The Last Story for Nintendo Wii Review
A big congratulations to weeaboos everywhere, Operation Rainfall has been a complete success! After its large public petition to have three critically acclaimed Japanese Role Playing Games published stateside for the Nintendo Wii, Xenoblade Chronicles was released a little under a year ago, Pandora's Tower will be released this spring and smack dab in the middle was the third game, called The Last Story. And I'll just get this out of the way now, this is the first time I can say I've liked a true JRPG in five years. (The last one being Opoona, oh and don't worry I'll get to that one too eventually).
Some of the ways in which they did this was by automating the stats, automating the random number generation etc as well as making the stories and progression much more linear for players to follow more easily. Enix's Dragon Quest (known as Dragon Warrior in the west) was the original title released to adopt this formula. It proved to be so wildly popular that other companies began creating their own games modeled after its style. One of these companies was a struggling little studio known as Squaresoft who tasked their employee Hironobu Sakaguchi with making one more game before the company went bankrupt. They decided that it would be a role playing game and that game was to be called Final Fantasy
Final Fantasy proved to be the savior of the company, a company which exists still to this day, merged with the one that inspired them, and today Final Fantasy is one Square-Enix and gaming as a whole's biggest franchises. Sakaguchi is no longer with that company however, he went out on his own to develop his own game with a similar title. Have you guessed what it is yet? That's right, it was The Last Story.
It makes for a much more intimate experience where I was able to grow more attached to the characters and setting. None of them are emo douches like most other JRPGs, they're actually all very likable. This is helped by the excellent localization originally made for its European release, meaning that the characters all have varied accents from around the British Isles. They're all voiced well which is still something to be appreciated in 2013 and the dialogue is translated very naturally. For a genre which is so rooted in its narrative, you would be surprised how often JRPGs fail to deliver a fresh scenarios with relatable casts.
Also the gameplay distinguishes itself from other JRPGs in that it is neither turn-based nor active in the style of MMORPGs. By default, it is set to the latter but I prefer directly controlling my character which makes the game play more like a hack & slash brawler with RPG elements. It has unique mechanics involving strategy, cover mechanics, party management etc along with the usual RPG mainstays of customizing your characters with armor, weapons & other equipment. In between dungeon areas, you explore the city accepting side-quests, finding/trading/buying/selling items, talking to NPCs and other little surprises I don't want to spoil here.
So should you play The Last Story? Yes. If you're someone like myself who used to like JRPGs but moved away from them because they all began to feel the same then yes. If you're someone who likes fantasy adventures regardless of where they're from then yes. If you're someone who just has a couple dozen hours to kill before winter ends then yes. Play The Last Story. Luckily, it recently received a reprint and price cut from its publisher XSEED so it should be easy to find wherever games are sold, more affordably than ever.