Zero Punctuation: The World Ends With You

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I think it's worthy of note that is one of the few JRPG's where the characters attitudes and appearance fits in with core themes of the game. One of the major themes of TWEWY is level of social disconnection in a world where we talk to each other more than ever. The over the top spiky hair and costume is something that wouldn't be that suprising in the Shibuya district. The main characters dress and attitude makes sense within the context of the game.

Fasion, the 300+ pins, Food and all that other junk seems to be more there as a device to add lots of post story appeal. TWEWY seemed to be designed with post game in mind, which detracts away from some of the systems intially. Clothes and Food especially, only seem to be of any importance post the main story, when you can get the uber clothes you need to perform special battles. That's just bad design, especially when it's a back of the box feature. The pins system worked much better, it felt like a good balance between using pins I like and having to mix up occasionaly for certain battles. It has a good balance between diversity during story play and scope for post game 'twinking' to get all the badges at max.

On the subject of Pins, I noticed in his review Yatzee pointed out that sometimes the DS has trouble telling differant pins appart in battle. One of the features that the game doesn't mention (unless you go looking for it) is that you can 'sub slot' pins, so they are only active when the shoulder button is held. It's not perfect, but you can use it to avoid confusion between a slash type pin and scratch type.

The dual screen battle feature, like fasion, isn't really friendly for first playthrough. Even though the game includes encounters where it attempts to force you to use both screens in unison, I managed to mostly get around it. After about 20-30 hours of gameplay you do get used to it, but intuative, it aint. Especially with the game throwing random caveates for each partner out every hour of gameplay or so.

On the subject of being able to control story in game. It's tricky, especially from a design perspective. Firstly you have to convince the team that what they want to do is create extra content that not all players will experiance throughout the game. Players themselves shouldn't notice this because if they do the illusion of free will is shattered. On the same tangent, you have to do it in a way that lets players know they are making an important choice for the future of the game without it seeming like a choose your own adventure book. Players tend to see through multiple choice dialouge with ease, and just use it as a device to manipulate the game rather than storytelling.

There is of course, gems like Portal and Half Life 2 that make the player feel like events in the game world are directly related to thier actions. This is awesome and all, but it doesn't translate well to RPG's. Because RPG's are about choice. When you only have a gravity gun and a ballistic weapons to hand, it makes sense that the only way to get through the room filled with nueclear waste is to build a bridge out of enviromental objects. In an RPG world you have a miriad of spells and stats, you could have a character with high dexterity jump over the pool of doom, or cast a float spell or a bunch of other DnD inspired options. This makes it very hard to trick the player into believing they are driving the story through thier choices, rather than the story driving them to act a certain way.

Finaly, one thing I was suprised Yatzee didn't mention was the sliding difficulty scale. As far as I know this is the first JRPG, or RPG period that allows you to adjust the level of difficulty and your characters current level at any point. Allowing the player to control thier own level of risk/reward takes a huge chunk of frustration out of the game. If you get stuck on a certain battle, jack the difficulty down and level up and you can breeze right through it. If you like you're RPG's a little more edge of your seat, put the difficulty up and put your level down. It's well balanced enough that you never feel cheated by the lack or rewards or repetative death, respectively.

I actually just passed the game at around 11:30 on Wednesday, and was going to email Yahtzee to review it. Haha, what a surprise for me.

This is how I found it.

What this game is:
-A satire on the various fashion, marketing and maybe even the fast food industries (unless you're simple, then it's just a hip hop action brightly colored Nomura-styled game)
-About defeating "Noise" (the metaphyiscal manifestations of people's negativity. That come in the form of brightly colored punk animals.)
-Action RPGing
-About pins

What you can do in this game:
-Invisibly Walk around a busy Japanese urban town while on missions in a Most Dangerous Game
-Trick the public into believing in the spirit realm, by having them play with a ouija board (you're invisible)
-Attack punk penguins
-Attack enemies by screaming at them (via the microphone)
-Attack enemies by hurling cars (minivans, gumball dispensers, pylons, etc.)
-Read the minds of the average passerby
-Imprint ideas into said passerbys minds
-Influence others by wearing various fashions (including your combat abilities based on city sectors)
-Have male/female characters wear both male/female fashions (in inventory, not sprites. Eh, the characters are invisible.)
-Eat food for stat boosts (during and after digestion) and get character voice over reactions
-Display ones stomach contents (I call them Digestion Units. No more burger and fries, but you can fit that extra Coke or Soft Serve in there after fighting for a while.)
-Buy unnecessary amounts of useless clothing and food, just to get store staff to like you more
-Play a Marble Madness like combat mini game (even via wifi)
-Socially connect to others via wifi, and get/trade pins
-Wonder why the heck pins are the summit of the fashionable accessory. And where their needles are.

Action based game play involves:
-Tapping an enemy/self/environment/environment object
-Pressing on an enemy/self/environment/environment object
-Slashing on an enemy/self/environment/environment object
-Scratching on an enemy/self/environment/environment object
-Combinations thereof
-Pressing the directional control to enact moves by the 2nd character on the top screen
-Screaming

Unique things:
-A Gantz/Most Dangerous Game type setting/plot (at least in video games)
-All weapons/pins have levels and use realtime re-charge gauges
-Your equipped weapons level up between game sessions (hours/minutes not played)
-Shared HP bar during fighting between screens
-Customizable in game difficulty setting (which allows for four different item drops)
-Customizable HP bar (Which allows for greater chances of getting item drops)
-Customizable automation of the 2nd character on the top screen
-Soundtrack by various j-pop artists randomized during walk about and fighting
-Forcefeeding your characters with coffee, soft serve and chicken nuggets so they can wear gothic lolita dresses
-This, being a Squenix game

Un-unique things
-The typical teenaged aloof anti-social Japanese spikey haired amnesiac protagonist
-Anti-social protagonist learns the meaning of friendship (or else he dies)
-JRPG Squenix characters with wings
-Level grinding
-It's the Matrix, but for the fashion industry

Not so cool things
-I only have two eyes that focus on one point. Being able to control two characters on two screens simultaneously is impossible.
-The various punk/street talk/hipster lingo might get annoying to some
-Storytelling is filled with long, dreary dialog
-Only one saved game slot
-A large collection of useless pins
-Having family members ask you why you're screaming so much, and reminding them you're having fun

I enjoyed it. It drags on. Doesn't have much of a story, unfortunately, considering it had a wonderful setting. But that's okay; it was fun.

Finally, someone who agrees that most JRPGs aren't all they're made out to be. God forbid I say something harsh about games like FFVII.

Ozz04:
I wonder what he'd think of FF6 or Odin Sphere, as there the best J-RPGs I can think of that boldly avoid almost all of what he considers typical problems. Yes,FF6 does have random encounters and turn based combat and Odin Sphere has a few pretty looking men and overly cute bunny things, but there really fun and they have one two of the best plots I've ever seen in a game, also OS is a Brawler RPG, how often is that seen?

AND Odin Sphere's main focus is killing lots of dudes, how could he not love it? Okay, killing lots of dudes and gardening, but still.

Just in case someone actually reads to the bottom of the 280+ comment thread...

Spot on review. Especially with regard to the player just minding his own business in the corner while the dialogue goes on and on and on. "Don't mind me, I'm just here to tap the screen for the next 5 minutes while you two solve the puzzles that I already instantly solved upon hearing them. Ta."

I found the upper screen combat style to be *impossible. I set it to Auto and just played on the bottom screen. Honestly, I didn't have enough *eyes to play both screens at the same time, let alone enough manual dexterity to play ControlPad-DDR with my left hand while viciously slashing and tapping the screen with my right.

But I like the styling of it, I thought it was original in concept and in design, and I give kudos for that.

yay challenge anneka!

loving the obscure references as always!

Geodancer:

Ozz04:
I wonder what he'd think of FF6 or Odin Sphere, as there the best J-RPGs I can think of that boldly avoid almost all of what he considers typical problems. Yes,FF6 does have random encounters and turn based combat and Odin Sphere has a few pretty looking men and overly cute bunny things, but there really fun and they have one two of the best plots I've ever seen in a game, also OS is a Brawler RPG, how often is that seen?

AND Odin Sphere's main focus is killing lots of dudes, how could he not love it? Okay, killing lots of dudes and gardening, but still.

Best description of Odin Sphere yet.

I can't wait till Yahtzee reviews Spore.. and entirely shreds evolution as we know it.

I bought this game just yesterday and it's my favorite game on the DS...I only have a few games on the DS mind you but still I think it's freaking awesome

I'm not going to get mad. :P

there's just too many things Yahtzee doesn't know about "JRPG"'s because he doesn't play them.

Shallow characters? Has he even PLAYED Tales of the Abyss?

Also, I do wonder what exactly Yahtzee has against character development.

But whatever. Yahtzee threw away the game with a good story for a game with Shurikens and Lightning. *shrug*

EDIT: Bleh. This post is defending JRPG's, not The World Ends With You. I haven't even play Twewy. :P

Just clearing that up.

Happy (belated) birthday, Yahtzee!
I didn't mind this review, I just didn't like how you repeated yourself over and over again.

I think Yahtzee's inclining towards more fair reviews now instead of just simply bashing a game which is kewl of him.

And then he'll snap out of it and say everythings crap.

Shia-Neko-Chan:
I'm not going to get mad. :P

there's just too many things Yahtzee doesn't know about "JRPG"'s because he doesn't play them.

Shallow characters? Has he even PLAYED Tales of the Abyss?

Also, I do wonder what exactly Yahtzee has against character development.

But whatever. Yahtzee threw away the game with a good story for a game with Shurikens and Lightning. *shrug*

EDIT: Bleh. This post is defending JRPG's, not The World Ends With You. I haven't even play Twewy. :P

Just clearing that up.

I think its less shallow characters and more that the vast majority of storys written for the modern japanease market select from the same pool of 12 character stereotypes, add some minor personality adjustments (some don't bother even doing that) and then mangle them through whatever the main theme is. I don't think I could count the number of JRPG's I've played with Emo, antisocial, spiky haired orphans I've seen even if I used both my hands and my feet. Don't even get me started on Anime.

Not that I'm trying to Vilify japanese storytelling mind you. There's a whole bunch of similar cliches in western main stream media. At least usualy the author does the audiance the credit of trying to hide the fact that didn't want to struggel with escape those cliches. I've seen just as many stories with Misanthropic but talented individuals (I'm going to call it 'House' syndrome from now on) who are really hiding how much they care [sic] with really cutting putdowns.

But hey, if you've read 'The Hero With a thousand faces' or something similar, we're all writing based on stock stories created thousands of years ago. So you can hardly blame anyone. :p

I don't think I could count the number of JRPG's I've played with [...] spiky haired

why does everybody keep complaining about this? Japanese have pretty spiked hair themselves so of course their drawings would reflect that >.>

orphans

yes this really annoys :p even in the same game, all the main characters are talking to each others about all being orphans... right >.>

Titch007uk:

Geodancer:

Ozz04:
I wonder what he'd think of FF6 or Odin Sphere, as there the best J-RPGs I can think of that boldly avoid almost all of what he considers typical problems. Yes,FF6 does have random encounters and turn based combat and Odin Sphere has a few pretty looking men and overly cute bunny things, but there really fun and they have one two of the best plots I've ever seen in a game, also OS is a Brawler RPG, how often is that seen?

AND Odin Sphere's main focus is killing lots of dudes, how could he not love it? Okay, killing lots of dudes and gardening, but still.

Best description of Odin Sphere yet.

Indeed, I actually really enjoy the slaughter fest, taking on several armies of Fairies, Internals, Monsters, Undead, Gods, Dragons and Humans (the humans being the toughest on more than one occasion) being very fun and wildly difficult. Though I feel the erg to note that you gather vegys, grow fruit and mix potions mid battle, which adds a whole new dimension to the difficulty, putting the difficult some where in the 10th dimension, so much so that I'm all set to call any one who can beat Odin Sphere on max difficulty the God of Gaming.

Personally, I hate most JRPGs (Pheonix Wright not withstanding, if he counts) because, basically they're all just the same game with slightly varying levels of spiky hair, angst and female healers/water magic users. I seriously challenge all of you to name 3 JRPGs without those elements.

Boredom13:
I seriously challenge all of you to name 3 JRPGs with those elements.

Final Fantasy VII, Chrono Trigger, Disgaea.

...

Or did you mean to say 'without'?

If so, then we have Odin Sphere, Monster Rancher 2, and Dungeons & Dragons: Shadows over Mystara

Titch007uk:

Shia-Neko-Chan:
I'm not going to get mad. :P

there's just too many things Yahtzee doesn't know about "JRPG"'s because he doesn't play them.

Shallow characters? Has he even PLAYED Tales of the Abyss?

Also, I do wonder what exactly Yahtzee has against character development.

But whatever. Yahtzee threw away the game with a good story for a game with Shurikens and Lightning. *shrug*

EDIT: Bleh. This post is defending JRPG's, not The World Ends With You. I haven't even play Twewy. :P

Just clearing that up.

I think its less shallow characters and more that the vast majority of storys written for the modern japanease market select from the same pool of 12 character stereotypes, add some minor personality adjustments (some don't bother even doing that) and then mangle them through whatever the main theme is. I don't think I could count the number of JRPG's I've played with Emo, antisocial, spiky haired orphans I've seen even if I used both my hands and my feet. Don't even get me started on Anime.

Not that I'm trying to Vilify japanese storytelling mind you. There's a whole bunch of similar cliches in western main stream media. At least usualy the author does the audiance the credit of trying to hide the fact that didn't want to struggel with escape those cliches. I've seen just as many stories with Misanthropic but talented individuals (I'm going to call it 'House' syndrome from now on) who are really hiding how much they care [sic] with really cutting putdowns.

But hey, if you've read 'The Hero With a thousand faces' or something similar, we're all writing based on stock stories created thousands of years ago. So you can hardly blame anyone. :p

Exactly. Every genre is going to have shallow, low-budget attempts. EVERY GENRE. Even anime.

That's why I don't understand why people tend to focus on JRPG's or Anime.

My brother went through a phase like that. Just out of nowhere after coming home from college, he started this "anime is creating the same guy over and over again" nonsense.

Then we watched the American Resident Evil 2 movie.

The black, strange, loud guy was the comic relief and I MADE SURE he knew.

He got the point. :P

A small part of Yahtzee died during the making of thes review (Because he reviewed a JRPG).

No, he's already dead inside, I doubt he'd feel it.

SpiralEater:
I find it funny that Yahtzee bashes on the fact that JRPGs are generally novel themed when he's developed point and click games that consist also with a lot of dialogue.

There's a big difference between a gameplay orientated RPG and a story-based point & click adventure game. Honestly, did anyone actually play the Chzo games for the gameplay?

I wish game designers would look at some of these reviews, it might help them understand that gamers do have at least some intellect, and that you don't need a whole cutscene or speech to explain it if they can't figure it out. And seeing these reviews might help other game reviewers break from the game reviewing mold a bit, focusing less on numbers and hours of gameplay and more on the game elements itself. Number of hours of gameplay hardly matters, as long as it's fun. Perfect example: Witcher vs Portal, 80 hours of boredom vs 2-3 hours of pure fun.

Hmm...with all the hor-ribble reading you had to go through, I would be pretty scared to see your review of a Phoenix Wright game. I like the game, but I actually found the gameplay to be oversimplistic (since I happen to just press left/right all the time while making scribbles as if I F'ING LOVE COLORING!!!). And being an avid anime fan (and since I've read DeathNote), I was ok with the dialouge except for the constant inner monologue overtaking actual human speech.

Although, I still gotta finish the game. /(^_^)'

Hmm Yahtzee, why don't you stop talking for a moment, breathe for a wile, afterwards, get yourself into something, that you genuinely like to do.

fisk:
Hmm Yahtzee, why don't you stop talking for a moment, breathe for a wile, afterwards, get yourself into something, that you genuinely like to do.

Then what would we have to do on Wednesdays?

I really liked the review and i dont know if it has been said, but i think you used the song, its the end of the world as we know it twice now

Boredom13:
Personally, I hate most JRPGs (Pheonix Wright not withstanding, if he counts) because, basically they're all just the same game with slightly varying levels of spiky hair, angst and female healers/water magic users. I seriously challenge all of you to name 3 JRPGs without those elements.

I don't think it's fair to say angst is indicative of a JRPG. I mean, you are going to have angst in just about any sort of game involving drama and personal relationships. I mean, Mass Effect has angst.

But angst in and of itself isn't especially unique to Japan. Look at all the US comicbook characters. Angst plays a big part in batman and Spiderman and Iron Man. (I'm not going to list every comicbook character I can think of who's angsty because that might very well be all of them.)

Yahtzee did manage to hit on the one core component that really makes a JRPG a JRPG: A linear narrative. All of the other stuff is ancilliary to that core component- Ultimately, you are just doing what it takes to advance the story, with little or no choice in how you advance it.

I mean, I've seen more spreadsheets for WoW than I ever saw for Final Fantasy (Insert number here).

Batman is single handedly more angsty than Cloud, Sephiroth, and every other lead JRPG character rolled up into one. For christ sake, he's a spoiled rich kid who watches his parents get gunned down and then decides to dress up like a bat and beat the bad people up!

As far as the female water magic users/healers- Well, most societies look as women as healers and whathaveyou. Without going into some sort of girlpower niche, that's what you are going to get. Admittedly, there are solid female non-healy leads out there, but the archetype exists beyond and defined genre.

And personally, I identify with the huge spiky hair as I have huge spiky hair. So sod off.

EDIT: people was supposed to be beat.

[Unrelated to video]
i really dont like this new video player the escapist is using. ive been having a lot of problems with it, and i remember the old video player worked just fine for me.

I felt most of Yahtzee's entertaining rant was about JRPG's, instead of about TWEWY good/bad qualities. I don't even think of TWEWY being a JRPG, even if it was styled by Nomura, and made by Jupiter/Square-Enix.

Actual points:
1) Bad Storytelling Storytelling/dialog is merely wheeling around the characters, not having dialog choices; not interactive storytelling ("just reading".) It's just visual novels/which he doesn't like. Though most play like bad choose your own adventure books. (Which begs the question: what is interactive storytelling, let alone good/bad interactive storytelling?)
2) Story and game play should go hand in hand.
3) Getting through cutscenes is like eating wallpaper paste/the combat is the best part
4) TWEWY has problems with specific motions of the stylus
5) Many pins, but only a handful are useful together
6) Two screens, hard to play at the same time
7) The fashion system doesn't seem to do much
8) It's a "grind sandwich"

Response:
1) Simple: this is a linear story. There is dialog/question boxes/a few additional tasks to perform before doing the main ones. In all linear games, one wheels around a character, watches an event, gets info, and goes onto the next event (give me a main character with dialog in a game over a mute any day.)
2) How? Dialog and visual cutscenes in between exploration and combat modes? How should this go hand in hand?
3) Hold left or right shoulder buttons to fast forward the dialog. Combat is indeed the fun part of game play.
4) This is true, and through trial and error, not a bad thing. You can always "sub" pins so that holding left or right shoulder buttons allows for specific pins to be active/inactive in combat.
5) The same kinds of pins sometimes upgrade/one finds better versions of their type. Of course there are over 300 kinds; mix and match as you like.
6) True, but you can configure how you want to use the 2nd character/how difficult you want each battle to be. (Based on 4 levels of difficultly, and a slider which controls drop rate/HP, without punishing the player, and only rewarding them.)
7) False. The fashion system adds/subtracts/nullifies attack, defense, HP, Exp. gain, PP gain, knock back, special move bonus, and HP replenishment values. Each sector allows for 4 different +/- effects based on the fashion one wears.
8) It's a delicious grind sandwich. Some pins upgrade, you get 4 new item drops per enemy/difficulty level. But isn't any action game a grind? I don't put this on the same JRPG level as say a Persona title, although the visual and audio style is unique. I barely consider it an RPG. Exp. levels go up to 99 (the only stat that seems to effect is HP (I could be wrong.)) If it gets tiresome, turn it off; come back later, and you'll find the number of minutes off is equivalent to PP they gain. And why grind, when you can turn the difficulty down?

Not a fan of JRPGs, except Persona 3. Problem with most JRPGS is that they rely way too much on the "teen aesthetic" (enter Logan's Run reference here), often have horrible dialog, endless dialog screens that instead of propelling the story forward just grinds it to a halt. Not to mention yawn filled turn-based combat that erupts whenever you walk more than two feet in any direction.

Titch007uk:
The over the top spiky hair and costume is something that wouldn't be that suprising in the Shibuya district. The main characters dress and attitude makes sense within the context of the game.

Gonna say no to this section of your post.

That is all.

dabura667:

Titch007uk:
The over the top spiky hair and costume is something that wouldn't be that suprising in the Shibuya district. The main characters dress and attitude makes sense within the context of the game.

Gonna say no to this section of your post.

That is all.

Well it's nice to see people are ready to come up with a well constructed, well thought out response. Heven forbid should you acctually supply an evidence to back up your claim. Just in case I didn't clarify why I said what I did...

One of the central themes in TWEWY is about social dissconnection and communication (or lack therof) suggested through the devices of mind reading, being able to observe without directly participating, the idea of coperate or die and the use of cel phones as a gameplay device. In context of this is make sense that the main character is a self styled social outcast. His choice of dress is to seperate himself from others, because he doesn't want anything to do with other people; which is reflected in his attitude.

This seperates him from Cloud, Squall, Riku et al; his characterizetion played into a core theme of the story. It wasn't just because the story creator percived that the attitude was cool.

I wish I had 'Wrong About Japan' around so I could read up on what Grant had said about Cosplay as a subculture movement in Japan. So I don't. I probably saved me from writing another paragraph for somone to brush off anyway :)

The first good JRPG? What, Yahtzee didn't like Earthbound or Final Fantasy VI or Super Mario... okay, maybe he wouldn't like Super Mario RPG, I don't know. But all are turn-based SNES RPG classics from Japan and I don't know what I'd do without them. I'd probably think RPGs from Japan are the worst thing to hit the video game world since FPSs seeing as FFVII and FFX would be the only games I'd hear about from all the fanboys online and I simply wouldn't know any better.

...

Oh, and I don't really know much about FPS games outside of Halo but that only adds to my underlying point.

Point aside, the JRPGs I like are the ones with good gameplay. I view storyline as icing on a cake, along with graphics and music. I actually prefer to have better music in an RPG instead of story. This is why I enjoyed the GBA version of Final Fantasy I so much. The gameplay was quick, the fights were fun, the dungeons were interesting, the music was great, and the story never got in the way (seeing as there wasn't much of one).

does anyone remember what other video the ending song is also played in? it's driving me nuts!

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