NEO: The World Ends With You, discovering the sequel with Tetsuya Nomura

NEO: The World Ends With You, discovering the sequel with Tetsuya Nomura


Fourteen years is a long time. Not enough, however, to stop Tetsuya Nomura and his team from bringing NEO: The World Ends With You, a sequel to the original The World Ends With You released on Nintendo DS, to market in a few months. Let's start immediately with a clarification: while defining it as a sequel, it is not a direct sequel to the game but to the animated adaptation that arrived in Japan in April 2021 - as confirmed by Nomura himself on the official Twitter account of the anime. The events will take place three years after those told in the series.

It is therefore inevitable that our first curiosities, during the interview with him and part of the development team (the director Tatsuya Kando, the co-director Hiroyuki Ito and producer Tomohiko Hirano), have focused precisely on the choice of both producing an anime and connecting the game to the latter. First of all, Nomura explained to us, it was precisely the animated adaptation that gave that push for NEO: The World Ends With You to turn into a well-defined project, discussed at length in the fourteen years that separate it from the original title but without ever find the right moment to make it happen. However, the anime should not be seen as a bridge between the two games, Kando specified, both because it is a product that takes up the story and setting of The World Ends With You and because it is possible to enjoy the NEO experience even if not. having the slightest prior knowledge - or having partial knowledge from having played or seen the anime.

Characters and design

Rindo, the new protagonist of NEO: The World Ends With You Understanded how the animated adaptation fits into the context, and whether or not it is possible to approach NEO: The World Ends With You as newbies, the speech immediately moved on to the game itself, starting with the new cast of characters. We know that we will be brought back to Shibuya to undergo once again the so-called Game of Demons, reconnecting to the foundations laid by the extra episode "A New Day" available in the Nintendo Switch re-edition of the original game and that in all probability it will be resumed in the anime: here the fate of the protagonist Neku Sakuraba are left in suspense and a historical antagonist of the franchise is not only resurrected but, in this sequel, he is the glue between the two chapters. The former Shinigami Sho Minamoto will in fact be one of the four individuals called to participate in the new Game of Demons. Nomura casually dodged questions about whether the hooded character in the trailer could really be Neku, so we had to give up and move on to another fundamental aspect of the series: the design of the protagonists. Of the characters shown so far we find Ayano the most intriguing but, overall, the whole artistic sector of the first chapter and, now, of NEO stands out and makes both games very original in the well-fed squad of Square Enix titles.

"We worked in several people on this aspect", Nomura said, "with the aim of making the characters unique individually but also as creative as possible, trying to recreate the atmosphere that reigns in the real Shibuya". The most obvious example in this sense turned out to be Rindo, the new protagonist: his appearance was thought of before the pandemic due to Covid took hold, so although having him equipped with a mask may seem linked to the contingent situation, it was treated in reality of a chance. Rindo in fact, like Neku before him with regard to headphones as a distinctive trait of his character, is a bit like the mirror of the young people who were seen along the streets of Shibuya wearing a mask for fashion and not for necessity as it is nowadays. .

NEO: The World Ends With You, Rindo and Fret The design of NEO therefore, as of the previous game, wants to be the reflection of a young Shibuya, and therefore to get as close as possible to this type of audience. In fact, the original The World Ends With You already had an eye towards this concept, that is the constantly evolving trends, and the game went well with the style of those years; the same concept seemed to us in turn expressed in NEO, where especially as regards clothes there was a small update, if we want to define it so, so that they keep up with the times and are - again - the mirror of our reality. This meant that adapting the style to a "new era" was in itself very simple because, Nomura replied, it was enough to look around and seize the moment, observe the way in which people but above all the boys lived Shibuya to find the inspiration and then propose it again in the game.

Setting and gameplay in 3D

Where the distinctive style of the characters and in general of the game itself has remained faithful to the past, we were surprised in the see a Shibuya now freely explorable and in three dimensions. A particular choice that undoubtedly redefines some rules, first of all those of the combat system: it is inevitable that the transition from 2D to 3D leads to rethinking certain aspects, in particular the transition from the touch screen of the original Nintendo DS to the controller. . The approach, Ito explained to us, was to offer a new experience compared to the past by focusing on the development of engaging gameplay. He didn't go very far with the details, however he added that the team worked on the possibility for the players to remap the controls according to their preferences so as to manage the characters at will and experience as much as possible. possible staff. The intention behind it is, of course, to convert the fun that the original touch screen and dual screen game offered into an equally immersive experience - albeit different in terms of gameplay.

NEO: The World Ends With You, the combat system promises to be engaging Despite the reassurances, it was inevitable to think that the transition to 3D could somehow, and paradoxically, have flattened everything, making NEO: The World Ends With You a product like many others. and therefore deprive him of his soul. However, there has been unanimous confirmation that this drastic change will not affect the uniqueness of the game in any way, considering that most of the bases are taken from the original chapter and an additional level of complexity has been added to the rest of the content that will do only good to the overall experience - without depriving it of its individuality.

There are some aspects that the trailer hasn't conveyed in their entirety but the team's promise is that there will be no shortage of surprises. That same amazement that, in terms of narration, the original game was able to convey with its unexpected depth and complexity; both elements, we are confirmed, that we will find in NEO but on which the team has preferred to keep an understandable reserve. After all, part of the charm of The World Ends With You was to be attributed precisely to the themes it dealt with and the way it was done. Just the confirmation that we can expect the same narrative quality, perhaps streamlined by the amount of long-winded dialogues and the basic repetitiveness of the original, is enough to give us positive feelings for the sequel.

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