The Last Story has garnered much attention over the past few years, with the original reveal that Mistwalker, fronted by JRPG mastermind Hironobo Sakaguchi, was working on a Wii-exclusive, followed by the furore of Operation: Rainfall to get it released in the west. Has all the hassle been worth it?
Despite receiving a 38/40 score from Famitsu and debuting at the top of Enterbrain’s weekly charts with 112,000 units sold in its first week, sales soon dried up causing Nintendo to question bringing the title to the west. The Last Story was soon grouped together with Ganbarion’s Pandora’s Tower and Monolith’s epic Xenoblade, as three stand-out mature titles Nintendo wouldn’t localize.
Thankfully Nintendo soon had a change of heart (perhaps due to Op: Rainfall?) and have so far released two out of the three titles across PAL regions and announced the release of two out of three across North America.
The Last Story sees you playing as a young mercenary called Zael, with a group of friends trying to become knights. Each of the usual JRPG stereotypes is addressed with each member of this motley crew. Which is a theme which runs throughout the entire game, very few plot twists or game-play mechanisms will surprise you. As you finish off enemies your characters level up and earn new abilities, you can buy or upgrade weapons and equipment and also spend hours and hours doing extra side-quests.
Enemies in the game take many forms, but none so much as the Gurak. They are the main opposition, but you will fight against various monsters, ogres, and reptids. The game, takes place on Lazulis Island, predominantly in a castle town or the castle itself, but several excursions are taken to various ships and Fortress Island; the home of the Gurak.
The storyline revolves around the introduction of a character called Calista who has run away from home. Without spoiling too much, Zael and Calista’s relationship becomes the centre of attention as you fight through seemingly never-ending labyrinths to discover the secret of Lazulis Island.
Graphically speaking the game is a mixed bag. It has a very ambitious art direction for the under-powered Wii, provoking the developers to implement a blur technique. Ordinarily this may not be much of an issue but as this game’s colour palette contains more browns and greys than any game I’ve player before makes it often hard to pick out unique details in the distance. The games soundtrack is simply stunning, orchestrated by Nobuo Uematsu, helps suck you into this thrilling world.
However, on the other hand, in places such as in tight water-filled caverns the game looks breathtaking, even comparable to an HD-console. It has to be seen to be believed, but then it shouldn’t come as no surprise that in the Wii’s final year developers have finally managed to get the most out of what many consider is two GameCube’s duct taped together.
The controls in the game are what you’d come to expect playing an RPG with a Wii remote. Exceptionally simple to pick up but equally as difficult to master. Like Xenoblade before it, the game starts off with the basic controls, and then as the hours fly by they gradually layer on extra powers and abilities. Quite notable, as you learn a new technique a tutorial video will be optioned. Where you actually see the technique taking place in front of your eyes with text instructions.
The online multiplayer is a welcome inclusion, there are both 6 player co-operative or competitive modes. These feature the usual deathmatch, team deathmatch but also a boss fight mode. Players are free to choose from their favourite character or even enemies from the game.
While never being that interested in RPGs, I’m not sure if its simply my tastes changing or the exceptional caliber of both Xenoblade and The Last Story; I have now enjoyed both games thoroughly. I completed the main quest in roughly 20 hours, but only completed a couple of the side-quests. You could get lost in the game and nearly double my playtime. I found the story in The Last Story to be very deep and engaging, if a little clichéd. Something being a Wii gamer I’ve been starved of over the years. The voice-work and cut-scenes brought the game to life. I hope that the game receives the attention it deserves which in turn teaches Nintendo never to consider to withhold fantastic titles again.