The Legend of Heroes is a series that’s been going on for quite some time. If you’re like me, you’ve never even heard of it. Luckily, the PSP version of The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky SC is on Vita, and it’s a nice introduction to the series, especially since The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel releases on Vita December 22.
The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky follows Estelle Bright, a peacekeeper in the area’s Bracer’s Guild. Estelle’s brother, Joshua, disappears and she travels to find him. Without giving too much away, a bigger threat emerges and Estelle must gather a party to defeat it.
The beginning is definitely a slow burn, and combat isn’t introduced for the first 20 minutes. The characters and the overall plot take a while to stick, but the cast does grow on you after a while. Individual characters develop really well, and their motivations seem organic. Some attempts at humor are actually pretty funny, but can turn awkward in an instant. It’s interesting to look back even to a PSP-era RPG to see the storytelling differences between now and then, because a lot of the plot rolls out slower than many modern gamers may be used to.
Combat is an interesting mix between turn-based combat and grid-like movement. Think of it like a mix between classic Final Fantasy with Fire Emblem. Basic attacks and magic can be paired together, or you can unleash powerful chain moves that do considerable damage. Navigating around definitely felt like an older game. I’m not sure whether it’s my inability to navigate around an older RPG, my reliance on modern hand-holding – or both – but sometimes I found myself having trouble making my way through dungeons and areas.
Visuals may seem a little dated, but they have that PS1 charm that still holds up pretty well. Nice sprite art and effects complement the game well, and the character designs themselves are a nice blend between 2D and 3D. Perhaps my fondness of Super Mario RPG-like visuals has me biased, but I can’t help but enjoy the visuals. The settings are hit-and-miss throughout the game. Some backgrounds are really impressive for the scope it can bring, like mountain tops and villages, while others, like sewers, feel unoriginal and are too bland to keep interest high.
If you’ve got a Vita and are looking for a nice RPG that mixes some elements of grid combat, The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky SC is a solid option, especially since RPGs, like most genres, are few and far between on Vita. Maybe it’s been the lack of good turn-based games that’s made my experience with Legend of Heroes such a positive one, but it does so many classic JRPG elements well, and it excites me even more that a modern entry is coming soon to Vita, which hopefully brings with it modern amenities without sacrificing the classic foundation. If you can stomach the $30 price point for a nearly decade-old game, it’s a solid addition to any Vita-owner’s library. If you can wait a while longer to see the reviews on the next entry, Trails of Cold Steel, it might be better to hold off to pay a little more for a newer game.