This game for the Nintendo Switch is a remastered version of the 2008 DS game. It was originally made by Jupiter and Square Enix with additional assistance from H.A.N.D for this remaster. In Japan, it is also known as “It’s a wonderful world”.
This is one of the games along with Final Fantasy which Square Enix had crossover with Disney characters in a notable series called Kingdom Hearts. Tetsuya Nomura, the designer for many of Square Enix’s famous works like Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts was the art designer and producer of the game.
You play as an asocial loner named Neku who wakes up in the middle of the street crossing in Shibuya one day. He has no idea why he is there or any memory of the past as he finds himself in the middle of a game where he has one week to survive. Shibuya, the shopping district of Japan which countless young people frequent every day, is the main setting of the game. The story is fast paced and the game has a good amount of entertaining and serious moments to it. The fast pace can often lead to events being rushed way to soon without fully knowing what is happening. There is lots of things to do and simple things develop into over the top action sequences. Objectives change daily and the rules of the game change every week so you can’t predict what is going to happen next. There is a sense of urgency to complete the objectives or else face being erased.
The game has a variety of characters each with their own personality. Neku is a pessimist and not very sociable. Neku meets up with three other players in similar situation like him. Shiki is the stylish and aspiring fashion designer who is a talented seamstress. Joshua is a mysterious rich kid who is somehow connected to the events of the main story. Beat is an aspiring skateboarder who is often boisterous and is a really nice person deep down. The game’s main antagonist is the grim reaper Megumi Kitanji. He is pretty calm and is always one step ahead of the others. He is patient and calculating with a wait and see attitude that serves him well.
The character development is impressive. Each character’s inner self is revealed slowly and you learn more about them and how each ends up in their current situation. Neku forms a close bond through each partner he has despite his personality and there is really good chemistry balancing out the characters. He grows from a self-centered loner to a kinder person becoming very helpful to others. He learns from the various people he is partnered with and adopts some of their various philosophies. Being with a partner as well is the only way to survive in the game as you virtually stand no chance on your own. Partners provides and other forms of assistance while completing objectives.
Pins are currency in the game. They can be earned via combat or can be purchased in stores. Each pin gives you a psychic ability to fight enemies called “Noise” during the game. Noise are creatures that only the players can see and fight. They take the forms of either mythical or common creatures like frogs, penguins or kangaroos. Noise can often be found throughout the game. They have a negative influence on other characters so it’s up to the players to stop the Noise. As you progress through the game you are able to select more noise symbols to fight and earn more experience points, pins and other items at a higher rate. The higher the chain the more you earn.
There are a few variants of color for noise in the game. Black noise is a tougher variant of the enemies you would often find and it requires more teamwork in order to kill them quicker. Blue Noise is a rare variant that serves as boss fights and defeating gives you bonuses. The boss fights are pretty challenging and for the most part doesn’t repeat itself as you fight a variety of them during the story. Each boss noise and reaper you fight has their own strategy to defeat and they each have their own style of attack patterns and special abilities that can cause massive damage to you. You fight boss fights mainly during the end of the level you are currently in but sometimes surprises do happen at times.
Combat in general is really fun and creative and it never gets stale in the game.
You can collect up to 300 pins in the game each with its own standout ability and way to activate it through the motion controls of the switch and this allows you multiple different ways to experiment in combat to find the strategy right for you. You can hold up to 6 pins as well and have multiple different decks of pins to choose from in the inventory. Your pins have their own elemental abilities and can evolve and level up the more you use them during combat.
Some pins are Japanese yen which you can use as currency to buy items in the game by disposing the yen pins and in exchange earning in game money. Players have to change pins as you progress through the game. Tougher opponents require to use different pins. Stronger pins have a slower recharge rate than weaker pins. Your partners also require time to recharge after they assist you in combat. However, you can increase the charge rate of your partners with stickers... perks in the game.
In combat you can earn objects dropped from enemies sometimes “bling” which is either a rare object, pin or money. Each partner you have during each week has their own special ability you can summon any time during combat. Each one of you partner has a different method to being summoned. Increasing you sync meter with you partner during combat allows you to inflict greater damage on your enemy. You can summon fusion attacks and each partner you get has their own activity to increase the attack damage and item drop rate too. You are able to perform finisher attacks on enemies once you activate you and your partners fusion abilities. In order to increase your fusion attack finishers, esp cards are used. Shiki has matching the symbols, Joshua has counting 1-3 and Beat is simply selecting the matching poker card. The attacks are pretty powerful and can also restore some health as well. By completing shop quests, you can even increase the levels of your fusion attack to deal even more damage. Shop quests also allow you to unlock stickers which gives you bonuses for you and your partner like increased health or defense and being able to increase your slot limit. Each quest item you get requires you to have a certain item in order to purchase it for free.
You are rated from E to a gold star depending on how well you performed in combat and you could earn bonus items as well. You could escape combat at any time depending on the circumstances but runaway too much you are going to slowly decrease your sync meter with your partner.
Tin Pin slammer is a game similar to BeyBlade where you use your equipped deck to knock the enemies pins off the ring. You can select a wide variety of stages too with their own hazards and special effects. Reaper Creeper is a mind game in certain sections of the game where it’s kind of like truth or dare where you slowly move the pin to black or white to influence the decisions of the user who is playing reaper creeper.
The user interface was easy to navigate and it looked very stylish as well with the urban and graffiti art style also being used. Scanning you can either press x, or press on the pin in either tv or touch screen mode where you can read the minds of others and be able to look for noise to fight. The urban art style is one of the most notable parts of the game as it reflects the youth culture of the time in Japan. The graffiti styled art you see in the game looks really edgy and cool.
Each character design was different from each other and it also reflects on the personality of the characters. In addition, each enemy had their own design and abilities as well and there is a large variety of them in the game. I also liked the world design of Shibuya during the late 2000s time period too and it felt lifelike. You can explore through multiple different areas in the game as you progress through. Each part of Shibuya you visit is unique and the urban atmosphere throughout the world feels quite cool and sleek.
Shopping is a big aspect in the game. You can buy a wide variety of clothes and food for yourself or your partner. The clothes and food come with their own bonuses like increased health, defense or attack damage increase. Consuming food also increases sync rate. You can only consume one item at a time and if you fill up your meter, you are going to have to wait in real time to feed them tomorrow. Food bytes goes down by each battle you complete and once you finish a certain number of them you finally earn the bonus stats from the item you have consumed.
Clothing and pins get a bonus depending on which area it is popular and the higher the popularity the bigger the bonus. Even better, you can even decide which pin and clothing article you have on can rise in popularity by winning a certain amount of battles so you can earn the bonuses as well. There is also the chance to develop a friendship with each clerk in the shops that you visit and this allows you to unlock secret items they normally wouldn’t carry and access to new abilities to the items that you buy.
Each of the stores carry their own exclusive items that you wouldn’t find anywhere else and each clothing store is different from the others. Equipping clothing requires a stat called bravery and you cannot equip a clothing article unless you are above or at the same level the of the bravery stat.
The musical score is another reflection of the youth culture. The soundtrack is varied from hip-hop, electronic pop and my personal favorite punk music. You can purchase tracks through music stores and change the music which to suit your taste. There is also the ability to switch to the original tracks and the new remixed tracks in this game as well. The quality of the audio in the game is very high and each sound effect sounds clear and crisp. I did not encounter any form of bugs, frame rate drops or any form of glitches during gameplay. Loading screens were quick and dynamic.
You are able to change the difficulty of the game as you progress like once you reach a certain point during the week you can select easy or hard. This affects the rate of item drops and experience points you earn so you are going to have switch difficulty levels at certain points of the game.
There is a huge amount of replay value in the game. You can replay chapters once you finish the game and unlock two brand new chapters. You can collect reaper reports which fills in any plot holes in the game by completing certain objectives at a higher difficulty. To unlock each report, you must complete a certain amount of parameters during the objective of each chapter and this further enhances the replay value in the game.
One other really creative thing the game does is “memes” that its where once you click on a target, you go to scanning mode and select a term you have heard while you were exploring the world and by clicking that term, it influences them to do something that’s related to it. The game does allow you to have co-op where you and a friend can play the games combat and the tin pin mini game.
It does take time to get used to the controls as they can be somewhat imprecise at times. There is a bit of a learning curve to the battle system but once you get used to it, you should be able to get a hang of the game.
I had a lot of fun with this game and its different than any other rpg I have played. This game was entertaining and challenging with definite replay value.
So its going to get about 4 stars.
If you are into like urban culture and JRPGS you should go for this game. I played through the epilogue and the hints of a sequel are pretty likely so I will do a review on that once Square Enix actually makes it.
The dialog was excellent and reflected the game environment. It also made the characters more likeable. The game covers serious themes such as death, loyalty and friendships.
I really like the style of graphics in the game. The sprites in the game, thanks to the higher resolution in the remastered version, looks exactly like in the cutscenes instead of being digitalized pixels and the background designs of the world benefit a lot from it. The manga stylized cutscenes were highly impressive and well detailed. The animation plays a lot like you are watching an anime and it is smooth and seamless. The game does have some voice acting in it and its mostly told through dialogue blurbs comic book styled. One of the biggest highlights of the game is its unique fast paced combat. In the remastered version, it makes use of the motion controls of the switch, or the touch screen mode when played in handheld.