Mar 112012

Any gamer with a Twitter account can probably tell you about Operation Rainfall, and the three large scaled RPGs for the Wii that were slated to be released worldwide…

…except for in North America. In a blazing streak of Internet activism, Operation Rainfall was formed in an effort to convince Nintendo to localize these games for North American audiences. The second game in this series, The Last Story has some especially notable talent behind it, and thus seemed to garner a bit more attention than the other two titles. Hironobu Sakaguchi, creator of the Final Fantasy series and current head of Mistwalker Studios, directed The Last Story, which only intensified gamers’ desire for this game to hit Western shelves.

As you may remember, I already unlocked my Wii to play Xenoblade Chronicles, so despite the recent announcement of The Last Story‘s imminent NTSC release this summer, I decided to get my grubby paws on the European version. After about 90 minutes of time spent in the world of The Last Story I can safely say that this game is one any RPG fan with a Wii will want to check out when it hits our shores.

Environments you visit look great. Image courtesy of GamesPress.

First of all, this game looks fabulous. I hesitate to say “for a Wii game”, because I believe everyone is familiar with the Wii’s limitations at this point in time. What I will say is I can’t help but to wonder why Wii games haven’t looked this good since the console was launched. The art style is very reminiscent of modern Final Fantasy games, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Everything sort of has that light sepia-toned wash that has become so prevalent in this console cycle, but it works well for the setting and tone of the game.

Where this game really shines is the combat system. This could easily be one of the most intuitive and elegantly designed combat systems of any RPG I’ve played. The Last Story features truly real-time combat, which is almost unheard of in a JRPG. There is a cover system, over-the-shoulder shooting elements, strategy game influences, and a unique take on the typical RPG magic system. All of these pieces congeal into an experience that is both enjoyable and challenging enough to be rewarding.

Combat is surprisingly well designed. Image courtesy of GamesPress.

As with most JRPGs, the story is a deep and complex affair. The plot promises to be speckled with bits of action, romance, betrayal and more; but after an hour and a half with this game, it is clear that I am just getting started in terms of story. I’ve been able to identify the protagonists and their main goal, but little else. This goal is likely to change over the course of the game, and in true JRPG fashion I feel like I will be unraveling the mysteries of these characters until I see the credits roll. So far the development of most characters is good, and the team at Mistwalker has done a good job at creating characters I will relate to.

It will likely be many, many more hours until I am able to discern if The Last Story is worthy of the accolades it has already been receiving. It is clear that this game was created with a level of care and detail we rarely see in Wii titles. Will this be the game to revitalize the Japanese Role-Playing Game genre, which has become almost unbearably stagnant in the last few years? Keep your browser’s homepage set to to make sure you don’t miss out on our full review, coming up in the next few days!

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