Impressions on The Last Story

JRPG fans in Europe are in for a treat later this month as the hit title The Last Story is getting a PAL release.  Following in the footsteps of Xenoblade Chronicles, this Wii exclusive from Mistwalker Studios is sure to bring joy to our friends across the pond.

For those unfamiliar with the title, The Last Story takes place on Lazulis Island, the only region in a dying empire that still continues to prosper.  The protagonist, Zael, is the head of a rag-tag mercenary group that traveled to the island with the hope of finding more work.  If they can impress the local ruler, Count Arganan, then their days of living from paycheck to paycheck may be over.  However, during their first mission, Zael gains a mysterious new power which changes his life forever.  While is seems like the standard JRPG fare, it’s enough to get genre fans’ tails wagging – I know mine is!

At first look, combat appears to be your typical action/adventure game.  Find the enemies, beat them with your sword until they die, rinse, and repeat.  Dig a little deeper, however, and we start to see some interesting augments.  Zael has a Gale ability, which allows him to interact with magic in different ways, such as dispelling spell circles to create slippery surfaces.  Our hero is also capable of drawing the enemy’s attention to himself, which helps him to break their formations thus allowing his allies to better engage their foes.  This can be used to his advantage and allows him to corner opponents so that he can run up walls to deliver powerful downward strikes, an ability unique to Zael called Vertical Slice.

Players will also be able to take cover behind objects to surprise the enemy, and certain set pieces will be destructible and may be used as traps.  This is something we don’t typically see in these kinds of RPGs, and it therefore makes combat in the game look very in-depth and interesting.  However, only time will tell as it’s hard to judge a game I haven’t played.  A full in-depth look at the game’s combat system can be found on The Last Story’s official website, and I recommend taking a peek!

For a title developed in 480i, the game actually looks very well done.  Cutscenes, for example, seem to live up to other next-gen titles on more powerful consoles, and the in-game graphics appear as good as can be expected for a Wii title.

Also worth noting is the design direction.  Gameplay essentially takes place in two areas: Lazulis Island and the dying lands of the Empire.  While the former houses a busy city complete with bustling markets and a wondrous castle, the latter is a world of crumbling ruins, turning to crystal and breaking apart.  The fragments of these lands float through the air like feathers in the wind, creating a very sad and mysterious atmosphere.  The contrast between the two areas is very intriguing and is sure to pull in many gamers.

Samples of the game’s music can also be found on the website and they give a great preview as to what players will hear on release.  The legendary Nobuo Uematsu has composed the title’s soundtrack, using beautiful melodies on violin and intense, full orchestral battle themes, building in tension before hitting the chorus.  These wonderful tracks are just another reason to look forward to the release.

If you’re the type who needs to have the most content possible, then you’re in luck as The Last Story is getting the Limited Edition treatment.  Fans who pre-order this version of the title will receive their copies in a beautiful brown parchment-colored SteelBook case, along with a CD of the title’s soundtrack and an art book.  All of this is packed into a cool little container that can be hung on a rack to show off your shiny new game.

At the moment, Nintendo has stated that they have no plans to bring the title to North America.  However, fans shouldn’t count it out just yet; the same was also said about Xenoblade Chronicles, and now that’s on its way to our shores.  Could The Last Story be next?  It seems possible, as Nintendo of America has recently snatched up the game’s trademark in the U.S. While this doesn’t confirm that it will see an NTSC release, it certainly can give one hope.

And boy, do some people have hope.  The demand for the title, along with others, has sparked a movement called Operation Rainfall.  Members of this group are dedicated to convincing Nintendo to bring The Last Story, Xenoblade Chronicles, and Pandora’s Tower to N.A. regions – even going as far as starting a petition.  If you’re interested in helping bring these games to a Wii console near you, check out Operation Rainfall and put your John Hancock down for the cause.

If you’re a resident of a PAL country, own a Wii, and are a fan of JRPGs, then The Last Story is something that you should definitely look into.  With all the makings of an awesome adventure and an amazing soundtrack to keep your ears happy, this is sure to be a title worthy of praise.  North American gamers will have to sit patiently and wait, as there is no word on a NTSC launch… yet!

The Last Story launches in Europe on February 24, 2012.

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February 11, 2012 - 8:30 am