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The Last Story

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XSEED

PSP may live on, but the Nintendo Wii is just about done


As XSEED goes, so goes the Wii
Jan 29
// Kyle MacGregor
Long since abandoned by their makers, the PlayStation Portable and Nintendo Wii endure thanks to a select number of publishers that have kept the home fires burning. Among them is XSEED, the team behind localizing titles like...
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The Last Story is XSEED's most successful game ever


Also, price cut get!
Nov 21
// Kyle MacGregor
The Last Story's journey to North America was certainly a long one, but it sounds like this tale has a happy ending. XSEED has announced Mistwalker's RPG is now the most successful title in its eight-year history. After havin...
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We reviewed Darksiders II, Sleeping Dogs, and Last Story!


Aug 14
// Jim Sterling
With gamescom kicking off its onslaught of news, the Destructoid frontpage has been alight with posts today. In fact, it's been so busy that you might have managed to miss three pretty big reviews. We reviewed Sleeping Dogs, ...

Review: The Last Story

Aug 14 // Jim Sterling
The Last Story (Wii)Developer: MistwalkerPublisher: XSEEDReleased: August 19, 2012 MSRP: $49.99 The Last Story retains its British localization for the most part, so just like Xenoblade Chronicles, you can expect a lot of European accents and the letter "U" exotically inserted into various words. As with Xenoblade, the regional voice acting lends a unique flavor to the otherwise predictable range of voices we usually get in North American localizations, though whether that's good or bad depends on the character. Protagonist Zael is inoffensive but flat, played by ex-Eastenders star Jack Ryder, while his motley party of fellow mercenaries range from dreary to detestable. Fortunately the villains -- particularly scene-stealer Jiral -- are much more enjoyable.  The narrative is a fairly interesting tale of a young mercenary who, despite his low social status, dreams of becoming a knight. His world is a dying one, the planet's life resources draining while its people are on the brink of war. During a routine mission, Zael comes into contact with a mysterious voice that grants him a unique, tide-turning power. That power makes him a valuable asset, allowing Zael to get closer to his dream (and an unobtainable noble lady) but also invites him into a decadent court of vipers who seek only to exploit him.  [embed]233007:44709[/embed] Though a standard "save the world" plot inevitably rears its head, and its "twist" moments are rather trite, most of the story revolves around Zael's interactions with a part of society placed way above his station, and how he deals with influential imperial figures and their machinations. Mistwalker does a good job of keeping certain characters in a morally grey area, where their actions are understandable up to a point, though when it needs a simple villain, it's not afraid to let the bad guys really ham it up. All told, there is a nice little story that, over a twenty-hour run time, knows when to wrap things up without dragging on too long.  Sadly, the writing is really the only good thing I have to say about it, and getting through the plot requires more tolerance than it's worth.  The Last Story introduces a real-time combat system that, while noble in its intent to shake up the genre, is so poorly implemented that it actively ruins any fun that could be had in the game. It attempts to blend various elements from action, contemporary MMO, and strategy games, but by adding so many ingredients to the mix, the end result is unchecked chaos.  Up to a party of six can partake in combat, but players are mostly stuck with controlling Zael within a group of autonomous allies. In order to attack, the movement stick is pushed toward an enemy, initiating automatic blade swings. Using his mysterious power, Zael can "gather" opponents with a button press, drawing aggression from the combatants and taking the heat off his friends, allowing them to cast magical spells and pull off other crucial maneuvers. There is a cover system that will have Zael stick to any surface with a tap of "A", and he can also shoot a crossbow to destroy environmental structures or take down opponents with a range of specialized arrows. As the game progresses (and you'll be getting tutorials about these hours into the game), Zael will be able to rush to various points of the map in order to hit enemies and "dispell" area-of-effect magic, dive from cover positions to slash unwary foes, and jump off walls to land devastating hits.  Each character has five lives, which is useful since enemy attacks are often of the one-hit or two-hit kill variety. Zael is the only character who can resurrect fallen allies, by using the "gather" ability and touching their corpses. This will happen a lot because allies are beyond stupid and will require plenty of babysitting.  The major problem with the combat is that it's a complete mess. It fancies itself as a strategic system, giving the player a bird's-eye overview of the battleground before the fight, but there are no real ways to command your party before initiating the scrap. Once battle starts, it doesn't matter what you know about the enemy formation, because it quickly devolves into an anarchic scrum as your mentally substandard allies charge in all directions and enemies get in the way of any high-threat target you might have identified. The camera does a terrible job of tracking the action, frequently losing focus or remaining fixed on Zael's front when enemies are in his path. Later on, you get a limited capacity to issue commands, but only after filling a special meter, and even then your options are cripplingly malnourished. It's like Mistwalker wanted tactical fights in a strategy-RPG vein, but literally had no clue how to make them.  Compounding the disorderly ruckus is the fact that so few controls are relied upon to perform multiple tasks. By default, Zael both walks and attacks using the analog stick. He uses cover, dodges attacks, and performs special moves using the same button. He vaults over cover and guards using another button. This leads to each fight frequently become a direct battle between the game and the player, as one carefully edges around enemies to avoid hitting them, or tries to dodge an incoming blow but ends up crouched next to a small wall that was too close. Zael will dodge instead of pulling off a special move because the player didn't come to a dead stop before holding down the dodge button, and good luck trying to distinguish which walls can he can run up and which ones he can't. Then there's the crossbow, which is essential in some areas but is slow to use and leaves Zael wide open to attack.  Just in case you're still confused as to what the issue may be, let me repeat for clarity -- Zael walks and attacks using the same analog stick. The dodge button, the cover button, and the special attack button are the same button. And while you're wrestling with all this, you better hope you're not fighting a lengthy, repetitive boss battle in which you learn to do one new thing, then do it over and over again while the party allies keep telling you to do it over and over again, as if you've never done it before.  The worst part is that, for as confused as it tends to be, The Last Story is simple and brainless. So much of the combat essentially plays itself for you, especially once the party is leveled up, that as a player I wonder why I'm even needed. With Zael not having much to do outside tirelessly swinging his sword and occasionally leaping, his job mostly consists of running around after his friends, and that hardly equates to a thrilling battle. While bosses can be a bit more involved, each "strategy" consists of a simple task repeated until the monster is dead. I don't mind auto-attack systems in games like Dragon Age, where at least you have commands to issue and multiple skills to utilize, but it simply doesn't work in a game that has stripped away so much personal influence and turns the player into a reactionary force, rather than a proactive combatant. In fairness, you can gain a little more control by fiddling with options and disabling auto-battle, which at least stops Zael hitting people while moving, but still does nothing to dampen the thoughtlessness of combat.  Constantly, the game masquerades as something deeper, pretending to give the player choice in how to attack and what to do, but in reality each fight has a particular way to be beaten, leading to each round of combat feeling one-note and linear. Outside of combat, Zael spends most of his time running between characters in the game's sole town, listening to dialog or collecting random items. Here, the story is not safe from weird ideas that make the game more disjointed and weird than it has to be. Regularly, players will be forced to use a first-person perspective and guide the camera to focus on something before the story will continue. These moments serve absolutely no purpose -- they break up the dialog without cause, they don't offer any sort of challenge or reward with a revelation, and they're far from immersive. Having to stop playing the game properly at regular intervals to partake in a ludicrous round of glorified Where's Waldo? only saps at one's patience.  As large as the game's central town is, it's not much fun to explore. The range of shops rarely stock anything useful, and while there are stores to upgrade equipment, the process is far too simple to resemble anything approaching a decent crafting system. You mostly just grab one or two items and spend money to watch the gear get stronger. There is an arena, which is only fun if you love fighting the same battles against the same monsters, and the city's populace is just annoying, as Zael constantly bumps into them and listens to their regurgitated criticism. The "bumping into people" feature is especially irritating when it applies to NPCs that you might want to talk to. Since Zael moves with all the grace of a bull in a china shop, he'll frequently bump into an NPC and have to wait for them to stop reacting to the shove and slowly return to their original position before they can be interacted with. Seriously, what is the point of that? How does it benefit anybody?  There are some moments good enough that not even the incoherent combat or "I spy" distractions can wreck them. One side story involving a haunted house is gleefully silly, while scenes intended to be rousing and exciting genuinely hit the mark. The scene in which Zael is due to accept his knighthood is incredible stuff, while everything involving the aforementioned Jiral is fantastic. Nobuo Uematsu's soundtrack keeps things lively and, while nothing in here is as memorable as his past work, there's a solid selection of music on offer. At times, The Last Story makes powerful videogame narrative look almost effortless, but the fact that such inspiring moments are married to such an unpleasant experience only serves to highlight how disappointing the overall package is. In addition to the single-player quest, multiplayer curiously makes an appearance. A competitive deathmatch and a co-op mode against boss creatures are available, though the server population appears to be incredibly sparse. If you can find some people to play with, there are nine maps to choose from, though since these modes are inevitably combat-focused, I can't say I find any of them tantalizing.  It hurts to not be in love with The Last Story, and it's saddening to lambaste something made by the studio that created my favorite Japanese role-playing game of this generation. I tried my hardest to get with the program and enjoy the game for what it is, but if the feeling's not there, the feeling's not there. Every time the game threatens to be fun, something comes along to ruin it. Every time there's a moment of awe, a moment of thwarting disappointment trails close behind. Mistwalker clearly has not lost its grip on the things that make its games great ... but it's terrible at adding anything more than that, and in doing so here it has undermined so much positivity.  Am I glad The Last Story finally made its way to North America? Yes. I am glad the closure is there, and I am glad for those who actually manage to enjoy this. I am not glad, however, that my experience was tainted by one of the most poorly implemented, unkempt combat systems to ever darken an RPG, and that Mistwalker couldn't even deliver the otherwise solid story without letting unwarranted "features" get in the way. I am not glad that The Last Story is, ultimately, a sub-standard experience from a studio that is capable of so much better than this.  If The Last Story is the Wii's swan song, it is a miserable dirge, full of regret and remorse. 
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In trying to get Nintendo to release The Last Story in North America, I count myself among the most vocal of petitioners. As a fan of Mistalker's work and a lover of Lost Odyssey, I considered it the perfect swan song for the...

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The Last Story comes to North America August 14


Jul 11
// Jim Sterling
Few headlines have been more satisfying to write than this one. Mistwalker's The Last Story finally closes the book on the long-running localization saga on August 14, when XSEED brings it to North America. Yep, we've got a d...
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Mistwalker wants to make action-RPGs for the Wii U


Jun 17
// Kyle MacGregor
Here we go again. Speaking with Gamezone in a recent interview Miswalker's Takuya Matsumoto discussed The Last Story developer's future projects, which might include the possibility of more action-RPGs for Nintendo's next hom...
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Operation Rainfall didn't bring The Last Story to America


Jun 17
// Kyle MacGregor
If you've devoted your heart and soul to a little letter-writing campaign by the name of Operation Rainfall over the course of the past year would it surprise you that your efforts were for naught and your words fell on dea...
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XSEED shows off The Last Story Limited Edition


Jun 02
// Kyle MacGregor
If you're even slightly interested in The Last Story you might want to strike while the iron is hot. While XSEED Games is localizing Final Fantasy creator and Mistwalker founder Hironobu Sakaguchi's cult Wii role-player ...

Preview: The Last Story

May 12 // Steven Hansen
[embed]227298:43658[/embed]The Last Story (Wii) Developer: Mistwalker/AQ Interactive Publisher: XSEED Games Release: Summer 2012 I started at the beginning of The Last Story, eventually making it to what is to be the sole hub town. While only having one town to fully explore may seem like a disappointment, the town is huge, dwarfing, for comparison, Final Fantasy XII’s Rabanastre and certain portions of the town are locked off until story or side quest specific events unlock them. The game opens with a band of four mercenaries -- Zael, Dagran , Syrenne, and Yurick -- probing some abandoned, likely ancient site. This introductory chapter allows you to get more familiarized with the controls, as there’s a surprising amount of things happening at once early on, and offers a nice, explicit tutorial with some lovely 2D art. The default control scheme employs an auto-attack system that requires only you to approach enemies and push your body towards theirs to attack them. Though functional and more elegant looking, I opted to change to manual attack fairly quickly, as the busy, acrobatic nature of combat made direct input feel a bit more comfortable and organic, even though the main character is left a little less fluid and stylish for it (because occasionally I will miss and be slashing at nothing). The opening, introductory chapter is a rather formulaic dispatching of trivial-looking enemies, and a bit drab, given the underground nature of the scene. Soon into it, however, some appropriately interesting story things occur that set the framework for the game and its mechanics. Zael stumbles upon a rather strange, glowy-arm power that lets him attract enemy attention and revive (for a limited number of times per battle) downed party members. The way this power is used to explain some of the mechanics of the game is rather clever, and an important part of the main plot. Once you get the fancy arm power, combat depth increases immediately. While Zael can fight with melee and long range attacks, the newfound abilities make him the sensible party leader. You can issue commands to your party members on the fly and Zael’s special ability, “Gathering,” is incredibly useful to keep your enemies preoccupied, allowing your party time to cast spells or simply allowing them to fight with less resistance and build combo chains. This stood out in the game’s first (quite cool) boss fight against a giant who draws out the swords skewered in his back and throws them at you and your party. Aside from Gathering and its strategic implications, the combat seems standard fare. Zael can also use Focus to zoom in for a better look at things. When zoomed, Zael can use his crossbow, look at an enemy’s weaknesses, and give specific commands to teammates, like telling the magic user to use magic to destroy the supporting platforms underneath far off enemies. The sword play is acrobatic and exciting, though it’s largely just a matter of pressing A to attack. There’s also a dynamic dive ability, for attack avoidance, as well as a surprising amount of cover. Yes, as in “crouched behind a tiny wall” cover. Not quite sure how I feel about the latter, as it doesn’t seem to fit within the context of the game, but I didn’t suffer in ignoring it and just running around and fighting monsters. On the way back to Lazulis Island, chapter two takes a brief detour when you have to fight a cool-looking white tiger. Once that battle is over with, you can head into the city, and have idle chatter with people along the way, which is why I really began digging the game. Back in town, the party indulges in drinks and other merriment at the bar of the inn they’re staying at and you get your first real glimpse at all of your companions through (optional conversation). Dagran, for example, took Zael in when Zael was a young orphan (Dagran was an orphan, too) and the two got into mercenary work with hopes of eventually being knighted by Lazulis’ Count Arganan. Dagran also wears interesting chaps that show off the inside of his thighs. The dialogue in the tavern was lively and had me chuckling. Syrenne in particular is quite hilarious, as she’s something of an alcoholic and generally a bit insane -- great to talk to. When I finished talking to all the people of questionable sobriety inside and did some shopping in an adjoining room, I decided to go be a man about town and get my first glimpse of Lazulis. It’s really quite a lovely place and I found myself impressed not only by the art design of everything, but even the technical aspects. The Last Story is a gorgeous game. The city was also quite boisterous, boasting all sorts of distractions and points of interest. Occasionally a glint of light will flash over the screen and a quick "Seek" will allow Zael to randomly find items out and about. At one point, I went to a fortune teller and had my fortune read, then saw a bushel of fruit tenuously sitting on a crate. I knocked it over and all passersby, along with myself, proceeded to slip comically. There was just so much to do in the intricately designed Lazulis that I barely whet my appetite for exploration. Thankfully, there’s also an in menu fast travel system between points in the city for when you get tired of running to and from. While I still need a lot more time with the game, particularly the combat mechanics, before casting judgment, my brief time with The Last Story has demonstrated the potential for greatness that come along with all of the venerable names involved. I completely love gallivanting around Lazulis, as well as the game’s distinct sense of style and personality. Here’s hoping the end result puts everything together successfully.
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As a lifelong fan of the JRPG genre, particularly Hironobu Sakaguchi and Nobuo Uematsu’s respective work on the Final Fantasy franchise, I’ve been as excited as anyone for The Last Story, especially in light of th...

Why Xenoblade Chronicles HAD to look like shit

Apr 26 // Jim Sterling
Let's face it -- games are ridiculously expensive to make. Expensive to the point where the entire business model looks pretty damn broken. We have developers decimating their workforces or even closing down before or after releasing a major "AAA" title. We have games costing millions of dollars to make, and publishers expecting success on par with Call of Duty in exchange for their investments. Games are big business, throwing big money around, and graphics are a huge part of that system.  As games get prettier, they tend to get more expensive. Building new engines to take advantage of graphically insane consoles and computers takes time, effort, and lots of cash. It also tends to require some restrictions on what you can do with your game. For example, Gears of War still looks pretty damn lovely, but its action takes place within very tight and linear corridors. Had the game opened up, it would have had to have taken a graphical hit. The only game that has managed to look amazing and retain large environments has been Crysis, but it is still an anomaly in this industry. There are few studios capable of what Crytek is capable of. Certainly, there are few makers of traditional RPGs with the cash and the resources for that kind of craziness.  Huge games like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim can look pretty thanks to good art direction, but they're also damn glitchy, and have to cut corners by reusing textures and environments. They're almost pieced together like LEGO constructs, with pre-made building blocks pieced together, and you can clearly see the proverbial puppet strings if you look at it long enough. It gets the job done, but it's a very Western thing. It's not the long, huge, open, varied, handcrafted kind of chicanery we're used to from Japanese role-playing games.  For an example of what the high definition generation has done for the genre, one need look no further than Final Fantasy XIII. The game took over half a decade to make, and whether you like it or not, there's no denying that it still lacks the scale of past Final Fantasy games. I got a lot more out of the comparatively ugly Final Fantasy VII than I'll ever get from XIII. A greater sense of freedom, a longer time spent playing, and a far deeper sense that I was part of a large, fully realized world.  By its own admission, Square Enix has struggled to get everything it wants in a Final Fantasy while also providing the kind of visuals we expect this generation. No less than an entire game's worth of content was cut from Final Fantasy XIII, because the size had to be kept down. Square has also said in the past that HD technology is too demanding to make the kind of big JRPGs we used to enjoy, and this demand is also the reason why we haven't had any confirmation of an HD remake for Final Fantasy VII.  Final Fantasy VII took up to four years to produce, but Yoshinori Kitase suggested that it would take over a decade to get VII looking as good as XIII. It makes sense -- VII is simply a far bigger game, far more ambitious than XIII in every way (outside of graphics). There's a reason why so many good JRPGs have found homes on portable systems like the DS and PSP, rather than home consoles. You can actually make traditional experiences there, without the crippling graphical expectations holding them back.  This is why I am saddened when I see someone complain about Xenoblade Chronicles being on the Wii. I feel that if we'd had it on any other system, it wouldn't be Xenoblade Chronicles anymore. Yes, the graphics are muddy and jaggy (I started playing it without glasses to make it look smoother!) but I don't think I'd have had it any other way. To get those sprawling open fields full of monsters, to get that wonderful level of variety and intricate world design. To get that huge experience and the sense of a world that truly was alive, I think Xenoblade needed to be on a system where there was no pressure to produce visuals on par with Crysis or Final Fantasy XIII. You can keep your prettier graphics -- I want a better game!  The Wii was a great place for mid-sized developers, and while the system never quite realized its potential as an oasis of creativity, I nonetheless appreciate the titles we've seen on it. I think games like Xenoblade Chronicles and The Last Story have only been possible because the Wii "holds them back" in the visual department. The precious visual department holds games back in every other way. As much criticism as the Wii has had (and I've shared mine over the years), I will be grateful for it standing as the last bastion of the term, "gameplay over graphics."  The Wii lacking HD output has, in my opinion, been a good thing in the long run. Without that expectation for high definition visuals, it's allowed developers without Square-levels of money to focus on creating good games first, and worrying about the juicy eye candy later. It's the kind of focus that few games on the Xbox 360 and PS3 could dream of getting away with. Yes, when you upscale a Wii game to HD it tends to look much better, but the fact that the upscaled version isn't the expected version eliminates the consumer's demand for ridiculously pretty games and allows the developer to focus on what really matters. When we play a PS3 game, we expect it to look very good, unless it's a budget game (which carries its own stigma). When we play a Wii game, we're expecting something far less flashy. I can't imagine the relief such reduced expectations must be for some studios.  I am a little worried about the Wii going away, replaced as it inevitably shall be by the high definition Wii U. I'm worried that the makers of Japanese RPGs with modest budgets will no longer have anywhere to go if they want to make an ambitious game on a home console without getting snubbed. The handheld market will truly become their only sanctuary. At least until game development gets significantly cheaper, and I don't see that happening anytime soon. Not with modern technology consistently pushing the goal posts back.  Games like Xenoblade Chronicles have to look like shit. They have to make Game Informer editors want to punch kittens. If they didn't, they wouldn't be the same games anymore. Yes, they'd look nice -- and I love a gorgeous game as much as the next person -- but they wouldn't be all they could have been. To think that a game's potential is only unlocked when it reaches a certain graphical quality is a little blinkered, if you ask me. As far as I am concerned, Xenoblade Chronicles reached its potential, and it did so because it was focused on being a game, as opposed to an art department's masturbation session.  Soon, those who have spent years complaining about Wii games not being in HD will get their wish, and we'll have HD games forevermore.  I hope they like the imprisoned, neutered, but oh-so pretty games they were asking for.
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This week, Game Informer guest editor Chris "Warcraft" Kluwe confessed that Xenoblade Chronicles wanted to make him punch a kitten. However, it wasn't due to the game being bad, it was due to him loving it, and the resul...

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The Last Story will have a limited run in the US


Mar 31
// Jonathan Holmes
Planning on picking up The Last Story when it hits US shores later this summer? Better snatch that gravy up fast. According to publisher XSeed "...we do anticipate a limited run for the game as we already have a number in min...
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UK retailer cancels all pre-orders for The Last Story


Feb 23
// Jim Sterling
UK retailer GAME has had to cancel every single pre-order for The Last Story ahead of its European release on Friday, revealing that it won't be the stocking the game at all. Anybody who dropped a deposit on the upcoming Wii ...
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The DTOID Show: Borderlands 2, RCR, & toys! SO MANY TOYS!


Feb 22
// Tara Long
Happy Wednesday, fellow Destructoid readers! It's time for yet another episode of your regularly-scheduled evening video game news program. On today's show, I swoon over the latest Borderlands 2 trailer and congratulate Nint...

Sakaguchi: High-quality graphics have become excessive

Feb 08 // Tony Ponce
None of this, of course, is to say that visuals aren't important: "I was really averse to allowing the quality of the graphics to drop just because we were working on Wii, which doesn't have HD graphics. I do really think that, in the end, what we've created can hold its own against other hardware." Merely, the team was able to approach The Last Story from an angle that they wouldn't have been able to had this been another project for the Xbox 360 and PS3. He continues, "There's a tendency for developers to allow all their energy to be diverted into maintaining the high quality of the graphics." His sentiments are similar to some that Jim Sterling has mentioned before and which I share as well. While working with high-end consoles can provide ample opportunities, it's very easy to get lost in the details. Final Fantasy XIII, for instance, was criticized for limiting the scale and scope typical of the Final Fantasy name in exchange for fantastic visuals. It's a simple matter of economics -- if money is being funneled in one direction, it's not going elsewhere. A fine balance needs to be struck, and sometimes, working with "less capable" hardware might be the ticket to help a team refocus its priorities. The Last Story launches in Europe on February 24. At that point, English-speaking gamers will be able to find out for themselves if Sakaguchi and Mistwalker succeeded in their experiment. If the extremely warm reception of Xenoblade Chronicles is any indication, The Last Story might just pull it off yet. Also, make sure to read the full interview. Iwata Asks is always good for some juicy tidbits. Iwata Asks: The Last Story [Nintendo via BeefJack]
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Mistwalker's Hironobu Sakaguchi, who oversaw the Final Fantasy series up through X-2, has been around the role-playing block enough times to know what he likes about the genre and what issues could stand to be addressed. Havi...

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Nintendo of America got to look like a big hero last year when it caved and announced that Xenoblade Chronicles would come Stateside. The consumer pressure group Operation Rainfall, however, is not satisfied, and intends to f...

Destructoid's most wanted Wii / Wii U games of 2012

Jan 11 // Jonathan Holmes
Rhythm Heaven Fever (Wii) Developer: Nintendo SPD Group No. 1, TNXPublisher: NintendoRelease: February 13, 2012 Minna no Rhythm Tengoku (renamed Rhythm Heaven Fever for the US) was one of my favorite games of 2011; it's the only game of 2011 that I'm sure I'll be playing over and over for the rest of my life. I brought the game to several parties over the winter holidays, and despite the fact that I was playing to generally non-gamer crowds, the game still went over like gangbusters. It's instantly fun, endlessly replayable, and packed with content, and it plays upon gaming's greatest strength -- the ability to use controls, visuals, and sound to create a seamless bond between the player and the game. That's something that a lot of rhythm games do well, but I think Rhythm Heaven Fever does it better than almost all the rest. At its budget price, you would have to be a true hater of goodness and light to pass it up. If you think it looks too "weird" or "casual," do yourself a favor by ignoring your own perception and relinquishing your judgment to me. Buy this game as soon as you can. You won't regret it (unless they screw up the English localization again, in which case just import it). The Last Story (Wii) Developer: Mistwalker, AQ InteractivePublisher: NintendoRelease: February 24, 2012 (EU) Speaking of imports, I've already imported The Last Story, and I can say that it stands alongside Super Mario Galaxy and Skyward Sword as one of the best-looking, most painstakingly crafted games in the Wii's library. Sadly, my Japanese is crap, so I'll be importing this game from Europe or, hopefully, picking it up in the US later this year. I need to know what the hell is going on! Fans of Hironobu Sakaguchi's prior games (Final Fantasy I-IX, Lost Odyssey, etc.) or anyone who loves inventive third-person action-RPGs owes it to themselves to check this one out. It's not everyday that you get to witness one of the most influential developers in the history of the medium reinvent the genre that they helped create. Dragon Quest X (Wii, Wii U) Developer: Square Enix, Armor ProjectPublisher: Square EnixRelease: 2012 (Wii) / TBA (Wii U) We still don't know a ton about Dragon Quest X other than the fact that Square Enix has been working on it forever, as well as how it aims to combine the strengths of MMOs with the traditional single-player RPG experience for something that will please both audiences. The game is about one of two twins who is magically transformed into one of the game's other races, sort of like the Melvin Van Peebles classic Watermelon Man, only less racist. That's all well and good, but what I really want out of Dragon Quest X is the opportunity to explore a huge, Akira Toriyama-created world alone or with friends, experiencing all its fine details and, in doing so, creating my own story.  Honorable Mentions: Kiki Trick, Pandora's Tower, Retro City Rampage Xenoblade Chronicles (Wii) Developer: Monolith SoftPublisher: NintendoRelease: April 2012 See what happens when a company digs out its ears and listens to the fans? It was pretty much like pulling teeth with Nintendo, but now Xenoblade Chronicles is on its way to the US. Sure, I could have imported the European version, but having a cheaper option is always nice. I'm stoked, and I'm not even that big of an RPG guy! I've played several Final Fantasy titles, tried and failed to get into the Tales series, enjoyed Golden Sun, and dabbled lightly elsewhere. Still, all the positive word of mouth from our friends across the Atlantic is making it really hard to not get overly excited. La-Mulana (WiiWare) Developer: Nigoro, NicalisPublisher: NicalisRelease: 2012 Speaking of games that have been out in Japan forever, here's indie platformer La-Mulana. The game is finished, having gone through some last-minute bug fixes following the Japanese release, and now is waiting on Nintendo of America to give the go-ahead. Who knows how long that will take. There is non-console port on the way (PC, though a likely platform, isn't actually specified), and it would be a laugh riot if it came out before the WiiWare version. It's no secret that my poison of choice is a nice, juicy 2D platformer with wonderful pixel art and a hefty amount of challenge. A game that tosses Castlevania, Metroid, and Indiana Jones into a blender and hits "frappé"? Obviously, it's going to be a winner. If you want to play the game right now, the original has been available online for free since 2005. However, as with Cave Story, I'm curious as to the extent of the changes and upgrades in the remake. Retro City Rampage (WiiWare, Xbox Live Arcade) Developer: Vblank EntertainmentPublisher: Vblank EntertainmentRelease: 2012 I feel bad for Vblank's Brian Provinciano. I like to joke about Retro City Rampage's lengthy development, and I enjoy hitting Brian up on Facebook with such constructive comments as, "What are you doing right now? BREATHING!? When you should be WORKING!?" In all honesty, I don't envy his situation. The game has been in the works for nearly a decade, back when it was known as Grand Theftendo. Since then, Brian has had to jump through so many hoops just to see his baby through. Next time I see the man, I have to treat him to a steak dinner or at least some froyo. At one point, Retro City Rampage was a Grand Theft Auto parody. I don't know what it is anymore -- it defies classification. It's a love letter to 80s, an homage to videogames throughout the ages, and the debut of many Destructoid editors as game characters. You ask Brian to include something in the game, and the guy will probably find a way to squeeze in that reference. If nothing else, Retro City Rampage is going to be huge. Honorable Mentions: Rhythm Heaven Fever, The Last Story, Pandora's Tower, Rodea the Sky Soldier As for the Wii U, no real exclusives have been firmly announced for the thing yet, though we'll be keeping a close eye for more news on Pikmin 3, Smash Bros. Wii U / 3DS, and Miyamoto's new secret project. Then there is the promise of an enhanced Wii U version of Dragon Quest X, Batman: Arkham City, Darksiders II, Aliens: Colonial Marines, and many others. I'd also be highly surprised if we didn't get a compilation of some of the Wii U "experiences" that were on display at E3 2010. I'd love to see that Metroid-themed multiplayer shooter, Mario-themed hide-and-seek, Rhyhm Heaven-style pirate game, and (Shannon's favorite!) Measure Up, all crammed into one Wii Sports-style, minigame collection pack-in. Then there is No More Heroes 3, which Suda51 told me TO MY FACE is still headed to the Wii U. So while there is still a lot left to see confirmed, there is plenty to be excited about in 2012 for the wacky, wonderful world of Wii U.   Additional staff picks for the Wii / Wii U: Chad Concelmo: Rhythm Heaven Fever, Pikmin 3 Sean Daisy: LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes, Dragon Quest X, Darksiders IIAndrew Kauz: Dragon Quest X, Xenoblade ChroniclesTara Long: Retro City RampageKyle MacGregor: Retro City Rampage, Rhythm Heaven Fever, The Last StoryAllistair Pinsof: Xenoblade ChroniclesMax Scoville: Actual Wii U games that aren't tech demos about birds and cherry blossoms Josh Tolentino: Xenoblade Chronicles, The Last Story 
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There were a few excellent third-party releases on the Wii in 2011 (Bit.Trip Complete immediately comes to mind), but for the most part, last year marked the end of an era for the console. The Wii didn't even get th...

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The Last Story might come to Europe on February 24th


Nov 09
// Sven Wohl
We already knew The Last Story was coming to the EU sometime during 2012, but now there is a release date floating around! According to rumors, the game will arrive in Europe on February 24. For all those unaware, The Last St...
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Reggie Fils-Aime gets swamped with Xenoblade Tweets


Oct 24
// Jim Sterling
Before the weekend, Nintendo of America boss Reggie Fils-Aime appeared on Twitter but didn't quite get the welcome he bargained on. Last Friday, the meat-flavored executive was spammed with Operation Rainfall Tweets as people...
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The Last Story gets rated ... for Australia


Oct 10
// Jim Sterling
It seems that even Australia, famous for getting regularly screwed over by Nintendo, is getting a taste of The Last Story while North America gets left out in the cold. The Mistwalker RPG was recently rated for the country, m...
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Pandora's Tower, The Last Story coming to Europe in 2012


Aug 17
// Jim Sterling
It has now been confirmed that all three of the three titles Nintendo of America won't publish are coming to Europe, with news with Pandora's Tower and The Last Story will join Xenoblade Chronicles on the Wii in 2012.  O...
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Operation Rainfall Phase 2: Buy Final Fantasy on Wii


Aug 12
// Jim Sterling
Operation Rainfall is not finished in its quest to get Xenoblade, Pandora's Tower and The Last Story released in North America, and has begun phase two of operations. As well as encouraging Europeans to buy Xenoblade and show...
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Nintendo writes back to Operation Rainfall via snail mail


Jul 18
// Jonathan Holmes
Maybe I'm just desperate for some happy Nintendo news on this bleak Monday night, but I'm actually feeling encouraged by this token gesture of acknowledgment for Nintendo of America. Ms. (or Mr.?) Sissy Barner of Nintendo of ...
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Nintendo of America trademarks The Last Story


Jul 15
// Jim Sterling
Nintendo of America has filed a trademark for The Last Story, which just so happens to be the name of the Mistwalker RPG that it refuses to localize.  The trademark was filed on January 13, 2010, but only issued a few da...
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Rumor: Last Story, Xenoblade already localized for NA


Jul 08
// Jim Sterling
Operation Rainfall, a group dedicated to the seemingly impossible task of giving the Wii more than four games this year, has declared potential victory. According to a "source" at Nintendo, both Xenoblade and The Last Story a...
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The Jimquisition: Nintendo of America


Jul 04
// Jim Sterling
Impotent nerd rage from random people on the Internet always gets things done, so I guarantee that my latest Jimquisition will single-handedly convince Nintendo of America to release Xenoblade, The Last Story and Pandora's Tower in North America.  Meanwhile, you could always add your name to the Operation Rainfall movement and see if that does anything.
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The Question: Should Last Story, Xenoblade come to NA?


Jul 01
// Jim Sterling
[Every Friday, Destructoid will pose topical a question to the community. Answer it if you want!] Perhaps the most controversial story this week was the announcement by Nintendo of America that it was not planning to bring Xe...

10+ games to help the Wii go out with a bang

Jun 27 // Jonathan Holmes
Pikmin 2 + Chibi Robo New Play Control Here are two games that that hardcore Nintendo fans love, but failed to gain much mainstream acceptance when they were first released on the Gamecube. Seeing as the translation has already been written for both of them, and Pikmin 2 New Play Control has already been released in Europe, the level of expense to bring these two games stateside is negligible, while the potential gain is bursting with flavor. Releasing these games is both a way to make sad Wii gamers feel better during this gaming drought, and a way to get people ready for Pikmin 3 while gauging interest in a new Chibi Robo game. they could be released as separate budget titles, or a double pack. Either way, Nintendo is sure to at least break even on these two, while working PR for the Pikmin and Chibi Robo (and Nintendo) brands in the process. Best of fan DLC for Super Smash Bros. Brawl With the 3DS eShop and its free apps, Nintendo is reportedly doing everything it can to grow their presence in the online space. So far, not so good. One way they could really blow some minds and defy expectations is to take some notes from Valve, one of the most successful online game developers in the world. When Valve released fan-created Team Fortress 2 content as an official product, it sent a message to their audience that there is no line between the people that create Valve games, and people that play Valve games. That's the kind of unity that Nintendo desperately needs to find with its consumers. Super Smash Bros. Brawl is the most heavily modded game in the Wii's library, and also one of the most controversial amongst hardcore Nintendo fans. Releasing the best of Brawl fan-made content (particularly the still in production Project M) would give people a reason to care about Smash Bros. again, a reason to get their Wii's online, and reason to believe that Nintendo truly loves their fans. Fatal Frame 4 The Wii has always had a fan base waiting for a good survival-horror game. Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition was one of the consoles first million sellers. Thing is, that audience never really got served.  Sure, the Wii got some great horror based on-rails shooters, some budget produced horror titles, a non-violent Silent Hill, and a goofy, critically panned port of Dead Rising, but none of those games really gave survival horror fans what they wanted. What a lot of them wanted was Fatal Frame 4. In fact, they wanted it so badly that they translated the game themselves. I've played the game with the fan translation, and other than few niggling bugs (something fans are quick to forgive with games from Grasshopper Manufacture), I loved the game. It may have been released in Japan back in 2009, but there is no reason that the game couldn't still make an impact on the Wii in 2011. Release it as a budget title, or pack it in with another unreleased Japanese horror game like Night of the Sacrifice, and you have yourself a deal that any horror-loving Wii owner would have a hard time passing up. Throw in the fact that the game has an unlockable Luigi's Mansion costume, and you have a game that is sure to grab the attention of Nintendo fans, and raise awareness of the upcoming Luigi's Mansion 2. Monado/Xenoblade Chronicles Now here is a real head-scratcher. Nintendo of America showed this game off years ago at E3. Nintendo of Europe has already announced that it's being brought to their territories. Fans have helped the game to reach #1 on Amazon's gaming charts. Yet, Nintendo of America is yet to say anything about the game coming here, other than release a canned customer service response saying "stay tuned for further announcements". Now, I've played Xenoblade. It's good, but it's not that good. That said, the game definitely has an audience here, an audience that has been wanting the game since Nintendo showed it off at E3 all those years ago. It's just bad business to lead your fans into thinking you're going to give them the option to buy a game, then taking that option away without any valid explanation. That's especially true now that Operation Rainfall is making so much noise about the game. At this point, Nintendo has to release the game (preferably without the useless Chronicles surname) if they want their small but dedicated RPG-loving fans to have any faith in them. That goes double for... The Last Story Final Fantasy is one of the most beloved series in gaming history. The creator of Final Fantasy recently made a game called The Last Story. He said that he may retire if the game isn't well received. Luckily for him (and for us), the game is better than just about every other game on this list, not to mention just about every Final Fantasy game released in the past ten years. Nintendo holds the publishing rights to The Last Story, and they may not release it in America, potentially depriving American Wii owners of one of the consoles best games, not to mention putting the career of one of Japan's most legendary developers in peril. In terms of catering to the "hardcore" gamer, it doesn't get much worse than that. It would be one thing if the game was "just too expensive to translate", but according to some sources, The Last Story is coming to Europe, just like Xenoblade. If Nintendo doesn't bring the game to the United States, despite the fact that it's already translated into English, well, they might as well put out billboards with Reggie Fils Aime wearing a devil costume, saying "We hate RPGs, and the people that play them", complete with maniacal laughter. Pandora's Tower + Dynamic Zan/Zangeki no Reginleiv double pack Speaking of action RPGs, here are a pair of budget titles that aren't likely to become huge hits, but are both extremely marketable to a certain brand of gamer. Pandora's Tower is basically a cross between Bionic Commando and Castlevania, but with a beautiful female heroine who needs to eat monster flesh in order to keep from becoming a monster herself, and a creepy old demon thing with a giant skeleton on it's back that cackles a lot. Dynamic Zan is the first game that Nintendo has published to receive the equivalent of an M rating in Japan, and it plays like Earth Defense Force, but instead of teaming up with friends via online co-op to save the Earth and kill giant bugs, you're taking out giant ogres and mythological beasts with swords and magic. Both of these games have the appeal of a weird, action anime from the 90's, and I'm sure they could find their audience in the U.S.  Bundle those two games together, or release them separately as budget titles, and Wii owning action game fans won't be able to resist. Seriously, Nintendo only has one major action/fantasy game coming out this year- Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. Compare that to the PS3 and 360's line up for the year, and it's just disgusting. Even if they bring The Last Story here, that's still just two games. That's not OK, Nintendo. Give us a 3rd and 4th game, preferably in the two-for-one deal format, and we'll almost forgive you. Disaster: Day of Crisis + President Cat double pack Wii owners have a long history of showing that they know how to embrace ridiculousness and mini-game collections, and Disaster: Day of Crisis is one of the most ridiculous mini-game collections I've ever played. The game stars a sexy man with tribal tattoos who must cope with every type of disaster ever conceived, ranging from volcanoes and terrorist attacks to earthquakes and wild bears. One second you'll be doing CPR on a dying man, the next you'll be driving a car through falling buildings, and the next you'll be blasting bear cubs with a shotgun. The game wasn't meant to be funny, but from my time with the game's European release, I can confidently state that it's one of my favorite comedy games of this generation. It's also a lot of fun, as long as you approach it with the right attitude. It's not quite the Wii's equivalent to Deadly Premonition, but it's damn close. Then on the other side of the coin, we have President Cat, a mini-game collection about a cat who wears giant cat ears and runs her own publishing company (called CatQueen Inc, of course). She has to climb a rope, vacuume up mystical energy from the trunk of a convertible, play piano, and C'MON PEOPLE THE GAME IS CALLED PRESIDENT CAT! Do you really need for me to explain how insane it is? Packaging this game with Disaster: Day of Crisis would be the perfect way to tell fans "hey, we both know that these games are not triple A, but they're both surreal and hilarious in their own ways, so why don't you just relax and enjoy them?" It certainly worked for WarioWare:Smooth Moves, and it could also work for Disaster: Day of Crisis/President Cat. Trace Memory 2 Trace Memory is one of those games that has a small but highly dedicated cult following in the United States. The game's sequel (entitled Another Code R in Europe) maintains the series mysterious, atmosphere-focused adventure/puzzle formula, but transforms series protagonist Ashley Robbins from a ambitious but restrained little girl to an formidable 16 year old lady. She's one of my favorite characters of this generation of gaming. A lot of that is because her animations and mannerisms of are so surprisingly detailed, and undeniably charming, without reliance on photo-realism. Through her words and behaviors, we learn that Ashley is strong willed, determined, but very human, and highly self analytical person. I believe that if given a chance, she would elicit both empathy and admiration from the American Wii audience, regardless of their gender. Playing the game makes you feel like you're hanging out with Ashley Robbins, but it also makes you feel like you are Ashley Robbins. Despite the game's occasional wonky puzzle, you'll want to play through it from beginning to end, because being (and being with) Ashley makes it worth it. Earth Seeker As for Earth Seeker, I haven't played it yet, so I can't speak to its merits. I can say that, from what I've seen, the game has all the makings of a fantastic exploration focused RPG. More so, whenever someone brings up all the games that Nintendo of America hasn't localized yet, someone in the comments always says "What about Earth Seeker?", so I know the interest is there. The game is about a woman teaming up with a bunch of cute little alien-looking things, exploring a post apocalyptic earth and fighting giant robots with laser swords. That's not such a tough sell, is it? The game also has a cool tie in with a DSiWare game, which would again encourage Nintendo owners to get their damn consoles online. Earth Seeker may not be able to stand on it's own. It may need to be a budget release, or come packaged with another game (the exploration based Trace Memory 2 might be a good choice), but either way, the game definitely deserves a chance here in the US. Captain Rainbow + Mother 3 + Earthbound triple pack budget release Out of all the games on this list, this is the one I'm the most sure will never happen (even more so than the Brawl DLC, which is saying a lot). It's also the one that I'm most sure would sell at retail. There are millions of new Nintendo fans who want to play Earthbound and Mother 3, just to see for themselves who Ness and Lucas from Super Smash Bros. Brawl are. As for Captain Rainbow, it's a game where you finally determine what Birdo's gender is. There are millions of adults who grew up with Super Mario Bros. 2 who have been dying for an answer to that question for most of their lives. I'm sure that $30 would be a small price to pay to have that question answered.   One may argue that charging retail price from a SNES game, a GBA game, and a super-weird Wii game may not be a good business practice. Yet, Nintendo sold Super Mario All-Stars, an un-enhanced SNES game, on a Wii disc last year for $30, and people ate it up. Earthbound fans would do the same for Earthbound and Mother 3, while those who have never played the series before couldn't deny the value of getting three full length games for the price of one. Conclusion The issue with these games, and Nintendo's reluctance to publish them, isn't with value. The issue here is with Nintendo's image. Is the company willing to release these titles and risk "looking weird" in front of the mainstream American market that it's worked so hard to impress? I can't believe we're even asking that question. The answer is so obvious. From a hardware perspective, "looking weird" has saved Nintendo from certain doom. It's the one thing that kept them alive. With the DS and the Wii, Nintendo didn't try to "look normal". They didn't try to follow trends in the Western market, or any trends for that matter. Instead, they chose to try to lead the market, with a portable handheld with two screens, and a modified Gamecube with a bizarre motion-based controller. If they hadn't taken those risks, if they hadn't been willing to "look weird", they'd have been stuck with the Gamecube and the Gameboy Micro, which could have led to the death of the company. With this list, I'm merely suggesting that Nintendo try to take some similar risks with their software. Well, that's not exactly fair. Nintendo is taking risks with their software, but only in Japan. It's Nintendo of America that seems so acutely risk averse. On the eve of the release of the Wii U, Nintendo of America needs to prove to the "core" Wii gamer (who already feels deprived of 3rd party support that the PS3 and the 360 get), that they will do everything they can to give them games that they may want to play. They need to show that they aren't the same predictable, "casual" focused company that their detractors claim that they are. They need to make the gaming world feel that we don't know exactly what to expect from them, that the Nintendo of the Wii era is evolving, and that the "Wii U" might be more than just the "Wii 2". Releasing the games above would help to start that, and in the process, Nintendo would be giving desperate Wii owners something to play other than Kirby, Skyward Sword, and Rhythm Heaven this year. There is nothing more valuable to a successful game developer than maintaining the loyalty of your fans and building credibility and desirability amongst your non-fans . If Nintendo wants to stay on top, they'd do well to go after those two goals, by whatever means (and Earthbound games) necessary.
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The Wii is on it's way out. Sure, with an install base of over 80 million, chances are that smaller developers will be making Wii games for a while, but when it comes to being Nintendo's primary home console, the little white...

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Mistwalker thanks fans for 'Operation Rainfall' movement


Jun 27
// Jim Sterling
The Last Story developer Mistwalker has thanked fans for Operation Rainfall -- a huge effort undertaken by fans who want to see Xenoblade, The Last Story and Pandora's Tower get confirmed release dates in North America. ...
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Fans bring Xenoblade to #1 on Amazon, internet goes wild


Jun 26
// Jonathan Holmes
It looks the vague report from Nintendo customer service that Xenoblade (also known as Monado: Beginning of the World) is still slated for release in the United States isn't confirmation enough for some people. A group of fan...
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Xenoblade reconfirmed for NA, Last Story confirmed for EU


Jun 26
// Jim Sterling
[Mini Update: People seem to think this story is "wrong" because Nintendo is sticking to a story it's spun before. That's as well as may be, but it's on Nintendo's head. The fact is, Nintendo customer support reconfirmed the ...

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