The news about Trails of Blue put me in a Falcom mood.
Sure, XSEED’s latest localization hit the North American market two weeks ago, but my missing the occasion is no excuse!
Unlike most recent JRPGs, which have been prone to tacking on extraneous nonsense in an effort to “innovate,” Trails in the Sky is downright conservative.
Characters are represented by sprites (slightly super-deformed, as you’d expect), though the world itself is done in 3D; the story is paramount – once you’ve read through the exposition, you can run around doing quests and killing monsters, but you’re going to go through the game linearly, by god, whether you want to or not; characters have secret origins and nefarious goals, and everyone is taken by surprise, all the time; and battles are turn-based, with a column of portrait icons down the left side of the screen showing the battle order (casting spells takes time, and moves the caster’s icon to the appropriate time depending on the spell’s power and cast time).
All that said, Trails in the Sky knows exactly what it is, and does an excellent job of delivering. The main character, Estelle Bright, is planning on joining the Bracer Guild and following in her father’s footsteps. Her adopted (and amnesiac (It’s Trope-tastic!), IIRC) brother, Joshua joins her, and they begin their travels around the country as journeymen Bracers after their father leaves on a secret mission. What follows is a bildungsroman; Estelle and Joshua both learn more about the country they live in, the kind of people (both noble and villain) who inhabit it, and get caught up in trying to thwart a secret plot.
The game has been favorably reviewed so far; that’s fortunate, considering there are two more games in the trilogy, and if Trails in the Sky didn’t do well, I don’t think XSEED would throw good money after bad, their deal with Falcom for the rest of the games nonwithstanding.
I highlighted the battle music previously; I don’t remember when Silver Will plays, but it’s swaps the jazz feel of the battle music for more the more traditional Falcom rock sound.