Legend of Heroes Frequently Asked Questions

#1GurudaPosted 2/11/2013 11:30:45 PM
Certain questions about this franchise tend to get asked a lot (some more than others) and the responses tend to be spread out among a lot of different topics so rucchi proposed that we come up with a central resource we can point people to where they can find answers. Hopefully people will find this useful and we'll try to keep it updated as more questions get asked. Look within for (possibly) everything you ever wanted to know about the Legend of Heroes franchise.

-General Questions

How did the Legend of Heroes series begin?
Can I play the Dragon Slayer series in English?
So how do all these Legend of Heroes games fit together?
I love the music, where can I get the soundtracks?

-Iselhasa Duology Questions

What are these games?
Anything else?

-Gagharv Trilogy Questions

Do I need to play these games before playing any of the Trails series?
I get confused on these names, can you help?
Is there a recommended order to play these games in?
Why are the games called the Gagharv Trilogy?
Are the PSP games the original games?
How do the versions of the game differ?
What's this I hear about the translation?
So, should I play these games?

-Trails Franchise Questions

Do I need to play the Gagharv games before playing any of this series?
How is this series structured?
What's the difference between the PC and PSP versions?
What's this I hear about the ending of the first game?
When is SC coming out? I want it now!
What's all this I hear about The 3rd?
Isn't there an anime? Could I watch that while I wait?
Zero looks really awesome, can't XSEED skip games and work on it?

-Nayuta Questions

How does this game connect to the rest of the Kiseki series?
How does the game play?
Do we have to wait years before we might see this game?

-Special Sen no Kiseki Questions

ZOMG the game looks so cool I want to play it now!
Can XSEED start working on Sen now? It looks so cool!
Why not?!
But didn't they say this was going to be a prequel?
You just don't get it, this would be a great game to localize!
But wouldn't it be a great way to draw people into the series with something modern?




-General Questions



How did the Legend of Heroes series begin?


The series started as an offshoot of Falcom's Dragon Slayer franchise. As a bit of background, Falcom first hit it big as a company with a little game for the PC-88 called Dragon Slayer. It was one of the very first action RPGs in Japan (released a few months after Tower of Druaga hit the arcades) and helped set the stage for pretty much everything that followed (Ys, Zelda, you name it). Falcom followed this up with Dragon Slayer II: Xanadu, which remains one of their best-selling titles ever and a franchise was born.

The various Dragon Slayer games tend to have very little connection to each other in story, gameplay or theme, aside from the Dragon Slayer name appearing in most of them (usually but not always in the form of a sword).

Legend of Heroes began its life as one of the entries in the franchise and like several others has been spun off into its own series. The following are all the games in the series:

Dragon Slayer
Dragon Slayer II: Xanadu
Dragon Slayer III: Romancia (aka Dragon Slayer Jr.)
Dragon Slayer IV: Drasle Family ('Dragon Slayer Family')
Dragon Slayer V: Sorcerian
Dragon Slayer VI: The Legend of Heroes
Dragon Slayer VII: Lord Monarch
Dragon Slayer VIII: Legend of the Wind Xanadu (aka Legend of Xanadu)

Gamers around in the NES era might remember with some fondness a pair of titles called Faxanadu and Legacy of the Wizard. The former was a third-party game inspired by Xanadu and the latter is a port of Drasle Family. Another non-Dragon Slayer Falcom game also made it overseas as Tombs and Treasure (a port of Asteka II: Temple of the Sun).
#2Guruda(Topic Creator)Posted 2/11/2013 11:34:40 PM
Can I play the Dragon Slayer series in English?

Fans interested in playing the Dragon Slayer games can enjoy the above NES titles as well as a fan-translated version of Romancia and an IBM-PC version of the core scenarios of Sorcerian released by Sierra. If you're seeking a more modern experience, fans with iDevices and a knowledge of Japanese can also check out Aeria's port of Sorcerian containing the fifteen core scenarios and the five scenarios from Sorcerian Forever. A Dragon Slayer social game for iDevices and Google Play is also being worked on and seems to include bits and bobs from the Iselhasa duology and cameos from other works like Ys. A fan translation of Legend of Xanadu II for the PC Engine/Turbo Duo is being worked on but isn't complete at the time of this writing.

So how do all these Legend of Heroes games fit together?

Iselhasa Saga

Dragon Slayer: The Legend of Heroes
Dragon Slayer: The Legend of Heroes II

Gagharv Trilogy

The Legend of Heroes III: The White Witch
The Legend of Heroes IV: A Tear of Vermillion
The Legend of Heroes V: Cagesong of the Ocean

The Kiseki Series

The Legend of Heroes VI: Sora no Kiseki First Chapter
The Legend of Heroes VI: Sora no Kiseki Second Chapter
The Legend of Heroes VI: Sora no Kiseki The 3rd
The Legend of Heroes: Zero no Kiseki
The Legend of Heroes: Ao no Kiseki
The Legend of Heroes: Sen no Kiseki

Spinoffs

Ys vs. Sora no Kiseki: Alternative Saga
Nayuta no Kiseki

As noted, the LoH series began as the sixth entry in the Dragon Slayer franchise. Dragon Slayer: The Legend of Heroes was released for the PC-88 and ported to a number of other platforms including the SNES and the PC Engine (aka Turbo Grafx/Duo). In the latter capacity the game actually got an official release in English, albeit with names changed. The second game still bore the Dragon Slayer name and got similar ports to many systems but has never been officially released in English or fan-translated. Collectively the first two LoH games are known as the Iselhasa Saga and are connected to each other but unconnected to any other Legend of Heroes game.

Next up is the Gagharv Trilogy, consisting of Legend of Heroes III, IV and V. The first two games originally came out on the PC-98 in the mid 90's while the last game skipped that platform and made its first appearance on the PC in 1999. As with a lot of Falcom games you can find ports on other systems, such as the Saturn and PSX. The games tell a linked but non-linear story that builds over the course of the trilogy with a fair amount of character crossover both major and minor.

After the Gagharv Trilogy, Falcom went back to the drawing board and came back with Legend of Heroes VI: Sora no Kiseki. Incorporating the graphic engine developed for Ys VI: The Ark of Napishtim, the game was a fresh new take on the Legend of Heroes formula with many new elements and apparently an entirely new world. It's been followed by four (soon to be five) other games, many more details below.
#3Guruda(Topic Creator)Posted 2/11/2013 11:37:40 PM
I love the music, where can I get the soundtracks?

There are two good ways to get lots of Falcom music outside of sites like Amazon.whatever or ebay. First, you can order from Falcom directly. Obviously this requires looking at their website and figuring out what their product numbers are but the actual ordering process is easy and doesn’t require any Japanese knowledge. There’s a good guide to how to go about ordering here: http://seldane.proboards.com/index.cgi?board=falcom&action=display&thread=1163

You can of course also order things like books or games directly from Falcom as well.

Second, now that Falcom has started putting their music on iTunes outside of Japan you can obtain a great selection of their music that way. Search for ‘Falcom Sound Team JDK’ (or just Falcom) and you can find everything they’re offering DRM-free. They also just started offering songs for download on Amazon.com (also DRM-free) but the selection is a bit more limited right now. You can find most of the albums relating to the Legend of Heroes games (including the Perfect Collection Dragon Slayer: The Legend of Heroes CDs for the first two games and the ‘Music From’ albums for the PC-98 editions of Legend of Heroes III and IV), tons of Ys music new and old (including the incredible trio of Perfect Collection Ys IV discs) and even rarities like Popful Mail Sound Box ‘94 and the Dragon Slayer IV: Drasle Family soundtrack. It’s easy and more music gets added all the time.



-Iselhasa Duology Questions



What are these games?


These are the first two Legend of Heroes games. As such, LoH is actually a subtitle for them, the full names being Dragon Slayer: The Legend of Heroes I/II. They're unconnected to any later games but they are connected to each other (the protagonist of II is the son of the protagonist of I). As mentioned, the first game is available in English on the PCE/Turbo Duo but the second game is not.

Anything else?

Not right now. More might be added on these games later.



-Gagharv Trilogy Questions



Do I need to play these games before playing any of the Trails series?


No, you do not.

I get confused on these names, can you help?

Sure can. The following are the Japanese names for the three games that are commonly referred to as the Gagharv Trilogy, followed by translations (which Falcom themselves use), the official English names of the PSP ports and some abbreviations you'll see people use to describe them. For purposes of this FAQ, I'll be using the Japanese numbers to discuss the games.

Japanese Title: Eiyuu Densetsu III: Shiroki Majo
Translation: The Legend of Heroes III: The White Witch
Japanese Version Abbreviations: III/WW
English Title: The Legend of Heroes II: Prophecy of the Moonlight Witch
English Version Abbreviations: PotMW, LoH II

Japanese Title: Eiyuu Densetsu IV: Akai Shizuku
Translation: The Legend of Heroes IV: A Tear of Vermillion
Japanese Version Abbreviations: IV/AToV
English Title: The Legend of Heroes: A Tear of Vermillion
English Version Abbreviations: AToV, LoH

Japanese Title: Eiyuu Densetsu V: Umi no Oriuta
Translation: The Legend of Heroes V: Cagesong of the Ocean
Japanese Version Abbreviations: V/Cagesong
English Title: The Legend of Heroes III: Song of the Ocean
English Version Abbreviations: SotO, LoH III
#4Guruda(Topic Creator)Posted 2/11/2013 11:39:19 PM
Is there a recommended order to play these games in?

Yes. Ideally the games should be played in Japanese release order (III, IV, V), possibly followed by a replay of III to catch all the stuff that Falcom stuck in that game and elaborated on in the later ones. You can also play in the US release order (IV, III, V) without too many problems. The really important thing is to play V last.

Why are the games called the Gagharv Trilogy?

The three games in the trilogy take place in the same world in regions divided from each other by geographic barriers. One of these is the Gagharv, a massive chasm that runs north to south and separates the regions of El Phildin in the west and Tirasweel in the east. The reason for its existence is explained in the final game, which is one reason that you should play it last.

Another of the barriers is the Spine of the Serpent, a mountain range that prevents travel from either of those lands to Weltluna in the south (the setting of the final game). The seas make it very difficult to bypass the above terrain features by ship, though this doesn't stop a certain character from doing it anyways.

Are the PSP games the original games?

No, they're third-party remakes that are the result of a licensing deal between Falcom and Bandai.

How do the versions of the game differ?

In quite a few ways actually. I'm currently working on a project to compile a list of all the changes but the short answer is that you can think of there as being two main versions of each game: The PC game made by Falcom and the newer PSP game made by Bandai. The PSP games are the newest ones and the ones that have been released in English.

The most obvious differences between the versions are the graphics and the combat system. The PSP games have nice graphics with some 3d effects and more eye candy while the PC games have a much more old-school feel. The PSP games also have a lot of really nice character artwork not found in the PC games.

The combat differences take some explaining. In the PC games, combat is largely a hands-off affair designed to be something you don't have to spend a huge amount of time fiddling with, allowing you to appreciate the plot and characters that are the focus of the games. Combat occurred directly on the map and after giving initial commands, the computer would control the characters until you issued a new command (which you could do at any time) or something changed to make the original command impossible to carry out (usually when you finished casting a requested spell). Battles took place in real time and once the fight ended, the enemies vanished from the map and you went on your way. The PSP games made wandering enemies visible on the map and running into them triggers battles. It's not a huge thing but it does slow the pacing down a bit. More importantly, all three of the games as released in English (but not III in its original Japanese release) incorporate a turn-based system. Each turn you have to issue new orders which slows things down quite a bit. There are all kinds of minor mechanical differences but that suffices for an overview.

The Japanese release of III had something closer to the original combat system, albeit with quite a few nice additions. It's one reason that version is generally considered the best version of III to play. Another is that the music in the PSP game is incredible, featuring selections from Falcom's various arranged albums along with high-quality new arrangements made especially for the game. The music in IV and V tended to come directly from the PC games or to feature new arrangements of somewhat less incredible quality than the ones from III.
#5Guruda(Topic Creator)Posted 2/11/2013 11:41:16 PM
What's this I hear about the translation?

*Sigh* We had to get here eventually. Alright, everything you've heard is probably true. When Bandai localized the games they also did the translations and the results weren't exactly pretty. IV is infamously bad, to the point that it almost looks like a parody of a translation rather than an actual finished product that was sold in stores. Bad translations, text overflowing the borders, sentences presented out of order, you name it, the game had it. The common example used to illustrate this is: I didn't have eaten a unusual today. Yes, that's actually in the game.

III has a slightly better looking translation. It still has lots of extremely awkward lines and a lot of the charm and nuance were stripped from the text, it's just not as blatantly bad as IV. V has the best translation, though it's still not exactly what you would call a good translation. Still, it's the best and it seems to be by far the most popular game among English-speaking fans for what that's worth.

Enough of what makes the games so incredible in Japanese shines through that people like the games in spite of the flaws but you do need to know going in that you're not getting an XSEED-quality translation.

So, should I play these games?

As long as you keep in mind the above caveat, yes. The real strength of the games is in the writing and the characters and some of that manages to come through even though the translation hinders rather than helps with the enjoyment. Use your imagination a bit and you can generally figure out what Falcom was originally trying to say.



-Trails Franchise Questions



Do I need to play the Gagharv games before playing any of this series?


I thought this was important enough to bear repeating. No, you do not. There are hints that the two franchises may occupy the same world (though not at the same time) but right now that's all they are, hints. It's not far removed from Final Fantasy games all tending to have a dragon named Bahamut and someone named Cid showing up. Even if the two worlds do turn out to be one and the same, there's no indication that there will be serious crossovers. Most of the material that the theory is based on can be found in its entirety in SC/The 3rd so you don't even have to play any Gagharv games to see the basis for the idea.

How is this series structured?

The Kiseki/Trails series is divided into plot arcs which focus on particular regions of the Zemuria Continent where the games take place. The Sora no Kiseki/Trails in the Sky games form the Liberl Arc while Zero and Ao no Kiseki form the Crossbell Arc. Sen no Kiseki is set to be the beginning of the Erebonia Arc. The Legend of Heroes series is known for its strong writing and Kiseki in particular demonstrates this. The upsides are obvious to anyone who has played the games, the downside is that the games have to be played in order.
#6Guruda(Topic Creator)Posted 2/11/2013 11:43:14 PM
What's the difference between the PC and PSP versions?

The PC games are the originals, Falcom ported them to the PSP later on with some additional content. Here's a quick rundown of the differences:

Added to all games: New Game+, the Monster Encyclopedia, Retry Offset, Difficulty Modes

Removed from all games: Dynamic lighting, a bit of the graphic quality due to the difference between a nice big PC screen and what the PSP has

Added to FC: Battle voices

Added to SC: Extra battle voices, one new Quartz, more ultimate weapon types and the ability to get two per playthrough, two extra playable characters in the final Chapter

Added to The 3rd: Three new Quartz, many little tweaks, an extra level to one of the minigames

Removed from The 3rd: Content from one of the sidequests, presumably for ratings reasons

The PS3 release of FC features the PSP content using the graphics of the PC version, plus extras like themes and the complete soundtrack. This also appears to be the case for the upcoming SC, no word yet on exactly how they plan to handle The 3rd.

What's this I hear about the ending of the first game?

A funny thing happened While Falcom was developing the first game in the Kiseki series. Much like how their plan for Ys was too ambitious for the time and they had to split the game at the only logical point, something similar happened here and they realized they couldn't put everything they wanted in a single game. As a result, the decision was made to end the first game about a third of the way through the planned story at the only point where it could be stopped (Ys I-II has almost the exact same 33/66% split).

The result of this is that a lot of things are unresolved at the end of the first game and the ending is a pretty big cliffhanger. All that said, it never feels like you're only getting part of a game (unlike, say, Xenosaga I where you really feel like half the game is missing) and the major plot of the first game is nicely resolved. It's just those last fifteen minutes that get you because they set up the events of the next game.

Why is this game so slow to get going?!

Part of it has to do with the fact that you're essentially playing the first third of the story that's completely told between FC and SC. The other part is simply that Falcom really loves world-building and when it comes to the Legend of Heroes franchise, are big believers in slow development and subtlety. The first game has such a slow buildup because it's developing the world and characters and setting everything up for future games. While this is going on however, they lay a lot of groundwork for the main plot of the game, it's just up to the player to figure things out.

When is SC coming out? I want it now!

We all do but we don't always get what we want immediately. I could tell you how massive the script is for the game and how complicated the Japanese is but I think I'll let Floofy's grand illustration of everything speak for itself: http://twitpic.com/bq5of9

Hopefully you're suitably awed by the comparison. Now factor in that XSEED is a small company, FC was a massive undertaking that didn't return the profits they were hoping for and there's no way they could possibly afford to dedicate a huge amount of time to SC if they want to remain in business. XSEED is still working on the game slowly and it will get done when it gets done.

The biggest obstacle in terms of a release method has been solved since Falcom has not only made a PSN-capable version of the game (the physical release came on two UMDs and needed two UMDs and for a long time wasn't available in digital form) but also a PS3 version. That makes two versions that include all the content and there's also the original PC game that could be released through Steam. We're most likely to see SC in that form first.
#7Guruda(Topic Creator)Posted 2/11/2013 11:45:00 PM
Isn't there an anime? Could I watch that while I wait?

Yes, there is and no, you shouldn't watch it. It's a very loose adaptation of parts of SC. Not the whole game, just some random scenes from the first two thirds of the game strung together with a bit of plot to connect them. Falcom made it as fan-service to everyone who has already played the games and it shows. No attempt is made to introduce the world or characters and things literally hit the ground running. Also, the game spoils the hell out of major twists from SC without any of the context or buildup that made them so fun in the first place.

Oh, and did I mention that the main plot of SC is never touched on at all as the OVA ends just before things start happening on that front while making every possible effort to eliminate all the buildup from the Chapters that were covered which set up the main plot.

This isn't helped by the fact that the company who translated the OVA has been marketing it as an adaptation of FC even though nothing could be farther from the truth.

Now don't get the wrong idea, I really like the OVA for what it is (with the exception of one mishandled scene) but it should not be watched by anyone who hasn't already beaten SC.

What's all this I hear about The 3rd?

The 3rd is something of an odd game because SC wrapped up the major plotlines raised in the first two games. As a result, when Falcom announced a third game some fans dismissed it as a fan disc or filler. In a sense, it's sort of true. The focus of The 3rd shifts to a different character from the previous two games and its story is largely self-contained. At the same time, it includes the entire playable cast of the previous games (plus more), massively develops the characters and the world and sets up elements for the Crossbell arc and games beyond. Without it, understanding everything that goes on in the Crossbell games is impossible as multiple crucial plot points and characters are introduced in it. It may not quite be a proper sequel to SC but it's not mere 'filler' at all and it's probably got the best overall gameplay in the trilogy.

Zero looks really awesome, can't XSEED skip games and work on it?

Not if you want to have the slightest clue what's going on or why what you're seeing is important. There are absolutely vital plot elements in Zero that were either first developed or at least heavily expanded on in The 3rd. Certain scenes lose almost all of their impact if you haven't played the entire previous trilogy first.

Plus, Zero is about 30% bigger in terms of script size than SC while The 3rd is probably about 30% smaller so there's no reason to skip over the easier project to tackle the harder one even if doing so wouldn't be counterproductive from a storytelling standpoint.

Also, given that XSEED is a business and needs to make money in order to keep bringing us games, the only way we'll ever see them take on the challenge of the Crossbell duology is if the first trilogy makes them enough money for there to be a reasonable chance that taking on a significantly longer game will also make them money. Hint hint, supporting them in this trilogy will help. A lot.
#8Guruda(Topic Creator)Posted 2/11/2013 11:46:35 PM
-Nayuta Questions



How does this game connect to the rest of the Kiseki series?


It actually doesn't, which is part of the reason that it doesn't have 'Legend of Heroes' anywhere in its title. In interviews, Falcom staff have admitted that the Kiseki name is mostly for brand recognition. There are some terms shared with the mainstream Kiseki games (units of measurement, Mira for money, Arts for magic) but you could replace them with different terms and nobody would notice the difference.

Do I need to play any other games in particular before playing this one?

Not really. There are some nods to a couple Legend of Heroes games but nothing that any but the most obsessive gamer would really worry about missing. For example, Nayuta and Lyra greatly resemble Forte and Una of LoH V and Lyra shares her counterpart's complete inability to confess her feelings to the boy she likes without something either interrupting her or ruining the moment. Cute if you recognize it but nothing huge.

How does the game play?

Sort of like a cross between one of the three Ys games to use the Napishtim engine and Zwei II. The game is an action RPG with lots of (very well done) platforming and some Metroidvania elements, not to mention some of the coolest boss battles Falcom has yet created.

Do we have to wait years before we might see this game?

There's no reason why we have to wait at all from a story perspective. Unlike the continuous narrative that makes a release of any main Legend of Heroes game out of order a practical impossibility, there's nothing standing in the way of XSEED releasing this game whenever they have the resources to do so, if/when they decide to do it. Note that I have no inside word on the matter, I'm just saying that it's entirely possible, unlike the other games.
#9Guruda(Topic Creator)Posted 2/11/2013 11:49:10 PM
-Special Sen no Kiseki Questions



ZOMG the game looks so cool I want to play it now!


That wasn't a question.

Can XSEED start working on Sen now? It looks so cool!

No.

Why not?!

Sen no Kiseki is the first game in the Erebonia Arc, which is something they've been building up to for five games now. Bringing it out in English without SC, The 3rd, Zero and Ao would be like trying to read Return of the King without reading any of The Two Towers and only the first few chapters of Fellowship of the Ring and people at XSEED know this. It just isn't going to happen, ever.

But didn't they say this was going to be a prequel?

No, they did not. English-language news sites translating a Japanese interview did. They got it wrong because they weren't familiar with the series. This can be illustrated with an example of a translation error that nobody who knows the series would ever make.

Japanese: Yuugeki Kyoukai, Crossbell Keisatsu de wa nai atarashii soshiki toujou.

Translation seen on English sites: The raiding force is not the Crossbell Police, but a new organization.

Good translation: Rather than following the Bracers Guild or the Crossbell Police, Sen will follow a new group.


The error comes from how Falcom writes things in these games. Yuugekishi might literally mean 'raider' but it's actually used to represent the Bracers. It isn't always written with the furigana that make this obvious because at this point, they rightly assume that anyone actually reading the interview knows about the meaning. When translators can't get something so basic correct, do you really think they could catch the distinction between the Hundred Days War and a war that hasn't happened yet but which we know is coming because of what has happened in the four games not available in English?

You just don't get it, this would be a great game to localize!

Because we do 'get it' we know that it would be a horrible game to localize. It gets annoying to hear people who have no idea what they're talking about suggest that this game could be an exception or that it would somehow be okay to skip games just this once. Sorry to crush your dreams but it doesn't work that way. If you want to see Sen one day, use that enthusiasm to help spread the word for SC then The 3rd because we're not getting the Crossbell games unless the first trilogy does well and we aren't seeing Sen and beyond unless Zero and Ao do well.
#10Guruda(Topic Creator)Posted 2/11/2013 11:50:45 PM
But wouldn't it be a great way to draw people into the series with something modern?

No, since you would still have to go back to those 'less modern' games at some point, even if it were remotely possible that the story could be understood without them initially.

To illustrate why that isn't ever going to be the case, consider this: The end of Ao directly sets up what Falcom has already confirmed will be the major conflict of the story. A character first appearing directly in Ao has been very clearly implied to play a part in the next arc and from the example of the Crossbell Arc it's clear that Falcom isn't going to hold the hands of any players who haven't been following along. The same interview confirmed that elements of The 3rd directly foreshadow developments in Sen and several characters who will be of critical importance to the arc first appeared in that game.

It should also be noted that many of us were able to predict where Sen would take place and who the main cast would be even before Falcom announced the game. That's because we could see what Falcom was obviously building up to. That tells you something about Falcom's continuous narrative right there.

Still not convinced? Alright, history lesson. SC begins directly after FC ends and no attempt is made to hold the hands of players who might have tried to skip the first game. It's rightly assumed that you remember all the major plot events, who all the characters are and what they've done and what the setting is like. The 3rd isn't as directly tied to the previous games but the basis for the plot depends heavily on the end of SC. As the main cast all knows each other, they pick up right where they left off seeing each other without any silly reminding each other who they are. The main plot of Zero is heavily connected to things that were introduced in The 3rd to the point that certain scenes lose most of their meaning if you don't have the necessary familiarity with the earlier game. Ao is by far the worst of the lot and practically nothing of the main plot will make sense if you haven't played all four previous games. There's no reason whatsoever to think Sen will suddenly be an exception.