have often praised the game for its unique take on the standard action RPG formula and taking advantage of the Nintendo DS' functionalities.
The game's depiction of many of its lanky anorexic-looking characters has been contested, however, it is likely the characters such as Neku and Shiki are not intended to be anorexic in the actual story, and that their thin waistlines are merely part of its art style. The game does not glamorize or promote their appearances.
Zero Punctuation's review of the game was mixed, and he mentioned he disliked the story being primarily non-interactive, saying much of the game actually consists of reading hours of dialog. The main campaign of The World Ends with You (excluding Another Day and A New Day) has around approximately seven hours of reading. Many interested in the game were not aware it would be part visual novel and have this much reading, leading to some negative reviews from certain players.
- The game was renamed to The World Ends With You outside of Japan because It's a Wonderful World was already copyrighted as the name of a 1939 film.
- Neku, Joshua, Shiki, Beat, and Rhyme all make an appearance in Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance.
- The music tracks "Twister" and "Calling" were added in as paid Downloadable Content in Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call.