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CCV: Gaming Inside and Out - The World Ends With Me, Apparently

I have this strange relationship with Mother Nature.

You see, I love nature. Really, it's great. I promise. All those, uh, brown and green things coming out of the ground? I appreciate that oxygen stuff they give me. And, uh, those little chirpy things. Yeah, those things make nice noises.

But there's one strong deterrant to me going outside. The big yellow ball in the blue-above-my-head is not always kind to me. I burn quicker than a match at a convention about the many varieties of fire. So when someone asks me, "What do you do outside?", my response is generally not what they expect. I laugh, and tell them the closest I come to going outside is opening the window. . . When the mutts next door aren't barking like crazy, that is.

Whomever drew this internet picture has obviously been spying upon me.

I don't mean to be so negative. I'm sure there's plenty of things to do outside. Some of my fondest memories of being outside were in a bush-filled ditch, flying through on an ATV at, like, a million miles an hour (that's what the speed-o-meter said) with my mom yelling behind me to "Slow down!" But with how pale I am and how much I do not look good in the color red, bus rides to downtown for college are the closest I get to co-operating with the sun.

Insert the Nintendo DS, and The World Ends With You (TWEWY), a Japanese RPG from Square Enix. I'm also one of those strange beings that believes there's nothing really great on the system beyond a few RPGs, but then again, I have one of the launch models and no real need for portable gaming beyond one game every once in awhile. I don't get the fun downloadable things, no camera to mess with, and no ARGs or 3D to laugh at. No, I have four games to choose from. Pokemon, Final Fantasy. . . Uh, another Pokemon. . . And then TWEWY.

The main catch to TWEWY is how fully it uses the Nintendo DS's controls. You are Neku, a teenager who is drawn into a strange game known only as the "Reaper's Game". You pair up with other "Players" in an attempt to complete missions and fight against the "Noise" to avoid being "Erased". That is, killed. I think. (I'm not that far in. I'm filling in some holes right now. Pretend I didn't just admit that and that this is definitely a professional review.) You fight the Noise by making a "Pact" with another person, and using "Pins" to cast spells as Neku via the stylus controls, while using the directional pad to cast spells as the partner.

Confused? What if I told you Neku was on the bottom screen, the partner was on the top, there's a light disc tossed between the two in a combo system, the combat is fully active (either characters can be attacked at any time), enemies are on both screens at the same time, and more? I could really keep going. There's also dash invulnerability, pins can apparently level up and evolve, drop rate by changing what level you are. . .

So. . . Much. . . To. . . Learn. . .

You can see how I may find TWEWY hectic. Hectic is being polite. I would like to pretend that I am staying calm and collected as a novice to this game, and pulling off sweet combos to defeat the evil Noise that I come across. I would also like to pretend that I haven't died quite a few times already, and am only on the third "day" of the game (that's about an hour in, but I like random battles, so I've got 8 hours racked up so far). And yet, I find myself hooked. On, uh, being amazing at the game that is. I'm definitely really good at it. Incidentally, I sometimes have streaks of chronic lying.

Causation is not correlation, but I forgot everything I learned in high school math the moment I graduated, and immediately found a connection between doing well in combat in TWEWY and sunlight. And with it becoming nice outside, my summer break underway until September, and no more busses to ride every day, I'm actually finding myself sitting outside on the porch enjoying this game. . . In the sunlight. . . During the day.

Something must be wrong with me.

And yet, something relaxing happens by sitting around, chilling in the sunlight with a Nintendo DS in hand and being enveloped in a story filled with mystery, action, interesting characters, and so on. The World Ends With You is the kind of game I can sit down with and burn many hours on without a care in the world. I may be shunned for the fact that it isn't exercise and that seems to be what the outdoors is related to, but when your thumb is so green it's brown and you burn as fast as gasoline, you take what you can get. I may not be enjoying Mother Nature to the fullest, but through The World Ends With You, I am getting what I can.

Coincidentally, I think the game mocked me by giving me a "fire" spell as my first spell.

Yeah, thanks Square Enix. I got the hint.

I'll remember the sunscreen next time.

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