A victim of circumstance
The Wii's life cycle was filled with droughts of "serious" games, held up by tent pole Nintendo franchises and a fistful of genuine third party efforts. A major source of consternation to the content-starved fans of the Wii in North America were titles unreleased outside of Japan. Near the end of the console's life, a fan movement dubbed Project Rainfall lobbied for an already English-localized trio of games to be released in North America. Among them was The Last Story.
Mistwalker's most recent console release, The Last Story tells the story of a mercenary named Zael. In fact, it literally tells this story on occasion through the use of jarring cuts to verbally narrated black text-on-screen. It's one of several bizarre design choices which, along with a ho-hum plot themed around betrayal and the machinations of other worldly beings, bring the overall experience down. There's also a great deal of framiness at times, especially when fancy lighting occurs during in-engine cutscenes. You can almost hear your Wii melting.
What shines through, on the other hand, are several strong and charming characters of different genders and socioeconomic positions. The English voice-acting is generally pleasant as well, having been done by various denizens of the British Isles. I also wound up enjoying the various combat puzzles presented throughout The Last Story. I use "combat puzzle" here in the same sense one would use it to describe a game like Halo, wherein there is generally an optimal path or strategy to resolve combat in a given arena-like setting. In a fight, you have the ability to issue orders to your squad members to cast various area of effect spells which can be dissipated with a player ability; disperse a healing circle to bolster the health of your entire party, or a flame circle to boost damage output. Boss fights proved to be challenging at times, but once you've come to grips with the systems you could potentially fly through even the final encounter.
Then the game decides to spend about two more hours ending, including an epilogue quest that seemed completely unnecessary. I finished the game in about twenty-five hours, but I took several months of reprieve at some point near the twenty hour mark as I had frankly had my fill of The Last Story. Had they lopped off five hours or so, and perhaps played more to the Wii's graphical strengths (remember, that console ran Super Mario Galaxy 2 and Skyward Sword), the game would probably rank higher.
Of course, the main problem is the game was released three months before the launch of the Wii U, as part of a movement which included Xenoblade Chronicles. The game was effectively double-eclipsed out of the gate. Imagine a world where this title had been released in mid-2011 (the game launched in January of that year in Japan), or at really any point prior to the death rattle of its platform. This is the sort of game that gives people a reason to use their consoles between marquee releases, a Binary Domain, a meat and potatoes action RPG. It has issues, but I can't help but look back on my time with The Last Story with a certain fondness.