The World Ends with You: Solo Remix has swagger, and that swagger infects everything that it comes into contact with. This assured, knowing J-RPG classic is almost designed from the ground up to make you want to strut.
It's not a game that plays around with the strictures of genre so much as tosses them out of the window. It doesn't toy with new ideas - it hurls them at you in a barrage of catchphrases and colours.
A game created by a development team willing to experiment, and a love letter to one of the most culturally intriguing districts of Tokyo, Square Enix's cool, irreverent DS original loses a little of its spark in the transfer to a single screen, but it's still an example of Japanese gaming at its very finest.
Another amnesiac loner
You play as Neku, a loner with a chip on his shoulder who's reluctantly drawn into a strange competition run by a shadowy group known as The Reapers after losing his memory. Set in an alternate reality Shibuya, the game sets Neku challenges that he must complete or face being erased from the world for good.
The alternate Shibuya is plagued by creatures known as Noise, which need to be killed in order to clear invisible walls, level-up, and collect items known as Pins. These badges form the fighting system in the game.
You have a set number of Pin slots, which increases as you progress through the game. Some act as physical attacks, some as magical forces that can be directed towards the noise, and some as buffs and debuffs.
Attacks have their own gestures, with swipes, drags, and taps all combining to create your arsenal. It's not a perfect system, and sometimes you'll run when you want to slash, or set fire to things when you want to dodge.
Pin it on yourself
As well as your Pins, you have a partner in most of your fights. Whereas in the DS original they fought at the same time as you on the top screen, now you need to call them in to play with a tap on an enemy.
Chaining together combos with your partner fills up your Sync gauge. Once it's full you can unleash a powerful attack on all of the enemies on screen, which also refills your health and increases the drop rate of rare items.
You instigate fights by scanning the area you're in and tapping on red glowing symbols. You can tap up to four of these to create an increasingly difficult set of bouts that levels up your pins quicker and is more likely to drop loot.
Fashion plays an important part in proceedings. Wearing the right gear in the right place at the right time gives you damage bonuses, but wearing uncool clothes can slash your damage in half.
The real key to The World Ends with You: Solo Remix's success though is its cast of characters. They're flawed and loveable, broken but engaging, and it's their stories that push you through from fight to fight, quest to quest.
That their adventures are so entertaining is testament to the vision and care of the team behind the game. While this iOS version isn't the definitive one, its remixed soundtrack and Retina graphics make it an enticing package all the same.
Drawn in big, bold strokes, The World Ends With You: Solo Remix is a re-imagining of the J-RPG for the modern world, and it's worth every penny of its unusually high asking price.