Falcom President Reflects On Trails In The Sky, Talks About Series Future

By Spencer . May 26, 2011 . 5:30pm


We spoke with Toshihiro Kondo, President of Nihon Falcom, about The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky. This game is the first of three chapters and evolved into a RPG series all its own with Trails of Zero (Zero no Kiseki) and Trails of Blue (Ao no Kiseki) for PSP.


Since we know there are Falcom fans on Siliconera, we asked readers to submit development questions, which we brought straight to Kondo. While Trails in the Sky was the focus, we also talked about bringing PSP games from Japan overseas, Steam, and their upcoming NGP title.


Trails in the Sky has an amazing game world. Did you create the world to fit the characters, or the characters to fit the world? Or were both elements designed separately?


Toshihiro Kondo, President: We created the characters and the world view simultaneously. For the characters, we wanted the main pair to contrast with each other, like light and dark, and build everything from there. For the world, we compiled one idea at a time, all the while setting things up to give players the feeling that something big was about to happen — a small kingdom sustaining independence while still operating as a monarchy, an era of industrial revolution and new energy sources, an “orbment” system that allows people to use magic, etc.


What did you like writing more: the main dialogue between the characters and the plot or all the additional text in the game, like the books and newspapers that defined the world the characters were in?


This is hard to quantify. Normally in Japanese RPGs, a lot of time and effort is spent on the main story. Trails in the Sky is unique in the sense that we spent as much or perhaps even more time and effort working on character conversations and additional elements. By doing so, it really makes the world come alive, and creates a setting that’s both fantastical and realistic in equal parts. So really, both sides of the coin are equally important in this game.



Did Falcom use any historical references as inspiration for creating Zemuria? Was the Septian Church perhaps inspired by the Catholic Church?


Since Liberl Kingdom is located between two political superpowers, yet still maintains its independence, we actually based it on Thailand. It even has a similar shape to Thailand. We also referenced the age of imperialism in Europe. And for the Septian Church, we based it on a typical Japanese impression of what the church represents, so I’m sure there are indeed some similarities to Catholicism.


How do you feel a battle system fits within the game? Could Trails in the Sky be as in-depth if it were an action RPG?


The battle system for this title is similar to chess where you sit down and think about your moves. We thought the players would have more attachment to their characters by carefully customizing each one before heading into battle, and could thus really feel the dramatic impact behind all of their actions.


In our latest title, Zero no Kiseki, players are able to attack enemies on the field before entering into a proper battle. If the party members are of an average level comparable to that of the enemies, control of the game will switch over to a standard battle scene like you’d expect; but if the players’ levels are much higher those of their enemies, the battle will end right then and there, like in an action RPG. This aspect has the same type of satisfaction you get from playing an Ys game, but in the end, I think the command-based strategic battle system is really the best fit for the Trails series.



While still very popular in Japan, it seems like the PSP’s presence is shrinking in North America. How do you think you will release PSP games like the rest of the Trails in the Sky series, Zero no Kiseki, and Ao no Kiseki, overseas?


I think this is an obstacle being faced not only by the Trails/Kiseki series, but all PSP games in Japan right now. It may be hard to imagine in North America, but in Japan, the PSP is the best-selling game platform, so it’s not quite as simple as just deciding to make a game for one of the HD platforms like PS3 or Xbox 360.


It is a dilemma of sorts, but I think the important thing is to let people know that there are a lot of games worth playing in Japan. As the user numbers go up, there’ll be more options to choose from for everyone. So we would like to keep releasing more titles in North America to help spread this mindset.




Falcom said they’re working on a new RPG for the NGP’s launch. What can you tell us or hint at about the game?


It’s a very attractive machine and our staff is diligently working on the game as we speak. Falcom was originally a PC game developer, and the NGP architecture has many aspects in common with that of the PC, so we’re trying to give this title as many benefits as we can — things we just couldn’t do on a PSP. We would love to release this mystery title in North America as well. Please keep an eye out for it.


Will Falcom consider a release of their PC versions on Steam with XSEED’s assistance?


We don’t have anything specific planned at the moment, but we do get a lot of requests to release our PC titles on Steam, so the idea is definitely in the back of our minds.


A lot of fans want to know… what’s next for the Ys series? Will we see another remake similar to Oath in Felghana? Some fans want Ys IV! Will there be a brand new game? A console game?


Ah, straight to the point, I see. We’ve already decided on the hardware for the next Ys game, and development has already begun. I can’t give out any details just yet, however, but I do think people will be surprised when they learn what it is.

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  • Now I am stoked for the NGP game! The reveal can not come fast enough! I love handheld RPGs

  • I love falcom.


    • TanyaRei

      Same here
      Popful mail and gurumin specifically

      • If you haven’t yet, you need to play Zwei II. It might as well be called Gurumin II as well, as it’s just as much a spiritual successor to Gurumin as it is an ACTUAL successor to Zwei. And it’s AWESOME. (:

        • TanyaRei

          Wow. Thank you

        • Ohh, i enjoyed Zweii a lot, i wish the 2nd could get ported to psp

    • Agreed. Although, my favorites are still Popful Mail and Sorcerian (and Ys, of course).

    • PrinceHeir

      new Y’s game for NGP!!!!!

      • All they do is great, im good with seeing a “Falcom”  icon on any NGP game xD

  • This was… a little more frustratingly vague than I was hoping for (particularly the sorta non-answer about Steam), but there were still some neat bits in there. Really gotta wonder what that NGP title is, since it doesn’t necessarily sound like it’s the NGP title in development…

    Seriously though, people need to beat on Falcom’s door with foam bats until they put their PC titles on Steam. It needs to happen. >:(

    • That wasn’t really a “non-answer”… He basically said, “yes, it’s on our minds, but we haven’t had a chance to formally draft any plans yet.” Seems pretty clear to me! ;)

      • It was still a cagey “oh we are aware of it but we won’t commit to a single thing” answer, though, when something a little more definite would have been nice, especially in the wake of a revived core Falcom fanbase on this side of the pond. The “back of our minds” thing is what makes it a bit of a downer (although perhaps Mr. Kondo didn’t quite mean that the way it comes across here).

        I’m just bellyachin’ and engaging in “rah rah PC” behavior, though, so don’t mind me. :V Also I’m kind of lollin’ at my own typo above, I meant to type “gotta wonder what the NGP title is, doesn’t sound like it’s the Ys title”. Derp!

        • Well, of course he’s not going to use a random interview to announce something like that! If and when something comes of the Steam thing (and believe me, we fully intend to explore that possibility on our end if and when we get the chance!), I’m sure there will be a more official announcement of it.

      • mooncalf

        Hehe…your reply reminds me of one of my favorite Simpson’s quotes

        “Children, I couldn’t help monitoring your conversation. There’s no mystery about Willy. Why, he simply disappeared. Now, let’s have no more curiosity about this bizarre cover-up.”

    •  At least it seems he is considering it, or he is just calming the waves for a while… xD

  • majorhavok

    Well, I liked Trails in the Sky overall but it’s disappointing to me that the game is essentially setup, or at least feels like that to me. I assume there’s more story conflict in the next part? Also, is the second part darker in tone than the first?

    • Phlo

      Yes and definitely yes.

    • Zero_Destiny

      From what I heard TiTS 2 takes place immediately after the first game. Literally the main charas wake up in an Inn the day after the first game ended. The second game finishes off the story from the first for the most part I think. Also I heard Joshua gets a really dark backstory or something. Just going off of what others told me while trying to avoid spoilers so I don’t know too much really. lol

      • SolidusSnake

        Haven’t played TiTS yet? You should bro, it’s awesome. The ending shakes things up quite a bit.

        • Zero_Destiny

          I’ve played it for like 2 hours (AND LOVED IT). It’s just in my backlog right now. ^_^ Gotta beat P4 right now so I can watch the anime in October without worrying about Spoilers.

          • SolidusSnake

            Damn yeah it’s a sweet game, you’re probably gonna like it. It exceeded my expectations in every way.

        • Ren

          I guessed the ending the moment Loewe showed himself, but yeah, it was very powerful. But like Zero said, SC starts after the ending credits of the first game with Estelle and pretty much finished the storyline. The 3rd is more like a extra mission pack that develops some characters of the previous games and ties all the last hanging threads, it does even have a different main character.

    • animaster

      The next part … did you mean the Trails of Blue (Ao no Kiseki)?
      I’m still yet to play Trails in the Sky, but I kinda interested with the sequel, as the limited edition includes Nendoroid Petit of Tio and Ellie (http://nendonesia.com/2011/04/closer-look-at-nendoroid-petit-from-eiyuu-densetsu-ao-no-kiseki/)

      Well, I guess I should play Sora no Kiseki as soon as possible. ^^

      • I think he means Trails in the Sky 2/SC.

        • animaster

          Ah sorry, my mistake. I just realized that:
          Sora no Kiseki (1,2,3) -> Zero no Kiseki -> Ao no Kiseki

    • WonderSteve

      This may quench your thirst a little bit…


      Don’t worry, no spoilers there.

  • JustaGenericUser

    In before anti-Falcom troll.

    Nice interview, by the way. I hope XSeed manages to bring TitS 2nd Chapter here.

    • TanyaRei

      People can hate falcom?

      • SolidusSnake

        No, just one guy, some troll with a major hatred boner for Xseed. Possibly a disgruntled former employee but noone knows for sure.

        • TanyaRei

          Lol. Ishaal will get him

        • Definitely not a disgruntled former employee. To the best of my knowledge, we don’t have those. (:

          • SolidusSnake

            Oh probably just some random lunatic then. :p

  • Herman Alexis Melo Navarro

    i bought Sora no Kiseki FC(trails in the sky) for psp and if pc version comes out … i really will buy it … its a dream see No Kiseki series on steam … a  good dream

  • SolidusSnake

    Damn TiTS was so supple and awesome I couldn’t believe it, can’t wait for chapter 2 in the US!

  • Hours

    Great interview. I love their optimism about releasing their games in NA.

    I need Trails in the Sky SC immediately. I’m getting the shakes waiting for it. XD

  • WonderSteve

    Go Go Go! Falcom!

    Games from Falcom always have this very immersive atmosphere that sucks my soul into the game. I hope they will always stay true to their root while reaching to more audience at the same time.

  • HarryHodd

    I want to be surprised. I really hope Falcom puts the new Ys on a home console to reach more people. What he says about the PSP is true but the PS3 holds its own on sales in Japan and could give them a better avenue in the west. I’m not going to get my hopes up but there are RPG gamers waiting for a great RPG to play on home consoles. PC would be great too.

  • epy

    Surprise console. Hope its not the 3DS. I dont see myself buying one of those until the third or fourth version is out (3DSi XL?)

  • Y’s for PS3 ^^

  • Joanna

    Well it’s nice to hear Falcom will continue to promote PSP games overseas. :)

    I picked up Trails in the Sky based on all the good words here on Siliconera but I think I may wait till Second Chapter to play it since I really dislike cliffhangers. I remember waiting for Lost Age after playing Golden Sun, it was pure torture. D:
    I also picked up Ys Seven so that and the rest of my backlog should keep me occupied until then (and probably longer). Also thanks to XSEED for publishing all these lovely games here (and not just the Falcom stuff but the Marvelous stuff too). :)

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