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The World Ends With You - hands-on

World Ends’ combat is the meat of the game. As mentioned before, fighting takes place on both screens using the “Stride-Cross Battle System,” which means you’ll be controlling both Neku and Shiki at the same time. On the bottom screen, Neku’s battles are stylus-driven and involve a lot of tapping and slashing. Shiki, meanwhile, fights on the top screen, using the d-pad for combos. Tapping left or right brings up the combo key, telling you exactly what to input for attacks. It’s actually not that simple, considering there’s a lot to keep track of. However, the game does a great job easing players into everything from combat to item selection.

In fact, combat isn’t just about randomly tapping button commands and using stylus swipes. Using a system similar to Final Fantasy VII’s materia, Neku’s attacks are decided by the Psych pins he wins from battles. Each pin provides a different attack or ability and is controlled differently.

For Psychokinesis, for example, you can use objects that litter the street for your attacks by dragging them directly towards the enemies. To perform Lightning, you just need to tap enemies, while Shockwave enables you to deal out crushing combos just by slashing the beasties. And like materia, the pins must be equipped in order to be used and leveled up. While this means level-grinding for better Psych pin stats, it’s not only totally worth it, but incredibly engrossing. We were idly thinking about what pin to upgrade next while eating lunch if that’s any indication.

On the flip side, Shiki’s combat is more than just random d-pad combos. Your goal is to earn Fusion stars that’ll unleash a powerful dual screen team attack. See, each combo corresponds with one of three symbols - a plus sign, a circle or a bunch of squiggly lines. You’ll need to match each combo with the corresponding cards that appear at the top of Shiki’s screen. It’s daunting at first, but we found ourselves initiating numerous battles until we got the attack down successfully.

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