Monday was a joyous day. I log into Tumblr only to see that everyone’s losing their shit about the picture below (or ones really similar to it). It took a bit, but I soon recognized that this has everything to do with my personal all-time favorite game, The World Ends With You, which was released for the Nintendo DS waaay back in April of 2008. It’s my favorite game because it’s one of the most addicting, different, stylish RPGs I’ve ever played. And it’s got a cult following, at best. Not a lot of people have heard of it.
Cut to last year when they reveal the characters from the game would be making cameo appearances in Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, a decision which would eventually push me into buying a 3DS and selling my old DS lite (selling games and systems is something I rarely ever do). The cameos were cool and their purpose was more or less just to be the characters you interacted with in Traverse Town, the game’s first world. The fact that that’s normally a privilege reserved for Final Fantasy characters meant that good things had to be in store for the Reaper’s Game gang, right?
And now, we have this teaser site, which has many signs pointing to it being related to TWEWY. The site’s URL is a contraction of the game’s Japanese game, which translates to “It’s a Wonderful Life” (so because of licensing issues, it had to be renamed for US audiences). The font on the countdown clock is the same as the font for the countdown clock on the Players’ hands in the game. Tetsuya Nomura and Gen Kobayashi are listed as character designers at the bottom of the page, both of whom worked on the original game (it was made by the Kingdom Hearts team, which Nomura is a prominent member of).
If that wasn’t enough, it started playing a remix of “Calling”, “Twister”, "Hybrid", and a few other songs from the game’s soundtrack.
Evidently the teaser site gets brighter, showing more of the cityscape, and playing new music the closer the clock gets to zero. And while I was (and still am) excited for whatever this clock is counting down to, I had some guesses as to what’s actually going to come out of it. Let me detail those:
It might be a remake
The Kingdom Hearts team is no stranger to remakes of their games, even if said games came out shortly before. Both Kingdom Hearts and its sequel got “Final Mixes” which added new stuff and were basically the “definitive” versions of the game. Chain of Memories got a 3D remake in the form of Re: Chain of Memories that added a lot of gameplay features introduced inKingdom Hearts II, but kept the card battle system. Considering that Chain of Memories’ developer, Jupiter, is the same dev team that worked on TWEWY, I have reason to believe they might be pulling that off again. After all, the story of the characters in TWEWY was completely wrapped up by the end of the game, and that’s a reason I never thought this game would ever get a sequel anyway.
The pieces of evidence that point me toward thinking this is that… well, the songs being played are already from the first game. So far, no new music is being heard on the teaser site. Plus, if you look closely at the skyline on the site, it might look familiar. It’s the 104 building from the first game, based on the 109 Building in the actual Shibuya. In fact, the skyline is the exact same one from the game’s box-art, and the view from the Scramble Crossing area in the actual game.
The situation in Shibuya had already been solved by the end of the game, so why would they need another story set in the same area? With the same music?
And before you say 3DS, I’m not so sure. Not only is the 3DS’ top screen wider than the bottom, but it’s also the only one that’s 3D-capable and it’s more graphically-advanced. If they were to do a remake on the 3DS, it could throw off the balance of the duality of the original’s battle system. That’s why, if it’s a remake, I think it’ll be on the WiiU.
Think about it: the WiiU is already kind of like a DS in many ways, especially with the whole 2nd screen thing. We’ve seen that the WiiU Gamepad is capable of displaying graphics as good as the ones on the TV (probably, what with that whole “I can play Mario while my roommate plays baseball” thing), so it seems more likely that that will be the case. I even made a joke about it on my other Tumblr that they’d call it “The World Ends With U”. But don’t get too excited because…
It might not even make it out of Japan
The Final Mix versions of Kingdom Hearts never got out of Japan. And as far as I could tell, neither did the updated “International” version of Final Fantasy XII, which was, as far as I can tell, that game’s version of a Final Mix. If the above is true, I wouldn’t put my money on it making its way out of Japan, given that track record. I mean, come on. Kingdom Hearts is decently popular in America given its Disney tie-in, and the version of Final Fantasy XII was called the “International” version, for Chrissakes. (And yes, I understand that’s because it includes a bunch of features only available in the North American version, so shut up.) I’m not sure how much more popular a game about fashion-centric teenagers in Shibuya would be with an American audience, even if the original game did get released here. I don’t think the first game sold enough to make Square notice.
But, let’s say all that is wrong. Let’s say that it’s something entirely new, and not a remake.
It would need to be an entirely different story with a different set of protagonists
Square is already good at this with Final Fantasy. Hell, Final Fantasy Tactics on a whole is supposed to take place in the same land of Ivalice, along withVagrant Story and Final Fantasy XII (though, with the case of Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, it might actually take place in two different Ivalices that are very similar). Hell, even the Chrono series retains similar themes while having different characters in those games.
What I’m saying is that if it is a sequel, again, since the story was already wrapped up, it’d have to be a different set of kids in a different situation, dare I say without even the Reapers, maybe. The main threat of the first game no longer has a beef, every one of the main characters from that game went back to living their normal lives. I’m keeping this spoiler-free for the benefit of those who didn’t play the game yet, but those who have beaten it know what I’m talking about. The conflict was completely, 100% tied up.
I mean, it is possible that one of the villains escaped and maybe that could be the basis if it’s a sequel. Who knows. All I know is I’m glad that the series is getting more love. I’m just hoping that whatever comes out of this also releases stateside.
But then, we had a game changer.
Y U DO DIS, SQUEENIX
According to this Joystiq article, there was a leak on the Square Enix eShop that mentions that there’s an iOS port coming of The World Ends With You. A lot of people think this has to do with the teaser site. First, let’s get this thing out of the way:
WHY WOULD THEY MAKE AN iOS PORT OF THIS GAME
TWEWY is a game that takes full advantage of the DS’ hardware. The game’s battle system requires you to battle on both screens at the same time, with the player character Neku on the touch screen and his partner on the top screen. You control Neku with stylus gestures and the partner with the D-Pad (or ABXY buttons if you’re a lefty). Those who have played the game know this. Those who haven’t can probably see why a touch-only, one-screened port of this game could be a disaster.
My money is on having the player ONLY controlling Neku, since I don’t think the iPhone/iPod Touch could handle that level of multitouch. Which… defeats the entire purpose of the game. Or maybe it switches rapidly between character combos, like how the original game suggested you follow the "Light Puck" back and forth between screens if you're having trouble. Of course, this would mean that the system has to switch between touch gestures and digital D-pad controls very rapidly, so this isn't exactly likely. Also, iPod Touch models without a microphone couldn’t play the game because of pins that use the DS’ microphone as an attack function.
Okay, so now that we know this port is going to be a giant mistake, let me throw my two cents into the current situation:
Would Square Enix really make a weeklong countdown site for an iOS port?
This isn’t the first time Square has done an iOS port. Far from it, as to be expected. They’ve ported the original Final Fantasy Tactics, Final Fantasy III, and a few others. But Square has never done a stunt as big as this for one of those.
I’m still holding out that the site is counting down to something different. Square could be porting the game to iOS because of the fact that TWEWY has launched back into mild popularity, following the whole Kingdom Hearts 3Dthing. That and a future iOS port could just be supporting a sequel. Who knows?
I’m just hoping fans of the game (like myself) aren’t getting massively trolled. And if you haven't played the original yet, I highly suggest you do; it's one of the most fresh RPGs you'll ever play. Difficult to master, yes, but rewarding if you put the time into learning it.
If this, however, is counting down to an iOS port of the original game, it'll just be added to the huge list of Square Enix's recent mistakes, such as Final Fantasy Versus XIII maybe being/not being cancelled, or Final Fantasy XIV. Just... the entire thing.
UPDATE: Reading up on this around the internet, a lot of people have added that Brian Gray, one of the people who translated TWEWY, posted this tweet earlier:
So, hopefully this is sort of a confirmation that the countdown isn't just for the iOS port. Crossing my fingers! The countdown ends Monday.