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E3 2012: Does The Last Story Truly Have Crossover Appeal?

Posted on June 5, 2012 AT 07:43pm

The Last Story has the chance to be something special—if it can just find its audience.

For fans of Japanese-developed RPGs, The Last Story was something of a cause celebre—an RPG truly worth fighting for. In the end, they were victorious, as not only The Last Story but Xenoblade Chronicles ended up being picked up for localization. Now here’s the question: can The Last Story truly breakthrough with the sort of people who didn’t sign the petition asking for a North American release?

It certainly seems to have the right ingredients. One thing I find rather impressive about the design is how well makes use of the cover system—something Japanese-developed games have traditionally struggled with. It’s not only easy to understand–press a button and duck into cover—but a great fit for The Last Story‘s core conceit of being not just an action game, but a strategy game as well.

In The Last Story, many encounters begin with a tactical overview—a chance to get the lay of the land. The camera floats over the battlefield, offering the opportunity to notice that, say, the monsters have a healer or a mage in the vicinity. Then it’s up to you to sneak around, duck around a wall, and execute your foe with extreme prejudice.

In that sense, it’s every bit as smart as even top-tier action games like Gears of War. (As it happens, directory Hironobu Sakaguchi is a big Gears fan). I especially like all the little touches, like the way the main character will roll right over another party member when charging straight ahead. It gives the actual combat a smooth, even seamless sensation, that is rarely found in the more hack-and-slash oriented action RPG genre.

Pity then that more tradtional action gamers are apt to take a look at the art style and the platform in question—let’s face it, the Wii isn’t highly-regarded among core gamers these days–and roundly ignore it. The Last Story certainly deserves a great deal more than to be cast aside by the very audience that may end up enjoying it the most. But short of a major grassroots movement, I suspect that’s exactly will happen.

So I suppose it’s up to the fans to once again take up The Last Story‘s banner and spread the word. True, it was fans of Japanese-developed RPGs who won the battle to get it localized in the first place. But for the genre to thrive again, all gamers should have a chance to share in the spoils.

Fans of Japanese-developed RPGs have won the battle in getting The Last Story imported to North America. Now can they win the war?

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