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4.7 out of 5 stars
The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky - Sony PSP
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17 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on April 1, 2011
Let me immediately say that LOH Trails in the Sky (or TITS as i call it ;) is a good game. If you love JRPGS and turn-based battles, certainly give it a buy. This is a PSP gem worth having. With that said, I still feel as though The Legend of Heroes has a ways to go in its battle against mediocrity. This will be a brief review that I hope to update once i've completely finished the game.

Having played the original LOH games on PSP, I was never able to get more than five or six hours in. They were all generic, stale and seemed to kinda go nowhere and slowly. (at least nowhere exciting.) Sure they are decent laid back "nothing better to do" RPGS but with TITS there was certain hope on the horizon. Promising a deeper story lasting over fifty hours across an interesting world, better characters and a revamped battle system, TITS could easily have been the best RPG on PSP. While the game does for the most part deliver, it doesn't quite meet the expectations that XSEED initially gave me.

STORY
Story is without a doubt (at least to me) the most important part to an RPG. Sure the game lasts fifty hours, but if the story sucks im not going past five. I'm happy to say that TITS doesn't disappoint too much. The initial story involves two main characters as they become newly appointed "Bracers". Bracers uphold the peace in their own respective regions by doing everything that we've done a million times over in every other RPG. (running tedious errands, killing monsters, etc. I'll return to this later.) The two main characters are of course only like sixteen years old, set off on an adventure to become full fledged bracers and because of this the game never gets too mature. BUT it does have some surprises up its sleeve, especially for a LOH game. The game does end up playing out some interesting plots and character evolution. There's plenty of humor and enjoyment to be had and so far it's been a fun ride but it takes quite a while to really get going and even after it does it can feel quite generic at times. Still It's definitely one of the best RPG outings on PSP and if you devote the time you'll find a lot to love and a story that's not half bad. BUT before you even think about buying this game you need to ask yourself one question: DO YOU LIKE TO READ?

TITS has gotten a lot of attention due to its very extensive script. Is that a bad thing? Hell no. Xseed should be commended for getting this little epic stateside and on the PSP system. But many times conversations do feel a bit dragged out and you and the circle button (which allows to to click thru text faster) will get acquainted real fast. I don't mind there being a lot of text at all but only if it's warranted. I found a lot of conversations to drag on after points and objectives were made quite clear. But there is a lot of quirky/funny character-driven text that I did very much so enjoy.

BATTLE SYSTEM
This is one area that TITS really shines in my opinion. The LOH battle system has been completely revamped and for the better. It's much more strategy oriented now, a bar on the left that shows the turn order of the battle. (kinda similar to the Final Fantasy X battle system) Once it gets to your turn, your actions will occur immediately as opposed to previous systems where you choose everyones commands at once and watch the turn execute. (Altho certain commands, such as magic, might not occur immediately based on the order and how long it takes to prep) But there's a bit more to it.

Different from other turn-based systems, movement is a factor. Now don't get the wrong idea. It's not like Final Fantasy tactics or something where you're constantly telling your character which block to walk to. For the most part you're still just choosing commands and selecting the enemy to use them on. Its just now your character can only move so far, so if an enemy is on the opposite side of the field you'll either have to just movie in closer or do a ranged attack. Not only that there are turn bonuses that grant you or the enemy benefits (And by killing an enemy you inherit their turn bonus) like STR up HP regain. This allows for a much more entertaining, involving and rewarding system that I'm still loving.

Another key element is Orbments. These little items can be equipped and grant magic abilities and stat boosts. As you progress through the game you of course receive more (thru shops and thru the course of the game) as well as the option to open up new slots, which allows you to equip them. It's not exactly a brand new system but that's ok. It's still quite fun and theres a bit more to it but i wont cover the little details here. Just play the game!

PRESENTATION
This is the real low point of the game. The one thing I always liked about the first three LOH games on PSP was the presentation. Sure the graphics weren't mind-blowing but they still managed to look vibrant and pretty. The 3d world was detailed, colorful and fun to explore, the 2d character animations were nice and moving the characters around with the analog stick just felt smooth. (for a PSP game at least) All of the things I just mentioned have unfortunately been downgraded in TITS. The 2d characters dont look too bad but theyre much smaller and more... cute-like and just not as detailed. The character movement just feels more blocky than the first games and doesnt look nearly as good, (more like the characters are in a brisk powerwalk when you move around). The cool lighting and water effects from the other LOH games are out and replaced by bland textures. Now in a game like this, graphics are the least important thing in my opinion. Are the graphics great? no. Are they the worst ive seen on psp? No no no. Should you still buy the game? Yes yes yes. If you're playing for graphics then you're playing for the wrong reasons anyway. Just don't expect extremely impressive visuals.

Now one thing I just don't understand is how everyone LOVES the music of LOH games so much. The music is definitely not horrible and at times maybe a little above average, but for the most part it's kinda just your typical RPG 101 selections. I grew up being a film fiend, listening to the classic orchestrations of John Williams, James Horner, etc. (not that im comparing TITS's music to the Schindler's List soundtrack. Just showing I'm used to different things.) As for gaming music I have many of Nobuo Uematsu's soundtracks, a few other random selections (Xenogears, Crono Trigger/Cross, etc) and TITS isnt anything near that kind of caliber music. in my opinion it's real hit or miss. While some tracks are well done and nice, others (like the battle theme which is more laid back and jazzy than I would have personally liked) just strike me as kinda annoying and when you hear em over and over they get real old. Now maybe it just comes down to personal preference. I like more serious, orchestrated themes. If you're a fan of lighthearted jazzy JRPG tunes then you'll probly love it.

CLOSING COMMENTS
(hopefully I didnt forget anything. I'm going to try and update this review when I'm 100% through the game so i can give a TITS master opinion.)
OK so it comes down to one question: are you a JRPG fan? If yes, get this game. For $30 bucks this is a great adventure and one of the best RPG experiences on the PSP. Xseed went through a lot of work to get this game to our shores and I admire anyone in this sad age of turn-based JRPG decline that fights the good fight and keeps putting out 50hrs++ adventures. Its still not revolutionary by any means but its fun, engaging and rewarding. Pick it up and support the PSP/Xseed/JRPGS!
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The Nihon Falcom Corporation’s Legend of Heroes franchise commenced as an offshoot of their Dragon Slayer series with its first two installments, although the spinoffs ultimately culminated into their own pantheon with the Gagharv trilogy, released originally for the PC but ported to the PlayStation Portable, these entries seeing release outside Japan thanks to Namco-Bandai. XSEED games would eventually acquire the localization rights to the next set of Legend of Heroes games, the Trails in the Sky trilogy, its first entry ported from the PC to the PlayStation Portable as well, the first entry released in 2011 as The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky. The PC version would see its English release on Steam a few years later, providing an experience on par with its predecessors.

Like the Gagharv trilogy, Trails features visible encounters on fields between towns and in dungeons, although a step down from that particular pantheon is that the first chapter of the sixth game doesn’t sport Earthbound-esque encounters where enemies pursue the player’s party if their levels are low and run away if their levels are high. Instead, foes seem somewhat apathetic towards the player’s visible party until they draw near, with the way in which the player’s characters and the enemy dictating who gets the first strike or who takes their turn first normally depending upon agility.

Rather than having a traditional turn-based structure where the player inputs all their characters’ commands and lets them and the enemy beat each other up in a round, Trails instead adopts a structure similar to Final Fantasy X where the player’s characters, except in the case of magic that takes a few turns to cast, immediately execute their commands after the player inputs them. Commands that promptly execute include attacking the enemy with an equipped weapon (which requires the player to get within range of a foe), moving to another square on the tactical battlefield, using an item (with the target ally needing to be in range as well), or attempting to escape (a command that, in the few instances where this player tried it, seemed to work virtually all the time).

Akin to Final Fantasy Tactics, magic, as mentioned, requires a few turns to cast, the turn order meter mercifully showing when spells will execute for both the player’s characters and the enemy. Magic use requires players, outside battle, to equip various elemental orbs buyable from special shops in towns, with shards of each element obtained from defeating enemies also necessary to unlock additional orb slots. Certain characters, however, have orb slots into which they can only place orbs of one particular element, although this makes for reasonable spell diversity with different characters.

Winning battles nets all characters that are still alive experience, in addition to elemental shards and occasional items. Players can exchange elemental shards in town for money necessary to purchase consumable items and new equipment. The battle system works well for the most part, with most fights ending quickly with some exceptions, although the encounter system is somewhat a step down from that in the Gagharv trilogy, and the charge time for spells can lead to some cases where enemies beat the player’s characters to healing, leading to a waste of EP. The final bosses are also daunting, with defeat resulting in a Game Over, though in these cases, the player can restart the lost battle with supposedly easier difficulty. In the end, the battle system is well above average.

The game interfaces well with the player, with easy menus and keyboard controls, alongside a journal that in most cases keeps players moving in the right direction, although it would have been nice if the game showed players where to go next instead of merely telling (this reviewer, for instance, got lost in the post-final boss section of the game), and most dungeons lack in-game maps, a feature present even in games from previous generations such as The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. Ultimately, interaction is above average as well, although there are certain aspects that could have been better.

The narrative decently weaves a tale about a brother and sister in search of their father after he goes missing, the journal in most cases keeping track of the storyline’s direction, although there are some derivative elements and a dash of deus ex machina, and the translation, while mostly polished, does have some errors the localization team overlooked, in addition to some Japanese characters left in the game text, particularly during the preview of Trails in the Sky Second Chapter. Even so, the plot helps the game more than hurts.

The same goes for the aurals, which are one of the strongest aspects of the game, with plenty of enjoyable music and some voice acting exclusive to battle that leaves no room for improvement, the only real hangup being the rare silent moments of cutscenes.

The visuals are nice as well, with character sprites appropriately reflecting their designs, alongside good-looking environments with a fully-rotatable (in most instances) camera, the only real shortcoming being that the sprites don’t show much emotion.

Finally, getting through the game takes at least thirty hours, although sidequests such as supplemental Bracer Guild assignments can bolster this intervention, alongside a New Game+ where the player can carry over levels from their initial playthrough and adjust difficulty for the following playthrough.

Overall, The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky is for the most part a solid RPG offering that hits most of the right notes with regards to its enjoyable tactical battle system, narrative, aurals, and visuals, with only a few minor aspects such as the endgame battles and some issues with interaction leaving room for improvement. Those that missed out on the PlayStation Portable version of the game would do themselves well to pick up the PC version via Steam, but as XSEED has taken their sweet time localizing the second and third chapters of the trilogy, there’s no need to rush into the first chapter.

This review is based on a copy of the game downloaded from Steam.

The Good:
+Good tactical battle system.
+Decent narrative.
+Nice soundtrack.
+Pretty graphics.
+Plenty lasting appeal.

The Bad:
-Some long battles, especially towards the end.
-Notebook sometimes doesn’t help with plot advancement.
-Most dungeons lack maps.
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on January 2, 2015
Verified Purchase
One of the best turn based RPG's I've played in a while. Deep story with a superb battle system that is perfectly balanced. This game has a hell of a lot of narrative, very likable characters with a lot of personality, and an excellent soundtrack. I haven't played many JRPG's for the PSP, but I can bet that this is one of the better ones. Definitely pick this game up if you enjoy turn based battle systems. Many many hours of gameplay, story, and narrative to be enjoyed. It's no Chrono Trigger, but it will keep you hooked for a while. My only complaint is that some of the areas look the same and exploring may start to bore you after you put many hours into the story.
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on January 30, 2014
I'm not deep into the game, but I do all my PSP shopping on the PSP network - its easier than buying UMDs especially as they become scarcer with the Vita as the newest system. I'm beginning to do the same with the 3DS.
The graphics are beautiful, play control is excellent, and the story so far is earning up to its appeal set by the game's reception with most reviewers.
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on April 15, 2011
Verified Purchase
WARNING: This game has a lot of text! If you do not like to read text and prefer CG graphics, FMV cutscenes or no storyline at all, this game is not for you.But if you DO enjoy a deep story and are fine with reading text, get ready for an RPG like none other. It's a very special game. :)

STORY: I have never seen an RPG where the characterizations were GENUINELY deep. People talk about characters that they like in other games but there is no comparison to this. With this much text and not a bunch of characters...you start to get a real family, rather than stock characters. It's like, you know Estelle and Joshua and you look forward to Olivier's "progressive" flirtations. The lack of arch and formal conversations between the characters is really refreshing and you actually look forward to reading more text. Now that quite an achievement!

GRAPHICS: This is the first time that I have seen sprites so nicely animated on an old-school JRPG. The special attacks have personality and your little characters run around and fluidly pound on enemies during combat. The towns and wilderness are nothing special, though. Overall, the graphics are passable. I would have preferred graphics that were less busy and more unique, outside of combat.

SOUND: Passable. They are tinny when you hear them raw, so I suggest you use headphones to get the full orchestral effect. In a similar fashion, the sound for FFTA 1 for the GBA was crappy until you used headphones and heard all of the instruments that are otherwise much more difficult to pick out. Falcom is famous for its rocking music but this music is average. Meh.

CONTROLS/GAMEPLAY: Oh yeah! Here we go! Battles are so much fun that you will WANT to grind :) This game expertly avoids the trap that most RPGs fall into in regard to battle pacing. In your average RPG, the battles fly by just fine at the start when you are alone but once you have 4 characters in your party...it becomes tedious. Fast. Well, Trails of the Sky avoids that. You have fun whether you have 2 people in your party or all 4. I have never experienced a game before that actually stays fun after the party composition alters. There is a real strategy element because you are on a grid with distance between you and your enemy. The more stuff you do, the later your next turn is. Not only do you manage turn order but also, there is enough room for you to send a squishy character fleeing to a safe corner (though he/she won't be safe from long-range magic attacks!) But if you use movement this turn, you will not be able to attack this turn as well. Also, you are shown an attack range every time that you use a melee attack but this range is not set in stone. If you want to be risky, you can target enemies outside of the blue squares for your attack range and you will still be able to hit them if you are using a melee weapon with a long range like a whip or bo staff. But if the trick fails, you are now standing a few inches from an enemy and just waiting to be knocked silly. And they WILL knock you silly :) The enemies can often outnumber your party and they are not shy about using confuse or poison. And this is Disgaea-style poison in that it actually does real damage! You can also use long-range magic to keep knocking enemies out of melee range so that when their turn comes and they try to retaliate, they use the out-of-range melee trick and fail ;) There is also the orbment system which is like the Materia power-up system for Final Fantasy 7 except that orbments are harder to fill up than Materia slots but are more powerful and allow your characters to have multiple REAL abilities, rather than just Fire/Ice/Lightning/Blah. Between engaging battles and lots of time lovingly tinkering with sticking different combos of gems into your limited orbment slots, you just have a lot of fun.

BALANCE: Just right. There are no random battles, so you are never forced to fight. You can see all the enemies beforehand and run away from them. But if you do no random battles, the game can get quite hard and require some serious strategy! If you are master strategist, go for it. But if you don't want to do a bunch of strategy, just kill every creature you see along the way. You still won't be super-powerful but you will be strong enough to get away with making mistakes during combat and still be victorious. Ultimately, this game is harder than average and will require some thinking, but not impossible.

I give this game 4 stars out of 5. It's only the so-so graphics and music that stopped me from giving it 5 stars. But the best part of this game is that I have already gotten my money's worth and I still have much more to go! Thank you, XSeed and Falcom.
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on July 25, 2014
pretty good - but way too much text, talking and story bog down - I was hoping it was a little more "strategy/tactical" like ogre tactics or final fantasy tactics, it has a few of those elements, but is a little more like wild arms - still a solid RPG has been fun to gig away at for a 60 hours or so.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Story:

Josh and Estelle are the children of Cassius Bright, one of the greatest bracers in the history of the bracer guild. Following in his footsteps they have been training to begin their apprenticeship so that they can begin the journey to become fully fledged bracers. The day that that they take the final training test there is an emergency that causes their father to have leave early for an important mission. He leaves them instructions that they should continue their bracer training and look out for each other until he returns.
A little while later they find out that the airship he was on was hijacked by sky pirates and no one has been able to find any sign of it, there has also been no demand for a ransom. Determined to help any way they can Josh and Estelle begin to search for signs of the pirates. What they find will be the first encounter that they have with a mysterious organization that works from the shadows and doesn't mind using any means necessary to get what it wants.
Along the way they will make friends, team with memorable allies and question what they know about themselves and their pasts.

General:

Short version: If you like traditional JRPG's that have a well fleshed out story and an interesting world, check this one out. It's a little wordy and moves slower than newer RPG's but it's well worth the time.

To start off I liked this game. If I hadn't I wouldn't have put nearly 60 hours into it. It is slower than most JRPGs, but that is a good thing as it feels more like your journeying through a fantasy world instead of hacking your way from one battle to another. The story does not focus on epic battles or cataclysmic events that threaten the world. This will most likely come later in the story, it's part one of a hopeful trilogy, but in the meantime the story mostly focuses on the trials and tribulations of Estelle and Joshua as they journey through the land on their quest to become bracers.
This actually was one of the minor problems I have with the story. There are so many side stories that are only hinted at before the characters vanish from the story. I understand that all will eventually be revealed and I understand that the seasoned pros that the two main characters come across probably aren't going to share their life story with two rookies, but still a *little* more background would have been nice.
The only other problem I had was with the combat system. It works much better than the previous LOH game I played, but it still has a few problems. The most noticeable problem to me was that it didn't always seem like my characters were getting any better as they leveled up.
Yes there stats increased, yes I got a shiny new weapon from the treasure chest, yes I got that awesome new sword ability. On the other hand when I hit that super psycho mole, its health bar went down maybe a half an inch more than the last battle I hit it in. It gets worse later in the game when enemies have specific weaknesses and can heal each other and all that fun stuff. This in turn takes the enjoyable turn based combat and often turns it more into a battle of luck. I remember a few times where I wondered if it was just a matter of which side had more revives, not a matter of if I could outsmart the enemy. While it's not a major issue it's just something I noticed as I was playing the game.

Everything Else:
Graphics are great for a RPG like this, there is a great attention to detail in most of towns and such. I guess you could say that the dungeons can get a little samey.
Control: I didn't have any problems moving around the game world or controlling the camera.
Overall: A nice traditional turn based RPG that has an interesting story with a few surprises that made me say: "Didn't see that coming!"

m.a.c
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