The World Ends With You on the DS has long been one of my favorite video games. Unfortunately, while it did gain a strong cult following, it wasn't a big enough seller for Square Enix to ever make a sequel. Still, it seems that Tetsu Nomura and possibly some others at SE still have a soft spot for it. It got a iOS/Android port, though I passed on that one (I'd rather just replay it on my DS), and then the main characters got a cameo in Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance. I was hoping that would mean that there was a sequel, or at least a 3DS port, on the way. Unfortunately, neither materialized. However, they finally did decide to bring it back, not on the 3DS, but on the Switch. Not a sequel, but an enhanced port with some new content, which is still pretty cool. And hey, if it sells well enough, maybe they will make a second one. Anyway, I've been really looking forward to the Switch version of TWEWY (subtitled Final Remix) and picked it up on on launch day (this past Friday).
So how is it? Well, I haven't had a ton of time to play but I'm nearing the end of the first week (the game is divided into days) and I've gotten a decent feel for things. So how does it hold up on the Switch? Well, TWEWYFR (wow, that's a long acronym) looks great both in handheld mode and on a big screen TV. It looks good enough to be a brand new game. The soundtrack was awesome on the DS and is still awesome now. I also like that there's a menu option to switch between the original DS soundtrack and the new Remix version too (which, so far, is equally good). How about the gameplay? Well, first off, I should mention that the original TWEWY was designed specifically to take advantage of every aspect of the DS's hardware. To that end, it had a unique battle system that utilized both screens and two separate control schemes (touch screen and d-pad) at the same time. Took a while to get used to, but it was incredibly unique and a lot of fun. They naturally had to simplify things for the iOS/Android version and that, unfortunately, is the version they used as the base for the Switch. On the plus side, the main character, Neku's, gameplay is pretty much identical how it was on the DS. In handheld mode you control him with your finger (sadly, my 3DS stylus doesn't work on the Switch, but a finger is almost as good). When the switch is docked, you use a single Joycon to simulate a finger/stylus. Admittedly, I've mostly played in handheld mode. The Joycon worked well enough for the most part, though I had to re-center the pointer more often than I liked (fortunately, all it takes is a single button press). I also had a lot of trouble consistantly pulling off slashing attacks (though I probably just need more practice). Overall, I feel like the Joycon controls worked ok, but even with practice I doubt I'd have the same speed and percision that I do with the touch controls (though character movement was a little better with the Joycon). I appreciate that they were trying to recreate the touch screen controls as much as possible but, as a game designer, I think breaking away from that just a little could have led to a better control scheme. But anyway, over all Neku controls pretty well (just better with the touch screen).
The one real negative with the Switch version (and why I wish they'd gone with the 3DS instead) is that, with the loss of the second screen, they went with the iOS/Android version of the battle system which greatly simplified the role of Neku's companions. Instead of getting their own set of controls, you summon them into battle sort of like an extra attack. You still have to combo attacks between them and charge up special moves, and it's still a very good and fun battle system (and has a gentler learning curve), but it's not quite as good as it was. You lose the unique dual control scheme setup and a bit of depth and complexity with it. They also had to tweak some of the more epic boss battles that really took advantage of the two screen setup (they try to replicate the experience, with moderate success, but it's still not as good). There is a two player co-op mode if you have the switch docked, with a second Joycon used to directly control Neku's partner. It's kind of neat, though it just gives them a couple more attacks, nothing too fancy. And, in case you're wondering, I've tried and playing co-op mode solo is pretty much impossible despite only needing one hand per Joycon. I think the new version of the partner system was a must on iOS/Android devices given the screen size and lack of physical controls, and is pretty good in general. But, even though the Switch only has one screen, I think that, with a little more effort, they could have successfully recreated the original (superior) DS battle system (once again, speaking as a game designer, I have some ideas on how it could have been done).
Finally, while there is new content (an additional day/chapter), I haven't gotten far enough in the game yet to see it so I can't say how good or substantial it is. That's about it though. Unfortunately, they didn't even bother to add full voice acting. It's not really needed, of course, but it would have been a nice addition.
So, I'm a little conflicted about TWEWY Final Remix. On the one hand, it's still a unique and utterly amazing game and in most ways (HD graphics, optional remixed soundtrack, additional content, etc.) it's better than ever. But I feel that the developers' determination to stick as closely as possible to the controls and battle system from the iOS/Android version was a mistake that kept this from being the perfect rerelease. So, at least in regards to the battle system, the DS version is superior (though a bit more complicated). So should you you play TWEWY? Yes, without question. Though if you want to know which version to play, that's a little harder. Don't bother with iOS/Android, unless that's the only one you have access to. There's nothing wrong with it, but the Switch version surpasses it in every way. That said, while the Switch version looks and sounds better and offers new content, tracking down an old DS copy would give you one of the most interesting and unique battle systems to be found in any RPG. But it's an amazing game either way. I'm really enjoying returning to TWEWY on the Switch and I just hope that this time it sells well enough to get the sequel it deserves.
If you didn't notice, there was a big server outage earlier in the week, which is why I didn't update on Wednesday. But everything seems to be up and running ok now. And the new bonus comic is up too, so vote on TWC to give it a look. And now, a travelogue entry...
September 7th (Sunday): Museum Day
With Connie and Zack visiting family, I've mostly been using the extra free time to get caught up on work and various projects around the house. But I wanted to take a day or two to have fun as well. I had a few different options, but on the first Sunday of every month, Bank of America gives people with one of their credit cards free admission to a bunch of different museums around the country. Only one of those museums in near here, but I've been meaning to check it out for a long time so I figured I should finally take advantage of the discount.
Most of the Museums in DC are part of the Smithsonian and, as such, always free. But DC has its share of private museums as well and one of the most popular is the Newseum. In case the name didn't clue you in, it's about the news. Specifically, the history of the news and some especially newsworthy events throughout history. Following the recommended route I started in the basement, watched an intro video, and then took a look at an exhibit about the Berlin Wall, complete with an actual section of the wall. I remember studying about it in history class, of course, but I had forgotten that it really didn't fall all that long ago. Next up was a really interesting exhibit about the FBI, including details about some of their most famous cases and the ways they're adapting to deal with terrorism, cyber attacks, and other modern threats. There was also a small exhibit about newspaper comics. I ended up right near the cafeteria and I hadn't eaten much, so I decided to grab an early lunch before continuing on. Not bad, though there are certainly better places to eat in the area. Anyway, from there I took an elevator to the top floor which featured a nice view of Pennsylvania Avenue, a collection of award winning photos, and a set of current front pages from newspapers from all 50 states and a few different countries. It was kinda of interesting to see how the tone varied between them, even when reporting on the same stories. The next floor was focused on the history of news reporting in the US, from the early days of the country up through modern times, along with a collection of newspapers and the like from the entire period. One thing I appreciated was how balanced it was, pointing out some of the news media's greatest triumphs and biggest mistakes. That applied to the rest of the museum as well...mostly. All the info in the exhibits was very fair and balanced...up until you got to things from the last five or ten years (and especially the last two) and which point the information presented all had a very clear political slant to it. That was annoying, but at least it was only a very small part of the museum. Anyway, other notable exhibits included one on the history of different media used to report the news (radio, TV, and the internet), a section on journalistic freedom around the world, and a section where you could do a faux news report on a greenscreen, to name a few. In the end, it took me about four hours to do a pretty thorough tour of the museum (though I didn't watch all the videos). I can see why the Newseum is popular. It has a number of fascinating (and mostly fair and balanced) exhibits. It's not really good for kids, or anyone who doesn't want to read a lot (though there are a bunch of photos and videos as well), but if you don't mind spending some money to go to a museum in DC, it's certainly worth a look.
I left the museum around 3 and figured that, as long as I was in the area, I might as well go somewhere else for a couple of hours until things started to close. While I was thinking about what museum to visit next, I noticed a building next to the National Gallery that I didn't recognize. Turns out, the Gallery, which I thought Connie and I had explored pretty thoroughly before, has an entire Eastern building that we totally missed so I went in there. If you read my travelogue entry about the National Gallery, you might remember that I really appreciated the fact that it was focused entirely on old classics, without any modern art. Well, turns out that all the modern art is in the East Building. So yeah, looks like Connie and I didn't miss much of anything after all. Anyway, it didn't do anything to change my opinion of modern art. I mean, the giant blue chicken was kind of cool, as were the plaster casts of things you really shouldn't be able to make plaster casts of. And there were works by guys like Picasso where I can appreciate the work involved, even if it isn't my style. Most of the artwork though wasn't just bad, it felt to me like it was both lazy and lacking in creativity. For example, blank canvases with a border, a fiberglass board, and what looked like some props from a toy store. Many of the pieces didn't even have titles, which felt to me like the artist not only couldn't be bothered to put any effort or creativity into their "art", but they didn't even feel like putting in the effort to come up with a name. It was close competition, but I think this one was the worst. It's literally an empty room with a piece of string stretched from one corner to the other. Sometimes I wonder if some of these artists like to get together and laugh about how people spend massive amounts of money on these things, not to mention hours upon hours contemplating them and writing about them. Anyway, the best part of the East Building was the underground passage to the Main (West) Gallery. Not only is it cool and sparkly, but it takes you to where all the good art is. There's a nice cafe down there too.
It didn't take me too long to finish up there, but I wasn't sure if there was really enough time left before closing to go anywhere else. That said, I didn't want to go home yet so I started walking around the National Mall and noticed that I still had a bit over an hour before the Museum of the Native American closed, so I decided to go in and see the exhibits I didn't get to last time such as the exhibits on Pocahontas, the Trail of Tears, and American Indians in pop-culture.
By the time I finished, the museums were all closing and I didn't really feel like staying until supper so I headed home. It was a fun and interesting day, though it reminded me just how many museums and other attractions in DC I still haven't seen yet. But hey, that just means I've got more to look forward to.