Nintendo and Ganbarion’s Pandora’s Tower has been often relegated to the backseat among its contemporaries. Being that other game included in the Operation Rainfall campaign, it has neither the pedigree nor the accolades of Xenoblade Chronicles or The Last Story. As such, it was the game considered least likely to have a North American release. Even Operation Rainfall had left it for dead after their final push for it in Spring of 2012. But thanks to strong sales of The Last Story, XSEED Games has announced that they will publish Pandora’s Tower in North America in Spring 2013.
Still, the game will likely continue to sit in the shadows. Being developer Ganbarion’s first original work outside of licensed games, they don’t have the same brand recognition as Monolith Soft or Mistwalker. After the storm has died down from the surprising releases of Xenoblade Chronicles and The Last Story in 2012, Pandora’s Tower likely won’t ignite the same fire. It doesn’t help that it’s a Wii game being released in 2013.
But I, for one, am still excited for Pandora’s Tower. Back in early 2011, before there was an Operation Rainfall, before the infamous comments about how Nintendo of America didn’t want to showcase games at E3 that they weren’t planning to sell, the first Japanese trailers for Pandora’s Tower caught my attention. I had heard of Xenoblade and The Last Story, but since I wasn’t as into RPGs at the time, they weren’t really on my radar. Pandora’s Tower, on the other hand, just looked like a cool action game, and I hoped it would get a North American release, even though I knew at the time that the odds weren’t great.
Then, it happened. The storm that led to Operation Rainfall broke, and seeing it as a good cause, I supported it. My attention quickly shifted over to Xenoblade, since that was the only game that seemed to have a small chance of actually getting a North American release. It also helped rekindle my interest in RPGs, as I ended up playing a number of them in 2012. My attention then shifted to The Last Story when it was announced and subsequently released. And now, much to my surprise, here I am again, standing at the foot of Pandora’s Tower.
It’s interesting to see the split reactions to the game. Those that have played it either criticize it for being far inferior to those other two games, or praise it for being the best of the trio. I can’t know for sure what I’ll think until I’ve played it for myself, but I do know my own tastes. It caught my attention in the first place because I like action-adventure games, like the Zelda series. I also tend to like games that are a little bit experimental, even if they’re rough around the edges. I’m a big fan of both Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers and Epic Mickey. For me, it’s worth forgiving a few quirks for a fresh, new experience. In other words, Pandora’s Tower sounds like it’s right up my alley.
It’s unfortunate the game can’t be mentioned without those other games being included in the same breath. Even I have just spent several paragraphs discussing all three games as if they were a series. When The Last Story came out, some people seemed to look at it as “Xenoblade 2.” I suppose it’s inevitable that Pandora’s Tower will be perceived as “The Last Story 2” or even “Xenoblade 3.” But each of these games is a completely different beast, and Pandora’s Tower deserves to be judged on its own. Hopefully, it will be taken on its own merits, especially since it is the most different.
As for me, it’s been a long, roundabout journey. I’ve braved a rainstorm through disappointment and triumph. I have traversed two dead titans, both inside and out. I have saved an island from siege, united two warring races, and married a princess. And now, I have finally returned to where I began. Everything has led up to this point. The final leg of my adventure is finally in sight.
And I can’t wait to take on Pandora’s Tower.