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This week, Yahtzee tempts fate and risks insanity by reviewing a JRPG.

Transcript Edit

I know what you're going to say: "Yahtzee reviewing a JRPG? Perhaps I shall quickly look outside to make sure the sky is not falling and the sea's not running red with blood. Haw hee haw hee haw." Well you smarmy cunt, I had heard that The Word Ends With You does things differently than most JRPGs, and while I took that with mountainous piles of salt, I was intrigued when I noticed that it came out in the PAL regions before America. So, I thought, if the release dates are from Bizzaro World, maybe the entire game is too, and will turn out to be the first good JRPG. Sadly, this uncharacteristic optimism started draining when I looked at the box art and noticed all the characters are undernourished teenaged androgynes who do their hair in the morning by sticking their heads in buckets of lead-based paint and dress like they stepped on a land mine in a trendy clothes shop. But let's be fair. Once I started playing, I noticed that it does do things differently than most JRPGs. It just doesn't do enough things differently.

Things started well when I immediately identified with the main character, a sullen, hate-filled misanthrope. But sadly the developers seemed to think these were negative qualities, so before he could ascend the nearest clock tower, he was roped into a mysterious Challenge Anneka-esque game where he has to complete arbitrary challenges on the streets of Shibuya or die. And he has to team up with a partner, partly to make the most of the DS dual screen, but mostly to teach him a valuable life lesson about friendship and acceptance and everything else Sesame Street used to bang on about whenever Cookie Monster wasn't around. A major thing that turns me off JRPGs, and a lot of games in general, is when I don't feel that I, as a player, am contributing anything to the story. All I ever seem to do is wheel the characters from one whingy boring dialogue to the next. Events are driven by their actions, not mine. All I am is a little, angry id who takes over for the combat, spending the rest of the time jumping up and down in the back of the main character's mind yanking on nerve endings, trying to make him stop acting like a pillock.

I'll show you what I mean. At one point in the second part of the game, I was given the clue "30 + 74". Assuming your brain is located inside your skull and not your rectum, you could probably hazard that this adds up to 104, which was the pretentious name of a pretentious clothes shop near my starting location. But I couldn't actually go there, because the street was closed off. It only opened after I went to another nearby location and sat through another dialogue-heavy cutscene in which I was bold-facedly told the answer to the puzzle. This is not interactive storytelling, this is just reading. I know Japan has a very different culture to the West, but I will never understand why they like the visual novel style of games so much. The porno ones I can sort of understand, at least there's the promise of titties to keep you motivated. But most of them play like Chose Your Own Adventure books with half the pages ripped out, which kind of goes against the whole idea of gaming.

What I'm saying is that I like games where the story and gameplay go hand in hand, while in most JRPGs the story and gameplay are kept either side of a wrought-iron fence made of tigers. Getting through the cutscenes is like eating a bucket of wallpaper paste, but once you finally struggle down the last few spoonfuls and move on, the combat is probably the best thing about the game. Mainly because it's not turn based and there are no random encounters - two automatic gold stars in the special school that is the genre. Before fighting, you select a handful of badges that represent different attacks and activate them in battle by drawing on the touchscreen in their designated ways. The game does tend to frequently mistake one frantic scribble for another, and it seems to get really sniffy about what constitutes a circle. But chances are you'll find there's a handful of attacks that work well together, that you can pretty much get through the whole game using nothing but and let every other pin gather dust in the green room.

An aspect that doesn't work so well is the fact that the game expects you to switch rapidly between two screens and two entirely different control systems throughout the combat, and I couldn't get the hang of it. Maybe my mind isn't as vast and evolved as JRPG fans, but it was just too much of a clusterfuck, and this is coming from someone who can beat "Psychobilly Freakout" on Expert. Fortunately, the computer will take over for the other character if you can't be arsed, and you'll get pretty much the same results, which just hangs a big question mark over the point of it all. Speaking of which, there's also a fashion trend system that changes your stats a bit if you wear the right label's clothing and badges in the right parts of the city. I never really noticed any of it making much of a difference to gameplay, but I want to rag on it anyway because a), fashion victims are one step below nematode worms in the grand scheme of things, and b), like many ancillary JPRG elements, you need a fucking strategy guide spread across your thighs to make the most of it, and the only thing I like spread across my thighs is marshmallow fluff.

But let's get down to it. Is TWEWY a good JRPG? I have absolutely no idea. I feel like I'm on the edge of a frightening world I don't understand, treading water on the surface of a deep, deep lake full of weird-smelling creatures with completely alien concepts of fun and a tolerance for boredom to rival the Man in the Iron Mask. There's too much dialogue, the characters the same shallow stocks you get in every JRPG, and most of the gameplay outside the main story quest amounts to a big old grind sandwich. But working from the principle that these are all selling points for the intended audience, it's got an original aesthetic and the combat is okay, so if you're into this sort of thing, check it out. Now I have to go play an FPS before my body finishes absorbing my testicles.

AddendaEdit

Now officially in his mid-twenties: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw

Hang on, haven't we used this song before somewhere

Ha ha it's not a email address anymore: www.fullyramblomatic.com


ScreenshotsEdit

TWEWY 1

I immediately identified with the main character, a sullen, hate-filled misanthrope

TWEWY 2

All I ever seem to do is wheel the characters from one whingey boring dialogue to the next

TWEWY 3

Completely alien concepts of fun

External LinksEdit

Episodes
2007 - 2010
2007
Q3 The Darkness Demo · Fable: The Lost Chapters · Zero Punctuation (Episode) · Heavenly Sword and Other Stuff · Psychonauts · Console Rundown · BioShock · Tomb Raider: Anniversary · Manhunt · Peggle
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2008
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Q2 Army of Two · No More Heroes · Condemned 2: Bloodshot · Super Smash Bros. Brawl · God of War: Chains of Olympus · Mailbag Showdown · Grand Theft Auto IV · Painkiller · The World Ends With You · The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion · Haze · Metal Gear Solid 4
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2009
Q1 Awards for 2008 · Tomb Raider: Underworld · Far Cry 2 · Gears of War 2 · LittleBigPlanet · Thief: The Dark Project · Skate 2 · F.E.A.R. 2 · Spider-Man: Web of Shadows · The House of the Dead: Overkill · 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand · Resident Evil 5
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2010
Q1 Awards for 2009 · Torchlight · Darksiders · Bayonetta · Dark Void · Borderlands · Mass Effect 2 · Dante's Inferno · BioShock 2 · Aliens vs Predator · Heavy Rain · Battlefield: Bad Company 2 · Final Fantasy XIII
Q2 April Fools 2010 · God of War III · Red Steel 2 · Just Cause 2 · Silent Hill: Shattered Memories · Splinter Cell: Conviction · Nier · Dead to Rights: Retribution · Monster Hunter Tri · Alan Wake · Red Dead Redemption · Alpha Protocol · Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands · E3 2010
Q3 No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle · Super Mario Galaxy 2 · Singularity · Crackdown 2 · DeathSpank & Limbo · Shadow of the Colossus · Split Second: Velocity · Transformers: War for Cybertron · Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days · Mafia II · Metroid: Other M · Video Game Voters Network · Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Q4 Halo: Reach · Dead Rising 2 · Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow · Enslaved: Odyssey to the West · Fallout: New Vegas · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II · Call of Duty: Black Ops · IPhone Games · Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood · Splatterhouse · Epic Mickey · Holiday 2010
2011 - 2014
2011
Q1 Top 5 of 2010 · World of Warcraft: Cataclysm · Fable III · Minecraft · A Shadow's Tale · Dead Space 2 · DC Universe Online · MindJack · Two Worlds II · Bulletstorm · Killzone 3 · Kirby's Epic Yarn · Dragon Age II
Q2 Pokémon White · Yakuza 4 · Crysis 2 · Nintendo 3DS · Portal 2 · Castlevania: Symphony of the Night · Mortal Kombat · Brink · L.A. Noire · The Witcher 2 · Hunted: The Demon's Forge · Duke Nukem Forever (for real this time) · InFamous 2
Q3 Alice: Madness Returns · Shadows of the Damned · F.E.A.R. 3 · The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D · Call of Juarez: The Cartel · Bastion and From Dust · Catherine · Red Faction: Armageddon · Deus Ex · Deus Ex: Human Revolution · Driver: San Francisco · Dead Island · Resistance 3
Q4 Gears of War 3 · Hard Reset · Rage · Kinect · Batman: Arkham City · Battlefield 3 · Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 · The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim · Saints Row: The Third · Assassin's Creed: Revelations · The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
2012
Q1 Serious Sam 3: BFE · Top 5 of 2011 · Super Mario 3D Land & Rayman Origins · Sonic Generations · Star Wars: The Old Republic · Amy · Resident Evil: Revelations · Darkness 2 · Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning · NeverDead · Syndicate · Mass Effect 3 · Twisted Metal
Q2 Yakuza: Dead Souls · Ninja Gaiden 3 · Silent Hill: Downpour · Kid Icarus: Uprising · Fez and I Am Alive · Prototype 2 · Risen 2: Dark Waters · Sniper Elite V2 · Diablo 3 · Max Payne 3 · Dragon's Dogma · E3 2012 · Lollipop Chainsaw
Q3 Quantum Conundrum · Spec Ops: The Line · Walking Dead · Inversion · The Amazing Spider-Man · Half-Life · Wreckateer and Deadlight · Steam Roundup · Sleeping Dogs · Darksiders 2 · DayZ · Guild Wars 2
Q4 Borderlands 2 · FIFA 13 · Resident Evil 6 · Dishonored · XCOM: Enemy Unknown · Medal of Honor: Warfighter & Doom 3: BFG Edition · Assassin's Creed 3 · Halo 4 · Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 · Hitman: Absolution · Far Cry 3 · ZombiU
2013
Q1 Top 5 of 2012 · Paper Mario: Sticker Star · Black Knight Sword & Hotline Miami · Anarchy Reigns · DMC: Devil May Cry · The Cave · Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch · Dead Space 3 · Aliens: Colonial Marines · Crysis 3 · Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance · Tomb Raider · SimCity
Q2 The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct · BioShock Infinite · Lego City Undercover · Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon · Injustice: Gods Among Us · Star Trek · Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon · System Shock 2 · Metro: Last Light · Next Gen Buyer's Guide · Fuse · Remember Me · E3 2013
Q3 The Last of Us · Deadpool · Animal Crossing: New Leaf · Ride to Hell: Retribution · Dark · Mario & Luigi: Dream Team · Rise of the Triad · Papers, Please & Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons · Pikmin 3 · The Bureau: XCOM Declassified · Saints Row 4 · Killer is Dead · Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs
Q4 Grand Theft Auto V · Lost Planet 3 · Beyond: Two Souls · The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD · Batman: Arkham Origins · Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag · Call of Duty: Ghosts · Exclusives Showdown · Ryse: Son of Rome · Dead Rising 3 · Super Mario 3D World
2014
Q1 Top 5 of 2013 · Knack · Killzone: Shadow Fall · Survival Special · Broken Age · Might & Magic X: Legacy · The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds · Dark Souls · Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII · Strider · Thief · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 · Dark Souls II
Q2 Titanfall · InFamous: Second Son · Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes · The Elder Scrolls Online · South Park: The Stick of Truth · FTL: Faster Than Light · Child of Day-Light · The Amazing Spider-Man 2 · Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure · Wolfenstein: The New Order · WATCH DOGS · E3 2014 · Murdered: Soul Suspect
Q3 Tomodachi Life · Enemy Front & Valiant Hearts: The Great War · Shovel Knight · EarthBound · Transistor · E.T. · Firefall · Sacred 3 · Risen 3: Titan Lords · Daikatana · Lichdom: Battlemage · The Sims 4 · Destiny
Q4 D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die · Hyrule Warriors · Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor · Alien Isolation · The Evil Within · Bayonetta 2 · Sunset Overdrive · Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare · Assassin's Creed: Unity · Far Cry 4 · Dragon Age: Inquisition · Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric · Top 5 Games of 2014
2015 - 2017
2015
Q1 The Talos Principle · Elite: Dangerous · Five Nights at Freddy's and This War of Mine · Lords of the Fallen · Saints Row: Gat out of Hell · Dying Light · Grim Fandango · Evolve · The Order: 1886 · The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D · Resident Evil Revelations 2 · Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number & Ori and the Blind Forest
Q2 Battlefield: Hardline · Bloodborne · Half-Life 2 Update · Axiom Verge & Stealth Inc 2 · Mortal Kombat X · Grand Theft Auto Online · Broken Age: Act 2 · Wolfenstein: The Old Blood · Cyberpunk Double · The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt · Splatoon · Hatred · E3 2015
Q3 Alone in the Dark: Illumination · Batman: Arkham Knight · Yoshi's Woolly World · Cave Story · Godzilla · Rocket League & Tembo the Badass Elephant · King's Quest: A Knight to Remember · Nom Nom Galaxy & Freedom Planet · Everybody's Gone To The Rapture · Volume · Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain · Mad Max · Gears of War Ultimate Edition · Until Dawn
Q4 Super Mario Maker · SOMA · Rock Band 4 · Assassin's Creed Syndicate · Halo 5: Guardians · Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 · Rise of the Tomb Raider · Fallout 4 · Star Wars: Battlefront · Just Cause 3 · Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water
2016
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2015 · Devil's Third · Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam · Assassin's Creed Chronicles · Xenoblade Chronicles X · The Witness & Bombshell · Gravity Rush · XCOM 2 · Firewatch & Layers of Fear · Far Cry Primal · Stardew Valley & SUPERHOT · The Division · Salt and Sanctuary
Q2 Republique · Shadow Warrior · Quantum Break · Dark Souls III · Ratchet & Clank · Star Fox Zero · Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door · Uncharted 4: A Thief's End · Doom · Homefront: The Revolution · Overwatch & Battleborn · Mirror's Edge: Catalyst · E3 2016
Q3 Mighty No. 9 · Inside & Shadow of the Beast · The Technomancer · Furi & Song of the Deep · I Am Setsuna · Headlander & Quadrilateral Cowboy · Quake · No Man's Sky · Grow Up · Deus Ex: Mankind Divided · Metroid Prime: Federation Force · The Curious Expedition & Mother Russia Bleeds · ReCore
Q4 Capcom Five · Clustertruck & Lichtspeer · Paper Mario: Color Splash · Mafia III · Gears of War 4 · PlayStation VR · Battlefield 1 · Titanfall 2 vs Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare · Dishonored 2 · WATCH DOGS 2 · Final Fantasy XV · The Last Guardian
2017
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2016 · Let It Die · Dead Rising 4 · Hitman · Gravity Rush 2 · Resident Evil 7 · Yakuza 0 · Nioh · For Honor · Nintendo Switch & Breath of the Wild · Horizon Zero Dawn · Nier Automata · Ghost Recon Wildlands
Q2 Mass Effect Andromeda · Yooka-Laylee · Persona 5 · Remastered Editions · Outlast 2 · Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 · Prey · Wilson's Heart · The Surge · Injustice 2 · Vanquish · E3 2017 · Strafe

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