January 2020 Gaming Report

I kicked off the new year with a refreshed mindset and focused goals. 2019 saw me at my lowest point mentally and it affected my habits greatly. But, with the help of this blog and reducing unnecessary work and stress off of me, I feel like my goals are more realistic.

I was very surprised with how much I was able to accomplish this month. As usual, I kept my tradition alive by finishing a game on the first of January to kick off the new year. The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel easily became one of my new favorite games and introduced me to a whole new series that I’m interested in playing through. You can read my full thoughts about the game in my review I wrote. On top of that, I finished not one, but two other games this month! That may not sound impressing, but for me that is something I have not been able to do in over a year. I hope that this is a sign a good things to come!

Along with Trails of Cold Steel, I finished Dissidia: Final Fantasy NT, a questionable, yet understanding direction for the fighting series, and Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney; a game that blew my mind with each twist and turn. I plan on writing reviews for each game, but they probably won’t be finished by the time this post goes out. If you are reading this from the future (hello from the past!), links to both reviews will be here (Dissidia) and here (Apollo Justice).

New Additions

I really wasn’t planning on purchasing many games this month. Now that my focus is focusing more on finishing games on my backlog, my desire to buy games I find in stores or online sales have been less enticing. Did that stop me from buying anything though? No.

I decided to try out Puyo Puyo Champions since I enjoyed playing Puyo Puyo Tetris. In my opinion Puyo Tetris is the better game, but if you want to learn how to play Puyo Puyo and keep Tetris out of it, this is an enjoyable game. It normally goes for about $10 USD online, but I got it one sale for $5 USD. While browsing the store to spend some Christmas money, I found a copy of Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight. I normally would not be interested in a game like this, but I watched my wife obtain the platinum trophy for Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight in two days and I want to one up her by platinum P3: DM in just one day. One day when I have a few days off I will attempt it.

Other than that, I purchased some games to assist me with the blog and complete some collections. I picked up Tony Hawk’s Underground to capture some images for a future story that I want to talk about. Along with that, I picked up Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 since it was only $9 USD and I have no self control. Both are really good games, so I have no regret purchasing them.

Uno for the Switch I picked up on a whim. I was watching videos of people playing it and it was on sale for $5 USD. I have won several games, but I don’t count it as a game I worked to finish since (in my books) just winning one game counts as beating the game.

The last two pickups were Final Fantasy Tactics and Tales of the World: Radiant Mythology. I own Tactics on the PSP, but for some reason it never captivated me like everyone else. I want to go back to it, but picked up the original PS version to add to my collection. Tales of the World: Radiant Mythology is the only escort Tales game that was released in the west. Adding it to my collection means I can finally say that (kinda) own every Tales game released in the states.

Plans For Next Month

I don’t have an idea what my plans are for February are yet. There are no new releases that I am looking forward to new month, so I can concentrate on my backlog more. I want to continue playing Nier: Automata and I think I can finish it by then. My Monster Hunter burnout is over, so I want to go back and finish Generations Ultimate at my leisure. Other than that, I will keep hammering away at Trails of Cold Steel II since I am also currently hooked on that as well. I’ve also been watching my wife recently trying to platinum Kingdom Hearts 3, and it makes me want to do some achievement hunting. Next update I will include the number of achievements that I earned during the month.

Numbers and Charts

And here are the numbers:

January 2020
Games Finished: 4
Games Added: 7
Finish Total: 190/672

Favorite Game Played: The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel
Most Played Console: A toss up between Switch and PS4

Current Games in Process:
The Legend of Heroes: Trials of Cold Steel II
Nier: Automata
Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate
Monster Hunter World: Iceborne
Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood
Fire Emblem: Three Houses

Thanks for reading!

DanamesX

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: