The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky
|The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky|
Cover art for the PlayStation Portable version
|Series||The Legend of Heroes, Trails in the Sky|
|Platform(s)||Microsoft Windows, PlayStation Portable, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita|
The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky[a] is a role-playing video game developed by Nihon Falcom, part of The Legend of Heroes series. Also known as Trails in the Sky FC (first chapter), the game is the first in the Trails in the Sky trilogy which also includes Trails in the Sky SC and Trails in the Sky the 3rd.
Trails in the Sky was first released in Japan for Microsoft Windows in 2004, and later ported to the PlayStation Portable in 2006. North American video game publisher Xseed Games acquired the rights from Falcom, but did not release it until 2011 due to the game's large amount of text necessary to translate and localize. A high-definition port to the PlayStation 3 was released in Japan in 2012 as part of Sony's PSP Remaster line of games, while a remaster for the PlayStation Vita was released in 2015; both Japanese-only releases.
In Trails in the Sky, the player controls a cast of characters, embarking on a number of quests to progress the story. There are two different type of maps when navigating in the overworld of the game: field maps and town maps. In field maps, enemies roam around and a battle ensues if the player comes in contact with one. In town maps, the player can visit various shops to purchase items, replenish health at an inn and, for the major cities, take on and report quests to the local guild. In addition, the player can interact with numerous non-playable characters (NPCs) in the game; a unique aspect in Trails in the Sky is that each NPC's dialogue changes as the game advances, allowing the player to follow along sidestories that accompany the NPCs throughout the game.
Combat in Trails in the Sky takes place on a grid and is turn-based. The character's turn order is determined by a tracker called the AT Bar. During the character's turn, the player can move or make an attack. In addition to the normal attack, each character also have three other methods available for action: Arts, Crafts, and S-Crafts. Arts are magic spells that characters can use to attack opponents or support teammates but must take an additional turn to cast. Crafts are character-specific abilities that are similar to Arts but can be used in the same turn; however, they utilize a special gauge called "Craft Points" (CP) for the cost to perform. S-Crafts are powered-up Crafts that can be performed once a character has over 100CP but completely depletes the CP gauge upon using it. Further extending S-Crafts are S-Breaks which allows characters to immediately perform an S-Craft regardless of when their turn order is.
If the player loses a battle, the game is over. The player is then allowed to continuously retry the battle and subsequently lower the difficulty of the battle for each retry; should the player not want the difficulty to be lowered, they can turn it off in the settings menu.
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The game takes place in Liberl Kingdom, 10 years after being invaded by the Erebonian Empire from the north. It is governed by Queen Alicia. Currently, the kingdom thrives off of high technology which is eyed closely by the surrounding nations.
The story begins with the main protagonist, 11-year old Estelle Bright, waiting for her father, Cassius, to return home for the night. When he does, he brings back a young boy by the name of Joshua. Cassius adopts the boy as his son, raising the two kids. Five years later, now-16-year old Estelle and Joshua decide to follow in their father's footsteps by becoming bracers, members of a guild that handles odd jobs (specializing in investigations and combat) to maintain the general peace. Soon after, Cassius receives a letter, causing him to leave his hometown of Rolent on business. During Cassius's absence, Estelle and Joshua meet a man named Alba, an archeologist looking into ruins for the Aureole. Afterwards, the mayor of Rolent's crystal is stolen by sky bandits. Estelle and Joshua team up with Scherazard, a bracer and childhood friend of Estelle's. They retrieve the crystal, but are unable to capture the sky bandits. They return to Rolent, where they are informed the airship Cassius was in never landed and has disappeared. Estelle, Joshua, and Scherazard then set out to Bose, where Cassius's ship was originally headed.
Upon entering Bose, they meet Olivier Lenheim and learn that the sky bandits were behind the hijacking of the airship. Olivier joins the three to raid the sky bandit's hideout. While there, they fight unidentified men in black who are better equipped than the sky bandits. After defeating and arresting the sky bandits, the party meets Colonel Alan Richard, the head of Liberl's Intelligence Division. They learn Cassius hadn't been taken hostage; he is, instead, nowhere to be found. Upon returning to the bracer's guild, the party is delivered a package containing a mysterious black orbment Cassius was originally supposed to deliver to one "Professor R". Estelle and Joshua part ways with Scherazard and Olivier, heading to Ruan.
On their way, they run into a girl named Kloe Rinz, a Jenis Royal Academy student who spends her time helping a nearby orphanage. She decides to follow Estelle and Joshua as she also has business in Ruan. They meet the mayor of Ruan and Duke Dunan. After their meeting, they hear the orphanage is burnt down. Estelle, Joshua, and Kloe investigate, and determine it to be arson. The culprit is eventually revealed to be the mayor himself, assisted by the men in black. When confronted, the mayor pulls out a mysterious artifact called the Chronos Rod, that can freeze time in a small place; he uses it to paralyze the party and prepares to execute them. Unexpectedly, the black orbment activates, negating the rod's effect. The mayor tries to escape, but is captured by the royal guard. Colonel Richard appears again and commends Estelle and Joshua for their efforts. The two then part ways with Kloe and began their journey to Zeiss in hopes of learning more about the black orbment.
Upon arriving, they meet Tita Russell, the 12-year-old granddaughter of Albert Russell. "Professor R" is this same Albert Russell, who begins to experiment with the black orbment. Later, Zeiss is attacked; Professor Russell is kidnapped. Tita joins Estelle and Joshua, along with Agate Crosner, another bracer who happened to be nearby. They learn the professor is being held in a nearby military fortress and that Colonel Richard leads the men in black. Professor Russell is rescued and goes into hiding with Agate and Tita, though Russel tasks Estelle and Joshua with telling the Queen of the dangers of the orbment. Estelle and Joshua then head to Grancel, the capital of Liberl. At the same time, Kloe is kidnapped by the men in black.
On their way to Grancel, they run into a blockade set up by Colonel Richard. However, Alba had been preparing to cross it and manages to get Estelle and Joshua through it. Upon entering the capital they learn that Duke Dunan has been ruling as the queen's proxy (while himself being manipulated by Colonel Richard). The party learns that a fighting tournament is about to start, wherein the winner will dine with the Duke inside the castle; the party sees in this the perfect opportunity to meet with the queen and deliver Russel's message. Estelle and Joshua team up with Zin Vathek, a senior bracer (later revealed to be acting on Cassius' behalf while he is away), as well as Olivier (who happened to be visiting the Erebonian embassy). The four of them win the tournament and thus infiltrate the castle. Upon meeting the queen they learn Kloe is actually Klaudia von Auslese (true heir to the throne), and she is being held in a nearby villa. They also learn of a strange anomaly underneath the castle. The rescue mission succeeds thanks to the surprise arrival of Scherazard, Agate, and Tita. With everyone together, they head underground to confront Richard, who is defeated. After defeating a mysterious monster that shows itself after his defeat, Cassius returns to subdue Richard.
A week later, the conspirators are arrested. Festivities begin to take place for the queen's celebration. Professor Alba approaches Joshua alone. Joshua realizes that Alba has the abilities to manipulate the minds of others such as Colonel Richard. Alba informs Joshua he had been unknowingly feeding information to Alba on everything the bracers had been planning ever since had been adopted by Cassius 5 years prior. In reality, "Professor Alba" is a disguise - his true name is Georg Weissmann, an Anguis of an organization known as Ouroboros. Joshua himself was formerly an Enforcer of this same organization, but Weissmann erased his memories prior to Joshua's adoption, and returns them to him now, causing Joshua to fully understand his past. Weissmann leaves Joshua before Estelle can return.
Later that night, Joshua and Estelle meet at the castle's courtyard. For the first time, Joshua explains to Estelle what his life was prior to his adoption; after suffering a horrific tragedy, he was molded into an assassin who killed countless people. His final target was Cassius Bright, who easily defeated him. Since Joshua had failed, Ouroboros attempted to dispose of him, but were thwarted by Cassius who adopted Joshua as his own son. Estelle confesses her love for Joshua. But Joshua, unable to bring himself to stay with Estelle due to his dark nature, sedates her. As her consciousness fades, Joshua thanks her and confesses his own love for her, before parting ways.
Trails in the Sky was initially released for Microsoft Windows on June 29, 2004 in Japan. The game was later ported to the PlayStation Portable console and released in Japan on October 28, 2006. The PlayStation Portable version of the game was released in North America on March 29, 2011 and in Europe on November 4, 2011. The PC version of the game was released worldwide on July 29, 2014 and included a number of features that were available from the PlayStation Portable version. A high-definition version of the game, The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky FC Kai HD Edition, was released for the PlayStation 3 in Japan on December 13, 2012.
A redesigned version of the game titled The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky FC Evolution was released in Japan for the PlayStation Vita on June 11, 2015. Evolution renovated the old designs and user interface and incorporated several new features such as voice acting and animation in scenes, additional illustrations, and enhanced battle tactics.
The North American version of the game was localized by XSEED Games, whom in May 2010 announced that they had acquired the rights to bring the Trails in the Sky trilogy to North America. The length of the script for Trails in the Sky FC, which contained approximately 1.5 million Japanese characters, presented a challenge for XSEED's editor Jessica Chavez. Chavez spent nine months working on the script, with the fourth chapter of the game ultimately requiring assistance from XSEED's localization specialist Thomas Lipschultz at the last month.
In September 2013, XSEED announced a PC version of Trails in the Sky was planned to be released for the early 2014 winter season. However, coding issues forced the release date to be pushed back to July 2014 instead. According to XSEED's localization programmer Sara Leen, much of the code needed to be rewritten from scratch because of technical differences between the PlayStation Portable version and the PC version; these changes frequently introduced new software bugs, further complicating matters. When the game was officially released, not all of the issues were corrected; patches since then have fixed a majority of them.
The soundtrack was released as Eiyū Densetsu VI Sora no Kiseki Original Sound Track in July 2004 in Japan, published and produced by Falcom Sound Team JDK. It was composed by Hayato Sonoda, Wataru Ishibashi, Takahide Murayama and arranged by Kohei Wada. The album has two discs with 33 and 26 tracks, respectively. Tracks 24 to 31 comprise "The White Flower Madrigal" Suite. The song "Whereabouts of the Stars" was written by Hideaki Hamada, with vocals from u-mi. The soundtrack to the first chapter is also distributed with the Windows release in the form of Ogg Vorbis music files.
An OVA adaptation of The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky was announced in 2011. The first OVA was released on November 25, 2011 on DVD and Blu-ray. The second and final OVA was released on January 22, 2012. In 2012, the OVAs have been licensed by Sentai Filmworks in North America.
Trails in the Sky was well received by critics, according to review aggregator Metacritic. Neilie Johnson of IGN gave it a positive review, stating that, though "First Chapter is not the most original ever made, like any good JRPG it offers amusing writing, dynamic combat, interesting tasks, an absorbing narrative, and hours upon hours of gameplay" and concluded that "while the game's 50/50 balance between combat and story may not be to everyone's taste, its charm and overall entertainment value make it well worth the investment." Hardcore Gamer praised the "rock-solid character writing", noting every character has "their own history, ambitions, and social connections", every non-player character (NPC) "has their own name and motivations and interpersonal relationships with other NPCs", and the influence of Hayao Miyazaki's classic anime film Castle in the Sky on the cast and steampunk setting. They also praised the open-ended story, quest design, and combat system, and for having "one of the most complete and enthralling worlds ever rendered", concluding it to be "one of the finest JRPGs in the history of the genre".
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