“Future looks bright” for TWEWY

The World Ends with You is one of those games that seems entirely married to the system it was first released on: it was designed so specifically for the DS that Square Enix’s last port attempt (to iOS in 2012) fell a bit flat. While the presentation of the story elements was mostly unaffected, since most dialogue takes place on the DS’ upper screen in the original, the combat system decidedly suffered when on a single screen. TWEWY is a game about learning to work with others and the gameplay splits over both DS screens, with the player expected to control two characters at once.

The bottom screen always displays the protagonist, Neku, who is controlled via stylus swipes, taps and scratches; the top screen shows his various battle partners, with the directional pad used to direct them. Since this is all designed to occur simultaneously, TWEWY becomes something uniquely engaging as you have to divide your attention and keep an eye on both characters. It’s certainly a challenge- they share a health bar, so you can’t ignore one in favour of the other. The iOS port tried to solve this by all but removing the partner element of combat entirely- they are merely a special attack set off using the phone’s touchscreen, like any of Neku’s other moves. This not only affected the depth of the battle system, but actively made some fights frustrating as the game struggled to differentiate between inputs.

The future looks bright for TWEWY though – the Switch remaster revealed during the latest Nintendo Direct showed both characters being present on the same screen and attacking at once. This seems like a much better option since it allows the port to still retain some of the frenetic energy the combat had in the original game. Additional story content is coming too, expanding on the secret ending from the iOS port, which at the time was expected to be the sign of an upcoming sequel. A port onto the astoundingly popular Nintendo Switch might be better than a sequel at this point, since it has been over ten years since the original release and not many people are that aware of it. If it is handled well, TWEWY on Switch could potentially end up being the definitive way to experience the game.


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January 2022
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