The Legend of Heroes: Sen no Kiseki (Trails in the Flash) 英雄伝説 閃の軌跡

Original Title: 英雄伝説 閃の軌跡
Finally finished the game last night, shame that no one around me plays the game except my Japanese lecturer. So here I am (I really just need a place to rave about this)

Before I start, for international readers residing outside Japan, if you're looking for a place to purchase this game, you can either do it through Nihon Falcom's official mail order service (instructions for international orders), or go to either (or check your local Amazon, I know the US store does stock a few Japan Import ones), PlayAsiaCDjapan or Yesasia. I preordered through Falcom's mail service and they gave me a random 1000 yen discount :) (maybe because I shopped there too much lol)

Trails in the FLASH


Apparently the loading problem was quite controversial in Japan, which was directly reflected in its user ratings on Amazon JP and various other game sites. Personally I didn't find that much of a problem at all, probably only once in the final chapter. But that's probably because of my horrendously short attention span so I always have to do something else even when I was playing this game. The loading time actually gave me a chance to glimpse either my twitter feed or random news sites. (like I honestly could not believe that everyone was ranting about this on the web)

There are several major changes to the system. Full on 3D, Orbment system and Link (like an upgrade of the kizuna system in Zero/Ao), that's all I can think of now.

The 3D ain't as bad as I thought it would be to be honest, thought you need to know that I don't really care that much about game visual, I don't think any kiseki fans do. The removal of the 2D anime portrait/profile is a bit of a shame but the 3D ones look quite fine to me. It is true that it does stink if you compare it with most of the games that we see in game stores nowadays but oh well, what can you expect from a teeny company's full 3D debut? Plus I have to praise the plateau scenes in Chapter 3, absolute thumbs up! 
I spent at least 3 hours just running around here. Stunning plateau + jdk's awesome soundtrack+ horse riding (that doesn't harm real horses)  + our nomad character Gaius, how perfect is that!
Orbment system is greatly simplified. It's much clearer to make up Arts (アーツ, magic spell in the Kiseki games) now because they are stuck to individual quartz. However it makes the gameplay harder as you now have to pick between Arts quartz and quartz that increase your character power (str etc). Whilst it doesn't really matter for melee characters since they don't normally need to cast spells anyway it does weaken mages quite a lot. I gameover-ed a few times during my first playthrough but I'm not complaining (oddly enough I quite like gameovers in boss fights, feels more realistic? lol). I do miss spending hours before strong Arts finally appeared in the current Arts list thought, hope it'll come back one day in future installments.

Link system does make the battle more interesting but together with the orbment change i feel like the mages are too depressed in this Kiseki (Zero-arts is a nice new AT award but how often does it happen right there on our mage characters?). So much so that my mages are pretty much plain healers. But I guess this melee-mage broken balance somehow suits Erebonian, with its whole heavy industry and military thingy. (it does actually feel like Russia, or Soviet rather, with a tint of the US, though I'm guessing Calvard would be more US like, the president, multicultural and Republic thing. Or you can say Germany/France). 


You just can not fault jdk. I don't know what else to say really, the final boss track is AH-MAI-ZINN and I'm loving the ending theme (it did surprise me at first but now after listening to it a few more times I can see the reason they put it there). Falcomclassics on Youtube has uploaded many of the sound tracks but there could be spoilers in the titles or background images, or in the comments so think twice before you search. 

The opening is quite nice, musically I prefer it to the ones of Ao/Zero's. Kotekana's vocal suits this type better. 


Spoiler Warning (of the entire Kiseki series) and some screencaps. Continue for more raves.

Finally DOGS in Kiseki! Thought the entire team were cat people :b (Zeit is a wolf!)

If you've played any of the Kiseki games or the Kakabu trilogy before you'd know that NihonFalcom does not disappoint in this area (okay this does depend on what type of stories you prefer but to me the story is the sole reason why this is the only game series that I religiously follow).

I did swear a lot at the end not gotta lie. I can't believe I need to wait for at least another year to be able to see what happens after. I've been through Sora FC's heart-killing ending but this is just the worst (though I was playing in Jap in 2005 so I waited for less than a year. For everyone that has been waiting for Xseed, my condolences to you, and congratz because SC is coming next year!).

Erebonian means the story has to be in an enormous scale so it can live up to all the tales and expectations aroused by previous installments. And it did. Tranings via train travel is just smart. It is just so student-like and train in Erebonian, you'd know it if you are a series fan, is closely linked to Osborne and his Ironbleeds. The tempo is quite intense compared to other 'FC's in the series. Sen happens during Zero/Ao and we've more or less already known what's gotta happen, which is usually a minus but Falcom managed to make it work on their side and up the tension even more. I was like 'omg omg it's asdfghjklöä' next right omg what they gotta do how they gotta react to that' especially in the final chapter.

However before I go on ,one con I need to mention. Whilst Falcom took great care of the big scale story there were some details that I don't think they've tailored well enough, to the Kiseki standard. For one, the fact that Rean never question Emma's identity even after she's shown so many 'irregularities' is just BIZZARE. Compared to Zero/Ao, Lloyd, Ellie and Randy didn't ask Tio about her past either, before she decided to share herself, but that felt way more natural because they clearly said that they could wait if Tio didn't feel like telling. But no, Rean didn't say anything like that, nor did anyone else from class VII, it was just a 'you can tell me next time' and then after half a month that 'next time' still didn't come, without giving a reason. I might change my idea after my second playthrough but so far I feel like Falcom could've done better here. Apparent that they are pushing her past to the next game but compared to Randy whose past was also only revealed in Ao Emma has leaked too much to be simply ignored. Maybe it's because the gaps between the dates. If it's a continuous story like every other ones in the series it wouldn't be so odd but if there's a 2 week's gap in between they can't just act like there wasn't.

So that's one thing I find it quite a shame but that's pretty much it. Everything else was way better than I would expect. Crow's whole thing, while it is still shocking and in my case heart-breaking, it is more easily acceptable than Ao's Ian, or Zero's Joakim. I've already kinda guessed Crow was 'C' back when the name 'C' first appeared (though I was in constant denial until Miriam said Crow's name in the final Chap). And let's be honest Falcom this time, maybe because of the feedbacks from Zero/Ao has given heaps of hints after 'C's first appearence. The way that Crow volunteered to take the miners back to town and then trapped in the tunnel in Chapter 6 was just sus. Not to mention his action at Gakuinsai's bonfire fest.

But seriously why do I always fall for the antagonists?!?! I've liked Arios ever since he was first featured in Zero's demo and now it's Crow everything again. Arios is still amongst my favos and I'm sure Crow will as well but this DOES NOT feel good. And please don't let Crow d** like Löwe, I'll cry my heart out and then go bomb Falcom's headquarter. I'm serious.

Back to the topic, three HUGE pluses I have to say about Sen, which I can't really find Japanese players mentioning (maybe because they're not hot topics in Asia?) are illustrating people's different mindset in a powerful Empire, the influence of media and discussion of terrorism.

I love Zero/Ao to death and so to me it was quite harsh to see how people in Erebonian react to the events that we've already 'lived' through in Ao. But let's be honest, that's probably how real people would react, especially when the source of info is limited to the government and news is heavily controlled. To most people in Erebonian, Crossbell was simply a strange wealthy state. Most people wouldn't know how Osborne expands the Empire. And all the conflicts between Erebonian and Calvard in Crossbell, to Erebonian people are a threat, not to Crossbell but to the Empire. They couldn't imagine how people in Crossbell feel being a puppet of the two powerful megastates and they wouldn't know how strongly Crossbell people feel against being a part of the Empire because to them Erebonian is their motherland, a place that they love and rely on. (I'm not mentioning any real countries/regions because it is a very complex problem and I do not know people from such regions well enough to judge but yes, there are some places in the real world in my mind when I'm writing this)

The second is media control as I've mentioned briefly above. This is so obvious if you're really the newspaper in the games and it was OUTRAGEOUS to hear that in Erebonian the 'self-defense' of Crossbell was described as an unacceptable assault to the Empire while Osborne acts all innocent and victim and also how no one in Erebonian mentioned that the Empire was accused for the 'terrorist attack' in Crossbell, not even that it was by the same Jägers that Osborne hired before (this is kinda as expected though). I was waiting for Olivier to give the protagnoists an unbiased info on the whole thing but I guess he's probably planning to either do it later or let the them to discover that by themselves, the dark side of their homeland. Together with Zero/Ao you can really see how media influence our minds, I'm not sure if Falcom is purposely referring to the real world but it is a topic that's getting even hotter since the appearence of Wikileaks (and look at the ugly things our media do during elections).

The third one is terrorism. This I have a very mixed feeling because I've always hated terrorists. 911 attack was shocking but to me it was too far away, 2010 in Stockholm was frightening but it didn't kill anyone else except the bomber but the 2011 one in Oslo made my heart bleed. What 'C' and his 'comrades' did was wrongful and it could result in death of innocent people, which I guess does meet the classification of 'terrorism' but their motivation was not hard to understand, while it's not clear to group VII to the series fans we've heard and seen what Osborne is doing behind the back of most of his people and I'd say that it doesn't surprise any one that there're people trying to kill him and wipe out his party (I would do that to you-know-who if we were living in that world). I'm not justifying what they're doing because I love Crow, trying to attack on Osborne while risking everybody's life in Crossbell is simply wrong (about that some suggest that the starting scenes were before Kia activated her power after C succeeded to hit Orchis Tower and killed SSS). But it's just that instead of seeing them as crazies we can understand where that hatred came from.

On a much uplifting note, love the NPCs as usual. So many lively characters in the game just as other Kiseki installments. To name a few favourites (mind you I have weird tastes), I like the fishing guy (like how he's so into what he loves even though no one in the school understands that, I hate fishing in real life but in games it's forgivable), the carving girl Kurara in the arts club (I like artistic crazies and I can really understand that love), the curvy girl in cooking club (think she's cute and funny lol), everybody in Gaius's tribe (I love nomads and people with dark skin, hope that doesn't sound rude), the senpai in swimming club (I like hard working people and people who loves their families, though in really life these two types may really annoy me) and a lot more, seriously I like pretty much everybody in the game (and of course Anton and Leeks <3 hope Leeks is fine :/ it saddens me heaps to see Anton heart-broken alone in the auditorium) (I'll probably do an NPC post later when I've got more time, probably after school's finished)

Lastly, my favourite main characters (I never count the heroes FYI): Crow and Gaius, Crow was love at first sight and Gaius I just love how much he treasures and appreciates everything nature has given to him, the land, the water, the wind, and I do just fall for nomadic people, is that kind of a fetish? lol I actually like love everybody in group VII except Miriam ( I hate kids and especially kids that act all 'cute' and innocent, they are devils in my eyes lol I don't even like Tova that much to be honest, not so much so that I dislike her but yeh...and if you're guessing, yes I really dislike Tita, I never put her in my lineup unless I had to). Many people were worrying whether 9+ main characters would be too much for Falcom to give everybody an in-depth chance to shine but now I don't think anyone should worry about that. Kudos on that, NihonFalcom.

Stand-by action of Crow

Sorry for rambling so much and you would surprise me if you read till the end. I might do some updates if I found something new or have some new thoughts on the game as I go on with the second (and more) playthrough.

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