(http://nisamerica.com/games/lastr/) Rated Teen by ESRB. First announced to be released October 2009, Last Rebellion was pushed back for a Spring 2010 release. But despite the extra time, many oddities of Last Rebellion seem to suggest that there were more in the plans. Many parts of Last Rebellion do not follow the trend of its genre, but it’s hard to make a call on whether they are a step forward or backward. It is pretty clear nonetheless, Hitmaker and NIS did not make another RPG with the same cookie-cutter. All in all, Last Rebellion is an undeniable reminder of the high costs associated with current generation of video game production.

(http://nisamerica.com/games/lastr/) Rated Teen by ESRB. First announced to be released October 2009, Last Rebellion was pushed back for a Spring 2010 release. But despite the extra time, many oddities of Last Rebellion seem to suggest that there were more in the plans. Many parts of Last Rebellion do not follow the trend of its genre, but it’s hard to make a call on whether they are a step forward or backward. It is pretty clear nonetheless, Hitmaker and NIS did not make another RPG with the same cookie-cutter. All in all, Last Rebellion is an undeniable reminder of the high costs associated with current generation of video game production.

Presentation:
Junovald is a world governed by the power of two gods: Meiktilia, the goddess of death; and Formival, the god of life. For some unspecified reasons Formival’s power went overboard and the balance was lost. The introduction made the game intriguing that very moment, the great evil of this video game is the power to… bestow life? The concept actually has far reaching gameplay ramification. All the baddies in Last Rebellion, called Belzed, are normally immortal as they are gifted with ever flowing power from Formival.

This is where the game’s protagonists, Nine and Aisha, come in. Not only are they blessed by Meiktilia’s power to destroy life force, they are also said to be the most skillful among those who wield power to destroy Belzeds. The souls of Nine and Aisha ended up sharing a single body through some mind-boggling events, but they still have different appearances. It is almost certain that the pair should set out to save the world, but the fact that they don’t take it seriously (nor make it part of their goal) eases the cliché out of the game.

The game doesn’t allow itself enough time to develop its story; making the plot development feel rushed and sudden when events occur, especially when coupled with the main characters’ laid back attitude. It is noticeably awkward when Nine and Aisha unexpectedly expressed a newfound fondness for each other. Forgiving the few quirks in the story writing and delivery, Last Rebellion offers an interesting world to immerse in while it lasted. It is also appreciated when a game doesn’t take its world-saving or vengeance-exacting too seriously, offering a few of those rare and genuine laughs.

       

Graphics:
Last Rebellion uses 3D cel-shading and runs on 1080p. Although the PS2 with a component AV cable would be more than sufficient for the purpose, but no video gaming is more “luxurious” than viewing beautiful hand-drawn illustrations on a blue-ray with full HD. The 8 special illustrations displayed during the load screens are especially crystal clear.

Many of the Belzeds are quite adorable thanks to their smooth texture and contrasting colors, free of extravagant designs. It would be quite delightful to see a greater variety of those adorable designs, seeing that the monster models start to get recycled only 2-3 hours into the game. On the other hand, the dungeons and fields keep the game fresh with their own distinct flavors. But the beautifully drawn HD graphics is regularly blocked by the game’s busy HUD with often-unnecessary information.

Sounds:
Prior to the game’s title screen, the game’s intro is hardly audible without turning up the volume drastically, but luckily that oddity isn’t much of a problem in-game. The battle music is the most memorable among all the sound tracks, its electric beats keep the turn-based RPG battle going without being repetitive. In contrast, its J-pop theme song sounded rather out of place, especially when it came up during one of the boss fights. The game’s conversations are voiced alongside the old school portrait and text dialog style, which came as a surprise when realizing the text and the voice are paired together. Perhaps it is expected of the current generation of RPGs to have voice over, but seeing it with portrait and texts as supposed to full character animation gives it a different flavor. The characters don’t speak all that often, but they represent their unique character traits well when they do.

       

Gameplay:
On a first look, Last Rebellion seems to have a traditional turn-based RPG combat system, but it is in-depth yet easy to understand. Nine and Aisha share a turn in battle, within a turn, they can execute as many actions as their Chain Points allow to. It is important and entertaining, to strategically plan out the turn as the player needs to decide whether Nine or Aisha should go first that turn. It is especially important to manage the Chain Points early on, since all Belzeds have multiple body parts which Nine or Aisha can hit as long as they have enough Chain Points.

The body parts is probably the single most important aspect to Last Rebellion’s combat. The player is rewarded with several bonuses if the body parts are hit in a correct order, more often than not, knowing the correct sequence allows the player to finish a battle within 1-2 turn as supposed to 5+ turns. In a sense, combat is also a number guessing game. But thankfully the quick attack animations saved the game from having “epic battles” every time Nine or Aisha ran into a Belzed. It would be a nightmare if each weapon swing took even 0.5 second, since 5 Belzeds each with 8 body parts could easily mean half a minute of idle time every turn.

The Belzeds, being immortal, can only be defeated using Aisha’s special “Seal” ability. They will revive and become stronger each time otherwise. Although it is also quite satisfying to let the Belzeds revive after knowing the correct attack sequence, just to beat on them over and over again while generating bonuses.

Magic is divided into Stamp Magic and Support Magic. Stamp Magic is offensive magic, but can only be used after the target had been stamped with a physical attack. Unlike physical attack which cost 1 Chain Point per target, Stamp Magic hits all stamped targets using only 1 Chain Point. It has more strategic value early on in game when Chain Point conservation is important. But Nine and Aisha soon have enough Chain Points to allow them both to physically attack all of the enemy targets. Stamp Magic is rendered useless at that point because of the difficulty in discovering the Belzeds’ elemental weakness and physical attacks are generally stronger.

On the contrary, Support Magic becomes increasing useful as the game progresses, so much that it just about broke the game. In addition to the typical support spells that increase attack and defense, there are also ones that regenerate Chain Points and Hit Points, Haste spell that ensures first attack every turn, and a personal favorite – increased drop rate, among many others. The large variety only contribute slightly toward their game-breaking usefulness, but the ability to cast them before the battle is what finishes each fight before it starts.

       

Innovation:
It is an occasionally nice change for RPGs to not demand serial brain cell self-destruction all the time with battle and leveling systems that punishes every and all miscalculations. The number guessing combat is quite easy to understand and get into. The exp are plentiful all around, especially if one were to let some Belzeds revive and build some exp bonuses out of it. But the downside is that the dopamine rush quickly dissipates after a multiple-level earning battle because there is essentially no reward when fighting Belzeds of lower levels. The game is also quite forgiving in terms of character customization. The player can strengthen Nine’s and Aisha’s spells by applying “Aria Paper” to it, which can be removed and reused at will at the player’s discretion. There are some not-so-pleasant slip-ups such as the few Belzeds that can repeatedly inflict debilitating status ailment, therefore guaranteeing a game over if they were to land just one hit. But overall Last Rebellion is a relaxing RPG experience from beginning to end.

Conclusion:
Last Rebellion has potential, perhaps not as in “it could’ve been the next game to sell a million copies on its first day of release”, but somewhere along the lines of “highly refreshing and enlightening for a fading genre”. It would have been the case too if more efforts were put into expanding some of the less used functions and features. For example, allowing the player to cast some spells on the field with the shoulder buttons would reduce some menus navigation. There is also the weapon swing animation which is triggered with the X button that interacts with a single object only; however, connecting that action with the Belzeds, which are visible on the field, to initiate special battle condition would spice up traveling at the very least. Minus the quirks and what-could-have-been’s, Last Rebellion can be considered a snack-size RPG by today’s standards. It is quite nice for RPG players who don’t have 100 hours to sink into a single game but would like to feel accomplished with a few quick PSN trophies. A few guest characters from other NIS titles also make an appearance somewhere in Junovald, so NIS fans probably don’t want to miss out on this.

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