How The Last Story Captured My Heart

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The Wii lineup is dwindling this year, but the last few releases for the system have been incredible. None of them can match the quality of the most recent RPG, though.

The Last Story ties together elements from shooters, spy games and Western RPGs to create one of the most satisfying games ever made.

By all means, this game for the Wii could have turned into a massive train wreck. Instead, it is one of the most diverse mash-up games that I have ever played. I never felt bored in The Last Story. The entire game presents an astoundingly wide range of control styles and fighting techniques.

The battle system of this Japanese role-playing game covers elements from a wide gamut of games. Some battles rely on clever sneak attacks. Other heated fights require menu-based strategy commands. The adventure even integrates acrobatics in the style of Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time.

Example of a sneak attack in The Last Story

Take one of the first battles in Chapter 15 of the game. The leader, Dagran, tells Zael to lure out skeletons one by one, to sneak-attack them. Taking control of Zael, I quietly moved him to the left side and shot a crossbow arrow to attract the attention of a skeleton. When the enemy came within arm's length, I leapt out of the wall and slashed it down.

Stealth plays a very important part in The Last Story. By silently killing lone enemies, my party can earn more experience points. The group can avoid chaotic encounters with large groups of soldiers. The main character, Zael, can also spot crossbow snipers in first-person mode, so that his mages can kill them off from a safe distance.

Army battle in chapter 16 of The Last Story

At first glance, The Last Story could easily pass as a clever hybrid between Metal Gear Solid and a Japanese RPG. However, the battle system becomes more incredible as it progresses. By the time people reach Chapter 16, the heroes end up fighting massive battles against entire armies. Sometimes Zael has to plan out strategies on the fly, calling his mages to attack snipers while swordsmen are ambushing his teammates. At other times, he throws bombs to stun a hyper-active lion boss.

While much of the adventure is stuck on a specific path, the whole journey never turns boring. The battle system literally changes after every single fight. Although the game throws out all sorts of new moves, it never becomes too difficult to understand. Instead, The Last Story becomes the ultimate combination of nearly every single fighting style available. Each new boss requires an entirely different tactic to figure out.

Callista and Zael have a date at the Stargazer's Tower

Although the story isn't the greatest thing I've ever seen in a Japanese RPG, the entire presentation is fantastic. The Last Story made me want to watch every new cutscene. The cutscenes have very solid English voice acting performances. If that wasn't enough, The Stargazer's Tower is quite possibly the most romantic date ever witnessed in the history of Japanese RPGs.

I know I'm part of the minority here, but I think The Last Story is one of the best games of 2012. The game brings back all the magical beauty that has been missing from modern-day Japanese RPGs. The graphics are colorful and amazing. The ambitious battle system combines the best elements from a wide variety of game genres and styles.

If anyone still owns a Nintendo Wii, they should surely pick up The Last Story. It stands out as a rare, original gem amongst all the game sequels this year. Although the story is shorter than some RPGs, it packs a touching emotional punch like no other.

How will games such as The Last Story change how Westerners perceive Japanese RPGs? What other games have battle systems as complex as The Last Story? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

This was a tough review to write. The entire structure of the game is hard enough to write about in words. I reworded all these introductions a dozen or so times before I settled on these five.

Then I literally had to mix and combine quite a few of the introductions. I decided on a combination between the second and the third intro. If anyone could think of a better suggestion, I'd really appreciate it.

1. The Last Story game is definitely not a typical Japanese RPG. In fact, there's almost no other game quite like this one.

The atmosphere and the wide variety of playing styles in The Last Story is an astounding step forward for Japanese games.

2. The Wii lineup is dwindling this year, but the last few releases for the system have been incredible. None of them can match the quality of the most recent RPG, though.

The Last Story combines contemporary fighting styles and interactive cutscenes into a diverse experience like no other.

3. A Japanese video game company, Mistwalker, is slowly gaining ground as a innovator in creating RPGs. Their newest game, The Last Story, is far more than simply an RPG.

The Last Story ties together elements from shooters, spy games and Western RPGs to create one of the most satisfying games ever made.

4. When I started The Last Story, I really expected a typical role-playing adventure. After all, the creator of Final Fantasy directed the game's development.

I never expected The Last Story to throw me into intense, Metal Gear-styled tactical battles with tactical acrobatics.

5. The Last Story is quite possibly the most insane RPG ever made. It starts off with a boring introduction, but the battles slowly grow to massive scales.

Think of The Last Story as a head-on collision between Metal Gear Solid, strategy RPGs and Heavy Rain cutscenes.

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