Hironobu Sakaguchi is a well known name among RPG fans, serving important roles on classics like Final Fantasy 1-6, Chrono Trigger, and most recently Lost Odyssey. His next entry into the world of video games is The Last Story.

It’s a strange amalgamation of classic RPG tropes, with influence from western games like Gears of War and Assassin’s Creed. Combat is real time mixing together magic, melee, and third-person shooting with a bow and arrow. Sakaguchi wanted to remove the turn-based element of RPGs, but still retain the tactics and thoughtful combat.

My demo began with Zael, The Last Story’s protagonist, entering a cavern with a few enemies scattered about. There was a woman with Zeal who was talking to him, which is atypical for a Japanese RPG. Usually conversations and character development is relegated exclusively to cut scenes, but this woman was talking about the specific fight, and even making references to elements of Zael’s character. Having these sort of conversations outside of cutscenes lends a much better sense of genuine character interaction. I felt like Zael and this woman knew one another, rather than just two soldiers who speak when the storyline requires interaction.

When the battle began, Zael took cover behind a convenient rock, which was odd considering none of the enemies had long range weapons, and Zael was carrying a sword. The idea behind taking cover isn’t necessarily to avoid gunfire, but rather to dislocate yourself from the fight to work out tactics. You are able to direct your partners, like telling your magic user what to cast by pausing the game and going into Command Mode, and you have to make sure to protect them while they work up their magic. You can do this by just intervening with attackers going after magic users, or activating Gathering Mode, which will cause enemies to shift their focus to you no matter what they’re doing.

In another battle I was shown, Zael snuck up to a battle without alerting anyone. He took cover behind another convenient rock and commanded his magic user to destroy the gigantic stalactites above the enemies so that they would come crashing down. Once the command was set, everyone waited patiently in cover while the magic user prepared his attack. A little counter appeared on the corner of the screen, and once it hit zero and everything came crashing down, Zael pulled out his bow and arrow and began firing on a few extra enemies who were out of the danger zone of the falling rocks.

Everything about the character’s clothing and armor is customizable. You can change the color of everything, and even set your armor to be invisible so you can retain its attributes and still get to check out your characters shirtless upper torso.

After the demo concluded, the representative at Xseed told me about the humor throughout the game. There is a gigantic city and you can knock over baskets of fruit to cause random pedestrians to slip and fall as if they are walking on marbles. You can also equip the prank banana to your crossbow and fire it the feet of random passerbys causing them to trip and fall.

The game is shorter than the average Japanese RPG coming in at around 25 hours. The developers wanted to try to condense their game as much as they could to avoid extraneous, unnecessary fluff. The game also takes absolutely no advantage of the Wii’s motion functionality in any way. You can also use a classic controller, and camera control will be relegated to the second control stick. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to play the game with a GameCube controller.

Keep an eye out for The Last Story to finally come the United States this summer.