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The Last Story – Wii

The Last Story – Wii

PlatforThe_Last_Story_(NA)m: Nintendo Wii

Developer: Mistwalker, AQ Interactive

Publisher: Nintendo, Xseed Games

Release Date (NA): August 14, 2012

Genre: Role-Playing

Nerd Rating: 9.0/10

Reviewed by TimmiT
Regardless of your opinion of the genre, you have to admire the dedication of JRPG fans. This niche group has a history of going to great lengths to get fans English translations of their favorite games, be it fan funding, or even translating the entire game themselves. In a similar situation, The Last Story, a JRPG developed by Hironobu Sakaguchi, the legendary developer behind titles such as Final Fantasy and Chrono Trigger, was brought to US shores by the loud voices of fans taking part in Operation Rainfall, a project which fans used their voices (and cash) to bring the Wii titles Xenoblade Chronicles, Pandora’s Tower, and the The Last Story to American shores. Given the pedigree of this game, high expectations are placed upon it. The title “ The Last Story”, after all, seems as though Sakaguchi simply wanted to create another Final Fantasy game after finding a thesaurus. Thankfully though, the game doesn’t disappoint, and exceeded my anticipations.

The core of the game takes place on the island country of Lazulis as Zael, the protagonist, and his band of mercenaries become intertwined in wars between nations and re-awakened ancient magic. The game centers around Zael, who has a mysterious power called “The Gathering”, which draws the attention of the Count of Lazulis island, Count Arganan, causing a rift Zael’s mercenary group. The love story between Zael and the Count’s sheltered Niece, Calista, is also a primary focus. On paper, the story here of an ancient magic sealed away and an evil leader trying to reawaken it seems like it’s been told in countless JRPGs before. What’s special about this game, however, is the way in which it is told. An example of this is the character of one particularly stereotypical character Jirall. He’s the typical “Draco Malfoy” character, the upper-class antagonist who is constantly gloating and trying to sabotage the heroes in the least honorable ways possible. As you would imagine, the game tries to build him up to be a hated character so as to increase the catharsis released when you finally do battle him. Without spoiling much, the battle with him takes that trope to an even greater extreme than you would imagine, and even creates some sympathy for an otherwise detestable character. It is little flourishes like this that, cinematically at least, set this game apart from similar titles. It is easy to see how Sakaguchi’s ability to create new innovations in gaming has not dwindled with time.

the last story screenshot

On a gameplay level, The Last Story also contains many unique ideas and excels against its contemporaries. The game is divided into two main portions: The hub world of Lazulis Island, and the various dungeon areas you visit upon engaging in missions or sidequests, with a few small hub worlds thrown in here and there. Despite the majority of the exploration in this game taking place on one island, it feels deceptively large because of the amount of things to do here. Each citizen of the island has their own lives and troubles, and the player can choose to participate in assisting them, perhaps getting a reward out of it, new armor or weapons, or perhaps nothing at all except a proposal from some strange middle-aged woman in one case. The world feels alive, making the battles the player engages seem to hold more weight since the player has a feel for the world.

the last story map town
The battle system itself takes some getting used to, given that I haven’t seen anything like it in any other game I’ve played. It takes place in real time, where the player controls Zael (or another character at particular times) and the majority of the combat involves slashing away at the opponent, either with manual or automatic controls, and using special moves as the game progresses. For me, the automatic controls frequently caused me to attack when I didn’t want to, so I recommend manual. The player also has various projectiles that can be aimed and shot out of crossbow with various kinds of ammo, necessary for defeating some enemies. Commands can be issued to other party members to cast spells, and the “Gathering” power draws attention away from other members, and can be used for the last story battleother various tricks. The most unique aspect of fighting, however, is disbursement. The player can select an area on the ground where a spell has been cast, do a dash towards it, and disburse that spell across the fighting area. This can be confusing to work at first, but the game doesn’t immediately demand you to have full mastery of these effects, and thankfully allows you to play around for a while before demanding too much. The battle system flows nicely and fighting feels very satisfying once you get the hang of it, however, some may be disappointed that the battles can be too simple. Though there are certain spikes in difficulty, most battles in the game can be won simply by blindly attacking without any real deep knowledge of the battle system. Personally, I don’t mind this too much, as I like it when games give me a breather and let me the last story battlejust play around with my fighting style without worrying about consequences, but for purists, this could come as a disappointment.

As with most other games Sakaguchi has under his belt, the art direction in the game is gorgeous. The setting and the character designs are all fantastic. From the starry night skies, to the view from Lazulis castle of the city, it’s all breathtaking. The music, composed by the Chrono Trigger composer Nobuo Uematsu, is also memorable and contributes well to the sentimental aspects of the game. It’s a shame that with such great art direction that the game is limited so strongly by its hardware. This is particularly noticeable where large distances between NPCs exist, as the frame rate becomes unignorably bad. Graphics certainly don’t make a game, it’s just a shame that this wasn’t a Wii U title given that it was released so late in the Wii’s life.

tls11
Aside from some graphical hiccups and an occasional lack of challenge, The Last Story is a fun, engaging, beautiful JRPG that North America was lucky to get. The memorable characters, music, and just exploring the nooks and crannies of Lazulis Island have me wanting to replay the game even after having just beaten it. Any Wii or Wii U owner who is a fan of JRPGs owes it to themselves to play this game.

Written by Nerd Bacon

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3 Comments

  1. I bought this game on release and it’s been staring at me from my shelf, filling me with guilt that I haven’t completed Sakaguchi’s last console effort. Thank you for reminding me how good it is, and that I need to sit down and beat the damned thing ;o

     
    • I can relate with that, I had this game shelved for awhile before playing mainly because I just liked looking at how freaking cool the packaging was. I am definitely glad I got around to playing it though.

       
  2. While I haven’t been enthralled with newer JRPGs (I’ll stick to my Tactics Ogre and Vandal Hearts) this looks absolutely fantastic. Good read!

     

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