Posted by Jeriaska on July 5th, 2007
Square Enix Japan is gearing up for this month’s release of the Nintendo DS rhythm action RPG Subarashiki Kono Sekai, alternately titled It’s a Wonderful World. A stand-out title in terms of its presentation, the game has on its lineup of features eye-catching Nomura designs, a unique battle system, and Takeharu Ishimoto hip-hop tunes. An urban lifestyle fashion statement and animated riff on Japan’s Shibuya youth culture, the DS title will be available overseas in three weeks.
Shibuya teenagers Neku Sakuraba and Shiki Misaki have seven days to complete the Shinigami Corporation’s Death Game. The rules are varied and intricate. Neku has been endowed with psychic powers by means of which he can sense the presence of monsters living within the thoughts of strangers. Once encountered, he and Shiki can battle the psychic “Noise,” which takes the form of frogs, bears, and wolves. As they advance through the game, the motives of the Shinigami corporation’s bosses and their lackies, represented by the stylized skull and cross-styli insginia, will come into sharper focus. Along the way, they will be aided by Beat, Rhyme and Joshua, three teens similarly pulled into the Shinigami’s treacherous contest.
Neku, Shiki, and Beat silencing the Noise
Gameplay in It’s a Wonderful World involves both screens of the Nintendo DS and makes use both of the stylus and D-pad. In the demo I had a chance to try out at the Square Enix Party, Neku could be directed through a cluster of of pedestrians crossing a crowded intersection. Touching the Shinigami skull insignia in the corner of the screen activated Neku’s ESP and revealed the Noise, initiating battle mode. Enemies take the form of the animals that thrive on Shibuya’s real-life refuse like crows and rats, along with imaginary creatures such as vicious wolves and bipedal bears. The party’s guest characters are shown in the top screen and their attacks are initiated by tapping the D-pad to rhythms prompted by on-screen commands, ala rhythm action games like Parappa. Good timing allows Shiki’s cat doll to unleash a combo attack or fling a stray bike at the enemy. Neku takes the bottom screen, and can be made to inflict damage on the enemy by using the stylus. Jabbing at the Noise with the touch pen sparks lightning bolts, while circling motions send spirals of fire through the air.
The production of It’s a Wonderful World is being overseen by Kingdom Hearts animation director Tatsuya Kando, while the menu designer for the Dinsey-Square tie-in, Takeshi Arakawa is handling planning design. As evidenced by the rhythm action elements of the game’s battle mode, music will play a central role in the DS title. Composing the techno and hip-hop tunes for the game is Takeharu Ishimoto, the synthesizer programmer on Chain of Memories. His song “Twister” is featured as the background music on the trailer found below, to be accompanied in-game by the provocative vocal track “Give Me All Your Love.” Subarashiki will contain an unprecedented amount of talking and singing for a Nintendo DS cart, including a theme song by JPop singer Jyongri, along with a smattering of spoken sound effects, such as gasps when Shiki senses danger, or brief asides, as when Neku activates his ESP. As for the distinctive look of the dreamlike urban landscape, it goes without saying, Tetsuya Nomura had a hand in the game’s visuals.
Shiki’s stuffed animal Nyan-tan busting out with a special attack
Assuming It’s a Wonderful World eventually makes its way to the Anglophone world, we may come to know it as something else entirely. Subarashiki Kono Seikai will be on sale in Japan on July 27. An English-language release has yet to be announced, but is likely in the works. In the meantime, check out the official site at Square Enix.co.jp and the trailer at Gametrailers.