The golden years of a console can be a tumultuous or profitable time. An aging console can be forgotten or given up on as developers move on to the next big thing. On the other hand, it’s also a time where developers have figured out how to get the most out of a system and can realize ideas they might not thought possible at the console’s launch.
I am happy to say that The Last Story is an example of the latter and a symbolic sendoff for a console that brought gaming back to the forefront of our culture. It may be a bit of a pun, but Nintendo has truly saved one of its best for last.
The Last Story sees a motley crew of charming, young mercenaries get caught up in a task much larger than any to which they’re accustomed. Throughout your 20-hour adventure you’ll be subjected to some fantastic conversations between your team that creates a bond with each member and really endears you to your squad. Hironobu Sakaguchi, the father of Final Fantasy, does it again with a wonderful cast that really showcases his talent for writing memorable, character driven stories. Of course you’ll find typical examples of an everyday RPG, but the characters in The Last Story make it so much more than that.
If, for some strange reason, the storytelling aspect doesn’t connect for you, the innovative fighting system will. Sakaguchi and the group at Mistwalker have created an innovative fighting system infused with elements from the east and the west, creating fighting mechanics and strategies not typically part of your average JRPG. Dodging and cover abilities come to mind as some of the most noticeable differences between The Last Story and its JRPG brethren. Not only is it important to utilize cover to hide from enemies’ magic and arrow attacks but also to use it as a way to retaliate safely and intelligently. Whether you’re picking baddies off from a distance or sneaking around for a stealth attack, the cover elements in The Last Story play a pivotal and, at times, essential element to staying alive.
Your actions alone aren’t solely responsible for keeping you alive as your ability to manage your team is integral for survival as well. As the game progresses, Zael, the game’s protagonist, can summon a “gathering” ability that forces enemies to concentrate their attacks on him. Using this ability to draw the fire off of your teammates and have them focus on spells and attacks is a great way to get an upper-hand. The dynamic between your team on and off the battlefield is really something to behold and is a testament to Sakaguchi’s talent within the industry.
As if all that weren’t enough to convince you that The Last Story is far from your typical JRPG, it sports a multiplayer mode that features the likes of deathmatch and a mode that allows you to tackle the game’s bosses using other inhabitants of Lazulis Island. It may not be something you revisit very often, but given the uniqueness of the combat system, it’s something you’ll definitely want to check out.
I went into The Last Story very open to what I might find and I couldn’t have been more pleased. As with a lot of other epic games on the Wii, you’ll run into your occasional graphic hiccups and slowdown when things become chaotic onscreen, but those issues are so few and far between that it doesn’t distract from the overall experience. The icing on the cake comes from the game’s soundtrack which was composed by another Final Fantasy icon, Nobuo Uematsu.
The Last Story‘s title is more than appropriate as it’s the last game many of us will play before trading up to the Wii U this fall. Luckily, it’s not only the perfect swan song for the Wii, but one hell of a final fantasy.
The Last Story is rated T (Teen) by the ESRB for Language, Mild Suggestive Themes, Use of Alcohol, Violence.