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Before yesterdayEndless History

[Anime Expo 2019] An Interview with Toshihiro Kondo

Toshihiro Kondo with the crocheted pom trio.
Toshihiro Kondo with the crocheted pom trio.

Just before Anime Expo, I had the opportunity to join NIS America at a press event held in San Francisco. There, I got to play part of their English build of Trails of Cold Steel III, as well as meet with Toshihiro Kondo for an interview.

If you are interested in reading about my impressions of the build, I have that posted here.

Not all of the questions and answers that I heard asked to Kondo during the week are included in this- this is primarily my own interview with him. Also, as I did with the previous interview, I opted to take a more ‘fan-based perspective’ from the start, knowing that most press outlets would end up asking many of the other major questions about the company at this point in time.

This interview was graciously interpreted by Alan Costa.


Endless History: Thank you for taking the time to sit down with me. This has been a very exciting opportunity.

What kind of advantages have you seen from working with multiple publishers to localize your games? And have there been any particular difficulties as well?

Toshihiro Kondo: To talk about the merits first, of using multiple publisher partners, is that the size of our company, since we’re not a very large company… A larger company would be, for example, able to do all of the localization and publishing themselves, but as you can imagine, that requires quite a bit of manpower. Therefore, for a company of our size, it is very difficult to devote people to that. So we need help on that front. Allowing other companies to do that allows us to do what we want to do, which is focus on game development and game creation.

And honestly, I can’t think of any demerits. For us, just being able to work with some outside party to publish the games for us for localization frees us up for development. So there’s really no demerit that comes to mind.

EH: Have there been any differences or changes in any English localizations that surprised you or that you really liked?

TK: One thing is that characters in our games have a lot of Germanic-sounding names. So I’m always kind of impressed when I see how the Germanic names end up actually looking in English.

For us, as Japanese people, we don’t really have this impression of German names being something specific. They’re kind of mixed into the idea of ‘the West.’ When we did see them, I always find it interesting to see just how different it actually is.

On the other hand, I know that it may cause some confusion or surprise, maybe, for people in the West. So recently, we’ve been trying a little harder to make sure that the names are a bit more accurate.

EH: Are there any other older titles that you would like to see released here in the West?

TK: I get this question a lot when I’m over here. What I would definitely like to see brought over here is Zero and Ao no Kiseki. Honestly, these games aren’t in a position to be played on consoles anymore and first of all, we’d like to address that issue and get them onto consoles that can be played. I would love for, once that happens, publishers in the West to raise their hand to take the games and bring them out here.

EH: That would be awesome.

TK: We’ll do our best.

EH: This ties into that, then. Are there any plans to keep the older Kiseki titles available as current platforms go into their end of production cycle?

TK: This is something we’ve really thought about. It’s a shame to think about all of the hard work that went into the creation of these games that will be lost once the hardware changes and it’s no longer able to be played. As you can remember recently, we’ve released a PS4 version of Memories of Celceta. So what we’d like to do, in that same way, is continue to update the games and bring them out so that they’re able to still be played.

EH: I recall that you have talked about some development issues with the original Trails of Cold Steel. Are you able to go into detail of any of the issues you encountered?

TK: To go into more depth of that, as you can probably remember, up until that time we never used full 3D for these games- in particular for the character models. What would be done is they would be rendered in 3D, then turned into a 2D image. In Trails of Cold Steel, this was the first time we attempted to [do it with] full 3D. As you know, there are tons of characters, which means we had to create a lot of different models for them. We ran into trouble in particular with creating those models, then creating their animations. So that’s something that we had to just work through trial and error over the years to get used to it to make it look good. And finally starting with Trails of Cold Steel III, we finally reached what we were going for in terms of the models and animations.

EH: I think you succeeded with it with Trails of Cold Steel III.

TK: Then on the story side of things, what made this one really difficult was that- obviously- the setting for Cold Steel is the Erebonian Empire, which is something we’ve been dropping hints to, talking about, and pointing towards since Trails in the Sky through Zero and Ao. So the difficulty here became- now that we’ve built this place up so much- how exactly do we tell this story? If we were to kind of throw in everything we were thinking of, or that we had hinted at, in the main story, it wouldn’t come together and gel well as an actual story. So the way we kind of got around this was we put different information in quests in the game, we had different NPCs talk about different things to give supplementary information to things we had talked about before. So that was another area where we really struggled, which was to make sure the story blended well.

The first view of Valflame Palace in Trails of Cold Steel, upon arriving in Heimdallr.
The first view of Valflame Palace in Trails of Cold Steel, upon arriving in Heimdallr.

EH: I’m glad you guys took the 3D approach, because seeing Heimdallr for the first time in Trails of Cold Steel was amazing, I don’t think it would have as much of an impact without being in 3D.

TK: It sounds like our efforts paid off.

EH: I think they did. I’ve been playing these since the first game came out in 2004, and after all the talk about Erebonia, that pan that goes down in Heimdallr, showing the castle, I had to stop and take a breather.

Clare from Brandish 4
Clare from Brandish 4

TK: Trails is a series we want to continue making in Japan. We think it’s very important that we reflect on the game’s user feedback and user desires so going forward we would like to improve these games and make improvements for people.

EH: Do you foresee an opportunity in the future to revisit some old titles like Sorcerian or Brandish?

TK: Yes, as you know, we have this rule now that we do a Trails game, then an Ys game, but that’s not the only thing we want to do. A few years back, we released Tokyo Xanadu, and it was a good thing that we did it on the development side, but we also got a lot of positive user feedback as well. It often comes up in our development meetings for what we want to make and the younger staff want to try their hand at things outside of the two games we just mentioned. Going forward, we want to continue to try our hand at older series that we’ve worked on before. We definitely want to put it into our view and make games both from the past and continue the series that we [currently] have.

And in order to accomplish that goal of being able to make more games we have been gradually increasing the amount of staff.

EH: What does JDK stand for?

TK: They won’t tell me. The name was actually bestowed to the sound team by Mr. Kato, the founder of the company, who is now the chairman. When I asked him about it, he said that there are some things you’re better off not knowing. I have to have investor meetings quarterly and I’ve actually been asked about that. I don’t know the answer, and it’s kind of embarrassing. One of the staff jokes is ‘Just Directed (by) Kato.’

EH: With the large music library that you have available, have you ever considered a rhythm game?

TK: This actually comes up every now and then and we want to do that. So I think that if we have the opportunity to do another game like Trails in the Sky the 3rd, we might throw that in as a mini-game or something. We have the song library for the entire Falcom catalog that is over 4,000 tracks. It would be a shame to not put those to use.

The cover for the Ys VIII Super Ultimate album.
The cover for the Ys VIII Super Ultimate album.

EH: With the recent release of the Ys VIII Super Ultimate Arrange album, there haven’t been a lot of arrange albums to this point. Is there any particular reason, and can we expect more of them in the future?

TK: There isn’t any particular reason as to why we haven’t released any arrange albums recently, but when it comes to this one that just came out for Ys VIII, the music for Ys VIII was highly evaluated by everyone. Given the positive reception for the soundtrack, we thought it would be a good time to revisit an arrange album.

I have a funny anecdote to tell you about Ys VIII and the music specifically. Early in the development, Mr. Kato- back in the day he used to give me and the development teams a lot of advice, but recently he’s been quite quiet and lets us do what we want. However, when we decided to make Ys VIII, he called me and the Sound Team into his office, and he said, “I want you to make the best Ys soundtrack in history.” This was a really vague command, yet at the same time it was a very difficult one to fulfill. So, we worked really hard with the Sound Team and, maybe more than usual, we gave specific directions on how we wanted things to sound. Obviously, we focused very much on the melody of the songs, so I think that hard work paid off in terms of what actually came out.

EH: On the topic of music, is there anything that Trails fans should be listening for in the lyrics of [choral] songs like Azure Arbitrator?

TK: I don’t necessarily think that, in terms of the lyrics, that we try and put any kind of deep hints in them or anything and there’s certainly nothing that would constitute as a spoiler. But that said, obviously the lyrics are related to the game and what’s happening in the game- particularly where they’re used. So I would like it for fans, once they’ve actually played the game and seen the scenes where the songs are played, to maybe listen again and see how it relates.

EH: Are there any chances of the lyrics being released in the future?

TK: We haven’t? I did not know that. We should probably get those out at some point. I’ll take that home with me as homework.

EH: Still on the topic of soundtracks, there’s a song in 3rd called ‘Phantasmal Blue Flower.’ I was wondering if there was a coincidence in its relation to the pleroma in [the Crossbell games.]

TK: Unfortunately, when we were making the 3rd, we hadn’t thought about what the blue flower signified yet and whether or not it would be there. This is just a coincidence.

If my memory serves correctly, after we made Zero and we moved on to Ao, there was a piece of key art that used this blueish-yellow… I’m fairly certain we decided to base the flower color on that image that we made.

In Japanese, the character that we used for Ao is normally translated blue, but that character actually refers to a blue that’s kind of between a blue and a green.

EH: I remember… I think it was on the Falcom twitter, at one point, where it was said that at a certain depth [of water], you can’t discern the difference of blue from green?

TK: Exactly. You remember very well. I totally forgot I had said that.

EH: There has been some commentary in the West about the almost ‘dating sim’ nature of the bond events in the Cold Steel series. Is this something you wish to keep going with, or [are there plans] to go back to the single love interest that you had in the original Sky trilogy?

TK: Going forward, nothing is really planned yet in terms of how we’ll handle this, so I don’t know. But to talk about why we put this in Trails of Cold Steel in the first place… Obviously, the story of Trails of Cold Steel takes place in the Erebonian Empire and tells a grand story within that, and it tells a story about a man named Rean. What we wanted to show through these bonding events is that in portraying his life, Rean had many different choices on things that he could have done. So, we thought it was appropriate to the game system that, in order to show off that he has choices, to include a system of that sort within it. Again, because we don’t know where we’ll be going from here, and how we want to make the games, I can’t say whether a system like that will reappear or not in future titles.

Interestingly enough, in Japan, opinions are pretty heavily split between liking it and not liking it. The people who like it say, ‘next time, give us even more choices of girls to date!’ and on the other side of the equation are the people who say ‘I don’t know if this necessarily belongs in a Falcom game.’ I’d be very curious to hear what people over here think about the system.

EH: In a past interview, you had mentioned that the plans for the Reverie Corridor in Trails of Cold Steel II were to be an infinite dungeon. Are there any plans to revisit this concept?

TK: That’s actually a system that we’ve had in previous games, like Xanadu Next and Zwei. For the players who really like to get deep into a game, it’s a very well-received feature in the system. It is something we’d like to revisit going forward if it’s appropriate to the game we’re making. For example, it often comes up when we’re developing Ys games that this may be a suitable feature to have. That is definitely something we have considered.

EH: Additionally, congratulations on the 15th anniversary of the Trails series.

TK: Thank you very much.

EH: Are there any standout moments behind the scenes from working on the games for the past 15 years?

TK: Over 15 years, there are a lot of things that remain in my memory, but probably what sticks out the most is when we made Trails in the Sky FC. This is a game that took over three years to develop and we weren’t even finished but we were told by people above us that whether this game is finished or not, it needs to come out. And so we released it. As you know, the game ends on quite the cliffhanger, and that was an interesting challenge- a challenging way for the audience, as well- to make a game. That’s something I know I’ll never forget.

What we learned from that is, because we originally intended to release FC and SC as one game together. I look back at that and think about how young and inexperienced we were to have an idea like that. So what came out from those games had a direct affect on the games that followed. So we definitely put what we learned from those games to use.

EH: I remember how shocking it was without realizing it was going to have a sequel…

TK: Even for us, despite having more planned and being made to release what we had finished. We didn’t know if we could continue, so we were surprised too!

Back at that time, unless the fans had really praised the game and made their voices heard to us that they wanted to see more, we wouldn’t have been able to continue it. And so we thought of many different ways we could do this- try to make a preview version, or lots of other things we could do to make people say, ‘hey, we want to keep playing the series.’

EH: It’s been 12 years since 3rd came out. Are there any mysteries from it that are still unraveling?

TK: In terms of everything that we talked about with the Erebonian Empire, we pretty much covered everything leading in to that in Trails of Cold Steel. However, when it comes to the Ouroboros? No. There are still things that remain out there.

EH: [What about] the happiness stone door? Moon Door 5?

TK: (laughing) Once again, your memory is great. For a second, I had to think… is that the door that…?

EH: With chibi Ragnard?

TK: The thing is, the mystery of the Ouroboros is related to the entire continent of Zemuria. The only way we’ll find out all about them is when the overall series itself comes to a conclusion.

Kevin, from Trails in the Sky the 3rd.
Kevin, from Trails in the Sky the 3rd.

EH: I didn’t expect that kind of an answer! Of all of the characters in the Kiseki series that have been playable, what four would make your dream team?

TK: I think my dream party would be the main characters, so Estelle, Lloyd, Rean… and then one other…

EH: Kevin?

TK: Kevin! (laughing) Kevin is also a protagonist. And the thing is, there’s still a lot of mysteries that haven’t unraveled yet that are related to him specifically.

EH: Oh, really?

TK: There’s a lot left to tell on that side, as well.

EH: And probably more to learn about Rufina?

TK: And in the same way the Ouroboros is related directly to the world, so is the Septian Church as well as the religion for the goddess Aidios. It’s all connected, and those are things that, again, will be revealed as we continue to create more and more games [for the series.]

EH: Another question about the 3rd- are you able to comment on its importance to the series overall?

Trails in the Sky the 3rd

TK: The thing about 3rd is that we never originally intended to make it. We just wanted to go directly from FC and SC into Cold Steel to talk about Erebonia. The thing is, though, that when we were doing the planning and things like that, particularly when we started thinking about the Septian Church, and we had kind of name dropped Crossbell as a place, we realized that maybe we had a little longer to go to get there. We wanted to really portray Erebonia as a threat to the world, and we wanted to show what a mysterious and frightening figure Osborne is. So to do that, we ended up making the 3rd and the two Crossbell games. We thought that would make the whole story more dynamic and more interesting. Within that, it’s a very important part of the entire series.

EH: Just a fun random question: is Dorothy the Grandmaster?

TK: Unfortunately, she is not. Why do you guys think that it’s her? Because she’s wearing glasses?

EH: I think so. It’s a popular fan meme.

TK: Really? For Japanese fans, it’s Towa, since she is so talented at everything.

EH: I’m going to jump to the Gagharv trilogy…. what were your favorite scenes in it?

TK: Within the trilogy, the game that impacted me the most was Prophecy of the Moonlight Witch [also known as White Witch -ed]… there’s a scene in that where Geld reveals herself to the group. This is added on that, throughout the game, you don’t know if she’s alive or dead. When the truth is finally revealed, it really impacted me, I was even shaking from the excitement of that scene.

The titular White Witch in from the opening of the the game, and the start of the Gagharv Trilogy.
The titular White Witch in from the opening of the the game, and the start of the Gagharv Trilogy.

EH: I agree, that scene is a powerful one.

TK: And from that, I thought that the story and the scenario from the game was so good that it’s what inspired me to try my hand at writing scenarios.

EH: I agree- I finally got to play the trilogy for the first time last year. I think I cried a lot over the ending.

TK: That game is just so special and the story is so powerful… Nowadays, everyone looks at everything from a graphical perspective and when you put it into comparison to modern games, it might not look as appealing or as great, but from a story aspect, I think that it’s pretty much second to none. It’s a great example of the games overall- and obviously of the Legend of Heroes series.

EH: The impact of everything coming together at the end in Song of the Ocean [also, Cagesong of the Ocean -ed] was so great but on top of that, there were moments like Chris setting Jurio on fire in White Witch, or- one of my favorite scenes- the Triangle Rhapsody in Cagesong.

TK: Those are really comedic moments. There were lots of gags in that game.

EH: We had nicknamed it ‘Shenanigans the Musical’… But it was really neat how it had these gags and comedy, and suddenly it just went really serious.

The McVein Troupe playing the Traveler's Prelude from Cagesong of the Ocean.
The McVein Troupe playing the Traveler’s Prelude from Cagesong of the Ocean.

TK: I understand what you mean by it going from comedic to having this gravity to it. That’s kind of what makes that game great is that it does that so well.

That is a game I would love to revisit or remake but each one of those games in the trilogy has its own complete world… to remake it today would be kind of on the scale of Final Fantasy VII Remake [for Square-Enix]. But I would love to try and do it someday.

EH: The Kiseki series seeing a return of something like Ensemble Magic from Cagesong of the Ocean would be really great.

TK: As you know, in the world of Trails, magic is handled through orbments… but who’s to say, going forward, if we could incorporate something like that as well? Like a magical link attack.

EH: I know you’re extremely busy with everything with Falcom, but are there any particular things you like to do on the side, on your own? Like hobbies or anything?

TK: I’m really an outdoorsy person. I love to go mountain climbing and camping with my family.

EH: Since I loved the Michel response in my previous interview, I wanted to close off with another fun question- have as much fun with it as you want, it’s nothing serious… but if you could have any character in the Falcom library to show up in Smash Bros, who would it be and why?

TK: Having been directly responsible for Ys for a lot of my career, I would love to be able to say Adol… but the truth is, I can’t picture what his moveset would be. So, I think I’ll defer to Rean since he’s a swordsman and I think he’d fit in pretty well.

EH: Thank you very much- that was a very fun interview.

TK: Thank you.


Once again, I would like to take the time to thank NIS America for inviting me to do this interview! There will be more coverage and more promised questions that were picked up during the convention over the course of the week.

Additionally, I have also prepared some videos from this interview to be used as bonus material for awhile, so pay attention to this site’s twitter, @EndlessHistory for additional side content. That way, you can see some of the answers themselves- especially the fun JDK one!

[Anime Expo 2019] Trails of Cold Steel III – First Impressions

This week, I had the opportunity to play a build of The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III thanks to NIS America at a press event in San Francisco. I played through the entire introduction, and had the was able to sit and watch someone play through the rest of the prologue.

Additionally, along with the event, I was given the opportunity to interview Toshihiro Kondo, and I will be publishing our conversation at a later date.

The first thing I noticed while playing through the game is the return of multiple voice actors who have been in the series for awhile now. And after talking to both Travis and Alan about this, I feel extremely comfortable in their promise of trying to get as many people to return as possible.

In the short time I had with the game, I found myself laughing at the delivery and enjoying the translation choices of various lines throughout the events. As an example, at first Erika Harlacher felt a little strange sounding as Juna for me, being that I’m so used to her Japanese voice. However, by the end of my time with the game, I was extremely comfortable with her voice and tone and it felt very appropriate and ‘right’ to me.

I loved hearing the other new characters, Kurt (played by Joe Zieja), Musse (played by Alexis Tipton), and Ash (played by Austin Lee Matthews). In fact, Ash was the instigator of one of my favorite moments in the section that I got to play and watch. Of course, while talking about the voices, I got to hear the voices for Randy and Michael, both of whom also sound great.

Gameplay-wise, the only real issue that I had with the game is the usual problem when going from region and struggling with the switch of the X and O buttons. This, of course, is an issue with the Sony architecture and not it’s something that any localizing publisher can control.

I’ve seen some concerns regarding video footage of the game where people feel that things look off in the game mechanics, but rest assured, I did not feel any issues. The game was as responsive and fast paced as I remember it being in Japanese.

Additionally, the game has Turbo Mode (now called ‘High Speed Mode’) and Auto added to battles. I was told that the addition of these features were inspired by the PC versions of Cold Steel 1 and 2 and that Falcom was wanting to get an enhanced version of the game out since it’s being released again.

There have been concerns over typos and odd words here and there throughout the game, and I can see that ones from older builds in past events that have been pointed out have been corrected.

The amount that I’ve played of the game is still a fraction of how much there is in the end, but I’m feeling a lot more confident about it after the bit I’ve seen. From the impressions I’ve had when talking to people from NIS America, they plan to really work to ensure that what happened with Ys VIII is not going to happen again with this title.

This has only been a small part of everything that will be happening this week, and I will provide continuous coverage of the convention and other happenings related to Kondo and NIS America at Anime Expo. For non-article information, remember to check out the twitter account for the site, @EndlessHistory.

NIS America and Cold Steel III Events at Anime Expo 2019

NIS America has not only revealed that they will be at AnimeExpo this year to promote their release of The Legend of Heroes: Cold Steel III, but they are also bringing Falcom president, Toshihiro Kondo along as a special guest.

Panel #1:
Toshihiro Kondo, From Fan to President
Day 1 (July 4th), 4:30 – 5:30pm – Live Programming 5 (404AB)
In his youth, Mr. Kondo applied to work at, Nihon Falcom, initially in their financial department, but ended up working in their web services team due to a Falcom Fansite he had created. See how he grew to have a big hand in writing and producing their beloved game series like The Legend of Heroes and Trails in the Sky, and how he rose to become the president for Nihon Falcom!

[Editor’s Note: I suspect that this will be similar to the ‘Fan to President’ panel from AnimeExpo 2017. This was a great panel and I suspect that this one should not be missed!]

Panel #2:
Trails of Cold Steel III Voice Actors Panel 
Day 1 (July 4th), 7:00 – 8:00pm – Live Programming 4 (411)
Sit down with some of the characters- er, voice actors/actresses from The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III and discover what it takes to bring these character voices to life! Some hijinks may occur!

Panel #3:
Behind the Scenes with Trails of Cold Steel III 
Day 2 (July 5th), 11:30am – 12:30pm – Live Programming 5 (404AB)
Take a look behind the scenes into the development process for The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III with the President of Nihon Falcom and producer of the Trails of Cold Steel series, Toshihiro Kondo! Get an exclusive peek at just a little of all the work that goes into the development of this great title and see some English game play in action!

NIS America also has a booth arranged at the exhibit hall for AnimeExpo. You will be able to find them at 3306. They have included the image below as a map on their AX19 page to show where to find them.

Additionally, they will be running a special event at their booth that is similar to the 2017 scavenger hunt they did with Ys VIII. You follow clues on a card to track down a group of individuals in various booths at the exhibit hall to get your card stamped. Once you collect all the stamps, you will be given a prize, which appears to be a medal for the new Class VII from Cold Steel III.

There is also going to be a Falcom gathering for cosplayers and fans alike! This will be on day 2 (July 5th) at 10:30am located at Site 8. Site 8 is off of Chick Hearn street, on the west side of the Staples Center. (Pictured above.) The description of the location and directions from the AnimeExpo site are:
Stone art sculpture display. Suitable for small-to-medium gatherings. Only one gathering may be held at a time. Please do not climb on these sculptures.  Directions: Exit West Hall Lobby front doors, turn left toward Chick Hearn Ct.

Come dressed as your favorite Falcom character and bond with fellow fans! Rean Schwarzer and Juna Crawford will be stopping by, plus a special guest might make an appearance!

NIS America’s description of the gathering on Day 2.

NIS America has also stated that Kondo will be holding signings as well. However, they don’t have any information or times on those yet. The way they worked at AX 2017 was that you could get a ticket for a signing at the NIS America booth in the Exhibit Hall. So make sure you keep in touch with their site, and if you’re at the convention, don’t forget to go see them. They will also have Cold Steel III among their playable demos, and you can get a pin for completing the demo.

If you aren’t going to be at AnimeExpo, NIS America has you covered as well. They will be having an AMA with /r/Games on Reddit, starting at 3:00pm Pacific on July 3rd, the day before the convention begins. They will also have a live stream on their twitch channel starting at 5pm.

You will want to pay attention to the NIS America AnimeExpo page for more updates and additional details.

On top of this, you can also find coverage of all of the AnimeExpo events on Endless History. If you don’t already, make sure you follow the site’s twitter, @EndlessHistory, for live tweets of panels and other events around the convention!

Fandom Friday Returning – Submissions Open!

Fandom Friday is returning to Endless History! Have you created something that you want more eyes on? Do you want to show off a friend who has done some great work? This is where you want to be.

In the event that there aren’t enough submissions to make a full post, I will seek out an artist or musician in the fandom, get samples of their work, and ask a few questions about what they do, which Falcom games they love and so forth.

The Fandom Friday submission form can be found here. You can also find a link at the top of the page.

XSEED Games to Release Trails of Cold Steel II on PS4 on June 4 in US, June 7th in EU and AUS

Both XSEED and Marvelous have announced on twitter today that the PlayStation 4 release of Trails of Cold Steel II will be taking place in early June.

The US release will be first on June 4th, with the EU/AUS version following afterwards.

Just like with the first Trails of Cold Steel, this game includes the additional English language voice acting found from the PC version, with the Japanese voices also included. This will use cross-save capabilities to allow gamers to bring their saves over from the PlayStation Vita and PlayStation 3. On top of this, the PS4 versions share the same trophy set.

Trails of Cold Steel was released on PlayStation 4 in March for US and EU/AUS regions, and Trails of Cold Steel III is to be released in Fall of this year by NIS America.

[ @XSEEDGames on Twitter ]
[ @marvelous_games on Twitter ]

Ys VIII Super Ultimate Arrange Album to be Released on May 10

Falcom will be releasing the Ys VIII Super Ultimate arrange album on May 10, 2019. There will be 11 tracks and music will feature at least 15 performers.

The track list can be found below:

1 Sunshine Coastline
2 Hope to You
3 LOST IN GREEN
4 Beyond the Flowing Night
5 GENS D’ARMES
6 Everlasting Transeunt ~ Eternal Traveler~
7 In Side My Head
8 Dana
9 Theos De Endrogram – Trance Mix
10 Eternal Sunshine
11 Eternal Traveler

Performers listed include: Megumi Sasaka (vocals), Yuuri Suehiro (vocals), Yoko Kajikawa (vocals), ADD (sax), Mitsuhiro Furuya (EWI), Nobuo Tokunaga (harmonica), Yui Minou (violin), Akiko Nagano (violin), Takanori Yamagishi (cello), Terukazu Inoue (guitar), Tokunan Minami (bass), Sakka Junichiro (bass), Atsushi Enomoto (bass), Kohei Wada (bass), Shige Yamamoto (keyboard), Akihiro Horikawa (keyboard), and others.

5/10 marks the presale date of the album (the physical version will be available on the Falcom Online Store and Amazon.co.jp), whereas the general release will be 5/31/2019. Digital versions will go on sale on 5/10 as well. Sites such as iTunes, Amazon, mora, and music.jp will have the album available. There will also be hi-res versions available on e-onkyo, mora, and music.jp.

The physical CD will cost 2800 yen, while the digital version will be 2400 yen. The hi-res version will be 3000 yen.

[ Falcom IR Report ]
[ gamer.ne.jp ]
[ Falcom Online Shop ]

XSEED Games Reveals a March 26 Release Date for Trails of Cold Steel PS4 [UPDATED]

[EDIT] 11:22 AM CST: I’ve uncovered some information that sounds like miscommunication is happening somewhere regarding this release date. I’m starting to do some research on the topic. I’ll update this post as I learn more.

[EDIT #2] 11:42 AM CST: I’ve just spoken with the author of the Game Informer article and she has stated that she was given this information from XSEED directly.

[EDIT #3] 11:50 AM CST: I have also just received confirmation from XSEED Games as well.

In an article released by Game Informer earlier today, they stated that XSEED Games has given them the March 26th release date for the PS4 port of Trails of Cold Steel.

This has been without a release date for some time, and XSEED has been promising such a thing for weeks, with no information. With this announcement, it probably isn’t too far away to find out the release date for Trails of Cold Steel II.

The PlayStation 4 port of the title will feature dual-audio and the added English dialogue for Rean that is found in the PC release. The limited edition can be purchased for $49.99, which includes a steelbook case, a song selection CD, a 50 mira coin and more.

Ys: Memories of Celceta Receiving a PlayStation 4 Port on May 16, 2019

Ys: Memories of Celceta Kai was announced tonight by Falcom for a PlayStation 4 rerelease. It is due out on May 16, 2019.

According to the website, it boasts the following features:

A Hero with Lost Memories…!? Follow the Left-Behind Memories

Adol, the story’s protagonist, has lost his memories! The player works closely with Adol’s adventure to uncover his sealed memories. Adventure with Adol and his friends as they explore the massive forest of Celceta and follow the path of ruins, and Adol’s lost memories, to uncover the story set in the stage of Celceta.

60 FPS + Full HD Modifications Implemented for an Enjoyable Game

The game now boasts a 60 FPS and updated graphics for full HD, as well as a remastered soundtrack. It has been given a major upgrade for playability on the PlayStation 4.

Touch Minigames Enhanced for the PlayStation 4

The PlayStation Vita version of Memories of Celceta featured a variety of touch-based minigames. These games have been adjusted and modified for use on the Playstation 4.

Additionally, Extra Skill functions have been modified to use the same ‘two button’ system from Ys VIII to create an enjoyable play experience with the PS4.

Simple, yet Deep and Speedy Party Battle System

Featuring real-time strategy shifts, to allow the party to jump from ‘Offense Preference’ to ‘Evasion Preference,’ this system also allows for quick and flashy skills to be used with simple key presses.

Train Your Favorite Characters with a Flashy System and Weapon Modification

Awaken the potential of the game’s playable characters as they can learn new skills in the middle of combat. Additionally, while journeying on your adventure, you can collect materials to use to upgrade the stats of character weapons.

Evasion, Coordination, and Skills

Timing your actions to coincide with enemy movements allows you to get a slow motion period through ‘Flash Move.’ This, performing skills to keep enemies in mid-air for aerial combos, and other features allows for a tactical, and refreshing action in this party battle system.

Special Release Item: The Rare ‘Ys Ancient Music Collection – Reprint Edition’ CD

Falcom has revealed that preorders of the game will come with a reprint of this CD that was originally released with the PlayStation Vita version- a CD that’s been since out of print. This contains a variety of tracks on it, collected from the history of the Ys series, including 5 tracks of music from the MSX version of the Ys I soundtrack. The tracklist can be found below.

1. Field of Gale [Ys V – Lost Kefin, Kingdom of Sand-]
2. Lava Zone ~A Kiss from Eldiel~ [Ys IV]
3. SUBTERRANEAN CANAL [Ys I & II Chronicles (Ys II)]
4. MIGHTY OBSTACLE [Ys VI -The Ark of Napishtim-]
5. DREAMING [Ys I & II Chronicles (Ys I)]
6. The Ambition of Duless -OVER DRIVE- [Ys I & II Chronicles (Ys II) / Ys Origin]
7. ICE RIDGE OF NOLTIA [Ys I & II Chronicles (Ys II)]
8. Ilburns Ruins [Ys -the Oath in Felghana (Ys III)]
9. The Beginning of SEVEN -INNOCENT PRIMEVAL BREAKER- [Ys SEVEN]
[ From the MSX version of the Ys Soundtrack ]
10. Open Your Heart (Opening)
11. Fountain of Love (Town)
12. Devil’s Step (Abandoned Mine)
13. In the Memory (Ending)
14. Fly with Me (Staff Roll)

[ Falcom IR Report ]
[ Memories of Celceta Kai Website ]
[ Ys Series Portal Site ]

Falcom Calendar Updated with February Wallpaper

Falcom has updated the calendar wallpaper for the month of Februrary. This features the art that was seen on the postcard that Falcom sent for the New Year.

You can find it in the following resolutions:

[ Falcom Calendar ]

Ys VIII 30% on the Nintendo eShop

NIS America has unveiled that many of their titles are currently on sale on the Nintendo eShop currently. This includes the Switch version of Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana.

Ys VIII is currently marked down 30% to $41.99

This sale will continue through to 9am PST on Feb 6.

NIS America at PAX South and Trails of Cold Steel III

On Tuesday, Jan 17th, NIS America announced that they are working on Trails of Cold Steel III to be released for PlayStation 4 in North America in fall 2019.

They provided very little information during the original announcement and requested that people check out their panel at PAX South on Jan 18th for more information.

The panel was called JPN -> USA: Danganronpa, Touhou, and Beyond, and took place in the Falcon Theatre at PAX South at 11am. Running the panel were Travis Shrodes, marketing manager from NIS America, Moet Takahashi, translator, and Eric Budensiek, editor. Moet and Eric are also confirmed the lead translator and editor for Trails of Cold Steel III.

While most of the panel was talking about the steps and basics of the localization process, the last twenty minutes of the panel were devoted to NIS America’s announcement of the game.

They introduced the game with its trailer, first and foremost:

They first started into talking about how massive the lore is for this series, and how it affects them with their translation / editing work. Eric even described it as JRPG Game of Thrones with giant robots. They pointed out that it has a larger script than Danganronpa v3, and way more voiced characters than they’ve ever encountered (over 200 characters).

They explained that Cold Steel and Cold Steel II were done amazingly well and that this is now a massive amount of pressure onto them. So they’re putting in a lot of focus to understand the decisions made by [XSEED Games] with their localization of the games. Eric explained that he has studied the text of the previous two games, and has played the others of the series to be familiar with aspects of this.

The important parts of working on Trails of Cold Steel III are based on the following three components, which make this release different from others they’ve worked on.

Glossary: They have access to a glossary of hundreds of terms. They’re jumping into the third of a single arc, and late in the series. The glossary for this game dwarfs every other glossary they’ve used in other games, as it contains hundreds of terms.

Lore: The lore for this game is extremely important. They understand how making mistakes with the lore can throw someone out of the ‘story.’ Danganronpa tends to change its rules as it needs to, whereas Cold Steel III cannot have any deviation from what’s expected.

So it’s not just a matter of making sure the lore is correct, but understanding how important that lore is.

Teamwork: This is where they talked about having a team to help – of course, they brought in the caveats of having more people involved. This is similar to things brought up by both Brittany (Hatsuu) and Jess, that having more people to work on translating means more work on the editor(s), and more editors can bring about an inconsistent tone in the translation. As such, a team has to work very close together to ensure as much accuracy as possible.

Of course, in their press release, they had mentioned that people experienced with the series would be assisting their work of the game. This is when they took the opportunity to reveal the individuals involved:

Ryan Thomson assisted in translating the first two games with XSEED Games. Per Moet, they are asking him to do a lot of lore proofing for them, as he usually knows immediately which character or event is being talked about in vague mentions.

Brittany Avery, known as @hatsuu on twitter, is involved with the project. She is involved in editing, and is a key individual in casting and recording. At this point, Moet even gets emotional at how happy she is to work with Brittany. She even says that Brittany is helping them make this the best that they can. “I hope she understands how much we love her.” Travis even adds that someone as passionate as her helps rub off on other people, as well.

Moet being emotional about working with Ryan, Brittany, and Kris stood out at the panel.

Finally, Kris Knigge is revealed as being a consultant on this. He is assisting with editing and keeping them on track. He’s positive and very knowledgeable about the series as well.

The next topic they jumped to was based on an earlier topic about the word count of the games they had worked on in the past. Trails of Cold Steel III has approximately 1,111,111 words- which makes it 2.3x the length of all three books of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, 2.4x the length of the Witcher III, and 1.02x times the length of all seven books of the Harry Potter series.

Of the project highs, they once again talk about how they understand that they have very big shoes to fill. Eric stressed that he felt that it’s an honor to be part of this. He was also excited over a trading card game being a mini game in it, referring to Vantage Master.

Eric added that they want to make this game the best that they can, and that they’re taking any actions they can to see that this is done properly. Moet also added for her conclusion that it helps to physically see the people that will play the games that they work on.

Of course, while this is where the panel itself ended, I managed to sit down with Travis later in the day and talk to him at length about Trails of Cold Steel III and Ys VIII.

I first started by asking Travis about the timing of the announcement of Cold Steel III and how long they’ve had the game. While he couldn’t tell me the specific time they got the game, he was able to talk about the timing of the announcement in relationship to PAX South. NIS America doesn’t always have conventions on the calendar, only specifically looking towards Anime Expo every year.

As a result, when the schedule for announcing the game was on the books, Travis looked at what conventions were in the ‘right point’ of time, as they knew that they didn’t want to just do a normal announcement for it. Due to the nature of Cold Steel III, he stated that they knew they couldn’t do the normal process of announcing the game, since he knew that the company would be watched with a lot of skepticism and hesitation. By making the announcement at a convention, it allowed him to make sure that they would have a venue to allow them to immediately address the situations and questions as they came up. Travis even described this situation as “the biggest shoes we’ve had to fill.”

While Ys VIII was being worked on during an extremely busy period for NIS America, alongside Danganronpa v3 and many other titles, Travis described this situation as a ‘slow down,’ moment for them. It was also very important for them to get Sean Chiplock, the voice actor for Rean, as a “step one,” to help calm people’s fears – this was to help assure that they are planning to bring back the same talent to this game. Travis stressed that they do not want people to think that they’re looking at Trails of Cold Steel III, thinking that they can make a game that’s different from the first two already released. He said that they are trying to be the inheritors that would carry the torch of this series.

He even talked about the nerves going into the panel at PAX South, especially with how many people were wanting Trails of Cold Steel III, and how much this game has been talked about over the past year- but not only did he want to tell people about the game, but Travis wanted people to know that they intend to do it right.

Regarding getting people like Ryan, Brittany, and Kris on board, this was a day one decision for them from the highest level of the company. A lot of the planning with this was trying to get people who had worked on the previous game, especially as many of them are freelance. They did not go into the planning of Cold Steel III without the constant consideration of various outcomes for this title.

Most importantly, Travis stressed that this is an extremely ambitious title for them, and at a crucial time for the series, considering that this is the first PS4 developed game for the series. Additionally, not only do they want to speak to the same fans that have loved and enjoyed the series, but they want it to grow and bring more people in to Trails. While he can’t obviously talk about releases that weren’t done by NIS America, he has talked to others and told them about the other games to stress how great these titles are, especially as he played Trails in the Sky on the PSP. Additionally, while he understands and suggests playing the games in order, he has also said that no matter where people start, they are guaranteed to have a fun RPG, so for those who haven’t played the games, don’t be afraid to start where you want to start. This speaks to the strength of the writing of the series as a whole.

When it comes to the announcement, Travis has said that the time period between when they obtain a title and announce it can be really short. Sometimes, they will talk to their partner and try to ‘fill a spot’ on the partner’s calendar. However, this was not the case with Cold Steel III. While Travis couldn’t say specifics on how long it was, he said that they were waiting until everything was in motion for the game, so that they wouldn’t be missing deadlines and that everything was ready and prepared.

I also spoke to Travis regarding Ys VIII. While he wasn’t in a position to talk about what had happened with the title in too much detail, he did explain that Ys VIII happened during their most ambitious year ever, and that they try to ensure that games are worked on with teams internally, if at all possible. As a result, management is completely aware of the issues that had happened regarding the game, and they are seeking to ensure that nothing of the sort happens again with Cold Steel III.

When asked about the current Sony policies regarding its new approval process, Travis had a number of things to say on this- but he first stressed that there is nothing in Cold Steel III that should run afoul of these new policies. He also added that they may have released titles that could be ‘targeted’ by these new policies around 2014-15, as they were a little raunchier and tended to push the boundaries more. Titles that they have been releasing lately are more contained, and they haven’t had any sort of issues regarding them. They are in constant communication with Sony who could speak up at any points during the various builds of their games.

Travis also believes that Sony is, in particular, targeting certain types of titles instead of all titles in general. While it isn’t clear as to where the line is, due to Sony not having any guidelines about their new approval process, Travis doubts that any of their upcoming titles, including Trails of Cold Steel III, will have any problems with Sony regarding this process.

He also wanted to make a very clear statement on this specific topic, as well: they have had to make changes on titles in the past, and these are always in response to external environments. They do not take upon themselves to make these changes, nor are they trying to judge or moralize people. Those changes are only made due to requests that would prevent their ability to release a title. “That is the only reason why NISA would ever modify content beyond its original source.”

I didn’t believe that there would be any information on DLC, since it was too early, but Travis did have information to add on this, as well, after explaining that it is a fairly late part of the localization process- if you had seen the panel in full, this comes up during the submission stages of the process. He did talk about the general process of how DLC worked- though this may not apply to the case with Trails of Cold Steel III, as it is too early to really say one way or another.

As there are no big-box stores, like Best Buy, in Japan, many of these smaller chains can get exclusive DLC through Japanese developers. Sometimes, they make bylines in contracts that are so restrictive that it’s impossible for localizing publishers like NISA to get access to these contents for official release. [Editor’s Note: this is still not specific to any company they’ve worked with.] They always want every piece of DLC they can get their hands on, but sometimes things will keep their hands tied legally.

Several other questions got really small answers instead of the lengthy one above. Regarding AnimeExpo, they do have plans, but they have nothing they can fully announce. However, Trails of Cold Steel III will be one of their key titles for the convention. When asked about PC or Switch, Travis said that there was no information they could provide on this, as NIS America is currently focusing on the PlayStation 4 release of the game. At the time, the only voice actor he could confirm coming back was Sean Chiplock.

In this end, this was a great opportunity to sit down with Travis and talk to him at length about their current plans with the game, and it appears to have opened the door for more opportunities regarding some questions and answers in the future, so I will be sure to reach out to NIS America at later points to in order to try and continue to provide coverage for their release of this title.

NIS America Releasing Trails of Cold Steel III in Fall 2019

At a press event prior to PAX South, NIS America announced that they will be releasing the Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III to English (and French) speaking audiences in fall of this year.

To go along with this announcement, they are making an appearance at PAX South in San Antonio to speak on this game during their localization panels on Friday, Jan 18, 2019 at 11am central.

From the NIS America Press Release:

About the game:

Nearly a year and a half has passed since the Erebonian civil war, and much has changed since then. From the shifting stances of countries to the internal politics of the Empire, and even the life of Rean Schwarzer, the shadows of the past have given way to the embers of a new chapter. Now graduated from Thors Military Academy, Rean has become an instructor at the Thors Branch Campus, a newly-opened academy that quickly finds itself thrust onto the national stage. It is here that he takes the lead of a brand new Class VII, and must guide a new generation of heroes into an unknown future. Though all is calm now, the nefarious Ouroboros organization continues to weave a dark plot that could engulf the entire continent in war…or perhaps something even more sinister.

Trails of Cold Steel III invites players into a world full of intrigue and excitement that is years in the making. They will embark on a whirlwind tour through the never-before-seen lands of the recently expanded Erebonian countryside, and encounter fresh faces as well as old friends familiar to fans of the series. In true Trails fashion, the deep, engaging story pairs with an incredible cast of characters and a combat system refined over decades of innovative RPG worldbuilding. This renowned title has also now been developed natively for PlayStation®4 hardware, a series first.

Key Features:

Welcome to the New Class VII – Explore the newly annexed lands of the Empire with a brand new squad, and catch up with familiar faces from the past.

An Immersive Story – Experience an epic story developed across three titles, and crafted for new and old fans alike. Also includes an interactive introduction to catch up new players to the ongoing story so anyone can dive right in to the world of Trails of Cold Steel.

Combat Honed to a Fine Edge – Challenge oncoming threats with a combat system that has been refined over the course of decades. The addition of features like Brave Order and the Break System opens up new possibilities in battle.

NIS America has also announced two limited edition sets. One which can be ordered from most major retailers. This is the Early Enrollment Edition. It contains a soundtrack sampler and an artbook.

The Thors Academy Edition is the limited edition box and only available on the NIS America online shop at $99.99. You can locate it here. This edition includes the game, a hardcover artbook, a music CD, steel book, postcards, a Mishy plush, and it all comes contained in a box designed like Einhel Keep from the game.

[Administration] Lacrimosa of Esterior

So. Endless History has been gone for awhile.

Yep.

I needed a lengthy vacation. However, now in 2019, the site has been reopened and redesigned. Most of the bugs have been fixed and the site has been cleaned up to look more professional.

Things have changed on Falcom’s end as well. From what I’ve seen over the past few months, there are no longer any weekly specials, so that has changed. Instead, I will be trying to track their current sales instead, as you can see on the sidebar.

I will be putting a ‘bug check’ contact form on the side bar for the next few months because this is a very different theme than was running before, and will break many things that have not been touched yet. I am making a checklist for things to re-edit and correct over the course of the next few months, but if you see something that is broken, please, by all means, reach out to me and point out the page where you have found an issue.

I will also be, eventually, posting an application to get another writer or two to the site to help with some of the day to day updates while I work on the back end of the site and some of the larger articles and translations. This will take some of the weight off of my shoulders and I may send writers some perks and goodies now and then.

Once I have time to complete some of the back end work, I will probably restart some of the usual columns from before, such as Fandom Friday and Translation Tuesday. I will also be opening the doors for guest columns and a new ‘Flash Topic’ column that I intended to begin as well. This way, the site can fill in some gaps between topics and the usual run of the mill updates.

I apologize that this will likely be a slow process to ease myself back into the routine of running this site on a regular basis, but I will be doing my best to get what I can covered and to find ways to cover the gaps I’ve missed out on.

Falcom Online Store Reopened With A New Look, New Domain, and New International Order Process

Falcom has unveiled their new online shop today, now located at the URL: https://falcom.shop/.

Along with the newer, more modern look, they have a new organization method, account registration system, and- of course for the readers of this site- a new ordering procedure for international orders.

International orders cannot be made via a registered account- as they appear to still be doing part of this process by email. Once you add an item to the shopping cart, if you go to check out, you will have multiple options. They are to login or register an account (you don’t want this), check out as a guest, and international order. When you go to international order, you will be greeted with a form to fill out and the complete your order.

I did not go through the process myself, but from the setup, I assume that they will reach out to you by email to provide you the price and give you a method to pay for the product. I will take some time to get some screenshots and update the FAQ for this site.

Additional note, there is currently no special at this moment. The sale page is still being worked on.

[ Falcom Online Store ]

The Spoiler Filled Post-Release Sen no Kiseki III Interview with Toshihiro Kondo (Part 2)

This is a continuation of the interview that is found here.

On 11/16/2017, Dengeki released the second volume of their Sen no Kiseki magazine series, which contained a variety of information, including a long-form interview with Toshihiro Kondo regarding Sen no Kiseki III. This is a ‘no holds barred’ interview, with the exception of some expert dodging and trolling, in lieu of answers from Falcom’s president.

Just like with the previous interview, this was translated by Gu4n. I provided the formatting, edits, and translation of the image captions.
As a warning, not only are there major Sen no Kiseki III Spoilers in this article, but some to Crossbell, as well. Please take note before reading on in this article.

This is the second half of the interview- if you have not read the first half, please check out the link above.

The enigma surrounding Musse of New Class VII

This game proclaimed that the State Mobilization Law is coming into effect for the entire empire.
Kondo: Its proclamation means that the nobility might see their properties confiscated or conscription being introduced. However, we did decide in what way Crossbell will be liberated, so please look forward to how that will unfold.
Since when has Musse been working toward the present situation?
Kondo: With the plot point about her becoming the next Duchess Cayenne, she demonstrated that she’s a highly talented girl and she didn’t pop up on-screen until now. I think she’s been working on things for quite some time. Based on a conversation she had with Aurelia, it’s likely that they’ve known each other from before the Northern Campaign.
Was Musse involved into drawing Aurelia to The 2nd Branch of Thors Military Academy?
Kondo: It’s still not clear yet whether that was through Musse’s guidance or by Aurelia’s own will. Speaking of the “2nd,” as in The 2nd Branch of the academy, the “2nd pillar” of the Society is also involved, but that wouldn’t be a plausible explanation. Well, she’s still the second pillar, ranking among the strongest. (laughs) She’s up there with McBurn, Selnate, Cassius, Arios and two still unseen S-rank bracers.
It does seem like Jusis knows Musse’s real identity, though…
Kondo: Looking at Jusis’ attitude in hindsight, it’s not like he didn’t know anything at all. As the nobility crumbled, Musse has had a lot of things to take into consideration. She might have also predicted the outbreak of the civil war and its conclusion. I also think she’s seen through what’s going to happen next. Of course, she might not have seen through everything, such as circumstances surrounding Ash.
Is that one of the reasons Musse dropped out of St. Astraia Girls’ School and enrolled in Thors Campus Leeves?
Kondo: That hasn’t been revealed yet. She might have been keeping herself under the wraps in order to get in contact with Aurelia…
What can you tell about how the Weissland Resurgent Army came into existence or how it accumulated its military strength?
Kondo: So the Weissland Resurgent Army is what the Provincial Armies used to be. That alone wouldn’t be enough, however, so I think [Musse’s] involvement must’ve run much deeper. She managed to establish this force separate from Osborne’s. There’s definitely more to it.
Aurelia is just one person of course, but still it feels like a military strength that’s in a whole different league.
Kondo: It isn’t quite that simple. (laughs) Don’t forget that they’ve also got the Imperial Army under command of General Craig at their side. I wonder what they’ll do, with Aurelia in charge of the mission.
By the way, what’s up with Patrick’s strength toward the end of Sen III?
Kondo: Vita said she entrusted the place to him, so he has gotten stronger. When he remained at Thors with Rean, he must’ve grown as both a person and a warrior.

About the Ouroboros’s aim to achieve completion

Insert Caption Here.

There’s a difference between Ouroboros’s plans and Osborne’s, right?
Kondo: You see, fundamentally, the focal point of Ouroboros’s plans are the Sept-Terrion. Looking back at the end of Sora no Kiseki, the Gospel Plan was active until Campanella presented the Sept-Terrion of “Space” to the Grandmaster following Weissmann’s death.1)This is the plane that was that the Grandmaster designated t o Weissmann. It was to unseal the Sept-Terrion of Space, the Aureole. At the end, Campanella presented the Sept-Terrion of Space to the Grandmaster. This time, it’s the Phantasmal Blaze Plan- of which the details are sparse- and in case people forgot, there’s also the Orpheus Final Plan.2)This is the plan of the Grandmaster’s final objective. The Gospel Project and the Phantasmal Blaze Plan are each one part of the Orpheus Final Plan, and these plans are heavily focused on the Sept-Terrion. However, I don’t think their aim is to gather all Sept-Terrion. They weren’t particularly interested in the replacement of the once lost “Mirage” Sept-Terrion of Crossbell. The Phantasmal Blaze Plan was originally supposed to end with the fight between the Ashen and Azure Chevalier, but those plans were derailed. The details of the plan are to be revealed after this. Osborne’s goal was bringing about the Great Twilight, and the Phantasmal Blaze Plan happened to fit within that process. Toward the end, Duvalie wonders what she lend her hand to, for whom Campanella sketches the situation as “you lend your hand to the end of the world”. In other words, yes, there should be a difference between Ouroboros’s and Osborne’s plans. How this collaboration holds up after this remains to be seen, I expect that it will go back and forth.

Insert Caption Here.

What about Arianrhod’s goal?
Kondo: She’s said before there’s something she has had to settle for ages now, but whatever this entails remains to be seen. Still, her loyalty is absolute, so she will still act to realize the Grandmaster’s goal.
Is the Sept-Terrion of “Earth” not needed for the Phantasmal Blaze Plan?
Kondo: That’s still unclear, isn’t it? The Holy Beast of the “Blaze” also hasn’t showed up, so I think that will be related to the tale that’s still to be told.
Please tell us about the the cult Ennea was in and the school Ines is affiliated with.
Kondo: As for Ennea, that’s the D?G Cult from Zero no Kiseki. In her case, she holds no loyalty toward the cult. The school Ines is affiliated to hasn’t been revealed yet, but it’s from about the center of Zemuria. She used to be a junior bracer, but when she challenged and lost to Arianrhod, she tossed her badge at the spot.

Check: The D?G Cult That Ennea Belonged To
A cult rejecting Aidios that first appeared in Zero no Kiseki. It abducted children throughout the continent, only to subject them repeatedly to cruel human experimentation, such as brainwashing and developing unusual powers. Ennea was one of the test subjects, who challenged Arianrhod as an assassin of the cult, and lost. At this point, the cult is completely exterminated.

Insert caption here

Look at the series as a whole; it’s rare for someone to reject the path of the bracer.
Kondo: In Ines’s case, there were several circumstances that led to it. The incident she she was dragged into involved the state. Because bracers are also involved with the state, they couldn’t act quickly. Maybe she felt that she was too restricted as a bracer.
With which branch of the Bracer Guild was Ines affiliated with?
Kondo: That’s still unknown. Central Zemuria, maybe a bit further east.
Were Arianrhod and Emperor Dreichels in love?
Kondo: That’s right. I think that was pretty clearly illustrated in this game. But the Arianrhod that left then has returned as a changed person.

Insert caption here

The Black Record that described the final years of Emperor Dreichels mentioned “her waving melted blonde hair”, which should be Lianne, right?
Kondo: Yes, that was Lianne.
What can you say about the assassin order Sharon used to work with?
Kondo: Sharon’s old haunt, Order of the Moonlight Horse, is a historical assassination order, different from jaegers. The scope of its organization was fairly large, but like the D?G Cult it didn’t cause major incidents nor did it take the center stage. Despite its antagonism against Ouroboros, the fourth Anguis, the Thousand Sinner, and the third Enforcer, the Golden Butterfly, were jointly absorbed into Ouroboros after the order’s destruction.

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Activities of the Sinner are spread throughout the continent, aren’t they?
Kondo: I think that’s the result of accepting missions from the Grandmaster. There are also places that haven’t been described [or depicted] before, so it’s also possible the Sinner’s there. If Sept-Terrion are involved in Ouroboros’s Orpheus Final Plan, it’s only natural they’d visit areas where the Sept-Terrion hasn’t showed up yet. The Sinner will definitely show up.
Will the still unknown First Anguis also make an appearance in the next game?
Kondo: I’m not sure about the First Anguis, but there’s more, right? (sweats) I realize how vague that it sounds to say that, but it’s something that should necessarily be taken into consideration.
While the Enforcers are granted liberty of their actions from the Grandmaster, that doesn’t apply to the Anguis, does it?
Kondo: The rule(s) surrounding the liberty of their actions haven’t really explained. The Anguis accept missions that they have to carry out accurately. After Campanella says he’s starting his observations, they can’t do as they please. Campanella’s always like that. Having direct contact with the Grandmaster and such. In that case, he’s even more of a riddle than Roselia. He’s become this characters that’s just too complex and incredibly hard to follow.
With Campanella’s appearance in Sen no Kiseki III, it feels like it’s been ages since he last was active.
Kondo: It’s been about six years since we’ve fought him in Ao no Kiseki. In terms of strength he’s Joshua’s equal, positioned slightly under Sharon.

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Do you have advice for what we should pay attention to regarding the Ouroboros’s next move?
Kondo: Ouroboros’s goal. Whatever is happening in Erebonia will be primarily Osborne’s doing, but it’s Ouroboros that has propelled the entire series so far. Their actions have been foreshadowed since Sora no Kiseki and tie in with what is to follow. In any case, I’d like you to remember that their aim is the Sept-Terrion.

About the major role the Septian Church and the Gralsritter play in the series

The Septian Church also showed up.
Kondo: It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Septian Church plays a bigger role- please remember that haven’t been exactly quiet this time around. Considering the circumstances, the Septian Church is deeply involved in the story and are expected to go even further. The “Primal Ground”, the Holy Beast, the Sept-Terrion – you can’t expect them to not be involved. Even among the Original Class VII there’s a member of the Septian Church now. Under those circumstances, please consider them as one of the big players that will continue to develop from here on onward.
Are you referring to Sen no Kiseki specifically, or the series as a whole?
Kondo: Both. Sen no Kiseki tells a tale about two of the Sept-Terrion. Ouroboros and the Septian Church are both involved in that, which means that one component will be increasing their presence. And in this story about the “curse” that the Empire suffers from, I feel that both groups will support part of the tale.
If the Septian Church retrieves treasures, do they seal them at the High Seat?
Kondo: Who’s to say? So far, they haven’t been able to retrieve the Sept-Terrion. Because the Great One was uncontrollable, it had to be sealed. What the Septian Church did around that time remains a mystery.
It feels like the Gralsritter are active in several places.
Kondo: Several of them have showed up. Sir Hemisphere really took me back. Thanks to the active camouflage on the Merkabah, their movements are unrestricted.
Where does Gaius come in on the list of power levels?
Kondo: He’s clearly become strong based on McBurn’s “Oh?”. In the game he also got considerably stronger. We actually had to tone it down a little. In the beginning, he was a bit too strong to fit in with the narrative. (laughs)
What can the Dominion that have appeared so far do next?
Kondo: Thomas is definitely involved. The current situation is a major concern for the Gralsritter as well, suggesting they might have to resort to introducing a certain degree of fighting power. Furthermore, with Dominion active in Erebonia, they can’t afford to idle around now.
Has inheritance of a stigma happened before?
Kondo: I think it has in the past. Kevin’s has been described to a certain degree, and Wazy fits the pattern of a sudden manifestation. However, the fact that there can only be twelve Stigma at a time has not changed.

The Dominion that lead the Gralsritter
The Septian Church, an organization based in the Holy City of Arteria, has religious followers throughout the continent. One of its posts is the Congregation for the Sacraments, which retrieve artifacts, to which the Gralsritter belong. If they conceive a pattern known as Stigma, they are granted enormous power. The manifestation of a Stigma is a requirement to become a Dominion. Dominion are expected to be supported by a squire, but Gaius’ squire hasn’t been revealed yet. Furthermore, Dominion are free to use the Merkabah, a special operation aircraft. The aircrafts make use of an artifact to access to their characteristic active camouflage, which allows them to move while hidden.

This is the power of Partitioning that Thomas possesses. When closed around an enemy, it has an effect of stopping time for them. Was he using this power in the previous game when he divulged his identity to Rean?

Ash’s future and the Hamel Incident

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Who saved Ash during the Hamel incident?
Kondo: It’s said that he was rescued by a “disheartened aged man” strolling across the mountain path. At least, it’s not the father of his classmate Maya, but that still leaves us with no answer. Fact is that there’s a third survivor where there should be only two. Rean also has doubts about something. Someone who is connected to it other than Ash might know the answer.
Did Joshua and Loewe know about Ash?
Kondo: Since it’s a small village, I think it’s only natural that they knew each other. Ash is about three years younger than Joshua.
I got the impression that Weissmann was the one responsible for manipulating the officers of the noble faction.
Kondo: The person to give information about that area to the empire was none other than the Anguis active in Liberl, so timing-wise Osborne and Ouroboros were in touch at that time. The attack itself was due to the curse.
Did the “curse” vanish because Ash shot the emperor?
Kondo: He wanted it to return on an emotional level. Just because he ultimately carried out his mission and was rescued by Aurelia I don’t think it’s possible to say the “curse” vanished by just looking at him.
Even though the “curse” would be lifted, it looks like he can’t stay in Erebonia because he shot the emperor.
Kondo: Not just Ash, but Aurelia and Musse engaged into hostilities toward Osborne as well. Time will tell if he’ll be allowed to stay at Thors Campus Leeves.
By the way, Ash’s craft Acid Rage focuses on his eye. Is that where the power of the “curse” is at?
Kondo: I suppose so. Acid Rage is a powerful craft, one I used a lot in battles as well. He might not be able to use it if the “curse” is lifted.

Discussion of recurring characters and settings from Crossbell and Liberl

The next game will finally describe Crossbell’s liberation, right?
Kondo: It’s impossible to go into this without depicting it, so it will definitely get its close-up.
Didn’t Pleroma Grass originate in Crossbell?
Kondo: Originally, it was unique to Crossbell. As for why they also showed up in Erebonia, that is one of the unusual circumstances of the situation at hand.
Has KeA’s power of the Sept-Terrion of “Zero” returned?
Kondo: It’s so much as stated that it hasn’t returned. It would’ve been unexpected if she had gotten the power back on her own. You can’t just do as you please with the ability to manipulate the laws of causality. (laughs)
Which individuals did Rufus have sequestered on Mishelam?
Kondo: I think it’s a wide range of people, such as Lloyd, KeA, Arios, Elie and Mayor MacDowell. With the situation the Bracer Guild is in, they can’t stick together or transfer to other countries.
It surprised me how much of Crossbell’s map was re-visited for Sen III. Will it also make an appearance in the sequel?
Kondo: I think it will. There are parts of the city, such as Downtown and the Entertainment District, that haven’t appeared yet. Crossbell will be greatly involved in the sequel. Of course, not just the areas that were already in Sen no Kiseki III, it’s possible that more areas will be added.
Does that include areas in the outskirts of Crossbell, like Armorica Village?
Kondo: Who knows? Armorica Village’s quite a distance on foot. I’d also like to go to Mishelam Wonderland.

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We’ve seen Scherazard’s name pop up in Sen no Kiseki III, so will she herself make an appearance in the next game?
Kondo: Maybe later. That’s still a secret.
Given the current situation, will something from Liberl show up?
Kondo: With an incident of this scope, neighboring nations might not stay uninvolved. We don’t know how much it affects, but I think Liberl will have to be depicted. We’re in the middle of the process to decide who would show up.
How about the City of Grancel in 3D?
Kondo: That might be hard since it’s so vast. (sweats) There’s also that courtyard that feels like a dungeon.

Regarding places in Zemuria we haven’t seen yet

Talk of Zemuria’s eastern half came up. Was this some kind of foreshadowing?
Kondo: It’s that the “world is ending”, so it might be related to that. It certainly involves future developments for the series from here on out. We don’t know if it’s related to Osborne’s or Ouroboros’ goals.
A special ops from Calvard appeared. Were they sent by Kilika?
Kondo: That organization is not controlled by only Kilika, but considering it’s involved with the intelligence agency, it’s not like she’s completely in the dark. They must have made serious considerations to go as far as having a special ops infiltrate in order to investigate the timing of the outbreak of the war.
Tell something about the RAMDA, a new type of tactical orbment.
Kondo: It was developed at the same time as the ARCUS. The Epstein Foundation developed the ARCUS with the Reinford Group and the RAMDA with Calvard. There should be a difference in what was emphasized during their development since the technology is fundamentally identical.
Was the last of the three pupils, Doctor Hamilton, involved with the development of the RAMDA?
Kondo: That might be the case. It might be fun to have all these old-timers gathered, Doctor Novartis from Ouroboros included. (laughs)
Isn’t it time Master Ka-fai makes his entrance?
Kondo: He’s traveling through the East right now. There’s not really a chance for him to show up, not until he returns.
What’s in the area of East Zemuria that Master Ka-fai is heading to?
Kondo: It refers to the east of the continent, including Calvard. There’s a plot thread about the acceptance of immigrants from the East.
Where’s the Holy Nation of Arteria located?
Kondo: Its exact location hasn’t been decided, but it’s in the center of the continent. By the way, the Principality of Remiferia is situated north of Crossbell, about northeast of Nord.

About the Barren, Inhospitable Lands of East Zemuria
The area east of, and including, Calvard. Dragon veins are running dry and plants no longer grow. Master Ka-fai is heading toward that area and Angelica described the scene of despair to Rean. It looks like the series will pay a visit to it sooner or later.

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Looks like we’re playing Sen no Kiseki and Sen no Kiseki II on PS4!

It looks like Sen no Kiseki and Sen no Kiseki II will be released for PS4!
Kondo: We decided to port the games to meet the demand to play the games on PS4. They’re fundamentally the same games, with convenient functionalities added. The graphics have also been touched up.
Are there bonuses to playing the games with Sen no Kiseki III data?
Kondo: Yes, that’s what we’re thinking about. Aside from that, we’re also investigating a system to transfer save data from the PS3 and PlayStation Vita versions to the PS4. Playing with save data from the PS3 and PlayStation Vita version and Sen no Kiseki III data means you can play with numerous perks. We’ve asked animation studios to clean up the opening animation as well. It’s going to be beautiful, so please look forward to that.
Any changes in the musical department?
Kondo: The audio quality will be improved. We haven’t decided whether all tracks will be arranged.
So, the way you envision it is that after people cleared Sen no Kiseki III, they can play through the PS4 versions of Sen and Sen II before the next game in the series is out?
Kondo: That’s the plan.

Does the Sen arc really end with the next game?

About when will the next Sen no Kiseki game release?
Kondo: After that ending, I don’t really want people to wait too long. We’ll try to make sure they can enjoy the sequel as soon as possible. I’d like to release it next year, if possible.
The ending mentions the “Last Saga”, so will this really be the end of the Sen arc?
Kondo: Please think of the “Last Saga” as the concept for the next game. It will be the last of the Sen arc and will be a very important milestone for the series as a whole.
Will Rean continue to serve as protagonist like he has been so far?
Kondo: That’s information I’d like you to wait for. All I’ll say is that the beginning of the game may differ from how the games usually start.
Do the mechanics in Sen III serve as the basis for the sequel?
Kondo: The basics will be the same, yes. The next game also makes use of the ARCUS orbment, of which battle links are a fundamental part of.
Have you decided that its title will be Sen no Kiseki IV?
Kondo: That’s still up for debate. Because it’s the last, we might do something extra. When the whole series is out for PS4, I’d like to unify them or something.
Please let us hear about the prospect of the series from here on out.
Kondo: As Last Saga implies, it’s really the last. I often get scolded for saying that, but the next game really is the last. We’re working to solve all riddles of the Erebonia arc, meaning the sentiment of ‘it’s finally over’ lives amongst us as well. But that doesn’t mean the Kiseki series will be ending; it will continue after that. Even so, a big pause will follow the end of the Sen arc. After that, we’re planning to have a new setting. I think it’s going to take a while to get there, so please look forward to the Last Saga of Sen no Kiseki for now.
As for the Last Saga, are there particular characters you want us to pay attention to?
Kondo: Throughout the Sen arc, a lot of characters made their appearance. I’d like you to focus on each and every one of them. I’d like to have them gathered because it’s the last game. It’s still too early to say which members of the cast will show up, but I hope everyone is thinking about which characters would be fitting for the last Sen no Kiseki.
The way Sen no Kiseki III ended was shocking, so do you have an idea how the story will resume in the sequel?
Kondo: A flying start from the outset! I think people will be surprised when they see the party members.
What should the homework be of the fans in preparation of Sen no Kiseki’s Last Saga?
Kondo: As the story is getting more complicated, we want to make something to get everything organized as well. As for their homework, I hope they’re looking forward to information about the sequel.

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Will it be the game be structured like Sora no Kiseki The 3rd, where various stories are collected?
Kondo: I think it will differ from The 3rd’s structure. It’s not structured as an omnibus like that, it’s a completely, big streamlined work.
Is there a final thing you’d like to say to the people who have finished Sen no Kiseki and are motivated to play through Sen no Kiseki again?
Kondo: Those who finished the game might feel this frustration because riddles are left on both the macro and the micro level. These will certainly be revealed in the next game, so please look forward to it if you will. Those who’ll be playing from on, don’t only look forward to the new game next year, but also look back on developments in older game. Because the series has been going on for such a long time, it might be difficult to feel that we’re halfway there. The reasons we’re being supported and what allows it to go on for this long are definitely there, I think. But first, look forward to the development of the PS4 versions of Sen no Kiseki and Sen no Kiseki II. I’m thinking of next year as “Sen no Kiseki Year”. It would make me really happy if people would be able to pick it up from there.

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. This is the plane that was that the Grandmaster designated t o Weissmann. It was to unseal the Sept-Terrion of Space, the Aureole. At the end, Campanella presented the Sept-Terrion of Space to the Grandmaster.
2. This is the plan of the Grandmaster’s final objective. The Gospel Project and the Phantasmal Blaze Plan are each one part of the Orpheus Final Plan, and these plans are heavily focused on the Sept-Terrion.

Falcom Online Store Shut Down for Updates

Falcom has posted that the online store at https://www.falcom.co.jp/shop/ is currently closed for renewal.

As of this time, no orders can be placed while the store is undergoing its update.

The store is expected to reopen by the end of March, and they ask for fans to eagerly anticipate the new Falcom Online Shop.

There are no details over what will be done for the site with the information.

[ Falcom Online Store ]

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