Smash Underdogs #4: Neku Sakuraba

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Welcome to the fourth episode of my Smash Underdog series! In these analyses, I will be taking a look at some of the lesser talked about characters in Smash speculation that are not on the level of Smash popularity as bigger names like Geno and Waluigi are. The overall goal of this series is to get more people invested in these potential Smash picks and even learn about some of these characters myself.

For today’s character, we have the star from a critically acclaimed DS title. Being by himself was his claim to fame but he ended up having to partake in the Reaper’s Game. Forced to run around shopping areas and fight otherworldly foes, it’s Neku Sakuraba from The World Ends With You!


Who is Neku?



First Appearance: The World Ends With You (2007)
Latest Appearance: The World Ends With You: Final Remix (2018)​

The World Ends With You (TWEWY) is an RPG title originally released on the DS. The premise of the game has you completing various tasks to progress in a trial known as the Reaper’s Game. To complete these tasks, you must defeat otherworldly enemies known as Noise through the use of touch-screen based combat and follow specific instructions like visiting certain areas each day.


Neku, the main protagonist of the game, is an antisocial teen living in Tokyo’s shopping district, Shibuya. While taking a walk through the crowded crossway, Neku suddenly finds himself on the ground with amnesia. None of the people walking can see him as he has now been transported to a new reality known as the Underground (UG). Neku quickly learns that he is forced to partake in the Reaper’s Game, and that he must follow specific instructions each day or he will be permanently erased. In order to survive and escape the game, Neku must ally himself with the right people and complete tasks within a certain amount of time (purely for story purposes though as the daily missions have no actual time limit).

TWEWY received an infinite amount of praise and would later receive ports to various other platforms including the Switch. In addition to starring within his own game, Neku (along with his allies) also appeared in the Kingdom Hearts series through the 3DS entry Dream Drop Distance. Without trying to spoil much, a specific area of TWEWY plays a big part in a later KH game.


“I get it Sora... you’re more popular than me. Just leave me alone already!”​


“I’m interested in TWEWY! How can I play it?”

TWEWY was originally released on the DS, so if you want the original version you can probably buy used versions online for fairly cheap (I’ve seen used ones sell for about $20).

Thankfully if this way of buying the game isn’t your type of style, you can purchase the original game on your phone. There is also an enhanced Final Remix port on Switch which features a ton of bonus content. The Switch version can be played with either touch controls or by aiming the joy-cons, though touch controls are definitely the way to go since that was how the game was originally meant to be played.

As mentioned before, there is no time limit for the daily story missions that Neku must complete despite the game having a sense of urgency. Because of this, there is no need to rush through the game and get all stressed out.

Neku’s Chances for Smash

While Neku does have a fair amount of things going against him, he's left enough of an impact on the DS to the point where he could be an unexpected Square Enix rep. I'll briefly list some of the things relating to Neku's chances:

Pros:
  • TWEWY is one of the most critically acclaimed DS titles. It even recently got a Switch port which means that relevance and fan demand is still there.
  • The series is incredibly close to Nintendo, with TWEWY only being available on Nintendo systems and smartphones.
Cons:
  • Neku has a mountain load of competition when it comes to Square Enix characters due to competing with more popular names like Sora and Geno.
  • TWEWY is mainly a one and done thing unlike other series with continuing sequels like Persona and Dragon Quest. Granted this isn’t really something set in stone, though Neku may have to rely more on personal demand which he may not have at the moment.

Why Should Neku be in Smash?

TWEWY was a very successful game when it first released. It received near-perfect scores and is considered a classic by many. In addition to having a lot of moveset potential through the use of equippable pins, Neku and TWEWY as a whole just oozes style. TWEWY has a cool/rebellious type of theme later seen in games such as Persona 5 and is also very colorful as well. The soundtrack is incredibly catchy as it contains a lot of unique rap tunes that would make TWEWY’s music selection stand out from the rest of the Smash universes.


Moveset

In TWEWY, Neku fights by equipping pins which each have their own different types of attacks. Each pin can only be used a certain amount of times before they must be recharged. Pins can be evolved through a combination of either using them in battle or not equipping them at all.



Combat in TWEWY is done almost entirely through the touch-screen of the DS (or by aiming the joy-con if playing the Switch port). The primary ways of attacking with the pin moves are by tapping, slashing, and dragging your stylus on the screen.

In Smash, Neku’s attacks would involve the attacks he does with pins. This would include his normals, specials, and even his throws which in their case would have Neku levitating the opponent via psychokinesis. Each of the pin attacks in Neku's special moves would have a limited amount of uses before it must be recharged. The process of recharging is automatic and takes about a few seconds to do, similar to Robin’s arsenal.

Neku’s special moves can upgrade to different levels based on how well you use the weapons. So for example if you are able to land enough blows with pyrokinesis, the pin for that special move will upgrade. However, missing hits with pyrokinesis will decrease it back to the base level and make it harder for you to upgrade it. This is to ensure that player’s aren’t just mindlessly spamming specials and that if they want to upgrade them, they will have to make sure that each hit counts.



Neutral special: Pyrokinesis
Uses: 6 (or in this case, 6 seconds of burning)



Press the neutral special input and flames will appear on both sides of Neku. Continue to hold it and move your control stick to either the left and right and the flames will move in that direction. The upgraded version will result in bigger flames and there will even be a slight afterburn effect.


Side special: Ice Blow / Ice Risers
Uses: 8



Use the side special input and sharp ice pillars will appear on the ground. The longer you hold it, the longer the ice will travel. The upgraded version of this attack will result in the pillars being much bigger and can even fly upwards into the air. The ice from the upgraded version will freeze enemies in an ice block similar to Lucas’ PK Freeze (higher damage = more time trapped in ice). This move can be useful in stopping enemies approaching from above.

If used in the air, the icicles will be very small and only move a short distance similar to the aerial version of Terry’s Power Wave.


Up special: Blink Step / First Gear
Uses: 10


This special utilizes two transportation pins from TWEWY. When you perform the up special input, Neku will pause for about half a second. During this time, you can hold the control stick in any direction to instantly teleport there. Neku will be in freefall once this move ends if used in the air.

If you perform this move while on the ground and hold the stick to either the left or right where there is adjacent ground, Neku will instead perform First Gear where he instantly flashes to either the left or right similar to Fox’s side special. When using First Gear, you can flick the stick in the opposite direction to teleport to the other side for up to three times with each individual teleport taking up one of the 10 uses. This can be useful for making your opponents think you will retreat in one direction when you are really heading towards the other side. Due to its high speed and potential for mixups, this move would not deal any damage.


Down special: Psychokinesis
Uses: Infinite (though 3 second cooldown)



Using this move causes all items/projectiles in a radius around Neku to levitate in the air for a few seconds. You can then press the control stick and the special button in one of the four cardinal directions to launch all the items in that direction. This pin can be used as many times as you want but has a 3 second cooldown after being used so it can’t be spammed to disrupt matches with lots of items. Successfully hitting opponents with this move will allow it to be upgraded with a bigger radius.


Final Smash: Fusion Attack



Neku launches himself horizontally and does a slash. The opponent(s) caught in this attack gets launched into a cinematic where Neku will appear with one of his three partners: Shiki, Joshua, or Beats. From there they will perform a fusion attack on the enemies which will consist of a barrage of slashes from across the screen (or in Joshua’s case, raining projectiles). The above gif is what Joshua’s fusion attack would look like. I don’t have a video recorder for the Switch version that I have so click here to see Shiki’s attack and click here to see Beat’s.

In TWEWY, each of Neku’s allies has three fusion attacks for a total of nine. Being able to perform all of them in Smash would be a sight to behold, but for the purpose of simplicity I think having just one for each party member would be fine as it is.


Costumes

Thanks to TWEWY being a bright and vibrant game with colorful characters, Neku has a ton of potential when it comes to visually appealing costumes. Here are my ideas for Neku’s costumes in Smash:




From left to right, top row first then bottom:
  1. Default.
  2. Based on Shiki, a fashion designer who is Neku’s partner during the first week of the Reapers’ Game.
  3. Based on Joshua, an enigmatic (and often very rude) teen who is Neku’s partner during the second week of the Reapers’ Game.
  4. Based on Beat, a hardened street kid who is Neku’s partner during the third week of the Reapers’ Game.
  5. Based on Rhymes, Beat’s younger sister.
  6. Based on Coco, a character who has appeared in the various ports of TWEWY and plays a key role in Final Remix’s bonus epilogue story.
  7. The origin of this costume has a major spoiler behind it so I won’t say what exactly it is based on. Hint: it has a connection to one of Neku’s allies.
  8. Based on Sora from Kingdom Hearts, another Square Enix series. I can’t think of an alt color for any fighter in general that would garner a bigger reaction than this.


Spirit Battles
Neku’s spirits would involve the following characters:



The battles would play out as follows. If a stage is not stated then it means it would just be for the TWEWY stage that would come alongside Neku.

  • Shiki
    • Red Daisy alt with pokeballs that spawn Meowth, a reference to how Shiki often uses her pet cat Mr. Mew in battle.
  • Joshua
    • Masked Man Lucas alt while a Dr. Kawashima assist trophy attacks you. A reference to how Joshua’s fusion attack involves numbers.
  • Beats
    • Black Terry alt on Norfair and the fullscreen lava stage hazard happens frequently. A reference to Neku/Beat’s level 3 fusion attack that involves giant waves that cover the whole screen. Also while thinking of ideas for this spirit battle, I just realized that Smash is long overdue for a skateboarding character.
  • Uzuki
    • Bayonetta that uses a star rod. Based on Uzuki’s witchly demeanor and the fact that she can use a gun during her fight which shoots star-like projectiles.
  • Koki
    • Pikachu that will gain a smash ball every 20 or so seconds. A reference to how Koki has an electric ball circling around him during his boss fight similar to Pikachu’s final smash.
  • Mitsuki
    • Incineroar with a jetpack and the raccoon ears that will multiply if not defeated in time. A reference to her bossfight where she assumes a tiger form that flies around and clones itself.
  • Sho
    • Wolf on Saffron City with pokeballs that drop frequently. A reference to Sho’s boss fight which takes place on the city rooftop where he summons different types of Noise to attack you.
  • Megumi
    • Giant yellow Ridley on Mementos (Persona 5 red background version). Likes to use Ridley’s fireball move and deals a very high amount of damage. A reference to Megumi’s final boss battle where he assumes a giant dragon form and constantly shoots circular fireballs at you.


Stage: Shibuya Streets




Shibuya is the shopping district area of Tokyo where TWEWY takes place as well as a real life location. The main feature that distinguishes TWEWY’s Shibuya from its real life counterpart is the 104 building (with the real-life counterpart being the 109 building). Fights would take place on the busy crossway, where the people walking by do not pay attention to you due to you being in the UG. Various “Noises” (enemies) could also jump into battle such as the different types of frogs and wolves that Neku regularly fights, and there would also be background cameos from Reapers and other characters in the game such as Neku's allies.


Victory Theme

With a lot of catchy music to choose from, there are a lot of options when it comes to Neku’s victory theme. My personal choice would be to use the last few seconds of Twister (the song heard during the intro) but remix it with the record scratching style heard throughout the rest of the song.


Music

If I put down all of the amazing songs from TWEWY that could go into Smash, it’d fill up this entire article. Assuming 12 songs is the limit, I’ll list which ones I think most deserve it here:


Closing Comments

I hope you all enjoyed this article. I apologize for the delay as I was busy with other stuff and was also replaying some parts of TWEWY to get ideas for the moveset. Thankfully though it seems to have definitely paid off.




Next Time on Smash Underdogs: Probably the angriest mayor you’ve ever seen

Author’s Note: What do you think of Neku and TWEWY as a whole? Would you like to see him in Smash one day? Let us know in the comments below!
 
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Sari

Comments

#2
YES! This is PERFECTION!

I loved TWEWY, wanted Neku in Smash since the Brawl days, and this did him justice. Thank you :love:

I had an alternate Final Smash idea, but it’s technically a spoiler.
 
#7
TWEWY is beloved but when it comes to Smash, Neku doesn't get talked a lot especially when he's in Sora/Geno's shadow. For example his support thread only has only about 3 pages worth of posts (EDIT: actually its 4 pages but the 4th page just recently started).
I think TWEWY is great, but compared to the likes of Geno or 2B, he is an underdog in regards to demand/popularity.
i suppose but being from a popular game may do it alone
 
#8
Did I miss the third one?
Edit: It was Poochy, so I wouldn't mind Neku in Smash.
 
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#9
I'd be SUPER down with Neku joining Smash. :shades: In regards to the stage, the crazy thing about how adequate the Shibuya Streets would be, is that THAT very same location (specifically in front of the 104 building) is VERY relevant nowdays (due to a certain game :nifty:).
 
#10
I may want Sora more when it comes to SE reps, but I’d also be happy to see Neku join sometime after just so we could have a big reunion between Neku, Sora and Cloud! (Assuming the former two ever see Smash).
 
#13
Really good post Sari Sari on it, me being such a big fan on the game and played a key part in a point of my life.

Also man, I badly want a Shibuya Streets or Rooftops stage, I don't think there has been a proper stage based on a real world location and as being a good choice for something like Tokyo Mirage Sessions, Namco X Capcom or The World Ends With You.
 
#14
I question the choice of Dark Samus on Sho's Spirit, wouldn't Wolf be a better fit?
I remember thinking of ideas for a wolf to represented, and the first thing that came to mind was "isn't there a wolf Pokeball or Assist Trophy?"

...all while forgetting that there is literally a character named Wolf who is a wolf, not to mention the personality fits better. I went ahead and changed it.
 
#15
I remember thinking of ideas for a wolf to represented, and the first thing that came to mind was "isn't there a wolf Pokeball or Assist Trophy?"

...all while forgetting that there is literally a character named Wolf who is a wolf, not to mention the personality fits better. I went ahead and changed it.
I was thinking more a chance to summon The Moon Assist Trophy, because well...
“Any tree can drop an apple. I’ll drop the freakin’ MOON!”
 
#16
I made a Classic Mode of my own for Neku:

“Fail, and face erasure” (Fights against characters on a constant time constraint; time limit is always 2:30)
Stage 1::ultmario::ultluigi:on Mushroom Kingdom 64 (Ground Theme - Super Mario Bros. (Original))
Stage 2::ultyounglink:on Great Bay (Termina Field (Remix))
Stage 3::ultdk:(team battle w/:ultpeach:) on :75M:Ω (Donkey Kong/Donkey Kong Jr. Medley)
Stage 4::ultryu::ultken::ult_terry:(Stamina Battle; Neku has 150HP while the three opponents have 90HP) on Suzaku Castle Ω (Let’s Go to Seoul!)
Stage 5::ultlittlemac:(Stamina Battle, 100HP) on Boxing Ring (World Circuit Theme)
Stage 6::ultsamus::ultridley::ultdarksamus:(free-for-all) on Brinstar (Escape)
Boss: Galleom (Twister (Remix))

EDIT: I just realized Galleom would’ve worked better due to the Subspace Bomb in his head.
 
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#17
I'm wondering who is this "Angry Mayor" might be?
(Oh and is my request coming soon?)
 
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#18
It has been hinted that Shibuya is going to be in future Kingdom Hearts titles. Ergo, if Neku appears in Kingdom Hearts 4 or another KH spinoff, I could see him gaining popularity. Gameplay-wise, I like the original DS version of TWEWY better than the Switch version, and really wish it was remastered for the 3DS XL.

If in the end Disney does end up getting stingy with Sora, I'll settle for Neku.

ARMS, I believe, is an underdog videogame. Ergo, I think it would be interesting if Fighter Pass 2 turns out to be focusing on characters from more obscure titles. That WOULD be a stark contrast to Fighter Pass 1, which included high profile characters. If this turns out to be the case, then I think chances for Neku as well as other lesser-known characters have just increased.
 
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#19
Sari Sari I already DMed you with the TRUE Smash Underdog that no one ever brings up despite being the third most important Metroid character after Samus and Ridley.
 
#23
Hey, just a friendly question: would you be okay with doing Classic Mode routes for future Smash Underdog articles?
 
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