Like many, in 2008 I was floored by The World Ends with You, a niche RPG from Tetsuya Nomura that appeared on the Nintendo DS. This game took the world by surprise and while it hasn’t reached the same level of adoration as say Kingdom Hearts, the series does have adoring fans who’ve clamoured for a sequel. It took 14 years but one of the biggest surprises of last year was the reveal of Neo: The World Ends with You.
This week, developer interviews from Japan have shed light on how the sequel came to be and Series Creator Tetsuya Nomura, Series Director Tatsuya Kandoi, Producer Tomohiko Hirano, and Director Hiroyuki Ito spoke to 4Gamer about it.
For starters, the sequel is based on A New Day, which was added to Final Mix and is not a direct continuation of the first game. This decision was made to allow more players in without having to worry about playing the first game, so no prior knowledge is necessary.
Speaking to IGN, Tomohiko Hirano says plans have been in place (with teases all the way back to 2012) for some time now. But the biggest issue lied with “the team needing multiple pieces to fall into place to make their vision come to life.”
Furthermore, the team couldn’t juggle multiple projects and it would have been difficult to work on this concurrently with other projects in the pipeline. Paired with the need to do something new and not just a sequel, this need to differentiate took time leading to various console generations coming and going.
NEO: The World Ends With You takes place three years after The World Ends With You: The Animation. The new entry also features Rondo, the new protagonist who quickly becomes the leader of The Wicked Twisters, a newly formed team featuring Fret, Nagi, and Sho, who need to work together to overcome the Reapers’ Game.
With new protagonists comes a new battle system too. While I enjoyed the original game’s dual-screen battle system, replicating it now would be impossible as it is coming to new consoles. So, in order to acclimate, the developers have devised a system that uses core components from The World Ends With You, which is working with your team to succeed.
“When you look at other titles when you’re playing as a party with multiple members in there, it’s usually turn-based where you’re switching between characters to control them,” Itou describes to IGN. “This time around, we implemented a system where you’ll be able to control all of your characters simultaneously using the various buttons on the controller.”
The team also worked on bringing back the Pin system, but instead of equipping a set to one character, each character equips a pin and then each character is assigned to face buttons instead of motion controls. You’re free to press multiple buttons in battle with multiple members able to attack in battle, and you can equip the same Pin on multiple characters, with any character using that Pin able to attack.