WTH is Trails in the Sky? An Introduction to the "Trails" Series

Okay, I will admit it. I am writing this because I'm way too excited about the new game in the series is being announced on the PS3/Vita, and saddened by the fact that there are no one here but me is excited about it. And hopefully, my little effort can help this awesome series get some exposure to the community.

I had previously wrote about Trails in the Sky, feel free to check it out if you are interested:

http://www.polygon.com/forums/off-topic/2012/11/2/3593330/the-legend-of-heroes-trails-in-the-sky-everything-you-love-about-jrpgs


Legend of Heroes series

So, what is Trails in the Sky? Perhaps we should start this by going all the way back to the root of the series. Trails in the Sky is the first installment in the "Trails" series, the sixth installment of the Legend of Heroes series, which is previously a spin-off of the Dragon Slayers series. Confused? Don't worry, let's take this step by step.

First, let's briefly talk about the Dragon Slayers series, or specifically, Dragon Slayers VI. The Dragon Slayers series is a series of JRPGs made by the Japanese company Falcom, with Kiya Yoshio as the producer. The series is started in 1984 with the first game Dragon Slayers, and ended with the seventh game Legend of Xanadu II in 1995 due to Kiya's departure at Falcom. Like Final Fantasy, each games have nothing to do with each other plot-wise (unless they are direct sequels like Final Fantasy X-2), the only common thing the series shared (until VII) is the final goal of the game is always to defeat the dragon.

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In 1989, Falcom released Dragon Slayers VI: Legend of Heroes, followed by Dragon Slayers: Legend of Heroes II in 1992. While the plot of the game is very thin, the two games were highly received by the fans due to the playability. These two games, referred as the Isrenasa series by fans, marked the beginning of the Legend of Heroes series.

In 1994, Falcom released Legend of Heroes III: Shiroki Majo (Prophecy of the Moonlight Witch), followed by Legend of Heroes IV: Akai Shizuku (A Tear of Vermillion) in 1996 and Legend of Heroes V: Umi no Oriuta (Song of the Ocean) in 1999. While the three games suceed the good things about the Isrenasa series, Falcom also put some extra effort into the story and character developments, which caused high praises from the fans. However, the story is no longer related to the Isrenasa series, but a completely new setting instead, thus a new name, Gagharv Trilogy is given.

Alright, before you are more confused, let's take a step back and look at what we have in here first.

Legend of Heroes 1-2: Isrenasa series

Legend of Heroes 3-5: Gagharv Trilogy

So, I guess it's safe to assume that you can already guess why are there so many series involved in Trails in the Sky?


Trails Series

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2004, 5 years after Legend of Heroes V, Falcom released Legend of Heroes VI: Sora no Kiseki (Trails in the Sky), a new game to the Legend of Heroes series, and our protagonist to this thread. As you can already guess, away from Isrenasa and Gagharv, Trails of the Sky take place in a complete new setting. People who had played the game might have already known, the story in Trails in the Sky is not finished, and it left you with a cliffhanger that put Halo 2's ending to shame.

2 years later, Falcom released Legend of Heroes VI: Trails in the Sky SC (stands for Second Chapter, which sadly, it's not out yet in English) and gave the story a conclusion. Noted that since the two games are one complete story separated in two package, SC is still titled Legend of Heroes VI, not VII.

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Soon, Trails in the Sky the 3rd is also released to further expand the story on some plot elements there were unexplained in the two games, as well as serving as the introduction to the next installment for the series, Legend of Heroes: Zero no Kiseki (Trails in the Zero) and Ao no Kiseki (Trails in the Azure). An action RPG titled Nayuta no Kiseki (Trails in Nayuta) was also released soon after that. However, Nayuta does not take place in the same world as the game, nor does it has the title of Legend of Heroes, so let's leave that out for now before we are off topic. Recently, Falcom has also announced that the next installment, Legend of Heroes: Sen no Kiseki (Trails in the Flash) is in development for the PS3 and Vita.

I know you are pretty overwhelmed right now, but don't worry, we will go through everything individually without any spoilers.


Trails in the Sky FC & SC (Liberl Arc)

(Released for PC, PSP and PS3. Only the PSP version of FC is available in English)

The story of Trails in the Sky takes place in Liberl Kingdom (based on the Thailand in WWII), a small country located between two giant countries, and starred Estelle Bright, the daughter of the war hero Cassius Bright as the main character. 5 years prior to the story, Cassius brought Joshua, a mysteriuos boy around the same age as Estelle home. Not knowing who he really was, Estelle had been living with him like a family ever since. 5 years later, Estelle and Joshua joined the Bracer, a civilian organization that focus on protecting local residents and taking requests such as fighting off dangerous monsters or rescuing locals from accidents. In order to be promoted from rookie to a real official Bracer, Estelle and Joshua needed to go around the whole Liberl and receive approvals from the Bracer Guilds throughout the country. Through the journey, they encounter many different events, met and helped many different people, and eventually discovered the dark side of the kingdom, as well as Joshua's mysterious past.

Now noted that Trails in the Sky is not a game that aimed to be innovative, but rather to perfect tradition. If one thing that Trails in the Sky had proven, it will be that generic elements have nothing to do with quality. The story in Trails in the Sky is nothing new, and it doesn't stop it from being enjoyable. It is well paced and well written, while not boring in the same time. The cast of characters, even the generic NPCs, are very interesting and stand out with their own personality without being annoying like many other games out there.

For the gameplay, if you miss traditional turn-based battle system, you are in luck, because not only the game has it, it has it good. The combat use a turn-based schedule like the one you see in Final Fantasy X, allowing you to be able to carefully plan out everything in each move. Things such as critical hit or bonus healing are also visible on the chart, which made the combat system simple but strategic in the same time. There is also an interesting system for the magics called orbment, which is very similar to Final Fantasy VII's materia system, but more refined and complex.

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Music has always been Falcom's strength, and the music in the Trails in the Sky does not disappoint. Some tracks are so good that it will stuck in your head even it only play once or twice throughout the whole game.

Silver Will

Whereabouts of the Stars

Fateful Confrontation

Trails in the Sky is not a perfect game, but damn is it hard to find a flaw. I guess one flaw will be text heavy, but not matter at all when it is fun to read them.

Trails in the Sky the 3rd (Shadow Arc)

(Released for the PC and PSP. None of them are in English currently)

The story of the 3rd take place not so long after the first two game, and starred a new character introduced in SC, Kevin Graham as the protagonist. After the events of SC, there are still many mysteries surrounding the characters remained untold, so Falcom released the 3rd, serving as a spin off to Trails in the Sky. The story begins with Kevin Graham, a priest from the church being assigned to retrieve a powerful relic along with his assistant and childhood friend Ries Argent, and soon after got sucked into a mysterious space that is made of the memories of the people in the mysterious space.

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The entire story takes place within the mysterious space, and throughout the game, players will witness many different memories and pasts of the cast, and ultimately Kevin himself. In other words, it's not an epic tale like FC and SC, but rather a spin off that was made solely for fans. While this game is definitely not for newcomers (though there are newcomers enjoyed the game as well), fans of the FC and SC will not want to miss this out.

The battle system didn't provide anything new, but there were lots of minigames added in. Most of them are interesting, some of them are just frustrating (Estelle's fishing mingame, I'm looking at you), and some of them are just randomly hilarious. You are already ROFL.

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While most musics in the game are reused from the previous game, the new music in the game also has a huge improvement.

Determination of Fight

Genuie Evil

The Final Choice

Trails in the Zero/Azure (Crossbell Arc)

(Released on the PSP, Zero also received a Vita port. Currently none of them is available in English)

(Also, noted that I actually haven't played both of them yet, so there will only be facts about the game with no personal impression)

The story of Legend of Heroes VII takes place in Crossbell, a small state located between the two big country (again), but in a different position than Liberl, and star an 18 year old police rookie Lloyd Bannings as the protagonist. After the peace treaty signed by the other three countries, Crossbell took this oppoturnity and become an big economic city. While the economy of Crossbell grew rapidly, shady businesses and black markets were starting to appear. In order to fight these crimes, a special department of the police force, which run on a system similar to the Bracer Guild was founded in order to regain the civilian's trust. While they were being looked down by the old veteran as an unnecessary department, Lloyd and his comrades nonetheless decided to fulfill their duty and overcome this "wall" of hardship.

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Gameplay wise, the game offers basically the same experience, but with many refinements. The limit of party members is also increased to six (four combat, two supports). Other than the regular S-Craft (something like Limit Breaks in FF) from FC and SC, you can also have two different characters activate their S-Craft in the same time to form a brand new attack. Orbments system has also improved, and allows the players to create more complex combinations.

And the music, of course, improved again. Its Falcom we are talking about in here.

Formidable Enemy

Inevitable Struggle

Get Over the Barrier!

Trails in the Flash (Erebonian Arc)

(To be release for the PS3 and Vita in 2013, no announcement for English localization were made yet)

The new game that was announced few days ago in Famitsu. There isn't much info about the game yet, but so far we know it will take place in a school in the Erebonian Empire. Famitsu had also released some screenshots and visual arts.

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Yes, yes, I know what you want to say, majority of them are not released in English. Truth to be told, this is one of the reasons why I make this thread. If more people will know about it, the bigger chance it will get localized, right? because this is truly something that deserve the localization. Heck, I will even say that it's a game that deserve the same level of attention and treatment of games like Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest with no exaggerations, the only thing lacking from this series compare to other more famous JPRGs will be graphics and budget for advertisement. If you are a fan of traditional JRPGs, or just JRPGs in general, this series is definitely not something you want to miss

Also, I proclaim the right to say "First" in the Trails in the Sky forum.

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