It was a game about a lot of things, wasn't it? Part Battle Royale, part Shibuya shopping-simulator… all great fun. To this day, I've never played another game like it. It wasn't just the brain-splitting split-screen combat, it was the whole vibe of the game. It oozed this neurotic, youthful energy, and the excellent soundtrack tied the whole thing together.
A few weeks back, I wrote about the music for Persona, which I have come to utterly love. Takeharu Ishimoto's super-groovy TWEWY soundtrack is very much in the same vein as Shoji Meguro's work on the Persona games.
One of the most enjoyable things about the TWEWY music was how it was integrated into the game's fiction. You could go into one of Shibuya's music stores—AMX, Towa Records and Cyco Records—and buy and collect any of the tracks on the soundtrack. Once you bought a track, you could find it in your inventory and assign it to play whenever you opened up your phone's menu. It wasn't the first game to do this, but for some reason I found myself compulsively collecting the music to an unusual degree.
TWEWY contained an absurd amount of text describing the various items that you could buy in stores, each full of advertising lingo and salesesque pep. Those sales-pitches weren't constrained to the clothes and accessories in the stores; each musical track also had a little blurb describing how cool it was.
The game was basically selling me on its various tracks. You don't have to sell me on your kickass soundtrac, The World Ends With You! I'll buy every track!
Here are some of my favorite menu-assignable tracks from the game, complete with the record-store sales pitch included in their description in the game.
I don't think of this as menu music for my in-game phone, since it's so emblematic of the series as a whole. But that doesn't mean I passed it up when I had a chance to buy it at the in-game record shop!
"Elaborate rhythms and broad-spanning vocals drive this track ever upwards, as if climbing the stairway to some new and unseen paradise."
"Is It Fashionable"
This techno jam plays while shopping in a number of the stores in Shibuya. "Is it Fashionable" is actually a vital question in the game.
"This minimalist track uses highly calculated loops to crank up the energy levels, whether you're ready to shake it or not."
"It's So Wonderful"
This is the actual menu music for the game, so it seemed worth including. Dark! Disonnant! Groovy! Let's see how the game describes it.
"Sprinkle neurotic piano over a leisurely tempo and you've got just the accompaniment to that vulnerable moment when the future goes dark."
This one is easily my favorite, and is always what I have playing on my phone's menu screen in TWEWY. So groovy. Makes me wanna organize my pins.
"Pared down to the bare sonic essentials and wrapped in a droll rhythm, this thrifty track will deliver plenty of danceable bang for your buck."
While there have been hints about a sqeuel, nothing concrete has materialized yet. TWEWY is actually fine on its own, though I wouldn't say no to a second game on the 3DS or heck, even an up-res'd version of the original.
For the time being, the original DS game still has plenty to offer. There's never been anything quite like it in the four years since its release, and it feels (and sounds) as fresh today as it did in 2008.