The World Ends with You: Solo Remix ($17.99) by SQUARE ENIX is the iOS port of one of the best games ever made for the DS. If you have yet to experience TWEWY, now is your chance, although you'll have to deal with the greedy way Square Enix has gone about doing this port (although that's not surprising). This review is based on the iPhone version, but there is a separate iPad version being sold with a $19.99 price tag.
I remember when I stumbled upon this game four years ago, sitting on the shelf of a local GameStop. The cover caught my attention, and I saw that it was a Square Enix title. Being a fan of Final Fantasy games, I decided to pick it up, not knowing that this would be one of the best non-Final Fantasy games that Square Enix has ever released. Of course, this game falls into the RPG genre, but it's unlike any other RPG I have ever played.
In TWEWY, a boy named Neku wakes up in Shibuya (fashioned after the ward in Tokyo, Japan). He finds himself in an alternate plane of existence called the Underground (UG), while the Realground (RG) still takes place around him. He's a player in The Reaper's Game, where the prize is to either be brought back to life or transcend into a higher form of existence. The Game takes place over seven days — a new mission awaits each day, and the objective is to survive through each day. But Neku can't do it alone. He forms a pact with other players, and through teamwork, they can defeat the Noise and complete missions.
Considering that this started out as a DS game, Square Enix has done a great job of redoing all of the artwork into high-definition Retina graphics. I found the game to look fantastic on my iPhone 4S, and it definitely brought back memories of when I played the game four years ago. The game also features one of the best game soundtracks I've heard in a while, composed by Takeharu Ishimoto. As a bonus, Solo Remix has all of the original songs, as well as several new ones and complete remixes of others. Each song has its own unique style, which is appropriate, given the distinctive emphasis of flair in the game.
The game features a lot of dialogue from the characters, though it’s rather enjoyable and a bit crucial in understanding the story. You’ll soon find out that Neku has the ability to use “psychs,” which are granted to him through various pins that he finds along the way. Each pin will give him a different ability, and you can only equip a certain amount of them on Neku at a time — starting out at two, but you will earn more open slots by finding stickers.
Combat from the original DS version took place on both screens, with the player directly controlling both Neku (bottom screen) and his partner (top screen). Since the iPhone and iPad only have one screen, Square Enix has modified the game’s combat into a single screen. Both Neku and his partner will be fighting simultaneously, but you won’t have direct control of the partner, just Neku. To use Neku’s psychs, you just have to tap, swipe, or drag on the screen, as appropriate to each pin. As you fight, you will build up the “sync meter” for the pair, which can be used to unleash a powerful dual attack.
I found the controls to be similar to the DS version, but it seemed a bit difficult to get Neku to move around the battlefield. You will have to make sure to swipe over him into the direction you want to go, otherwise, he will be standing still. It was a tad easier on the DS.
TWEWY also features a way to adjust the difficulty level to your liking, even in the middle of the game. However, be warned — making it easier will get you less rewards from combat. Each battle will be graded, so you can see how good you are.
Throughout the game, you will also find shops that contain equipment for different characters. Equipping these items will increase certain stats and abilities (or even decrease others) to make your characters stronger. The interesting part of TWEWY is that all locations and shops are modeled after real-life locations in Tokyo’s Shibuya district. It’s a fantastic way to get a taste of Tokyo — that is, through a hip fantasy game.
If you finish the main story, you will unlock a bonus chapter that will have more quests for you, and even new loot to obtain. There are also several new features that can be accessed only via Solo Remix, including the new Tin Pin Slammer and ability to wirelessly trade Friend Cards with other TWEWY:SR players. There are also several achievements to obtain through Game Center, so that adds even more reason to play the game.
If you missed out on the original TWEWY, then this is a fantastic port of an amazing and stylish RPG game. However, I do wish that Square Enix had made this a universal app, since there is literally no difference between the iPhone and iPad versions. Also, from some iTunes reviews, they decided to make the iPhone version unplayable on the iPad in 2x mode, which is just plain greedy. The iPhone version will require at least an iPhone 4, and the iPad version can only run on an iPad 2 or new iPad, both versions requiring at least iOS 4.3x or higher.
However, the game itself is fantastic — it has a rich story with several big surprises, fun gameplay, and plenty of content. The price tag may be a big high, but this is a very in-depth game that will probably take you more than a few hours to complete — it's no Angry Birds. And look, it's cheaper than the DS version.