Backlog Tale – I Almost Wrote Off Xenoblade Chronicles 2

It took me nine years to finish the original version of Xenoblade Chronicles. The first game was great in my opinion, but for some reason I couldn’t finish it in one setting. You could blame me for not understanding MMO battle mechanics at the time. Regardless of that, I was hooked on the struggle of the characters, the journey of revenge that they set out on, and the amazing and mysterious setting that the adventure takes place on. With how good everything felt to me, the idea of not finishing it sooner feels weird. Good games should have some draw to it that makes you want to see it to the end no matter how long it takes. It is a balanced formula that makes the game fun and entertaining to the player.

With that in mind, I should have stopped playing Xenoblade Chronicles 2 early on. The numbered sequel to one of the Nintendo Wii’s best games had a lot of promise. Where would the story go after the conclusion of the first game? What secrets did these new Titans hold? And why does everything look more like an anime? I was interested in playing the sequel, but held off until I finished the first game. I managed to avoid any spoilers minus a few memes that I saw posted on the internet. With the urge to play after seeing the trailer for the third game, I decided it was time to play XC2 so that I could keep up with the series. After playing the first three chapters in the game, I was not impressed.

The first half of Xenoblade Chronicles 2 felt like a disservice to what it becomes later. The combat felt shallow, the characters felt flat, and the general setup didn’t feel like it was worth my investment. It left a bad taste in my mouth that I started to wonder why people were saying that this was just as good as the first game. Was I missing something? Was the first game not as good as I remembered? What was going on that other people were seeing that I was missing out on. The environments definitely felt like Xenoblade, but the change in combat, the Blade system, and general tone of the game just didn’t feel entertaining to me. It wasn’t until around chapter five that things started to finally click, and I started to understand what makes this game great. Xenoblade Chronicles 2 takes place in a whole new different world, so the strife and dangers in the formal were nonexistent in this world. The only issues that this world faces is the number of resources dwindling and the war going on in the background. The game was trying to make me feel like this was going to be a heartbreaking story, but either dire situations were handled too quickly or secrets that the game was trying to hide were easy to solve.

Let’s talk about tone. Tone can be described as setting the atmosphere to express a piece of work. A tone should carry out how you want to express your mood or emotions to your audience. It helps to establish it as soon as possible, but you are allowed to change it up while reminding the audience what the initial tone is. Works of art, music, and film can go a long way if your audience knows what tone the author/performer is trying to convey.

The tone in Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is not consistent. The Xenoblade series has always been one with mysteries about, so that is nothing out of the ordinary. At the end of the first chapter, it establishes a dark tone by showing Jin killing Rex and how he is saved by Pyra. You would think this would be a quest about returning the favor, but Rex doesn’t seem to mind being killed. He just seems to ignore that fact and is now focused on taking Pyra to Elysium. At this point, I felt like there were no stakes and the plot of the story was just to protect Pyra and reach Elysium. It would help if I understood the villain’s motives, but at times I couldn’t tell what they were. At one moment they don’t care about Pyra, and then the next minute they do, and then they changed their minds again for plot convenience. The tone that the game was trying to go with just felt distorted and tried to contradict itself.

Halfway through the game, the tone changed completely at the end of Chapter 5. The game finally established what could happen once the group reached Elysium. The antagonist’s motives are finally clear and all the scattered pieces of the world start to make sense. You start to learn who the true villains may be and start to wonder and doubt what anything around you means and what the right choices are. The lighthearted tone is still there, but it fits better with the story now since they are written at the right moment. There was now this unknown feeling of what is going on and how someone inexperienced with combat and diplomacy could change the world for the better. The tone that the writers were trying to establish at the beginning of the game was here and would remained until the final chapter. After reaching this point, I became invested in the game again. I was ready to tackle these unknown factors and it finally felt like the game was ready to lead me to those answers. I don’t want to say that everything in the first half of the game was bad, but the second half made everything better for me personally.


Now, I’m not saying that games can’t mix things up when establishing their tone. There have been plenty of games that have successfully established their tone at the beginning, deviate into a different tone, and keep the initial tone the same throughout. The best game I have for this example is Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door. The game starts off with a dark and unsettling undertone that carries throughout the entire game. I think of moments like Glitzville and the game suddenly becoming a tale about wrestling. It is a fun moment, but it keeps the initial tone of being dark and unsettling with the wrestlers going missing. Or while in Twilight Town (the creepiest place in any video game I’ve been into) there are moments where the vibe is loosen a bit when trying to get the missing letter to spell Doopliss’ name. There are great moments where things come off as funny, but once you take a closer look at it, there is still this unsettling tone to it all.

A recent game that I started playing is Final Fantasy V. This game starts off with an unsettling tone with the world slowly dying thanks to the crystals shattering. Within the first few hours of the game, there have been death, loss, and overcoming situations that are daring. You wouldn’t think this game had a completely different tone than what is presented. This game is bright. The music is upbeat, and the characters have a lot of fun with each other during the journey. The game makes you believe that these four warriors of light will save the day at the end of the journey, but if you have played FFV, you know that is not the case. The tone was established at the beginning, and even though it tries to disguise itself, it is always there and constantly reminds the player that things are not going to end well.

Maybe my problem could come from the other Xenoblade games that came before this. In the first game, you are immediately shown what the state of the world is currently in. The Mechons and Humes are at war with each other with the Mechons being the stronger force. You see the despair in the soldiers who helplessly fight against them. You see how powerful the Monado is against them, and the cost of using such power. You feel the anger and sadness Shulk feels when he loses Fiora. The events at the beginning set the tone for how you should view this world and how your emotions get shifted with each new revelation. The game does a great job of connecting you and helps make the rest of the journey exciting to the very end.

I have not played a lot of Xenoblade Chronicles X. Being a Sci-Fi game at the very beginning made me lose my interest a little, but I immediately understood the tone of the game. Humans are looking for a new home and you have no idea the dangers of this planet. You are lucky to be alive since others in the pods by you were not so lucky. I understand the narrative of the game from the git go. The rest of the game should carry that through to the climax and make the audience feel some type of emotion for seeing it through.

I will finish Xenoblade Chronicles X one day. I just don’t like Sci-Fi settings as much.


Xenoblade Chronicles 2 has some good things going on within it, it just took me a while to see it all. Everything just clicked in the second half and I was invested from then on. I started to understand everyone’s strengths and weaknesses and somehow combat became more entertaining. Somehow, I started to care a little bit more about each character even though I found them uninteresting. I really wanted to like Nia, but her secret was easy to see coming and the reveal took too long. I wanted to develop Poppi more, but having to go back to Tora’s house to play Tiger Tiger for a while made the pacing slow down when I could easily develop Morag and Brighid to be a better tank (Poppi is still one of the best characters in the game). I feel like I didn’t take the time to understand a lot of concepts like developing towns or optimizing blade loadouts since I was so disconnected from the game at the beginning. I was just pushing through without caring about unlocking blade skills and really maximizing everyone’s potentials just because I wanted to get the game over with quickly just so I could see how the games tied to one another. And that was a giant disservice to the game because the game is pretty great.

I hope my rambling about tone made sense. It can make or break the storytelling of a game and affect how you approach something. I am glad XC2 turned around for me since all the events afterwards just kept me hooked to the end. I wouldn’t say that this is better than the first game, but it has made me hyped for the third game now since I want to see the results of both game’s conclusions. Maybe if I get around to playing it a second time, I would like to see if my attitude is different or if I find myself dreading the first half again. There are still some story bits that didn’t make sense to me at the end, but that didn’t sour my mood when I reached the end credits. I ended up enjoying the game, and one day I will give New Game+ a go as well as the Torna DLC. It will probably happen sooner or later since I read a conspiracy theory on the entire Xeno series…

Did anyone else find Nia’s love confession to Rex weird and out of place or was that just me?


Playtime Stats:

  • Start Date: 2/18/2022
  • End Date: 3/11/2022
  • Total Play Time: 68 hours
  • Main Team: Rex (Pyra/Mythra, Wulfric, Godfrey); Nia (Dromarch, Vess, Ursula); Morag (Brighid, Aegaeon, Perun)
  • Number of unique Blades acquired: 21
  • Best Thing About The Game: The Music (I bought the OST because it was that good)
  • Least Favorite Thing: Side quest that never end for little reward.

Bonus Gallery

Like Choosing Your Favorite Child. My (Current) Top 5 JRPGs.

The Japanese Role-Playing Game genre is my go to for gaming. It might have something to do with my love for reading at a young age, or being slow paced enough for me not to fumble my controller. I just enjoy experiencing stories, learning each game’s combat rather it’s turned-based or in real time, and just losing myself (hopefully) in the world. I’m getting to the point in life where I can’t spend 60+ hours on one game anymore, but I try to find ways to tackle the many JRPGs that I haven’t finished as best as I can.

In 2020, Pix1001 and Craig Rathbone (Winst0lf) collaborated to bring us the Great JRPG Character Face-Off! This was an event to vote for our favorite characters from any JRPG. With thousands of options, it was fairly easy for me to decide which characters I enjoyed the most out of all the games that I’ve played. This year, they have up the ante and presented the Great JRPG Showdown. This was surprisingly easier than my character choices. There was still some heartache when choosing my top 5, but at the end of the day I feel confident in my response. So without further ado, here are my choices for the Great JRPG Showdown!


Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King

I wouldn’t say that I’m the biggest Dragon Quest fan. The games are fun enough if you are in the mood for a classic JRPG and some can be an instant classic for some. At this point I have only played four games in the series being Dragon Quest 7, 9, 11, and of course Dragon Quest 8. I remember my brother borrowing this game from a friend and finding it difficult at some points. I would watch him and help him along the way as best as I could. One day I just decided to pick the controller up myself and finished the game before he did. 

I became captivated by the world and story that the game presents. There were lots of twists and turns that kept the adventure alive, and the intense fights that I faced kept pushing me to come up with new strategies. Dragon Quest VIII follows the protagonist and his group on a quest to defeat an evil court jester named Dhoulmagus. Dhoulmagus has put a curse upon the kingdom of Trodian, turning the king into a troll and the princess into a horse. The plot seems simple, but the heroes find themselves battling more than just a clown’s evil schemes.

I think that’s why I like this game so much. The fun but difficult enemies were fun to fight, the characters were memorable, and up to that point I had not played another game like it. Finishing this game may have been a turning point in my life since it was one of the most challenging games that I had finished (I didn’t have enough points in my courage stat). It pushed me to start looking at other “tough” games and start using my brain more than just running away from all of my problems. Video games were teaching me better life lessons than school ever did.

Tales of Symphonia

Of course I was going to include my favorite game of all time. Tales of Symphonia felt like a masterpiece when I played it for the first time in the mid 2000s. It was one of the first games I played that made me believe that video games were just as good at telling a story like books and film. 

Tales of Symphonia follows the journey of Lloyd Irving as he helps his friend, Colette, become the new Chosen of the world. You finish the journey in the first 10-15 hours, and then the real quest begins after that. What follows are great twists and revelations that most games fail to deliver since they are easy to see coming. I don’t want to spoil this 17 year old game for anyone who hasn’t played it. It goes on sale on Steam for like $5 often, so you have no excuse to play it (unless you don’t have a PC…)!

Persona 4 Golden

Persona 5 is a damn good game. If the Persona series wasn’t popular enough, the fifth entry brought it to the top. While I enjoyed the game and the joys of rebellion, my favorite Persona game will always be Persona 4 Golden

The thing I like the most about Persona 4 is the theme. Pursuing your true self. At a young age I struggled with my identity and how I wanted others to see me. I was a quiet, timid person who didn’t have a lot to say or things to really bring to the conversation (some things hardly change…). I used to hate being myself around people since it’s hard being a nerdy black guy in an area where you are either in a pretend gang or a good ‘ol southern child. I didn’t fit in anywhere except for the band room and my confidence stat was undeveloped. I’m not going to say Persona 4 changed things around for me, but it did start helping me understand that it is okay to be me if I’m true to myself. To this day, I know exactly who I am and what that means. I refuse to just blindly follow the same thing that the people around me believe, and instead choose to follow what I believe in my heart. I’m [REDIACT] and I am no longer afraid to be who I am.

Oh yeah. The whole mystery murder story is great. Yes Yosuke and Teddy can be annoying, but that’s life. Not everyone that you meet is going to be a respectable citizen with high morals. Both characters have good qualities about them, but you also have to acknowledge the flawed parts of their character. Let’s see what else. I did not guess who the murderer was the first time playing until the final hints. Everyday’s great at your Junes. I will murder anyone who tries to hurt Nanako again. Anyone.

The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel

I am a recent fan of the Legend of Heroes games. I may be at the end of the Cold Steel Saga, but I already have the Sky trilogy ready to go and now the Crossbell games are officially coming this year and next. That is a lot of games to play, but I’m committed since this has been one of the best series I have ever played.

Trails of Cold Steel follows the trials of Class 7, a group of students at Thors Military Academy. While the main plot focuses on Rean Schwarzer, the whole cast of Class 7 have equal importance to the story and help make this series so great (and a pain to complete). Every character is important to the story even if it is just for backstory notes. Just when you think you are done with a side character in the first game, they magically come back in the final game and reveal they have been helping you in the background. It’s the type of character development that you like to see the main cast go through, but you see it for every character introduced. Sure it gets overbearing to try and remember each important main and side character you meet, but that is where the character notes section in your journal comes in handy.

Outside of that, the combat system is one of my favorites. You are able to fully maximize a character’s strengths using the game’s orbital system or challenge yourself and make them the opposite to what they are meant to be (kinda like the materia system from Final Fantasy 7 but fleshed out way more). My favorite characters and setups have to be Elliot, Emma, and Kurt. Elliot is designed to be a healer and support character. With his master quartz, he is able to restore more health using basic healing spells at a reduced cost. If you give him the right set up, You can fully restore anyone using the base level healing spell and reduce his delay time. Emma can use powerful spells and with the right setup, not only can she cast the most powerful magic at a reduced cost, but she can make them critical hits and restore her magic points with each hit. Kurt is my new favorite. He starts off with a master quartz that makes him deal critical damage for each attack he evades. If you find the right equipment to raise his evasion to 100%, you can send him to the front lines and let him deal well over 10,000 to anyone who tries to hit him. The system can be broken if you know how you want to develop your characters and that makes going into battles so much fun.

Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars

There were a lot of games that I could have chosen as my number five pick. I ultimately decided to go with this game since it was the very first JRPG that I ever played. Some would call Super Mario RPG one of the greatest JRPGs right there next to Final Fantasy and Chrono Trigger. I am in the camp that it is not a game I go back to often, but it is a really good game. This was another game that I would watch my older brother play. I remember during some of the boss fights, we would select our attack and then run out of the room because we were scared our attack wouldn’t finish the boss (don’t do that there are reaction inputs). Out of all of the games on this list, this is the only game that I have never finished, but I have played it so many times that it feels weird to ever think about seeing the end.

The story is the same old Mario flair. Mario goes to beat up Bowser for kidnapping Princess Peach (Toadstool in this game), but is interrupted when a giant sword falls onto Bowser’s Castle. From there, Mario learns about the Smithy Gang, a bunch of weapon themed enemies that are trying to take over the Mushroom Kingdom. During the invasion, the Star Road is destroyed and seven stars fall onto the Mushroom Kingdom. It’s up to Mario and Co. to gather the stars so that people’s wishes can come true again and defeat the Smithy Gang from taking over. It is a story that fits in the Mario universe and sadly something unique that we will never see again.

Ok. I’m going to go ahead and say it and you can all hate me later. Geno is an overrated character. Besides looking “cool,” having cool attacks, and a cool blue cape, there is nothing interesting about the guy. He has no development. He is just a star warrior who takes the body of a doll and helps Mario so that he can repair the Star Road. That is all to his character and he gets replaced quickly by Bowser. I understand the cool factor about his character, but I don’t think he is worth all the praise people are willing to give him. That’s my opinion and if you want to fight about it, come find me on the streets.


And those are my choices for The Great JRPG Showdown. Thank you again to Pix1001 and Chris for hosting an awesome event! Tune in next time where at least one of my picks will be different.

My Entries For The Great JRPG Character Face Off!

Japanese Role Playing Games (JRPGs) are an all-time favorite genre of mine. I didn’t discover my love of the series until my teenage days. My love for reading and storytelling captured my interest in the genre and has kept me satisfied to this day. The most prominent games that come to my mind are Tales of Symphonia, Final Fantasy VI, and Trails of Cold Steel. While I could go one about each individual game, this post is focused on the characters from this genre. 

The dynamic duo of Pix1001 and Winst0lf has asked the community on who are our top 5 favorite characters from any JRPG. To take a look at their choices, you can find Pix1001’s here and Winst0lf’s here. If you would like to participate as well, feel free to write a post about it, or let Pix1001 and Winst0If know via social media or in the comments.

With that out of the way, let us get to the difficult part; selecting characters. Choosing from all of the JRPG games that I have played, I had to ask myself why did I like this character to begin with. It became more difficult to define my reason why I liked them based on their character, personality, and significance to the story. There is a good chance that I missed someone while thinking things over, but I am satisfied with my choices. So without further delay, here we go (by the way, none of these are ranked in any particular order).

  1. Elliot Craig

At first glance, there is nothing really special about Elliot. It is strange that this fragile good boy is enrolled in a military academy, but has no intention to harm anyone. Being the son of a famous lieutenant-general also doesn’t help his awkward predicament. So why do I like him among his fellow classmates? Two reasons.

One, he is the best white mage that I have ever played as. The Master Quartz that he is given at the beginning sets him up for greatness as his healing arts have greater potency and cost less. If his quart is leveled up all the way, he can easily fully heal someone with a single Tear (beginning healing art). His crafts can also heal and buff characters and normally cover a good area to include everyone in one go. Finally, in the heat of the moment, his S-Craft ability, Remedy Oratorium, lets you not only revive everyone, but fully restore them, replenish CP, and gives them regan for 2 turns.

Second reason, he is a man of music. As a fellow musician myself, I appreciate his philosophy of healing the world through song. Not everyone his stature can find the strength and courage to meet danger head-on, but Elliot doesn’t let his weakness bother him in order to protect his friends. His mission in life is to heal the world through music and I greatly appreciate that.

  1. Magilou

Mazhigigika Miludin do Din Nolurun Dou (or Magilou for short) is a funny and annoying character. While her character can be seen as a comic relief to balance the team out, she also carries a dark, unfortunate side to her. She’s not afraid to stare death or Velvet in the face, because she is that confident/cocky in her abilities. What made her really stand out for me was her gameplay in battle.

At first I was hesitant to use her because she felt slow. That was until I learned how to play her and discovered that she is a bane to all spellcasters. Magilou has the ability to siphon her opponents’ magic while they are casting, and then use it to unleash powerful spells of her own. I immediately jumped on the Magilou train afterwards and would immediately switch to her if I noticed any pesky spellcasters out there. Plus, she has a belt made out of books. How badass is that!

  1. Dhaos

Dhaos was one of the first antagonists to make me feel two things at the same time; fear and sympathy. He is introduced in the very first scene of Tales of Phantasia dominating over his opponents. He is only defeated when he is sent back in time and imprisoned on arrival. About two hours in, he is freed from his tomb and proceeds to one shot everyone around him; including his lackeys and your best friend. You are then left to wonder how you will defeat someone who can just travel through time when defeated, can only be harmed by magic (in a world with no magic), and can kamehameha his way through people.

Then you learn about him. Originally from the planet Derris-Kharlan, Dhaos is a benevolent prince that goes on a mission to save his planet after a war destroys their Mana Tree. Using their life to teleport Dhaos to the planet Aselia, Dhaos tries to plead with the king of Midgards to cease their development of magitechnology to prevent what happened on his planet. Used as a martyr by the king’s closest advisor, Dhaos is seen as a demon who will destroy Midgards. With little choice and power, he makes a contract with the demons of Daemonium to force Midgards to stop their research and the firing of the Mana Canon. His efforts are in vain however, as the canon is fired and kills Aselia’s Mana Tree in the process. With no way to germinate a new Mana Seed, Dhaos loses his mind as he feels he failed both worlds. He then starts killing humans so that no further catastrophe can happen. This is just an abridged version, as the full story makes his story more tragic.

Dhaos’ character shows that anyone can reach a breaking point. Everything that he sacrificed seemed pointless at the end when he gave up trying to resolve things peacefully. It makes the opening statement of the game even more haunting; reminding that if there is evil in this world, it lurks in the hearts of man.

  1. Zidane

The last entry was dark, so let’s try to lighten things up! Zidane is a lovable playboy thief with a monkey tail. His charisma and willingness to help anyone makes him more of a burden than helpful. Nevertheless, he is seen as trustworthy on a number of occasions and will go out of his way to see his promises through. His character never cracks until he discovers his origins. He goes from friendly and optimistic to harsh and distant. He loses himself for a while, but his friends get him out of it and he goes back to being the protector he is. Without the help from his friends, he could have forgotten who he was and find the resolve to stay true to himself. I admire that and hope that I have his strength when/if the time comes.

  1. Towa Herschel

Towa is best girl and must be protected at all time! No scratch that. This confident and capable women don’t need no knight in shining armor to get what she needs done. The amount of work that she juggles while attending Thors Military Academy would make anyone exhausted. Due to how badass she is, she casually lead an airship full of military students during a civil war like it was f***ing nothing. Towa shows that strength can come in many different sizes and it is one’s commitment that can accomplish anything. She is a normal human being with no special powers, but has one of the biggest hearts I know.

So those are my choices. Who are your favorite JRPG characters? Feel free to share your favorites with Pix1001 and Winst0If!

The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel – Where Has This Series Been?

There are many Japanese Role Playing Game (JRPG) franchises that I have come to love over the years. Series like Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, Shin Megami Tensei, and Tales Of have become mine and others’ favorite series over the years. There are other JRPGs that have a following, but are not as big that gets the majority excited. That was me one winter night when I happened to stumble upon the collector’s edition of The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel (it had a cool looking box). I had heard of The Legend of Heroes series before when I bought Trails in the Sky on Steam (I have yet to touch it), but I knew nothing of the series. So one day I decided to give Trails of Cold Steel a try and I instantly got hooked.

Prologue – Getting off the Train

Trails of Cold Steel is part of a trilogy of games in the Kiseki series. Each title in the series is divided into different parts that tell the complete story in that arc. Trails in the Sky had three games, the Crossbell series had two games, and Cold Steel has four. Taking place in the Erebonia Empire on the Zemuria Continent, we follow the story of our silent but sometimes not silent protagonist, Rean Schwarzer. The story opens up with a flash forward to an attack at a fortress which serves as the games tutorial. From here the basics of combat are shown off, which is a good thing since your next encounter does not happen for a while after this. After the flash forward, we see Rean arriving in a town called Trista; home of the military school he will be attending, Thors Military Academy.

We are then introduced to his classmates who make up their class known as Class VII. Each classmate specializes in a different weapon and skills. We have Alisa who specializes with the bow and love interests. Elliot who is good boy musician and uses an orbal staff. Laura with her mighty greatsword and mightier damage output. Jusis who I could not figure out how to make work well but has a sword. Machias who deals damage with his shotgun and heal people with as well. Fie who wields dagger pistols and is the grandmother of your high school coach who said could outrun everyone. Emma who is seriously a **** come on, and Gauis, the one everyone sadly forgets. You get other characters later in the story, but I will not reveal because spoilers.

Collector’s Edition that came with game and pin. Sadly no artbook.

Polish until it shines!

Where this game shines is in its combat. While each character has their own stats that fit their needs, you can mix and match some of the spells and abilities they can perform. This is due to the Master Quartz system that can change up a character’s spells, stats, and abilities. Each master quartz has its own attributes and can change its buff and benefits as it levels up. Even better, these quartz can be switched between characters to make anyone fit a certain need. There are obviously stats and abilities you want to give certain characters, but I like the aspect of changing characters to meet your playstyle. Along with the Master Quartz, you have standard quartz that give individual spells, abilities, and stat boost that can be attached to anyone. The standard quartz are what makes the customization more interesting as you can play off the Master Quartz to give characters devastating abilities. For once in a game, it felt like if you kept up what quartz are equipped to each character, challenges become easier to tackle.

Other great things about the combat are combat links. Combat links are extremely helpful in all fights and can make them go by super quick. Each character has a support level with each other, and it determines how the bonds between them are. Bonds can go as high as level 5 and each level opens passive abilities that can be performed with those two linked together. Most characters will have the ability to perform a follow-up or finishing blow attack, while some will automatically heal the person they are linked with if they get hurt. Some abilities cannot be triggered unless you exploit enemy weaknesses. There are four main weapon types: slash, bash, pierce, and thrust. Each enemy has a greater weakness to one or more of each weapon type. If you manage to unbalance them, your link partner will be able to perform a follow-up attack. Each follow-up attack will earn you one bravery point that can be stored to perform a rush attack (3 bravery points) or a burst attack (5 bravery points). This gives players a reward for exploiting enemy weaknesses.

Outside of combat, the characters and world are well written and rewards players for talking to everyone and exploring everything. This can make the run of the game feel longer than most, but everyone is interesting and you get to see how people change from the beginning of the school year up to halfway through the year. It is also important to talk to everyone so that you don’t miss out on events that affect your overall performance rating at the end of each chapter. Within the main cast of characters and important side characters, you get a journal to fill out information about each that open up their lives a bit more so that you can understand them a bit more. This part of the game feels like a Persona game where you are trying to grow strong bonds between all of your social link confidants. Interacting with your classmates this way nets more experience for their social link versus enemy encounters.

Real dialogue from a real game

All things that shine cast a shadow

While I enjoyed everything that Trails of Cold Steel offered, there were some things that bothered me a little bit. Each area that you visit for the monthly field study can only be accessed at that time. If you fail to find anything that you may need or buy anything from the shops, you will be unable to get those items again. While combat is enjoyable and can go by pretty fast, the exposition can go on forever and will confuse you if you are not paying attention. It wasn’t until the endgame when I was finally able to put the pieces together and remember why everyone hated each other to begin with. I also had a problem with Rean deciding when he wanted to have a voice or not. I am unsure if the developers wanted Rean to have a voice or not, but he does during important cutscenes. It is also very weird when everyone is talking and then you just get text box sounds from him.

I mentioned earlier that the game rewards you for talking to people and exploring. If you are trying to go for the highest school rating, A0, then you need to explore and talk to every single person to make sure that you are not overlooking something. What makes it kinda frustrating is that there are no indications that you need to go to this area and talk to this person unless you are paying attention to what people are saying. I felt like I missed out on a lot of side stories on my first playthrough, but as the name suggest you can completely ignore them it you are not going for the high rank.

Conclusion

All in all, I encourage JRPG fans to give this series a try. I tried to avoid any character development or story plots because they are best if you experience them for yourself. If you enjoy a good story with amazing gameplay, I can not highly recommend this game enough. As for which version to play that is up to your preference. The PS3 version has a cross save feature with the Vita version, so you are able to play on handheld or console. The PS4 and PC version have turbo mode where getting through the game goes by much faster; handy if you are on New Game+. Depending on which version you finish will give you a bonus when you play the second game. Trust me, you will want to play the second game after this. If you are not a fan of long conversations, or if you are looking for more exploration and action, then this may not be a title that you will enjoy as much.

The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel

Developer:
Falcom

Publisher:
XSEED Games

Genre:
JRPG

Systems:
PlayStation 3
PlayStation 4
PlayStation Vita
PC

Difficulty:
Varies (Easy to Nightmare)

What I Liked:
+ Battle System
+ Customization Options
+ Interesting Characters
+ Developed World
+ Great Story (so many twists!)

What I Disliked:
– Dialogue can get too long
– Hidden Objectives
– Inconsistent voice acting
– Having to immediately play the second game to get all my answers!

Personal Rating:


Advent Gaming Calendar 2019 Day 24: Dragon Quest (any one of them)

There is something special about Dragon Quest’s opening. All of them share the same classic opening theme that makes them instantly recognizable. Most of the openings just have a title screen, but sometimes you can not help but to just pause and hum along with it. For something so simple it feels grandiose and you know to expect a remarkable journey to follow. Out of all eleven mainline games, there are two in particular that I really enjoy.

Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age

Credit to Playstation’s YouTube Channel

The recent entry to the mainline games, Dragon Quest XI has a lot of impressive elements going for it. Along with the new HD look, the opening had to match the beauty of the world. What better way to do that then feature a recording of the main theme performed by the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra. The last time the orchestra recorded the opening was for the eight game in the series. Since then, I believe that this is the best version of it yet since you get a full orchestral sound instead of a horn feature (coming from someone who enjoys powerful brass sounds). The orchestra complements the visuals soundly and adds that extra layer of depth to the movie.

Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies

Credit to IntroVault’s YouTube Channel

What this intro lacks in a live orchestra soundtrack, it makes up for what it shows. Nine’s intro was the first time that showed more than just a title logo. It showed off what the game is about; questing, fighting monsters, and sharing your stories with companions. It felt like for the first time, Square Enix wanted to introduce the series to newcomers and show them what the series was all about. Though the DS was underpowered at the time, it was a smart move to bring this series to this platform since everyone has a DS at the time. I see a lot of recognition for this game even though it was not on a home console and I believe this opening was a great way to greet new players into an astonishing game.

Tune in tomorrow for our last day, Day 25!

DanamesX