So, my most recent video game conquest was a pretty decent traditional role-playing game for the PSP, The Legends of Heroes: Trails in the Sky. Because it’s for the PSP, and thus none of you reading this will ever play it because I’m one of the five people in the world with a PSP, let me spoil the game for you right now.
Basically, the gameplay is really solid – it’s sort of like a turn-based Grandia. Battlefield position and area of effect attacks are important, and you have both magic points (replenished by inns and items) and skill points (replenished by giving and receiving damage in battles). Except for one fight, the difficulty your first time through the game skews a bit easy, with extra difficulty options available on New Game+.
The plot is also strong. It’s your traditional sort of “intrigue in the palace” stuff, with a coup being launched by a military guy, but it has a nice amount of twists. Pretty much everyone you come into contact with has an appropriate role, and (for the most part) you don’t run into the Final Fantasy trick of a wildly out of nowhere end boss. (“Hey remember that guy you met briefly 45 hours ago, he’s the real end boss!”)
However, there are two really awkward parts to the game, both revolving around the lead character, Estelle and Joshua.
- In the game, the two are both 16.
- In the game, Joshua is both Estelle’s adopted brother, and, uh, her love interest.
Luckily, because they’re both 16, there isn’t anything like a sex scene, but they do kiss toward the end of the game, which is as horrifically awkward as it sounds. The back story to them – Josh was adopted into the family at 11 by Estelle’s dad. This isn't a hentai game or anything, so neither aspect is really brought up in the blurb about the game on GameFly.
Throughout the game, it is teased that they have an awkward like of each other because of this, which is fine. Hey, it worked for Arrested Development. However, in the last quarter to third of the game, it’s clear the awkwardness is going to turn into some sort of conversation between the two, and it submarines and taints an otherwise fine plot.
I’m guessing for the game, a straight translation was done from Japanese to English – maybe this sort of thing is a bit more, uh, permissible over there. But gosh, I probably would have been fine with them just axing the love angle and making some cosmetic changes to the script. This would have caused havoc with the later two games in the series though, which are (tentatively) also planned to be released in America, although via Steam as opposed to the PSP.