The World Ends With You comes to Nintendo Switch in a “Final Remix” edition that makes the ambitious title a poorly conceived port that creates more problems than it solves.
Title: The World Ends With You: Final Remix
Developer: Square Enix
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: October 12, 2018
The World Ends With You was an ambitious game when it came out on the Nintendo DS portable system a decade ago. It took place in modern day Japan, had a unique style and an incredible soundtrack. It was well-written. But arguably most impressively of all, it did something only a handful of games ever managed to do on the Nintendo DS: Make good use of the dual screens and the stylus in an engaging manner.
See, in the Nintendo DS version of The World Ends With You, the player controls one main character, Neku on the top screen and whomever your partner at that point in the game was on the other. You controlled Neku with the stylus, using gestures to unleash attacks, heal, move, etc. Your partner was controlled with face buttons on the system. Was it a little complex? Sure, but it made for a unique game that would be pretty hard to replicate on virtually any other platform.
So if The World Ends With You was going to be brought to any other platform, some changes would likely have to be made. This would certainly be a challenge porting it to Nintendo’s most current console you can take on the gom the Nintendo Switch. It has a touch screen but no stylus, and more importantly, just the one screen. The end result; The World Ends With You: Final Remix, is arguably the best you could have hoped for, but it’s more an indicator that this shouldn’t have been done in the first place.
In case you aren’t familiar with the setup, The World Ends With You takes place in modern (well modern for 2008) Shibuya, Japan. You are Neku, who wakes up in the city without much of an idea of what just happened to him. Before you really get a sense of what is going on, you are attacked by strange monsters known as “noise,” you are partnered up with a strange girl and collecting pins that give you abilities.
You soon find out that you are a participant in an otherworldly game run by beings known as “Reapers” and they only way out is to survive for seven days on their terms, beating various missions they give you. Of course, there’s a deeper mystery at play, but that would be spoiling the pretty intriguing plot.
When it released, The World Ends With You had a pretty unique style, setting and a fantastic soundtrack along with some really strong writing to boot. For the most part, this is very much intact in Final Remix. With an HD splash of paint, the game looks super crisp and colorful, the soundtrack, with some remixes and original tracks was and is fantastic. It was a fairly timeless presentation on the DS and remain so here.
The only thing that has aged a little poorly is the dialogue (i.e., no one knows what a “meme” is, and it’s used wrong anyway), but it’s still clever and charming and even touching in some cases. Where The World Ends With: You Final Remix falls incredibly flat is translating the DS gameplay that accompanies the fantastic presentation.
How the gameplay loop plays out is this: you and your partner run around various parts of Shibuya to reach a goal. Sometimes there’s a boss at the end, but sometimes it’s literally just getting from one place to the next. However, in your way are reapers that act as walls. They won’t attack you, but require you to meet goals, that usually involve defeating a certain amount of “noise” one way or the other before letting you pass.
Herein lies the biggest failure of the transition from DS to the Switch; the screen has a lot of trouble recognizing the gestures you are trying to pull off.
To defeat said “noise” (and the various bosses) you’ll need to equip and level up “pins” which give you various gesture-based abilities that you must use your finger (or the joy-cons, but don’t use the joy-cons) to control by touching the screen. Instead of using buttons, your partner in battle is also confined to a pin of their own that you must also use your fingers on the touchscreen to access.
Herein lies the biggest failure of the transition from DS to the Switch; the screen has a lot of trouble recognizing the gestures you are trying to pull off. You might do the attack you were trying to do, but you might also just run around aimlessly. This is magnified with using your partners. I had lots of trouble simply getting them to pull off an attack.
Sometimes you need to use your partner to make a boss vulnerable in the game (plus they build up a meter for a super attack), which can make it an extremely drawn out and tedious affair. It also frankly just doesn’t feel good constantly dragging your finger across the touch screen of the Switch; it’s clearly not built for this much touch-gesturing.
It essentially makes combat, the main part of the game, a chore you want to avoid as much as possible, and that’s not good. It would’ve been honestly easier if your partner just ran around as an A.I. partner in battle doing their own thing because the teamwork aspect present in the DS version is almost eliminated in this one anyways.
The one alternative control is to take off the Joy-con controllers and use those like you would a Wii Remote, but it’s an overly complicated unresponsive mess that I would never recommend to anyone. It wasn’t easy, but I was able to finish the game using touchscreen controls, I was barely able to finish battles using the Joy Cons.
It’s a true shame because, despite all this, The World Ends With You still retains that feeling that it’s something different and really special that we haven’t seen much like before or since. It’s just bogged down by a very poorly thought-out conversion to a platform not built for it, and yet little effort on that end was considered.
If you have the means (by which I mean you already own a DS or a 3DS), go ahead and try the original version of The World Ends With You. You’ll miss out on the excellent cleaned-up graphics and sound quality boost, but you’ll also have a much better-playing version. This is just a disappointing effort to try and bring a cult classic to a modern audience, and we’ll likely never see a proper follow-up because of it.
A copy of this game was provided to App Trigger for the purpose of this review. All scores are ranked out of 10, with .5 increments. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.