Friday, 27 August 2021

Neo TWEWY review (2): ingame systems

*To make it clear, player refers to the player who plays the game, and characters refer to the in-game characters. OG refers to the original TWEWY and also the final remix if necessary, and NEO refers to NEO:TWEWY.

*Spoilers alert! This part of the review contain some spoilers but the later parts are full of spoilers.

In the second part of the review I would like to talk about the ingame system of everything. This is also part of the success of OG TWEWY. Does NEO managed to glory this part of the original game?



The map is much better than OG. I'm not saying that the old one is bad -- I learned to surf around Shibuya on my first arrival to Tokyo just by playing OG. It's just that the new map is much better. Three key differences:

- Real landscape is replicated into the game making it much closer to real life Shibuya. What OG reflects was a 2008 (or earlier) Shibuya, but NEO shows a 2021 Shibuya which raises more familiarity if you are ever there. The two new areas -- Takeshita a bit weird to count under Shibuya, but Hikarie (and the new Ginza metro station) is definitely the new landmark of Shibuya which I strongly recommend everyone to have a go. (And seriously Hikarie is full of good restaurants!)

- The new map is less fragmented. Perhaps due to technicality or whatever reason the old maps is broken into finer pieces. In OG you have to go through 7 areas to reach cat street from the crossing while it only takes 3 in NEO (via center street)! Many of the areas in OG are just so close to each other in reality (e.g. scramble crossing and Hachiko) so it's unreasonable to split them. It's much more comfortable to surf through the maps in NEO.

- Inter-connectedness. There are shortcuts everywhere and allows much faster access. For example the Hikarie - expressway underpass - bus terminal formed a ring instead of two dead ends; the far away Takeshita region can easily be accessed via Miyashita park late in the game; and Ugadawa backstreets and cat streets are much closer now. On the other hand, a few maps including Takeshita and Dogenzaka includes multiple exits to the same area, so players don't have to dash to the only designated area to teleport.

On the downside, it takes time to change from one area to the other. The visual effect is nice but I don't want to see that after playing the game for 100 hours. I am sure this is the usual slow switch issue but it's just annoying to see that every single time.

(The slow switch issue is also a problem in combating as the game lags when many things happen at the same time. This really hurts the gaming experience unfortunately.)

Another aspect of the map is the way you encounter noises. Similar to OG you scan the noises and the noises approach you when you get near. The problem is now the game is stylus free, meaning that you will need to attract noises by running near them. That means you need to run a fancy path in order to produce a big chain (instead of dragging them together in an obvious way in OG) which is painful in particular during the scramble slam (which we will talk soon in this part).

Even though the game shows the building in 3D, the camera angle is fixed for every position on the map. That means you can't appreciate Shibuya 360 degrees which is a shame. A more practical problem is that the camera angle is fixed in according to your position, so it changes sharply at some points which confuses you on your direction. This is a serious problem for the center street map as it contains multiple 90 degrees turn and has a dead end.


One of the highlights in OG, done poorly in NEO.

If you scan through the threads list for OG you will find that there is a much wider varieties of abilities given. A large pool of them disappeared due to abandoned systems in NEO (which is a pity) like puck passing, partner-side fusion moves, obstacles and so on. The fact that characters now battle in the same way eliminates the possibility of skills that boost performance on particular characters to their fighting styles. Still there are skills that should have been ported to NEO effortlessly like more SOS and defense break (on both characters and opponents) skills.

Similar to how pins work, abilities other than pure stat boosts are categorized into a certain type of wear so you cannot have multiple items on a character with similar boost. With the limited types of abilities available on NEO it becomes a multiple choice question...with 2 or 3 options only. For example the abilities given to headwears are limited to drop boost, button psych up or brand boosts...which all three are kind of boring. Almost all interesting abilities are locked to accessory only including regeneration. Without healing from the lower level killer remixes you really need regeneration from threads (in particular all the long chains during scramble slams), but that means you are locked from all other abilities fun to have.

Speak of the brands, the importance of brands in NEO is greatly weakened but we will address about this in the artwork section. At the beginning I thought that wearing a complete set would greatly boost the stats but no. Stats boosts is minimal in NEO in the first place (and almost nothing boosts attack), and wearing a complete brand PLUS wasting the headwear slot for brand boosts only bring another 10% of the total stat boosts (not your overall stats) which is like...another 50 points of defense. Wearing a complete set is purely a waste of time, although I only recognized that so late in the game when I was doing the postgame time trials.

Threads is definitely a weak point in NEO.

If Neku was around he might sense something familiar...?

Social network, side quests & dives

A replacement of swag or sticker system in OG. It's quite well designed, and saves you from running into every shop just to search for the sticker that you missed. 

Side quests is a replacement of the postgame secret report quest list. On the bright side, that allows you to do the quests when you first visited the day so you don't have to waste time doing all the story quests and encounters again (still there are unavoidable days necessary for 100% noisepedia collection -- even worse you have to do those 3 times!). 

On the other side, having all the quests being social orientated can be good or bad depending on players' taste. It is fun to watch the interaction among characters, but sometimes it's also fun to just to walk around the city and solve some puzzle (I like to do that in reality when I visit a new city).

Some of these side quests involve talking and multiple choices, but the rest are dives. That is, to erase noises on the characters to solve their problem (mentally). These noises are assigned special ability (increased damage/huge noise...) which should be familiar if you have played the final remix. These battles are quite fun, albeit slightly too hard for those who wants to get gold medal on first try. Fortunately most of them are available early in each of the days, so clearing them postgame won't be too hard.

Scramble slam

This is the annoying part of the game.

Three instances in the game were the so-called scramble slam, an UG version of battle royale where teams tries to conquer the turfs in Shibuya. To starters this is already annoying as each of them consists of like 20~30 fights, each taking considerable time. 

And if you just do these fights and nothing else, you are likely to finish with a poor score unable to get the bonus items. If you want to collect all the bonus items on your first try, you will need to farm the points using low attack pins (hence prolonged battle time) and do up to ten 10-chain battles. Instead of 20 battles you now need to do 120 battles, each taking a few minutes. Even worse, all enemies are terribly strong later in the chain because you are damn weak in week 1 or 2. Remember in OG you are only allowed to do 4-chains till postgame, but you are doing 10-chains in week 2! In fact, I had most of my level ups happening in the slam more than anywhere else. You can see that from my stream (sorry for the echo though)

The idea isn't bad, but we just don't need to experience the fatigue that three teams -- Deep Rivers Society, Purehearts, Variebeauties had throughout their loop of being stuck in UG.

Other mumbles

What else? 

Oh the lack of tinpin slammer. We have to admit that children in 2021 don't play that anymore, but it's still nice to have anyhow. At least we found Tinpin Bros walking around as cameo, and Beats talking to Neku about that. It would still be nice to have that in NEO, controlling the pins by joysticks is another challenge though...

And food system which is a complete renovate from OG. Some say the current one is better but I don't fully agree. The stat boost in OG is much more significant so it's necessary to restrict that early in the game. It doesn't matter in postgame with the sticker that keeps your hungry. In NEO the stat boost is just minimal so letting you to eat as long as you do exercises (aka fights) is fine.

Further reading:

Gamerant: 8 biggest fixes the game needs Not like I agree with everything, or let's say the only thing I think was practical is to add co-op mode. Showing the threads in-game is good on paper but hard to execute can I show Rindo wearing a full set of Lolita dress?

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