So, how did we get here?
Nihon Falcom’s sprawling JRPG series The Legend of Heroes is an intimidating franchise, perhaps rivaled only by Kingdom Hearts in terms of interconnected gameplay and story. The “Trails” subseries, Falcom’s current and best-selling subseries, has 12 (twelve!) directly related games, released between 2004 and 2022, from the PSP to the PS5.
Unfortunately, such long-running series—much like Kingdom Hearts—suffer from accessibility issues for newcomers, in terms of availability and gameplay. The original Trails to the Sky series was released between 2004 and 2007 in Japan but didn’t see a Western release until 2011. The franchise reached a new fanbase and gained a sharp increase in sales with Trails of Cold Steel, released in Japan in 2013, and coming to the West just two years later, in 2015.
Falcom’s problem, then, is a product of their own grand vision. The twelve interconnected games tell a story of war, rebellion, grief, growth, love, and a whole bunch of stuff about ancient robots punching each other (true story). The series creates deep, complex political factions, a staggeringly deep backstory—some of which is only found via in-game books— and an overarching narrative worthy of the greatest epic writers of our time.
Legend of Heroes is not, however, a book series that you can grab on your Kindle and get up-to-date with over a summer break. With various games stranded on different platforms and huge delays between the Japanese and English release dates, slogging through the franchise is a huge undertaking. Until recently, there were two entirely missing games in the series, Trails from Zero and Trails to Azure, otherwise known as the “Crossbell Arc.”
Here we are, then, in 2022. Trails from Zero, arriving on Nintendo Switch, PS4, and PC, is a slightly improved version of the 2012 PSP Vita port, with some additional graphics and sound settings thrown in for good measure.