The Last Story Presentation: Details & A Battle PV Director Hironobu Sakaguchi shows off his four-year-old project. 12.28.10 - 2:47 AM
Yesterday, The Last Story's director Hironobu Sakaguchi showed off Mistwalker's Wii RPG to the Japanese press as had been promised. The event was streamed on the game's official website and on UStream and in just over an hour and a half, viewers got quite the in-depth look at the game.
Sakaguchi started off the event by talking about the game's development, and how it took nearly four years in total. He then started off the demo by showing the game's tutorial, which suggests some moves and provides little video clips to help the player, such as crouching behind rocks to hide and leaping over obstacles. He said these can be skipped though if you prefer. This is in the game's first chapter in the Lizard's Cave (where Elza supposedly discovers his Gathering ability - though the discovery scene wasn't actually shown in the demo). However, for a few minutes the camera was actually focused on Quark, not Elza, as Sakaguchi wandered the cave, suggesting that you could control party members other than Elza.
The demo showed off many aspects of the battle system, such as Elza's Gathering, and all kinds of magic attacks and fighting going on around him at the same time. In the demo, and the battle PV below you could see the magic counters above casters' heads and the pointers all over the place. In the clip you can also see Elza hiding, finding the weak points of and attacking unsuspecting enemies with his bowgun. There is also plenty use of the magic circle, and at the presentation Elza could be seen stepping into a fire magic circle to attack enemies for an 'elemental hit' many times. Elza's wind spell can also make enemies' magic circles dissipate.
(You can see more video from the presentation here or on the game's website.)
It looks like you can have up to six party members including Elza, and the action moves quickly. But when things get too chaotic you can use the Command Mode. You get a bird's eye view of the action, and commands to party members were seen being implemented in this mode.
Outside of battle, Sakaguchi showed off Ruli City where most of the game takes place. Like described, the city is huge with all kinds of pathways to wander around, and several shops. There was also a quick glimpse of Ruli Castle, home of Kanan and Count Arganon. The castle and shores are apparently equipped with cannons to defend the island from the Gurugu race, a human-like race from across the sea who will attack the castle at some point in the game.
You can fling banana peels or lemons around town at the residents, but if one hits a wall Elza himself will slip on it. At the shops, you can buy new equipment, upgrade, and so on - upgrading will increase the equipment's properties and sometimes unlock a new skill. Sometimes, a weapon will change entirely. Unknown items have to be identified at appraisal shops before you can use them. Here, we watched Sakaguchi customize characters by equipping and changing the colour of various pieces of clothing for Elza - before stripping him down to his skivvies and having him talk to a rather amused Seiren. All other characters in Elza's group are customizable as well.
Other things in the demo included a couple of cutscenes at a local bar or tavern, a flashback scene to when Quark befriended a young, scared Elza, and even a scene where you have to swim down a few passageways. There seemed to be little in the way of loading times. Throughout, there was lots of chatter between Elza and his allies which was easily audible even in battles and when Sakaguchi himself was talking. He says that this is a part of the game's overall theme - companionship.
Ater about an hour of playing the game himself, Sakaguchi was joined onstage by Nobou Uematsu, artist Kimihiko Fujisaka and production head Matsumoto Takuya. Together, they showed off the competitive online mode, which can be played with friends or with random players. (Uematsu won.) Afterwards, as a surprise to everyone onstage, Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata showed up.
Finally, the presentation closed with a performance from singer Kanon, who sang - you guessed it, Kanan's theme.
In the battle, you might have noticed a glowing blue gauge below Elza's HP gauge - this is his Skill gauge, which fills up depending on what you do in battle. This was actually talked about in Famitsu before the presentation itsself. These are apparently tension skills which you'll use via the Command Mode menus. One of Elza's is Accelerate, which increases his movement during battle - and like magic circles, he can spread its effects to other party members with wind spells. Elza also has an attack called Vertical Slash, which requires him to climb a wall before jumping down with his sword to deal damage to enemies nearby to where he lands. He can also spread the effects of magic circles this way if he lands in the right spot.
For more on The Last Story, you can check out our gallery and preview below. The Last Story is due out in Japan on January 27th.