Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The World Ends With You 2?

So I don't know if I've talked about my love of the 2008 DS game The World Ends With You here before, but believe me when I say that it is far and away the best DS game ever made, in my opinion. It was the first game that I really got into when I first got my DS and the first game I played to completion. TWEWY made excellent use of all of the DS' then-revolutionary features, most notably the touchscreen and the microphone, and was an incredibly well-designed and visually appealing game to boot.

TWEWY made a name for itself as something of a cult classic - made by Square Enix, it followed the basic format of a traditional JRPG, but subverted the tropes of that genre by setting itself in contemporary Tokyo and incorporating the food, fashion and music of the Shibuya district, and offering an ability leveling system through a set of collectible pins, each of which offers a different attack or power. Pins can be set to evolve, bringing in a mechanic not unlike the Pokemon games, and this evolution can occur even when the DS is in sleep mode. After finishing the game, I left it in my DS for a few weeks and came back to discover my pins had evolved into an entirely different set.

To me, TWEWY was a revelation. I'd never played a game even remotely like it in my life. Story-wise, the game threw me for a loop on a regular basis; each of the three major chapters pairs your main character Neku up with a different partner, with their own strengths and their own storyline. Between the pin mechanic, the wide range of abilities and the strong narrative, I fell in love with TWEWY and I missed it dearly once I'd completed it.

So when I picked up and started playing Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance for the 3DS a couple of weeks ago, I was elated to discover the first segment of the game featured Neku, Joshua, Beat, Shiki and Rhyme. They weren't playable, and so far have only popped up briefly during the Traverse Town levels, but it was a reminder that Square Enix hadn't forgotten about TWEWY entirely, that they were considered part of the core stable and beloved enough to include in a Kingdom Hearts release (side note: the TWEWY crew are the first non-Disney and non-Final Fantasy characters to show up in a Kingdom Hearts game.)

Well, it looks like the Kingdom Hearts cameos were just the beginning, because all evidence points to the fact that Square Enix may be releasing a follow-up to The World Ends With You. On Monday a countdown timer went live on Square Enix's Japanese site. So far, not much is there, but the evidence is fairly suggestive: the countdown timer font is identical to TWEWY's distinctive typography, character design is attributed to Tetsuya Nomura & Gen Kobayashi (the artists responsible for TWEWY, and there's a silhouette of what appear to be modern-day buildings in the background.

I can't tell you how excited I am about this. If there's any game that deserves a follow-up, it's The World Ends With You. My best guess at this point is that the game will either get a sequel or the remake treatment on the 3DS. Unfortunately, we still have to wait five and a half days to find out. If it does end up being a sequel, you can bet I'll be first in line at my local EB Games to pick it up.


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