This Generation's Best Final Fantasys Weren't Named 'Final Fantasy'

This Generation's Best Final Fantasys Weren't Named

This console generation saw only a few Final Fantasy games during its time in the sun but luckily two of them were amazing. Of course, I am not talking about Final Fantasy XIV -- decent as it is after its relaunch -- or any of the Final Fantasy XIIIs. No, I'm talking about Lost Odyssey and The Last Story.

"Neither of those are Final Fantasy games," I hear you cry. And while that is technically true, in everything besides the name Lost Odyssey and The Last Story are everything you could want from a Final Fantasy.

On the back end, both Lost Odyssey and The Last Story were made by Mistwalker -- a studio founded by the creator of Final Fantasy himself, Hironobu Sakaguchi. Moreover, he wrote the story to both games -- and directed The Last Story himself. On the music side, both feature scores by Nobuo Uematsu -- who scored Final Fantasy I through Final Fantasy X (as well as XIV). So when it comes to pedigree, Lost Odyssey and The Last Story have far more in common with the classic Final Fantasy games than the recent numbered titles.

This Generation's Best Final Fantasys Weren't Named

When it comes to gameplay, Lost Odyssey plays like a classic turn-based JRPG -- but with beautiful HD graphics. However, where it really shines is in the plot. Lost Odyssey is the tale of a group of immortals and their companions on a quest to -- as is common with JRPGs -- save the world. However, behind that standard plot, the game is a deep exploration of immortality -- mainly just how much it would suck to live forever. It is an emotional, serious title that largely stays away from melodrama and instead treats the player like a thinking adult. Simply put, it's an amazing JRPG.

The Last Story, on the other hand, has a plot focused on a small group of people trying to protect not the world -- but their own small part of it. It has great villains, interesting and diverse characters, and a world that is a lot of fun to explore. But where it really stands out from many other JRPGs is in its believable love story -- a love story that goes far beyond the "admitting they like each other" stage of the relationship which is so often treated as the end of a love story instead of the beginning.

This Generation's Best Final Fantasys Weren't Named

The gameplay in The Last Story is anything but traditional -- and I mean that in a good way. It is fast, action-packed, and unlike any JRPG before it. It manages to combine everything from stealth and cover-based combat to FPS shooting into the JRPG formula. It also involves a fair amount of tactical thinking by forcing you to be conscious about not only where your friends and the enemies are but also where their spells land.

In the end, both Lost Odyssey and The Last Story are not only great JRPGs with excellent plots but also have a pedigree that makes them Final Fantasy games in all but name. If you have somehow missed them, dust off your Wii and 360 and give them both a play. If you love the classic Final Fantasy games, you'll be glad you did.


Last-Gen Heroes is Kotaku's look back at the seventh generation of console gaming. In the weeks leading up to the launch of the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One, we'll be celebrating the Heroes -- and the Zeroes -- of the last eight years of console video gaming.


Comments

    Thank you for giving the me final persuasive push I needed! Looking forward to feeling that sense of amazement as I once did with the FF series!

    Reminds me I should actually play Lost Odyssey.. I bought it from Game for $9 when I first got my 360 years ago, but never played more than the first few battles - such a pile of shame because I buy stuff on special knowing I'll eventually get to it! I still have the PS2 MGS and FF games unplayed lol.. but to be fair I only picked up a ps2 last year.

    Also reminds me I should buy Blue Dragon... so I can play it in 10 years when I have time lol

    Last edited 23/10/13 11:43 am

      I know what you mean. So many games - so little time!

      You can skip Blue dragon its very existence is the measuring stick average games are measured with.

      It doesn't really have any problems but it also doesn't have a single thing that is better than average. The combat is typical JRPG (turn based warrior rogue mage etc) if not far too easy, the story was typical kid save world though it was super slow paced and could be summarized in less than 50 words. The combat is fun enough to carry you through it and the music was decent but that's it. No interesting features, its just the equivalent of a popcorn flick.

        Oh that's disappointing. I just remember reading the box and thinking it sounded interesting a few years back, and it's also from Mistwalker and I had played the start of Lost Odyssey already so I thought it would be good.

          It's not that bad. Sure, it's nothing special when compared to other JRPGs, but I enjoyed it. Check out a few reviews and make an informed decision. If you manage to find it cheap, then grab it. Even if you don't like it, you won't be out of pocket too much. I've seen it on eBay for as low as $8.

    Lost Odyssey was okay but The Last Story is a really polarizing game. Personally I thought it was terrible, in addition to barely being an RPG (it plays more like a tactical shooter).

      Yeah Lost Odyssey was just ok to me, but some people really loved it. To each his own. I thought the gameplay was a bit dated and the characters were quite dull besides Seth. And Mack & Cooke...why do they always make kids in JRPGs annoying little brats?? Oliver from Ni No Kuni is an exception, but that wasn't surprising since Level-5 worked with Studio Ghibli, who has a history with creating well-rounded and likable child characters. Anyway back to Lost Odyssey, the thing I loved most about that game were the short stories, they were amazing to read, and put the actual dialogue from the game to shame.

      The Last Story came out at a bad time imo - a few months after Xenoblade. So after playing such an exceptional game in Xenoblade, I wasn't interested in playing just a 'good' game. I would get it now but that game seems to be pretty rare at the moment, and is still bloody expensive like all games on the Wii that are worth playing it seems.

        The problem here is that while I wouldn't say LO is even in the same league as say FF9 (my all time fav I loved every aspect of that game, the whimsical style, characters and environments, all of it)

        At its time it was and still is one of the select few proper JRPG games that is actually better than average (solid 8-8.5/10 game), making it the then Star of the trash heap so to speak, where its mere existence made it king.

        The last story was rubbish, Xenoblade was padded and had alot of problems, still an average game but not in the same league as LO. (Yes i also want to plunge daggers into the eyes of game makers that make fucking kids that awful, they almost ruined LO for me)

          Chyeah FF9 love! Also my favourite.

    Don't insult the jrpg name with the last story, the games combat was the most shallow boring affair in living memory. I quite literally wiped the floor with the across room slice the entire game. Its story was also boring and was so slow it happened in reverse.

    It's like spitting in my face compared to LO.

    Last edited 23/10/13 12:23 pm

      You care too much about stupid things, like a child arguing at school.

        Using your own logic your a veritable toddler who felt the need to insult someone for no reason, without purpose all while being completely off topic and incorrect.

        On a side note, considering the fact the author try's to claim a horrible game like the last story, that had rubbish combat with no depth (evidenced by the fact i used 1 move for my entire play through with astounding success) Along with a slow paced & boring story (worse pacing than Xenoblade and that game had almost 100 hours of padded gameplay) as the complete opposite of this and even having the gall to say its worth the FF title, my comments are both appropriate and warranted.

        So i put it to you that you hurry up and "slip" down some stairs and remove yourself from the gene pool already, I'll have a darwin award waiting for you.

        Last edited 23/10/13 7:59 pm

    "...a love story that goes far beyond the “admitting they like each other” stage of the relationship which is so often treated as the end of a love story instead of the beginning."

    OK, so now I have to play this one because fuck me if that isn't how god damn near every movie and video game treats 'love', completely short-selling how difficult, perilous and rewarding the years afterward will be.

    I hate to be a nitpicker (ok, I love to be a nitpicker), but from what I remember, Lost Odyssey was exclusive to 360, and The Last Story was exclusive to Wii. But somehow this story has a "PlayStation" heading on it at the top of the article? :P

      FF games are largely on the PS :p

    Lost Odyssey was so damn good. My fave JRPG after DQ8.

    What about Blue Dragon? Doesn't that count as it was also by Sakaguchi?

    Just to say that while it isn't for everyone, I quite enjoyed the Last Story. The combat style really suited my tastes, although the game's depth isn't anywhere near FF level.

    Just purchased a copy of Xenoblade for Wii. Super excited, especially given all of the FFXII comparisons.

    ^^

    You will love the *hit out of it!

    Last edited 23/10/13 2:28 pm

    The Last Story, Final Fantasy - they sure do love finalizing things.

    I though Magna Carta 2 was a pretty good FF-Like. It was more or less FF XII with an ARPG style combat system.

    A Thousand Years of Dreams was amazing. I loved both games and agree - each were very worthy of being numbered FF titles. They certainly had the pedigree.

    The Last Story is the reason why I bought and still own a Wii. That game is amazing!

    Great characters, good story, music by Nobuo Uematsu, directed by the father of Final Fantasy... If you can get your hands on a Wii/Wii emulator it is definitely worth a go!

    I played Xenoblade Chronicles and loved it to bits. I followed this up immediately with The Last Story and was greatly disappointed.

    Xenoblade is a game that has a bunch of minor faults (e.g. cheesy voice acting and poor character models), but makes up for these with the sheer scale of its mechanics, world and story - and its world-building is like nothing I've ever seen anywhere else on a console. Though, I must admit, I was hooked after (EARLY SPOILER) the game was audacious enough to kill off the love interest in the first act. (LATE-GAME SPOILER: Shame they had to bring her back.)

    In contrast to Xenoblade Chronicles, The Last Story has a lot of good elements (e.g. the love story and the battle mechanics), but is simply overwhelmed by Xenoblade. I finished it and thought, "Is that really it?"

    I'm interested in Lost Odyssey. It's rare to find a JRPG with a challenging and interesting story. Tales of Symphonia relied on the tropes a little too much at times, but due to its (SPOILERS) deconstruction of various "save the world" and villainy tropes, I still use it as my standard for judging a JRPG's story. How would Lost Odyssey compare?

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