In the latest Iwata Asks column for The Last Story, Hironobu Sakaguchi discussed the origins of the Wii game. Takuya Matsumoto from AQ Interactive (specifically Artoon before the studios merged into AQI Group) worked with Sakaguchi on Blue Dragon. The two met frequently at an izakaya to discuss games.
Reflecting on Blue Dragon and the game’s reception around the world, Sakaguchi felt they were making the same style of game. Satoru Iwata, President of Nintendo, says that awareness of making the same kind of title was the start for The Last Story. Much to Sakaguchi’s chagrin, a video seen at a video sharing site for "a certain game" shocked him and Matsumoto.
The two developers wanted to create something new and started making a prototype for The Last Story. Instead of characters, this extremely early build was populated with Tofu-kun. Matsumoto decided the game needs a new type of battle system. By changing the rules, this game wouldn’t repeat past mistakes.
An early prototype of the game had three heroes represented as blue tofu characters. Enemies were red tofu-men and enemy leaders had glasses. Matsumoto created an option that let players instruct allies to target the leader first, eventually this became a core part of The Last Story’s battle system.
Another significant change, Matsumoto mentions, is normally games use objects in the background as decorations. Sakaguchi was playing with collision and designed fields with interactive objects. Players could push doors open with their hands, squeeze into tight spaces by turning horizontally, and hide in shadows.
Terrain became an important element in the game and led to the creation of complex maps with spaces to climb and hide in. Sakaguchi requested to use the terrain during event scenes, as well, leading to Matsumoto creating scenes where Yuris kicks open doors. The other characters make fun of him for doing this, a trait that Sakaguchi liked so he kept it into the game.
During dungeons, characters in The Last Story talk, which makes the game, in Matsumoto’s opinion, feel more alive. Thanks to Matsumoto, Sakaguchi says, the level design and character conversations makes the game feel more interesting.