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A few weeks ago, we asked NIS America to explain the semi-inscrutable title of Ar Tonelico Qoga: Knell of Ar Ciel. Having had our minds expanded by that new knowledge, we then went looking for more games with absolutely crucial information you (and we) might not know.
And that's The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky. Unbeknownst to most gamers, the PSP RPG is part of a very long, very populous series -- one with dozens of games, spinoffs, and even spinoff series. In fact, it's distantly related to the NES's Faxanadu and Legacy of the Wizard.
In response to our query, Tom Lipschultz, localization specialist for publisher XSEED, dropped an unprecedented amount of RPG history on us. If you'd like to know more about Trails in the Sky's lineage than you thought possible, read on. The first Legend of Heroes title was Dragon Slayer VI: The Legend of Heroes, released on the Turbografx-16 CD-ROM in 1991, and developed by Ys creator Falcom. As the title suggests, this game was actually the sixth game in the Dragon Slayer series -- "a series of thematically similar (yet ultimately unrelated) games all produced and numbered by a man named Yoshio Kiya," Lipschultz explains. "This was a game popular enough to spawn its own subseries, part of which was eventually renumbered and released out of order on the PSP in North America [by Bandai] – LoH: A Tear of Vermilion is actually LoH4, LoH2: Prophecy of the Moonlight Witch is actually LoH3, and LoH3: Song of the Ocean is actually LoH5."
The Dragon Slayer series from which it originates is one of the oldest RPG series in Japan, possibly even the oldest. "And did you also know that Dragon Slayer II: Xanadu, released in 1985, is still to this day the best-selling Japanese computer game of all time?" This series is also host to the NES's Faxanadu ("Famicom" plus "Xanadu"), and the game published stateside as "Legacy of the Wizard," which was known in Japan as Dragon Slayer IV: Drasle Family.
So that's two series to which this game is related -- there's more. It's actually a sequel to a spinoff of a spinoff. " The Legend of Heroes series, then, would go on to spawn yet another subseries, "Trails in the Sky," with its sixth installment "The Legend of Heroes VI: Sora no Kiseki" (later renamed 'The Legend of Heroes: Sora no Kiseki FC,' with FC an acronym for 'First Chapter)," Lipschultz said. "A trilogy all its own, Sora no Kiseki has the distinct 'honor' of being the only 'game series within a game series within a game series' that's likely (we hope) ever existed." That game, The Legend of Heroes VI, is the one coming here as The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky.
"A trilogy all its own, Sora no Kiseki has the distinct 'honor' of being the only 'game series within a game series within a game series' that's likely (we hope) ever existed."- Tom Lipschultz
"The reason this franchise gave birth to so many subseries," he theorized, "is largely because each game was structurally and mechanically very different from its predecessors (despite the thematic similarities), and some positively begged for sequels to be made." Where the Dragon Slayer games were characterized by a search for crowns inside a dungeon," each LoH game tells the story of two young people – usually a boy and a girl, but sometimes the same gender – who travel the entire length and breadth of their home continent on foot in search of someone very important to them," with detailed storylines for the characters and locales in the world.
Those previous PSP remakes, by the way, shouldn't be taken as representatives of the series, Lipschultz said. "Heck, they don't even represent themselves very well! They're hastily-localized remakes of much older PC titles that were groundbreaking for their time, and are still incredibly engaging today – when played in their original language, with their original battle systems."
If you're still shaky on the Legend of Heroes family tree, we'll refer you to the above chart sent to us by Lipschultz and editor Jessica Chavez. Click to open a larger version, and let the knowledge -- and the obvious enthusiasm XSEED's staff has about its game, for two people to just decide to do this -- soak in.