Released in Japan in January 2011, the Wii's The Last Story is the long-awaited new title developed by Mistwalker. Like all their console works, this latest entry is composed by none other than Nobuo Uematsu, famed for his work on the Final Fantasy series. While the full album isn't due out for several weeks yet, a promotional CD was released alongside the game. How is this early glimpse of the master composer's latest?
The title track, "Theme of THE LAST STORY," starts off rather moody, with long, drawn out chords on the strings. Thematic material doesn't begin until over a minute in, at which point the piece flits from theme to theme. In total there are three short themes presented, with the second being repeated at the conclusion of the piece. The themes are each individually quite enjoyable, but having them all presented at once along with sudden transitions between them is a bit jarring.
"Order and Chaos," the regular battle theme, is introduced with a frantic string cluster, yet soon develops into an orchestral piece with an electric guitar in the bass. The melody is memorable, evocative of the main battle theme in Lost Odyssey. A fun little choir motif is thrown in as the piece transitions to loop back to the beginning. "Evil Beasts" is the game's boss battle theme, and it's more generic a battle theme than the other presented on the album. There's a recognizable melody present, but the focus is more on the instrumentation and discordant transition material.
Among other contributions, "Joyful Voices Can Be Heard" is a rather simple march with a happy melody. It isn't terribly impressive, but there isn't much to dislike about it either. "Timbre of the City" is a soothing piece with delicate percussion, string and flute work. It starts off rather slow, but picks up soon enough, and by the end the listener is holding on for the next note. The melody of "The Flying One" is introduced here as well, weaving its way through a portion of the piece.
"Bonds" is a very gentle piece showcasing the violin, with a guitar accompaniment. This focus on individual instruments grants a rather personalized feel to the piece, which turns it into something mournful, yet not overbearingly so. The album closes with "The Flying One," a piece with a very, very strong melodic component. Listeners will surely recall Uematsu's older works. The interplay between the violin and flute is quite well orchestrated, and the melody is consistently interesting. A strong piece to close the album with.
This promotional album is long compared to most others, coming in at 25 minutes for seven tracks. If the material presented is indicative of the soundtrack as a whole, then The Last Story will prove to be a solid lineup in Uematsu's repertoire. However, it is nothing revolutionary for the composer, by any means, taking a bit more of a slide toward the generic. That said, the composer's style can be felt in every piece, and each is unique. The imminent release of the official soundtrack, however, will make this album entirely obsolete in several weeks, but at least it offers a glimpse at what's to come.