Interview | Cubed3 Talks to Sakaguchi-san About The Last Story (Nintendo Wii)

By Adam Riley 28.03.2012 10

Last month Cubed3 took a close look at Mistwalker’s The Last Story, from the man behind the Final Fantasy series, Hironobu Sakaguchi, to see whether it could best the recent entries into the franchise he started. After scoring the Wii RPG an impressive 9/10, and controversially proclaiming it to be better than the recently released Final Fantasy XIII sequel, Cubed3 caught up with the man and legend himself, Sakaguchi-san, to discuss the game a little further.

Image for Interview | Cubed3 Talks to Sakaguchi-san About The Last Story (Nintendo Wii)

Cubed3’s Adam Riley, Operations Director: How long did it take to develop The Last Story and were you able to achieve everything you initially wanted to?

Hironobu Sakaguchi-san, Founder of Mistwalker, Director of The Last Story (Wii): The development period was about three and half years. I believe that we were able to achieve almost everything that we initially aimed for.

Adam Riley: Can you talk about features that did not make it into the final product and if there were any large changes during the long development period?

Sakaguchi-san: We had a year-long experiment phase during which we were mainly trying out different ideas for the battle system. In the end, we dropped as many or even more ideas than we adopted to create the game we have today. One example of an idea that we dropped was the “battle rewind function.”

For example, when your mage fires a magic attack at an enemy, an icon would appear in the middle of the screen. If you flicked the Wii Remote at that moment, the battle scene would rewind back to where the mage fired the magic attack. It would rewind like the rewind function on a video player, and then play it back from a bird’s eye view. This allows you to see which mage fired what sort of magic attack on which enemy, and at the same time get a clearer view of the battle situation. However, although we experimented with it a lot, in the end we decided to not incorporate it in the system because it slowed down the pacing of the battle. However, there are still traces of this programme in the game such as the bird’s eye view when going into command mode, and one scene in the arena where they show a replay of a cheating act by a Lazulis knight.


 

Adam Riley: Was the plan to always release The Last Story on Wii, or were you ever tempted to make it on a high definition console?

Sakaguchi-san: It all started at the time when I was thinking about creating a “new form of RPG,” where I had the opportunity to talk to Mr. Hatano at Nintendo who really supported the project. We’ve known each other for a long time, and despite the necessity of an experiment phase, as well as the many risks that come with creating something completely new, he took on the challenge and offered to work on this together. So rather than deciding on which console to release it on, “working with Nintendo” was always at the forefront of my mind.

Adam Riley: Was Nintendo actually involved at any stage of the game’s development, though?

Sakaguchi-san: Of course we created milestones, and we discussed and exchanged opinions all the time, but we were able to work on the production at our own discretion. Also, in the latter half of the project, we had Mario Club heavily play-test the game. I, myself, went to their testing area and absorbed their ideas and opinions, which in turn helped create many new ideas. I feel that their feedback was extremely important.

Adam Riley: Mistwalker has worked with tri-Crescendo, Brownie Brown, Artoon, feelplus, Racjin, and AQ Interactive. What are the advantages of working with so many different teams?

Sakaguchi-san: Many of these are development companies that have former colleagues from my Square days working for them. Therefore, in that sense, as well as working with completely new development members, I also had a strong feeling of working together and making something with my old friends. Of course, in addition to these veterans, there were many young developers in their twenties in the team, and their strong, positive energy was also an important factor.

Image for Interview | Cubed3 Talks to Sakaguchi-san About The Last Story (Nintendo Wii)

Adam Riley: Are you pleased with the reaction to the game in Japan and Europe so far, both in terms of the critical reception and its current sales performance?

Sakaughi-san: Yes, I’m satisfied, and I believe that the critical reception to it was accurate. There are limitations to what I can do, and I experienced some tough criticism in those areas, but above all I feel that the game turned out to be true to the style of game that I make.

Adam Riley: Did you receive a lot of feedback from Japanese players, and have there been any changes made for the European version?

Sakaguchi-san: We made some minor improvements for the European version. For example, we incorporated a different camera mode that can be selected in the options. We had feedback from Japanese users saying that they got motion sickness from the camera, therefore, we decided to make it possible for individuals to adjust the camera mode to avoid feeling sick.


 

Adam Riley: Feedback from RPG veterans has shown most prefer the manual attacking option, but the default battle mode is set to ‘automatic attack.’ Why was this default option chosen?

Sakaguchi-san: Regarding the attacking option, we experimented with both the manual and automatic attack, but we felt that the automatic attack allowed players to concentrate on other things during battle. Rather than delving into battle haphazardly, we imagined players would achieve victory by bringing order to a battlefield full of chaos and disorder. So in that sense (in the sense of allowing players to pay attention to lots of different things happening on the battlefield), we thought it would be better to have the automatic attack as the default option.

However, we received some feedback during play-testing saying that they would like to play it manually, which is why we decided to have it as an option. We carefully planned this out so that the difficulty won’t change for either automatic or manual attacking, but I have to say that this was difficult to get spot on.

Adam Riley: Have you decided that a turn-based battle system is no longer suitable for modern RPGs?

Sakaguchi-san: I think that turn-based battle systems have their own attraction, and I think that there’s still a lot of potential to expand on. However, it is the truth that there were many users who played Blue Dragon and Lost Odyssey felt that turn-based systems were becoming out-dated. Such feedback became the catalyst for creating a completely new battle system for The Last Story.

Adam Riley: Is the Wi-Fi multiplayer limited to specific regions? Also, did you ever consider co-operative play during the story mode?

Sakaguchi-san: The multiplayer mode can be enjoyed in all regions. No, I didn’t consider co-operative play during the story mode for this title.

Image for Interview | Cubed3 Talks to Sakaguchi-san About The Last Story (Nintendo Wii)

Adam Riley: If you make ‘The Last Story 2’ would you prefer to make a direct sequel that connects to the first game’s story, or would you follow the Final Fantasy route of making a new story for each sequel?

Sakaguchi-san: I have no plans for making a sequel at the moment, so I haven’t really thought about any ideas for such a game. If I were to make a sequel, though, I think that any direction could be possible. I feel that it might also be fun for it to be a completely online game!

Adam Riley: Square Enix helped to extend the life of Dragon Quest IX by releasing many new missions for gamers to play after the game was completed. Was this something you thought about doing for The Last Story?

Sakaguchi-san: I did toy with the idea of the number of enemies in the online mode increasing as DLC, but didn’t include it in the end.

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stealth (guest) 28.03.2012#1

Adam Riley: Have you decided that a turn-based battle system is no longer suitable for modern RPGs?

Sakaguchi-san: I think that turn-based battle systems have their own attraction, and I think that there’s still a lot of potential to expand on. However, it is the truth that there were many users who played Blue Dragon and Lost Odyssey felt that turn-based systems were becoming out-dated. Such feedback became the catalyst for creating a completely new battle system for The Last Story.


Why would he decide that when this gen hes made more turn based rpgs than not?

However, it is the truth that there were many users who played Blue Dragon and Lost Odyssey felt that turn-based systems were becoming out-dated. Such feedback became the catalyst for creating a completely new battle system for The Last Story.

I think the above quote specifies why his mind is changing - user feedback!

I find it more interesting that he thinks a potential TLS2 would be good totally online. Personally, I don't agree with that at all...

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses
stealth (guest) 28.03.2012#3

a completely online game wouldnt be fun

stealth (guest) 28.03.2012#4

turn based rpgs are the best

which is why that kind of battle system is most prevalent

stealth (guest) said:
turn based rpgs are the best, which is why that kind of battle system is most prevalent

I do love turn-based RPGs, and was somewhat disappointed by the lack of them in TLS, but changing to the manual attack mode at least made the battles more enjoyable.

The online element was good for multiplayer, but going down the MMORPG route is really not my cup of tea.

I wonder if XSEED would consider bringing ASH over now they've picked up TLS for the US...that'd be quite cool.

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses
stealth (guest) 28.03.2012#6

I mean

lost oddessy - turn based
the 3 blue dragons - turn based
ash archiac - turn based

This was the one different kind of game.........

I also dont like his mmo idea but it isnt ammounting to anything yet


turn based still has a place, in fact its thriving.........

...but isn't this the first out of all those that he has actively had hands-on time during development? All the others were just shunted off to other parties - Brownie Brown, and so on, no?

Anyway, clearly his mind has been slightly changed due to feedback from the previous Mistwalker games, which is why TLS is different and his next projects may also be equally different from the norm.

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses

I wouldn't mind if it allowed drop in/out online and local multiplayer coop.

The multiplayer portion is suprisingly fun, although very limited with the Wii's current online infrastructure.

Mr James said:
I wouldn't mind if it allowed drop in/out online and local multiplayer coop.

Yes please! Smilie I can't tell you how many times I've thought this about games in general. Game sales would go up for whatever games had this feature as every university student living in a dorm room in America would buy the thing. Games I find are anymore, predominately, a social activity.

What, so play through in solo player mode, and allow friends / randomers to jump in whenever they feel like it? Is that what you're suggesting? That could work nicely, especially if the difficulty level is adjusted to cater for the extra human team-mates.

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses

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