Under Your Radar: The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel

The Pulse Towards Tomorrow by Kanako Kotera

It’s time for Under Your Radar! This time, we’ll be discussing The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel (Eiyū Densetsu: Sen no Kiseki in Japan). This is a timely one, because although I played it on Vita, the PC port launches today. It released in 2013 in Japan on PS3 and Vita, but the English release by XSEED was in 2015.

It’s the sixth game in Falcom’s Trails series, and the start of the Erebonia arc. Said arc has two more games, Trails of Cold Steel II and the upcoming Trails of Cold Steel III. The fourth and fifth Trails games take place simultaneously to this one, in the neighbouring city-state of Crossbell, and you get an in-game calendar that allows you to line up the events if you’ve played both arcs. At the time of this writing, it is one of the only three acceptable entry points for the series, alongside Trails in the Sky and the yet-unlocalized Trails to Zero.

You play as Class VII, a special sixth class (not a typo) created at Thors Military Academy in Trista, Erebonia by one of its princes. Unlike the other five classes, which are solely for nobles or solely for commoners, Class VII is a mixture. This is off-putting to some of them at first, because the Erebonian Empire has a very notable class structure. One of them is effectively a foreigner, even. The main character, Rean Schwarzer, is a baron’s son by adoption, being found abandoned in the mountains as a kid. Continue reading

Under Your Radar: Rune Factory 4

Travelers of the Wind by Joe Rinoie and Saaya Mizuno (Japanese voices of the two player avatars)

It’s been way too long, but it’s now time for Under Your Radar! This time, we’ll be discussing Rune Factory 4, the final title by the developer Neverland, published by Marvelous worldwide (XSEED is just the name for their Western arm).

Rune Factory 4 is a 3DS game, and the sixth title in its series. It released in 2012 in Japan, 2013 in North America, and 2014 in Europe. Like the rest of the games in the series, it plays like a Story of Seasons/Harvest Moon type of game, with additional combat elements. Continue reading

Under Your Radar: Stella Glow

Before I begin, I would like to address the elephant in the room. Last time, I teased The Severing Crime Edge as the next work to be covered. Since then, it has come to my attention that not only did the manga conclude, it is available legally in English. I would be remiss to write about it before reading the manga since it’s available. Not only that, quite some time has passed, so I found myself unable to recall the details of the anime. As such, I substituted something I’d been exposed to somewhat more recently. So, without further ado…



Hikari no Metamorphosis (English ver.) by Konomi Suzuki

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It’s been a while, but it’s time for Under Your Radar! This time, we’ll be discussing Stella Glow, a 3DS game released in June 2015 in Japan by Sega, localized for North America in November by Atlus, and and finally released in PAL regions in March 2016 by NIS America. It is the swansong of imageepoch, a developer who honestly did not release a single game I enjoyed throughout their entire existence. After delivering the final build of the Japanese release of this game, the president of the company went missing, and it later came to light that the company was bankrupt. Will this final game of theirs be an exception, or more of the same? Continue reading

[JOKE] Blanc for Smash!

I think we’re all aware of the Smash Ballot by now. I was going to vote for one of the Rays from Custom Robo, but I ended up with a far better idea: Blanc from Neptunia.

Blanc Approaching Smash

I know what you’re thinking: Why Blanc? Because she represents Nintendo, simple as that. If it weren’t for that, there’d be no way a character who’s never even graced Nintendo hardware could possibly get in. Continue reading

Variety and Customization

Battlefield of Love Placeholder Logo

One thing I absolutely wanted to have in Battlefield of Love is the sheer depth you find with the items in Atelier games. That series has a large variety of items with a large variety of special added effects. But it’s important to remember standard player habits. The more of something you have, the less of it players are likely to actually use. Besides, the Atelier series places a lot of focus on these, and make up more of its playtime than the combat system itself. It would be a fool’s errand to actually expect to harness the full extent of that as a solo programmer.

What I’m getting at is that most items in RPGs are pointless and have boring effects, simply using images and names to differentiate between very similar items. I didn’t want to do that. I decided to take direct inspiration from Atelier to provide variety without padding the item list. This also helped with two other things: I wanted every item to be useful for the entire game, and I wanted the player to have some degree of customization. Continue reading

The Allure of Random Chance

Pokemon Confusion

Game development encompasses a large amount of questions, and one major one is the subject of random chance. It’s not a subject to take lightly, either. As someone who’s played several competitive and/or highly-strategic games, I know full well how much random numbers can screw people over. Whether it’s drawing a random card in any given TCG, randomly-generated stats you can influence in Pokémon, or even the chance of missing with an attack in most RPGs, the more strategic player will decry one thing on a consistent basis: luck is negatively influencing their grand master plan.

There’s also good things to say about random chance, of course. Random chance allows a certain dynamism to be present if a game is to be played solo. Without it, most games would have the same results from the same inputs every time, which causes problems when you’re not playing a multiplayer game. Continue reading

Under Your Radar: Tales of Hearts R


Eternal Tomorrow by Shuichi Ikemori
[NOTE: English release removes voice track of the song. Click here to hear what it sounds like.]

What was I searching for here?
The place that I flee to is always inside of my heart

Even though I want to change, I can’t change
I hated myself

Everyone is wishing for an eternal tomorrow
For an unwavering heart that expands endlessly
If tears of sorrow overflowed from your hands
Then I’d embrace you tightly

I’ll try to rely on myself
A bond will begin from there…

Connecting tears
Heart to heart

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Tales of Hearts R CoverReady? It’s time for Under Your Radar! Today, we’ll be covering Tales of Hearts R, a Vita entry in the Tales series, and a port of the similarly-named DS game known as Tales of Hearts. The 3DS game had a version with 3D model-animated cutscenes and a version with anime-style cutscenes. The former was poorly-received due to various off-model reasons, so the Vita version if based on the latter.

Some things were removed from the port, and some characters and plot points were simplified or completely changed. The combat system was also adjusted to allow for 4-character parties rather than three (and the combat system in general was overhauled). It is the first game in the series to release in the West with solely the Japanese voice track. Continue reading