Horizons Broadening Project 2009 - April

After a less than satisfactory experience with The Witcher, a game that continues to flummox me with the disparity between how much I though I would like it and how much I didn’t, I am moving forward with my Horizon’s Broadening Project undeterred. And, I am truly facing the core of my prejudices for April.

For some months now I’ve been thoroughly insufferable if you happen to be a fan of handheld Nintendo gaming. For numerous, largely faulty, reasons I have labored under the illusion that the Nintendo DS was a once bright and shining promise now tarnished by industries dedicated to selling games about Horsez and the Jonas Brotherz. So rampant is their misuse of the 26th letter of the alphabet, that I have been blinded to what I am assured are some excellent releases.

So, this month I take on the DS for my Horizons Broadening Project, and tackle two birds with one stone and dive head first into the cloying world of JRPGs. This month’s Horizons Broadening Project: The World Ends With You.

I’ll be honest. I expect to hate it.

Now, hold your ire until the end, because that may just be a good thing.

Looking back on my experiences so far it’s important to note that both the games I played took on aspects that were the opposites of my initial expectations. I was terrified that Birth of America II was going to be an incomprehensible amalgamation of chits and fuzzy math. It actually turned out to be a quite playable experience that engaged me far more than I might have expected.

By contrast, my fully documented disappointment with The Witcher may have originated in some part from my complete misunderstand of the structure and mechanics of the game. I never quite understood how the foundation of what I suppose would have been a worthwhile payoff was built on the back of endless trekking back and forth across a city I cared nothing about and occasionally fighting monsters with a painfully thin combat system.

Judging by how things have, so far, turned out exactly the opposite from my expectations, it’s possible that I may be singing the praises of The World Ends With You within the span of a month. But, I don’t expect to be, after all that would break the fragile system.

I had a lot of good choices for my DS pick, and I suppose the fact that I struggled over the decision of what to play must be mentioned because it runs against my now well trodden criticism of the system’s library. Among the games I seriously considered, GTA: Chinatown Wars, Hotel Dusk, Dragon Quest V, Henry Hatsworth and some form of Pokemon which I have never played. Ultimately, the overwhelming enthusiasm for TWEWY finally swayed me.

Now, before you ask, this does not necessarily preclude my playing any other JRPG during this grand experiment. However, while I will go into this with my narrow mind opened as wide as I can wedge it, the fact is that there are a lot of staples to the genre which just rub me the wrong way. I wonder quite sincerely whether I’ll be able to elevate my play above my bias.

Comments

I bought this game when I first got my DS in November, but I didn't crack the shrink wrap until today. This gives me the perfect reason to play it.

Oh no...good luck on The World Ends With You... I hated it.

If you are playing TWEWY, it's already a Pokemon game (gotta collect 'em all pins!), so you actually have two games in one. Speaking for myself, I hate the setting. I hate the emo protagonist. I hate the teen speech. I don't care about fashion at all. The fighting system was too confusing for me at first. And yet I believe that TWEWY was the best RPG of 2008 on all platforms and I loved it to death. All the things I don't care about were put together in a great way that sucked me in. I still need to finish some of the secret stuff. I can fully understand if you will hate it, but at least give it some serious play.

Interesting choice Ely. Never played more than 10 minutes of FF7 so jRPGs are a total mystery to me. But I suspect that if you found Vizima a grind this will sorely challenge you.

Maybe the low expectations will help.

After playing this game for a while, I think RPGs that don't grant you combat buffs for staying current on what brands of clothing are popular in each area just won't cut it for me anymore.

wanderingtaoist wrote:

Speaking for myself, I hate the setting. I hate the emo protagonist. I hate the teen speech. I don't care about fashion at all. The fighting system was too confusing for me at first. And yet I believe that TWEWY was the best RPG of 2008 on all platforms and I loved it to death. All the things I don't care about were put together in a great way that sucked me in. I still need to finish some of the secret stuff. I can fully understand if you will hate it, but at least give it some serious play.

Couldn't agree more with this - and you definitely do have to give it a couple of hours to start seeing past all the stuff that seems bad to begin with. My wife has a DS and loved FF3 so I suggested TWEWY - all I'd heard about it was that it was a good DS JRPG. She just couldn't get past the art style and the overly "emo" character. I picked it up since I had a long plane ride coming up, and I wanted to see if it would be worth taking with me - I'd played a good 10-15 hours before I even got to the airport.

I still need to complete it - but for me it's one of those games that I'm putting off finishing because I don't want it to be over, rather than putting off finishing because completing it is a chore. Definitely my favorite ever DS game.

OCEdwards wrote:

I'd give a Phoenix Wright/Apollo Justice game a go, a Pokemon for sure, Jeanne d'Arc, and Zelda Phantom Hourglass.

I wasn't aware Joan of Ark was on the DS.

iseemonsters wrote:

I still need to complete it - but for me it's one of those games that I'm putting off finishing because I don't want it to be over, rather than putting off finishing because completing it is a chore. Definitely my favorite ever DS game.

There is a lot of stuff to do after you finish the game - more pins, harder difficulty, new monsters, new clothes - so don't worry, even when you finish it, there are hours of fun to have.

wanderingtaoist wrote:

There is a lot of stuff to do after you finish the game - more pins, harder difficulty, new monsters, new clothes - so don't worry, even when you finish it, there are hours of fun to have.

Seriously awesome bonus chapter ("Another Day") on there as a post-game bonus, which kind of parodies the game, and JRPGs in general... but at the same time gives you a chance to indirectly learn more about the in-game metaphysics. You get to play a LOT of Tin Pin Slammer. Which I initially HATED, but once I learned the tricks and got some better pins, became really fun.

Doing this is what allowed me to enjoy the Half Life series and ultimately everything Valve has done. So congrats! and I hope it turns out well for you.

Another PW supporter here. Play Phoenix Wright dude! The writing is terrific.

Started playing this today and I'm hooked. I actually think the vibe, music, etc. are interesting. Kind of reminds me of Persona 3 on a very surface level. I love the dual screen combat. How ingenious. This is one of the few times I've seen both screens used well. Often the top screen is a map or summary information that I could get just as easily by clicking through a menu, but this is actually an essential gameplay mechanic. Awesome.