The Last Story, an RPG designed by the studio Mistwalker (headed by Hironobu Sakaguchi, creator of Final Fantasy), will be released in the U.S. via the publisher XSEED Games. This makes it the second title in Operation Rainfall to be successfully localized. The first was Xenoblade Chronicles, which likely had the largest amount of push behind it by the fans. Participants in Operation Rainfall went as far as importing the game on European release in an attempt to make it the best-selling game of the day on Amazon. Their efforts resulted in Nintendo publishing a limited run as a store-exclusive game only available at GameStop starting in April.
The North American localization of The Last Story is notable because NoA almost never allows other publishers to license games developed by Nintendo of Japan. However, The Last Story will be published by XSEED Games, a company that mostly specializes in localizing JRPGs. This is a common move by Sony, but it seems that Nintendo may be testing the waters with this idea as well. It will work out for them either way: they received the money for licensing the game and no longer have to worry about whether or not it actually succeeds.
Although a release date was not given, XSEED Games plans to have the game released before the end of the year.
The press release is embedded below.
Analysis: This is a win-win for everyone. Nintendo has its money, fans get their game, and XSEED gets a tidy and potentially large profit. But it also has the potential to lead to a new business model for Nintendo in the way it deals with its JRPG titles. Sony has a habit of passing off unwanted JRPGs and other niche titles to third-party publishers, but with Nintendo, these types of games never see the light of day. Some people believe that Nintendo of America had planned to release Xenoblade Chronicles all along, denying that they were a form of viral marketing. Given the circumstances, I now believe this wasn’t the case. If it were, they would be localizing The Last Story themselves. Fortunately, the outlook for the localization of Pandora’s Tower looks a little brighter. Wishing for it to be localized might be asking a bit much, but if this move proves to have been a good one, that may follow suit.