For months, Square Enix has been teasing fans with details for it’s new game, Neo: The World Ends with You. This game is a sequel to the 2007 game The World Ends With You, a game set in contemporary Tokyo and full of j-fashion content. A demo debuted on June 25, 2021, so I sat down to play it this week. Read on for a spoiler free stroll down memory lane of the original game and review on the demo for Neo!
TWEWY: Solo Remix
TWEWY was first released for Ninentendo DS in 2007 in Japan and 2008 in the US. In 2012, Square Enix ported the game to iOS and Android. I first purchased TWEWY for iOS in April 2013. I received a $25 giftcard to the iTunes store, and my music purchasing had gone way down since streaming had become a thing. TWEWY was $14, a fairly expensive iPhone game, but not a very expensive handheld console game.
The game takes place in contemporary (contemporary for 2007 anyway) Tokyo, specifically around Shibuya. The main character, Neku, is unexpectedly launched into a cut throat game in the Underground, where he’s invisible to everyone except other Players, sinister Reapers, and terrifying Noise monsters. To succeed, Neku teams up with other Players to win the seven day Game. Armed with psychic pins that give him special abilities, tasty food that gives buffs, and stylish clothes that give benefits (but only if you’re in the right part of the city), Neku fights his way through enemies and learns about himself on the way.
The game is an action J-RPG. The original game on the Nintendo DS made extensive use of the “dual screen”. The battle raged on the top screen. Meanwhile, the player frantically scribbled shapes on the bottom in order to use their psychic pins. In the iOS version, the game took place all on one screen, with allies, enemies, and animated attacks all clashing together in one chaotic fury.
Bring on the Fashion
When it came out, TWEWY featured stylized 2D graphics inspired by street fashion. However, Neku’s outfit was certainly not lolita. Let me be clear: this is not a lolita game. It does happen to have some lolita clothing and lolita inspired brands in it. The game clearly attempted to capture the feeling of youth culture in Japan. TWEWY took inspiration from real street fashion, and lolita made the cut. The fictitious brand Lapin Angelic (an obvious homage to Angelic Pretty in name alone) boasted 5 pins with the name “lolita” literally in the title. The clothing from this brand includes items like “Frilly Parasol”, “Lace Bonnet”, and “Platform Shoes”, so it’s clear that the designers took inspiration from our favorite street fashion.
However, the original game’s dress up element existed strictly for buffs and debuffs. There wasn’t really a dress up element to it, and the items were so tiny on the screen it was hard to pick out any details.
In NEO: TWEWY, Shibuya is once again besieged by Noise, Reapers, and teenagers fighting to win the game. This time around, protagonist Rindo works with his friend Fret to reach the top of the leader board. The game features fully animated cutscenes and much more extensive voice acting than the original. The overworld and game are now in 3D, although the game is still styled as 2D art. As players explore Shibuya and the surrounding area, the game blasts an excellent contemporary soundtrack, featuring 30 brand new songs for the game.
I played the demo on a PS4. Players fight battles by pressing buttons assigned to pins rather than drawing symbols. If that sounds easier than the original game, don’t be fooled. With the added challenge of 3D, fights are just as chaotic as ever.
The demo covers Day 1 and Day 2. The game play didn’t change substantially between games. Players still complete missions dolled out by the Reapers, scan the area in search of Noise, and level up their abilities by taking on challenging fights. Since I played the original game on a 6 inch iPhone screen, it was a treat to play on a TV. The game forced perspective pretty often. When the player first enters the area with Shibuya 104, the camera hovers near the PC’s feet, forcing the player to stare up at the city skyline. The first time through, it’s pretty impressive. It becomes more annoying when you’re on the hunt for graffiti or noise.
As expected, the game’s story doesn’t end in a very satisfying way in the demo. However, I was annoyed to discover that the demo doesn’t allow the player to use any of the “threads” options. Therefore I cannot comment on any of the fashion related content in this game. I know, I’m as disappointed as you are. The little bits I did see (the brand names of some of the pins) included returning brands like Tigre Punk (a punk brand in the vein of HNaoto or Sex Pot Revenge), new brand Cony x Cony, which seems gothic/aristocrat inspired, and Top o’ topo, which might be larme or gyaru inspired.
In addition, two characters from TWEWY: Solo Remix return. Within the demo, the characters run into Eliji Oji, aka the Prince of Ennui, who runs a blog called “F Everything.” It’s hard not to see that this dapper gentleman wearing frilly blouses bears a striking resembles to ouji fashion. (Although he also wears cowboy boots. Oujis, is yee-haw ouji a thing? Please let me know.) Furthermore, Coco Atarashi, who debuted as an exclusive character in Solo Remix and has appeared in subsequent remixes, wears what appears to be a lolita inspired coordinate in the “post credits” demo trailer. She doesn’t appear in any of the playable portions, so it’s hard to say for you.
I enjoyed playing the original and the demo, so I’ll probably be picking up the new version too.
You can preorder NEO: The World Ends With You on Playstation and Nintendo Switch. The game will be released July 27, 2021. You can download a free demo on both of those platforms.
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