Nihon Falcom is a Japanese developer devoted to artistic and creative RPGs that are often underappreciated in the West. The Ys series has enjoyed a classic status with a much smaller audience than it deserves as it was previously overshadowed by games like Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest. Though the original Trails in the Sky Second Chapter was released back in 2006, XSEED Games has partnered with Falcom to localize the series to the West almost a decade later. For series’ fans who have long awaited this localization news, they have finally been rewarded as patience really is a virtue.
The story picks up directly after the events of the original game with Estelle embarking on a journey to find Joshua while unraveling the mysteries behind the Ouroboros secret society. To her dismay, she learns Joshua was an adopted secret assassin who fled his family and friends to protect their safety as his presence would potentially bring them unwanted harm. Against her father’s wishes, she embarks on her own to make a difference and uncover the truth. She allies together with interesting and notable personalities as you piece the story together gradually to understand the larger story and current events. This type of storytelling keeps you on the edge of your seat as you progress and venture throughout the lands with clever, charming and humorous dialogue. Fans of the original will see some familiar faces while being treated to new characters along the adventure.
Much like its predecessor, the gameplay retains the turn-based, strategic style of combat fans have come to love and expect. Grids are used to signify movement and strategic positions to strike the enemies up close or far away. The camera can be adjusted manually to provide better viewing angles of your party members that are comprised of 2D sprites on a 3D background. Craft points are utilized to unleash special skills unique to a respective party member. You can bring up to 4 party members, including yourself, to any battle with combat remaining smooth, fluid and streamlined most of the way through. Different strategies can be employed by your party members making each battle a separate affair for every playthrough.
The Orbal Arts system enables your team members to wear accessories named Orbments fitted with Quartz in various slots that grants stat bonuses, enhancements and a bevy of magical skills. Chain attacks add extra attack power as two characters combine their offensive tactics to destroy or severely damage an enemy unit. Trial and error are necessary as a lot of battles take longer than expected that ultimately test your patience and strategic skills. Dedicated series fans will be able to port their saved game files from the original to retain high level character stats with the exception of money and equipment.
The dialogue has suffered to a minor extent due to translation issues that has reared its head in the localization. Grammatical errors are present in certain lines of dialogue and the use of awkward phrases and terms can leave players confused about their intended meaning. This is not to take away from the enormous task of translation that the publisher underwent to bring this game to Western shores as it is greatly appreciated in the gaming community. While the translation and visuals of the game may leave something to be desired, the charm and simple battle mechanics more than make up for the shortcomings in this highly anticipated game. The soundtrack is exactly what you would expect from a Nihon Falcom game with its lighthearted, whimsical and nostalgic tunes similar to that of the Ys series.
The Legends of Heroes: Trails in the Sky SC is a classic JRPG with an incredible depth of gameplay and dialogue. Despite the minor translation issues and dated visuals, it has stood the test of time and remains one of the best JRPGs available. The bar was set quite high by its predecessor but this game has managed to meet the expectations of such a tall order. Those looking for a traditional RPG filled with charm and heart will find much to love and more with Trails in the Sky SC.
SCORE – 80%
This review is based on a digital copy of The Legend of Heroes: Trail in the Sky SC on the PlayStation Portable provided by XSEED Games.