The World Ends with You (2007)

by Ji-yeong
7 minutes read


The World Ends with You is an innovative RPG that combines elements of Japanese youth culture with a unique battle system, offering a deep and engaging story set in Shibuya, Tokyo. Its lasting impact on the gaming community underscores its significance as a cult classic.


The World Ends with You (TWEWY) stands as a unique and innovative RPG on the Nintendo DS, renowned for its engaging story, distinctive art style, and groundbreaking gameplay mechanics.


“The World Ends with You” is an action role-playing game co-developed by Square Enix and Jupiter for the Nintendo DS. The game is set in the modern-day Shibuya shopping district of Tokyo, featuring a distinctive art style and urban fantasy elements inspired by Shibuya and its youth culture.

The story revolves around Neku Sakuraba, an introverted teenager who wakes up in the streets of Shibuya to find himself locked in a game for survival known as the “Reapers’ Game”. In this game, he must accomplish tasks around the city for Reapers in charge of the game. Many of these tasks include defeating Noise, creatures that embody negative feelings of those living in the real world. After completing a task for each day of the week, a player will be allowed to choose if they want to return to the real world or become a Reaper themselves. The granter of these wishes is the Composer, who runs the Reapers’ Game.

Despite his antisocial behavior, the amnesiac Neku makes a pact with a young girl named Shiki Misaki, who has also been trapped in the Reapers’ Game. As the two make their way through the week, Neku’s attitude contrasts with Shiki’s outgoing and friendly mentality, and the two constantly butt heads. They learn that they are dead in the real world, although Neku cannot remember who killed him to put him in the Reapers’ Game.

As the week progresses, the two meet Beat and Rhyme, two fellow contestants in the Reapers’ Game, until Rhyme sacrifices herself to save Beat on the fourth game, tempting Beat to pursue becoming a Reaper himself to revive her. On the sixth day, Neku and Shiki cross paths with Eri, a friend of Shiki’s in the real world who looks exactly like her. Shiki reveals that she forfeit her appearance as a fee for entry to the game because she suffers from major self-confidence issues and hates the way she looks, so she stole the appearance of her friend.

The battle system uses many of the unique features of the Nintendo DS, including combat that takes place on both screens, and attacks performed by certain motions on the touchscreen or by shouting into the microphone. Elements of Japanese youth culture, such as fashion, food, and cell phones, are key aspects of the missions and character progression.

“The World Ends with You” received critical acclaim upon release, with critics praising the graphics, soundtrack, and integration of gameplay into the Shibuya setting. The few common complaints were related to the steep learning curve of the battle system as well as the sometimes imprecise touch-screen controls.

“The World Ends with You” is a unique blend of urban fantasy and role-playing game elements, set against the backdrop of one of Tokyo’s most vibrant districts. Its engaging storyline, distinctive art style, and innovative gameplay mechanics make it a standout title in the genre.


Neku Sakuraba, the introverted protagonist; Shiki Misaki, his first partner who helps him open up; Joshua, a mysterious boy with knowledge of the Game; Beat, a rebellious teenager; Rhyme, Beat’s optimistic sister; and the Reapers, who oversee the Game.


TWEWY features a dual-screen battle system where players control Neku and his partner simultaneously, using stylus gestures and button inputs. Combat involves collecting and using ‘pins’ that grant various psychic abilities, while also navigating the influence of fashion trends and food on character abilities.


The World Ends with You is a landmark title that pushed the boundaries of what RPGs could be. Its legacy continues to influence the genre, and its unique storytelling and gameplay mechanics make it a must-play for any gaming enthusiast.

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