A reader makes an impassioned plea for more people to play a forgotten Wii game from the creator of Final Fantasy, in the hopes it can get a remake.
As has been discussed on these pages many times over the last couple of years, no gaming franchise is ever truly finished.
If there is one IP though that I suspect is absolutely, properly dodo, Uncle Ben dead, its the Last Story.
That hasnt stopped me pining for a sequel however. And after mentioning this game in various Hot Topic replies over the years, Im now taking my quest for a follow-up to grass roots level. This is my attempt to try and get someone else to play the game, like it, and thus swell demand for a new title. You only need to access an obsolete console and shell out about twice as much as youd pay for a new full price release on eBay to experience it, so theres no excuse not to really.
The Last Story was the third main game by developer Mistwalker, the company founded by the long-time creative force behind the Final Fantasy series: Hironobu Sakaguchi. A Japanese role-playing game released right at the end of the lifecycle of the original Wii, relatively close to the only other game in its genre worth playing on the console (Xenoblade Chronicles) and generally at odds, taste-wise, with those of the younger/more casual demographic that made up the lions share of the Wiis user base. Its almost like Sakaguchi wanted The Last Story to fail commercially. It duly obliged.
The characters did rear their heads again in a limited time event within Mistwalkers Terra Battle mobile game a couple of years ago, but thats a quite frankly undignified end for them if that does indeed end up being it.
So what is The Last Story like? Ostensibly, its quite a generic Japanese role-player, in which a gang of young adults battle enemies in a bid to save the world from a grave threat; of course learning in the process that their greatest weapon in this struggle is, youve guessed it, the power of friendship. Dont worry, theres a giant crystal involved as well (sort of).
To give a very brief summary, the protagonists are sort of fantasy special forces soldiers who are summoned to a small island state to investigate why the land there is dying and are soon dragged into a load of trouble/intrigue/caper. The main story has its moments for sure, theres a war going on and some of the participants in that do some interesting things, and there are a couple of diverting enough subplots, but Id be clutching at straws if I said the narrative wasnt trope-heavy and hurt by the classic Japanese fascination with having to introduce an endless stream of but it was actually ME you should have been worrying about this whole time antagonists before letting things finally resolve themselves.
But where the game comes absolutely, vibrantly alive is in the supporting characters and the combat.
Whilst the main protagonists are your standard mopey Japanese role-playing leads (albeit far from the worst offenders in the genre on this count), the supporting cast are an absolute delight. The premise is that they are a band of mercenaries who have come together out of convenience and as such theyre often shown not to get on particularly well, and their back and forth banter and bickering is a constant source of enjoyment as you gradually learn more about their at times poignant backstories.
Im an absolute zealot for the theory that says a compelling story needs at least one sympathetic character, and the game succeeds in positioning several of its key players firmly in that category. It also deals with topics like drinking and romance in a way that isnt quite as flat-out puerile as most, and whilst this isnt exactly a high bar to aim at, judged against role-playing game standards in particular there are moments where the game feels profoundly grown up by comparison.
The combat is utterly frenetic. Built on an excellent dash mechanic and another excellent run to this magic circle in time for a bonus mechanic, its packed with satisfying tide-turning moments and played out against some interesting and varied environments, rather than just the standard invisible circle on a flat plain setup. The difficulty keeps you honest, but there are plenty of times where you are let to feel like a badass as well. Its tremendously well balanced and Id put it up as the best the genre has ever seen. I cant believe it hasnt been copied more.
I was surprised to see the visuals get a mixed reception at the time of release. The game squeezes every last drop of power out of the good old Wii, and whilst at times there are some very obvious compromises being made to keep things chugging along, I think the games looks quite striking. The characters are rendered with realistic proportions, which compliments the noble attempt the game makes to give them something like realistic personalities, and theres often a fairly impressive amount happening on screen both in an out of battle; especially in the lovingly designed and teeming city in which much of the game takes places, which all adds to the sense of life that pervades the experience.
At its heart, The Last Story is a game that is concerned primarily with being a good quality and original piece of work, rather than just an appealing one. Its only 20 hours long, has no real post game content and no level grinding requirement, which is going to be an instant turn off to many genre fans. If you can park these concerns though what you are rewarded with is a piece of work which reflects a titan of this art form, trying his heart out, and along with his team making the game he wanted to make. In the process of doing so he nails some elements of it better than anyone else ever has. I hope thats enough to convince someone new out there to give it a try.
By reader Charlie
The readers feature does not necessary represent the views of GameCentral or Metro.