I'm not going to call this a review, because to review one would have to be somewhat unbiased. I, on the other hand, have been waiting for this game for months and love it without question. So I can't review it with a level head. What I can do is this; I can tell you, dear Dtoider, why it's the most original game this year so far, and why it's almost worth owning a DS alone.
Okay, so the characters may not be the most original on their own merits. Neku, the main, is cut from the same majestically uncharismatic cloth as Squall, but does show some interesting vulnerability. Shiki, your first partner, is classic "sweet young lady who is obviously the love interest from the first time you see her," but she doesn't talk much. Beat and Joshua are the two classic "rival" archetypes. However, the story is more interesting than the 15-year-olds living it.
It's an unfolding mystery/drama involving a secret city within Japan's Shibuya called the UG run by the mysterious Composer. In the UG, the "Reapers" run their game, hunting kids with psychic powers with everyone's existence at stake. I'd say more, but even though the plot moves forward at a truly blinding
pace, I'd hate to spoil it.
The real reason the game stands out is the gameplay. Specifically, the battle system. Neku attacks and
moves (his only way of avoiding damage) with the stylus. Equipping a number of pins (pictured above), you use a variety of stylus techniques to use Neku's vast psychic powers, with hundreds of pins (though they fall into some vague categories). Controlling all of his skills, each with their own meter, evading, and keeping track of all of the enemies in the arena proves difficult, but you get the hang of it soon, and is deeply satisfying. That's just your right hand, remember.
With your left, you control one of the three partners mentioned above. The d-pad controls jumps, blocking, and opens a combo chart for attacks. These attacks gain points which can be used to activate the uber-powerful Fusion skills. If it proves too much (which is nothing to be ashamed of), the computer will take over for you and is fairly competent.
Last but in no way least, the impeccable style
of World Ends
keeps you hypnotized. The unique design of Kingdom Hearts
has been unleashed, and reigns without any established characters to hold it back. From the five-minutes-from-now-on-Mars fashion sense of the characters to the "graffiti" look of the monsters and power effects, the look is bold and alive. The music is a Japanese hip-hop blend that works so much better than it has any right to, and hooks you in so far that I can't play this game without my ear buds.
Also, this game actually has me addicted to not
playing it. Because of all the different ways to get experience for your psychic power pins, sometimes you're required to let it sit and reward you in a few days with delicious free experience upon your return. This game is definitely something special, and Square-Enix's new more "mainstream appeal" direction practically ensures we'll never get another. Make a statement. Buy it new. Mess with their numbers. It's already enough of a cult hit that some incredible human being has begun making replicas of all the game's pins (which I want so deeply it feels funny when I blink):
P.S: Be back to my new original series soon. Wanted to do this before it was super old news.