Just yesterday, Nintendo announced a new game to the world titled The Last Story. An RPG developed by Hironobu Sakaguchi and his studio, Mistwalker. Sakaguchi is mostly known for creating the popular Final Fantasy franchise but has since moved on to create other games, most notably for Microsoft's Xbox 360. The Last Story is his latest foray into the home console arena since the Lost Odyssey. What's most intriguing is the striking resemblance it bears to Final Fantasy, from the title to its logo and even the music. Will Mistwalker create yet another Final Fantasy or will they go on to create something new and refreshing?
Mistwalker's track record hasn't been what many would call outstanding. Blue Dragon and Lost Odyssey were both developed for the Xbox 360 but didn't offer much of anything outside the already tried-and-tested mechanics of the JRPG genre. Much like Sakaguchi's Final Fantasy titles, these games utilized a turn-base battle system, a cast of adolescent youths and a journey of self-discovery that eventually somehow led to said cast saving the world.
That's not to say that the games were bad, they just didn't offer enough. Blue Dragon was received by mixed opinions, plenty of which praised it for excellent visuals and music but criticized for the lack of a gripping storyline and strong characters. On the other hand, critics found Lost Odyssey's to be rather compelling with GameTrailers praising it for having a "deeply moving story that places an emotional focal point on its characters," and IGN and Game Informer applauding it for its solid combat system.
Now that Mistwalker are developing The Last Story for the Wii, it'll be interesting to see if they can take the best of Blue Dragon, Lost Odyssey and Final Fantasy to create an exciting new tale. It's not off to the most convincing start though. The synonymity between the titles The Last Story and Final Fantasy is frighteningly blatant. Even the game's lovely logo strikes an amazing resemblance to several Final Fantasy titles like VIII, X, XII and the recently released XIII. Upon a much closer inspection, one will even notice that the sun-like circular decor behind the lovely dame - possibly the protagonist and most likely motif of the story - is inscribed with roman numbers in numerical order. Although it probably has more to do with the game's theme, perhaps it's also hinting that The Last Story may receive a similar serial treatment as Final Fantasy – something that would be suitably ironic.
The Last Story also exhibits similarity with its music. In particular, the one short looping track on the official site. Admittedly, since there's not much else to go on, not much can be said about the musical score. However, that particular track bears an amazing resemblance to Nobuo Uematsu's illustrious Theme of Love from Final Fantasy IV. With that said, it won't be surprising if Uematsu composes the score seeing as he is part of Mistwalker's key staff.
Mistwalker have had a few attempts, but maybe this can be the one that truly stands out from the crowd. From the albeit limited evidence, it looks like it might struggle to climb out of the shadows of Final Fantasy. Of course, it'll be downright outstanding if Mistwalker can develop a fresh new gaming experience with a smashing story, something the JRPG genre on the Wii, or any other console for that matter, could desperately use.