As far as Wii titles go, the Last Story stands out pretty prominently. Originally left out of Nintendo’s plans for the West, this decision was notably reversed along with a couple other titles now “historically” referred to under the umbrella of “Operation: Rainfall.”
The Last Story, featuring a staff which included famed Final Fantasy buffs Sakaguchi Hironobu and Uematsu Nobuo, was received to much critical acclaim as a Wii action-RPG that made full use of the platform’s graphical engine and capability to deliver a solid, serious gaming experience on a system with a reputation for a G-rated target audience.
But what really made the Last Story so much fun were its characters. Like many an RPG, this one featured a starstruck lovestory; however, it shared the stage with another romance of far more hilarious proportions and excitement. In short: Lowell x Syrenne forever.
Everything about the Last Story features Zael and Calista, the fated lovers and “main” main characters. From the front box art to the character controlled for most of the game to the climactic ending and all the quests in-between, the focus tends towards the pair.
And that’s fine, really. When all’s said and done the couple carries a strong love story with realistic ups and downs and emotional turmoil enhanced by the high-fantasy setting. But what really makes or breaks RPG’s these days is the core cast of characters, the companions and comrades in arms.
Featured among this game’s ragtag band of mercenaries are two scallywags in particular: Lowell and Syrenne. The former is a blonde, flirtacious womanizer fond of baudy jokes and better come-hither’s, while the latter is a gorgeous swashbuckler who an Irish town drunk would refer to as a heavy drinker. Without a doubt, their interactions provide some of the best entertainment to be found in the game – and eventually, a very touching pairing.
For those unfamiliar with the game (shame on you!), its localization was complete with full voicings for the main characters. These voicings, however, were performed by European actors and as such feature a wide variety of Cockney and London accents that are quite pleasing to the ear. Lowell and Syrenne, in particular, are voiced by a Scotsman and an Englishlady respectively.
This lends itself to a banter not estranged from popular British comedies. As far as the comedy goes, it plays out mostly as straight-man-funny-man skits (think the Marx brothers). Lowell and Syrenne are often found to be poking fun at the more straightlaced members of the party, and it makes for a deep contrast when the dung hits the windmill.
Most the time, though, they can be found cracking jokes and engaging in witty repartee – and it’s adorable. Their dynamic is one of steadfast friends, with nary a romantic word to be found for most of the game, and it works beautifully while Zael, the protagonist, chases after the princess (sometimes literally).
Relationships in games are always subject to special scrutiny, and rightfully so. All games have an element of escapism, but when gamers get the “yeah, that could happen” vibe it makes for a better experience, especially when something as intrinsic to out daily lives as love is a theme.
Thus, while the epic romance of the merc and the princess has its moments the side-stage production of Lowell and Syrenne manages to capture the heart just a little more honestly. There’s no love at first sight, no breathtaking getaway across the sea, just a couple of comrades-in-arms who get kicks out of teasing the hell out of each other and saving each other’s lives.
It’s a relationship that builds over time. As the player progresses through the story Syrenne and Lowell slowly and gradually develop into something a little more serious than friends without ever saying a thing about it right up until the end. And it is a very literal end; without giving away any more spoilers, it caps off with a suitably epic conclusion of its own.
Could they have carried the game on their own? Probably not, but as a comparison to the featured couple it’s no contest who takes home the prize.