When you announce that such a famous cult classic from the Nintendo DS era is coming to the Nintendo Switch, you shake your first in joy. Or so I did as I heard the news the one of my favourite games on the iconic handheld would see new light. This week, The World Ends with You: Final Remix released on the Switch. This game came at a time where I was young and impressionable, and what an impression it left on me.
Releasing around a decade ago and later ported to iOS, The World Ends with You has seen some changes. Some are welcome, others are not. Square Enix released a new series and one that blew me away with its fresh and exciting premise. Hearing the announcement of not only an HD port, a new chapter, and a new soundtrack – I was ecstatic to play all over game from the start.
Jumping in once again, I eagerly pressed A to begin the game. Playing as teenager Neku Sakuraba, you regain consciousness in the bustling city sprawl of Shibuya. Without his memories, he begins to question what happened but not before running into Shiki Misaki. Together, Shiki and Neku quickly form a pact, in this nightmarish place, if you don’t have a pact with someone you are promptly erased from existence. Oh, and they must complete the game or face complete erasure. The tale quickly expands and invites you to continue playing to learn how these characters will end up.
Neku is a brat, has absolutely no friends and is a selfish character. Over the course of several days Neku grows to trust others, learn to care for them and most importantly, build the bonds need to survive. His relationships with the people he meets play a huge role in the overall story. Ten years ago, I found myself relating to every character I crossed paths with in this game.
Tying into the gameplay, what caught me so off-guard a decade ago was the reliance on teamwork. Without it, the game isn’t as much fun and the jump to Nintendo Switch wasn’t as successful as I’d liked. The battle system is what I found most enjoyable the first time and what stood out the most to me. In the original release, the dual screens of the DS had you managing both partners, with one on each screen. Your partner was on the top screen and Neku was on the bottom screen where the touch controls held your assortment of pins that used “psychs.” These powers varied in use, be it by casting fire, lightning, or physical attacks against enemies. On your partner’s screen, the directional pad would ask for inputs essentially controlling your partners actions. Between the two screens an orb passed back and forth while fighting and the more the orb was passed around, the stronger attacks become for whoever currently held it.
Learning the ins and outs a decade ago came with a learning curve. Managing not one but two characters on separate screens means everything had to be doubly watched. Without doing so, bosses would quickly make waste of you. Coordination was your biggest success and crucial to surviving the Reaper’s Game. By the end of the game, I was a walking machine thirsting to win whatever game Neku was forced into and I was taking names while doing that.
So, it pains me to say that the transition from DS to iOS to Switch didn’t go so well. In fact, it looks like this game is a port of the mobile version and uses the same touch controls. Adopting a single screen seemingly takes the game in a new direction and one that doesn’t rely so much teamwork.
Instead, in Final Remix, your partner is a pin that Neku calls in when available. Tapping on Shiki for example, summons her to deal damage and the orb is gone, with a sync meter now in place; building up your meter percentage ultimately builds to a fusion attack between Neku and his partner.
Controls on the Switch are different too. Touch controls only work in handheld mode. Playing the game without touch controls offers an exclusive control scheme made for Final Remix. In Joy-Con mode, you can use a single Joy-Con as a cursor on the screen to control everything. The alternative to touch controls takes a small amount of time to get the hang of but offers a new way to play. If you can find a friend to play with, co-op comes baked into the game and offers perhaps the most exciting way of playing – with a friend! One player controls Neku, and the other player controls your partner, and can input commands and use pins. I may not be the biggest fan of these controls, but after spending time with both the touch controls and the new Joy-Con scheme, I grew to appreciate them for what they were.
Visually, the Switch port is the best-looking adaption. Character models, background locations, the color and detail are wonderful and sharp. An updated soundtrack breathes new life into every aspect and keeps your head bumping while you take on various Noise. Having been away from not only the game but the music brought on a wild sense of nostalgia.
Ultimately, The World Ends with You: Final Remix is a good port and should be played by everyone. To compare it – missing out on the original release a decade ago is like missing out on watching Avatar in theatres in 3D. At home, you experience all the same beats but the spectacle of playing a chic JRPG set in Shibuya has passed. Square Enix didn’t have to even port the game to the Switch but by doing so, this is another way for the company to know we want more of this world and more of these characters. Final Remix is the user-friendly version of this game, but the Switch is the only system capable of making an already great game better.