The World Ends with You

I recently went to Texas and stayed with my relatives. They had no wireless internet and no videogame consoles, so I relied on my DS to keep myself from boredom. The game I was playing got me thinking about who the world ends with.

Set in a contemporary urban setting, The World Ends with You features an array of characters drawn in a Jet Set Radio style participating in what the game calls The Reapers’ Game. In this “game” the player is given missions to accomplish, and whichever player makes the most points wins the game. While this might seem like a simple, superficial premise not worth writing about, this “game” takes a twist as the player discovers both the prize for victory and the punishment for failure.

The Reapers’ Game is set in an alternate parallel reality to the game’s “real world”. The players of the Reapers’ Game cannot be seen by regular people, but can influence trends and behaviors in the real world. As the players try to complete their missions they are assaulted by endless waves of Noise – graffiti-like monsters summoned by Reapers whose only purpose is to stop the players. Whenever a player is unable to complete one of the missions given to them by the Reapers or is defeated by the Noise, he or she is deleted – erased from existence, both real and alternate. Any player who survives the Seven Days of games but does not win can make a choice – join the Reapers or face erasure. The player who wins the game is allowed to return to life.

This, of course, means that the Reapers’ Game is one that takes place after death. The entry fee for a chance to go back to life is “whatever you hold dearest”, which in the case of the main character are his memories and of the heroine her appearance. As the characters complete missions they talk with each other, showing layer upon layer of complex behaviors and personal conflicts that range from friendship and interpersonal relationships to self-esteem and image.

After the seventh day, when the main character and the heroine complete all the missions, the composer – whom oversees the Reapers’ Game on behalf of The Creator – tells them that only one – the heroine – has truly won the game. She gets a second chance at life. One of the main character’s friends, Beat, whose sister, Rhyme, was killed by Noise, decides to become a Reaper. The main character, however, decides to participate in the Reapers’ Game again, as he has fallen for the heroine and wants to join her in life.

However, to enter the game he has to give up his most prized possession, and even though he managed to get his first entry fee (his memories) back, he would now have to put up a second entry fee – that which he holds dearest: the heroine, Shiki.

Now, fighting for his friend alongside an unknown figure who knows too much about whim but of whom he knows almost nothing, the main character faces the possibility of endless Reapers’ Games.

A game full of action, a fast-paced plot, deep characters, and an excellent battle system that takes full advantage of the DS dual screens, The World Ends with You is possibly one of the best DS games out. It is a true gem among DS games and among RPGs in general, and you should not go any longer without finding out how the world ends and who does it end with.


About Quijano

Johansen Quijano is a professor of English in The University of Texas at Arlington, where he is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in English. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in the Teaching of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), a Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Development focusing on TESOL, and a Master’s Degree in English Literature. He has published and presented on a variety of topics including video game studies, popular culture studies, education, teaching methodology, language acquisition, romantic poetry, and victorian literature. His research interests include the above-mentioned topics, narrative, interactivity, simulation, new media in general, and 18th century literature. He also enjoys creative writing (fiction, historical fiction, and poetry), and reading all kinds of epic literary works - from the Epic Poem of Gilgamesh to Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series.

Posted on June 5, 2010, in Video Game Commentary and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: