PREVIEW: The Last Story

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

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The Last Story is likely to be one of the last games to hit the Wii.  We campaigned endlessly for the title, and finally our “clamoring” was heard. Is it worth your time?

The game was developed by Mistwalker and AQ Interactive, and was directed by Hironobu Sakaguchi. The last time Sakaguchi directed a game  was with Final Fantasy 5, so it’s nice to see him back at the helm.

The Last Story is a game that is very easy to get into, and it doesn’t take long to understand the game’s mechanics. The game also throws you in battle right at the start, so no lengthy introduction cut scenes here.  The game’s menu and tutorials are also very user-friendly. After getting through the tutorial you’ll arrive at the town of Lazulis, which will serve as your hub. When you arrive, the game introduces you a bit more to its characters:

Zael is the main character. He is a close friend to Dagran, and he dreams of becoming a knight. He is skilled in melee combat, and he also has the power to catch enemies’ attention by the mark on his hand.

Syrenne is the quirky one, whom always thinks about beer or food. She is also skilled in melee combat.

Mirania is a very calm and modest person. She loves to eat, and she is a book lover too. She is skilled in nature-based magic attacks.

Lowell is the skirt chaser. He is always flirting with a new girl, and has even flirted with Syrenne and Mirania, but he truly cares about his friends, and he is always ready to help them. He is skilled in ice based magic attacks.

Dagran is the leader of the group who tries to make life worth living for his comrades. He is a close friend to Zael and is skilled in melee combat.

Yurick is the youngest member in the group. He mostly keeps to himself and doesn’t like to shows his feelings. He is skilled in fire based magic attacks.

Calista is the heir to the House of Arganan and dreams of one day leaving the castle. She is skilled in light based magic attacks.

Clockwise to Center: Syrenne, Lowell, Mirania, Dagran, Zael, Calista, Yurick.

The game moves at a solid pace, and the game’s cut scenes never seem to drag on. You are always moving forward and always fighting when you’re out in the enemy field. Sometimes you can relax through, as some of the chapters have little-to-no action, and that lets you breathe for a while. The town of Lazulis has a variety of places to see, and one of these places is the arena. Much like the arena from Fire Emblem, you can enter it to earn money. There is also a narrator in the arena that will make comments about your progression through the game. This is a nice addition; it really shows that your progression in the game is influential on the various game inhabitants.

Speaking of influential: as you progress through the game, the townspeople will speak to you in a degrading, almost derogatory manner. But as you progress, people will begin to show more respect. You’ll learn more about the lives of characters that you’re with. They are all lovable when you really get to know them. They all have different personalities and attitudes, which offers some interesting dialogues throughout the game’s story.

Lazulis Island

Lazulis Castle

The game’s battle system is in real-time, and you can attack with your sword either manually or automatically. Your Melee characters will attack the enemy head-on, while your “mages” will assist you in magic based attacks. The mages can’t use magic right away, they have a countdown timer that shows how long there is left for their attacks to strike. If they get attacked, it will get cancelled. You usually don’t need to worry about protecting them or anything, as they will usually stay out of harms way.

If you use Command Mode, you can issue commands onto your team, and your mages countdown will be reduced to 3, which makes them use their attacks almost instantaneously.

Zael learns many different attacks as he levels up. For instance, after reaching a certain level, you can attack an enemy while you’re hiding, dealing massive damage to the enemy as long as they don’t know your position. Another attack is named “Gale”, which will diffuse magic cast by enemies or your teammates. Diffusing a magic circle can have different effects depending on the magic. If you diffuse a “fire” circle, it will lower the enemy’s defenses temporarily. Diffusing “light” circles will raise a shield which will raise your defense and protect you from status effects like paralyzing.

We now move on to the music of the game. The music is composed solely by Nobuo Uematsu. Much of the music in the game has a Final Fantasy feel to it, but there are some tracks that stand out, like the main theme, the battle theme, and the arena theme. The game’s music will surely be satisfying for the fans of Nobuo Uematsu. The music was recorded by Dog Ear Records, which Uematsu founded in 2006.

For those who might be curious about the man behind the game’s art: it was Kimihiko Fujisaka. He designed the characters in the game, as well as its rich environments. Other games Kimihiko Fujiska has done art on that you may know are “Dragengard”, “Dragengard 2”, and “Sands of Destruction”.

The Last Story will hit American shelves this summer, and it will have a limited release. We hope that those of you who read this preview might support the game by purchasing it or by spreading awareness of the game to interested family and friends. Hironobi Sakaguchi, himself has said that he made this game as if it would have been his last. When you look at the production values, you can see people have put a lot of effort to not only making the game, but also making sure it got a international release.

From a personal standpoint, I’m happy the game got localized. There are people who are fans of Sakaguchi’s work, and The Last Story might be wonderful love letter to them. I had a lot of fun with The Last Story. It makes me happy that others will also be able to share that, soon enough.