The Legend of Heroes is one of the world’s longest-running video game franchises. The games from developer Nihon Falcom began with Dragon Slayer: The Legend of Heroes in 1989, and the most recent edition, The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel IV, was released in Japan in 2018. There have been 14 games that have been split into five different sub-series. The enduring franchise has remained popular over the years due to its iconic characters, engaging and varied gameplay, and unique storytelling.
How Did it All Begin?
The first ever instalment in the Legend of Heroes franchise, Dragon Slayer: The Legend of Heroes, was actually the sixth game of a different series of Dragon Slayer titles. These games had been in existence since 1984. The 1989 LoH title was originally released for the NEC PC-8801, and was later ported to other consoles including the Sega Mega Drive in 1994.
The role-playing game was not a major hit on its initial release, but when it was ported to other platforms in the subsequent years, it garnered strong reviews. In fact, the TurboGrafx-CD version was nominated for the Multimedia Game of the Year award by Electronic Games magazine in 1992. For this reason, it should really be considered as one of the great retro RPGs. After this title, Dragon Slayer was dropped from the title and The Legend of Heroes franchise branched off on its own.
What Mini-Games Were Involved?
The series has been lauded for its varied gameplay and the vast number of mini-games available within the main story. In the Trails-Crossbell arc, players were able to venture to the Entertainment District of Crossbell City, which featured real casino games. Perhaps the inspiration for this was the fact that when Legend of Heroes: Trails of Azure was released in 2011, online casinos were on the rise. Blackjack is one of the best-loved gambling games, and there are now many different variants such as Atlantic City and European Blackjack at Betway Casino. It makes sense that the classic version of popular table game was included in the Legend of Heroes title for players to take part in.
Another notable side game was snowboarding, which appeared in the most recent Trails of Cold Steel arc which began in 2013. The game was reminiscent of the classic PlayStation offering, Cool Boarders. It was first introduced in the second instalment of this subseries in 2014, and can be found in Ymir. Players have to grab flags on the way down a ski slope, and they are also battling against a time limit. The game isn’t a requirement, and there are no trophies available for playing it; it is there purely for fun. This is what made it such a refreshing change and an enjoyable bit of respite from the main story. The number of other mini-games that have appeared across the whole franchise is staggering, and they include options like the card game, Blade.
How Can New Players Get Into the Series?
There has been heated debate over the years about which game in the franchise is best, and opinions are divided greatly. Some of the more recent games have been met with strong approval from players, but the most recent ones have yet to hit Western markets. Trails of Cold Steel III and IV have only been released in Japan so far, and will come out in North America, Europe, and Australia in 2019.
Described as one of the best RPGs out there, some players have advised newcomers to the series about the best place to jump in. The general consensus is that new players should either start playing at the start of the Trails of the Sky arc or the more recent Trails of Cold Steel subseries. After playing these games, it is fairly easy to go back and forth within the whole franchise.
It is by no means essential to play every subseries of this epic franchise, and the beauty of it is that players are able to dip in and out of it as they fit. For new players who are seeking a highly detailed and engaging RPG, Legend of Heroes could be the ideal choice.