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The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II Review – Continuing To Impress And Surprise

Every so often an RPG comes along that makes me care so much about the characters and the world that it becomes easier to look past its flaws. This is exactly what happened last year when I embarked on the first entry in the Trails of Cold Steel trilogy, and this second entry is no different. Cold Steel II takes the cast and story in such interesting directions and provides so much to do that it’s hard to put down. If you enjoyed the first entry, you won’t want to miss out on this follow-up.

Cold Steel II picks up shortly after where the first game left off. Our do-gooder protagonist, Rean Schwarzer, is reeling from his friend’s betrayal and learning more about his new ancient, powerful mech, but he’s also right in the middle of a dangerous civil war. Politics are getting uglier, with both sides doing whatever it takes to gain more power. The narrative deftly showcases all the different sides, presenting various dilemmas and showing the harsh sacrifices that come in the face of a power struggle. For those wondering if you can just hop right into Cold Steel II without playing the first, you theoretically can, but I don’t recommend it. The characters and their growth are what makes the series so special, and you’re missing out on the full impact of some killer plot revelations that the first game built up so wonderfully. 

Despite not being able to put the game down for hours on end, I wasn’t in love with it for the first 10 hours. It begins with Rean separated from his classmates, forcing you to track them all down, which is the weakest part of the experience. The characters add life to the journey, and being taken away from them and removed from the school setting from last game hinders the beginning. However, once you reunite with the cast and gain access to the airship, the game eases into a more entertaining rhythm. 

Cold Steel II focuses more on the cast coming to terms with the war and what it means for them, which is my favorite part of the game. Some classmates are from nobility and have obligations there; others are dealing with looking in from the outside as a common citizen. Either way, the game has a strong message about choosing the path that’s right for you, and for every character that means something different. For instance, for Alisa that means reevaluating her relationship with her mother, while for Jusis it means standing up to his father. The social system allows you to spend time with the classmates of your choosing to get more insight into their mindset and struggles. 

Cold Steel II doesn’t reinvent the turned-based battle system established in the previous entry, but it does add more depth. The battle system has a new overdrive system, which allows you to act in three consecutive turns, cast magic instantly, and restore all your health once you land enough attacks. This is a godsend in combat, and using it at the right time is vital, since boss battles can be super challenging. Bosses have a lot of HP, and the A.I. is smart enough to strike with an instant death attack or heal up just when you think you’re about to polish them off. Sometimes these are battles of attrition, but there’s a sense of accomplishment in overcoming them because it’s all about making the most out of your turns and using the most beneficial skills and buffs at the right times. 

As introduced at the end of the last entry, you now can engage in intense mech battles, which are a big part of Cold Steel II. Depending on which classmate you link up with, you can gain access to some of their skills to use in addition to your mech’s special attacks. These break up some of the tedium from exploring dungeons and engaging in regular battles. Plus, controlling your own robot is pretty cool, and you can even customize it to your liking. 

I also enjoyed the airship that acts as your headquarters. You can recruit former NPC classmates to help you on the ship with combat training and shops. Tracking down familiar faces and watching your once empty ship fill up with new places is fun in its own right. The airship also allows you to fast travel to places on the map, and once you visit certain locations you can use your motorcycle or horse to get around faster. I wish these were available at the start of the game to cut down some laborious hikes, but once you get them they make exploring much easier and fun.

The majority of the enhancements feel for the better, but Cold Steel II suffers some of the same issues that plagued the previous entry. The tedious, boring dungeons are too focused on hitting switches to unlock paths and battling enemy after enemy. I wish they had some more imagination; you fight through typical dungeons based on the four elements (fire, water, wind, earth). The later ones get a little better in terms of presentation, but then you get into a loop of endless boss battles that make them lose their luster and get predictably boring. I wish these later boss fights were spaced out better, so they could feel more exciting instead of exhausting. That’s what’s frustrating about Cold Steel; it has so much depth to its battle system and customization options that make it feel fresh for even a turn-based RPG, but the creativity falls flat on the dungeon design.

That being said, Cold Steel II does exactly what the middle arc of a trilogy should do – keep you intrigued and guessing. Upon finishing, I was even more invested in the narrative and characters and looked up how Falcom’s progress on the third entry was going. The wait already seems unbearable because I need to know what happens next; I haven’t had this much fun with plot twists and crazy villains in a while. When a video game story just gets its hooks in you like that, it’s done its job well. 

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Legend Of Zelda: Skyward Sword Downloadable On Wii U Today

The classic Wii title, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, is available to purchase and download on the Wii U eShop starting today. The news comes by way of today's 3DS-focused Nintendo Direct presentation.

Skyward Sword is pushed forward by Nintendo as the first game in the official Legend of Zelda chronology, meaning that it gives you an idea of how the timeline kicks off. The version appearing on the eShop is the original Skyward Sword, meaning it is not remastered and it uses the divisive motion controls from the original Wii release.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is set to hit the Wii U eShop at some point today.

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New Classic Legend Of Zelda Amiibos On The Way

During today's Nintendo Direct, Nintendo announced four new Amiibos dedicated to the Legend of Zelda series. These four new Amiibo figures will join the Breath of the Wild line already announced to significantly bolster the number of figures dedicated to the Legend of Zelda series.

The four new figures highlight some of the most beloved adventures that Link and Zelda have embarked on. The 8-bit Link Amiibo borrows the style of Link's debut adventure in Legend of Zelda on the NES, while the new Link Amiibo pays tribute to Ocarina of Time on Nintendo 64. Nintendo also revealed a two-pack of Amiibos that feature Toon Link and Toon Zelda as they appeared in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker on GameCube (and later on Wii U through the HD version).

The figures function like their standard versions – 8-bit Link and Ocarina of Time Link function the same as the standard Link Amiibo, while the new Toon Link functions like the original Toon Link Amiibo and Toon Zelda functions like the standard Zelda Amiibo. However, Nintendo was sure to mention that these figures will have special functionality in the highly anticipated Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

The 8-bit Link, Ocarina of Time Link, and the Toon Link/Toon Zelda two-pack are set to release December 2.

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Magnesis Ability Showcased In The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Nintendo has unveiled a new video showcasing the Magnesis ability in Shrine Oman Au from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

While many mysteries remain regarding the upcoming Zelda title, this video gives players a good idea of what to expect with this ability, which appears extremely handy for manipulating the environment and moving things into critical positions.

Magnesis appears to be great for solving puzzles, opening up new areas, and collecting those hard to reach treasures.

Check out the video below for a look at Magnesis in action!

(Please visit the site to view this media)

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The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II Arriving In North America September 6

XSEED revealed an official North American release date for The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II. The RPG will be arriving on western shores on September 6.

The game will be available on both PlayStation 3 and Vita. It's priced at $ 39.99 and will be available later in the Fall for European players. It originally released in Japan in 2014. 

Cross-save functionality between both available platforms will be supported, with save data from the original title The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel offering special in-game bonus stats and extra items. The sequel takes place one month after the conclusion of the first and utilizes the same turn-based combat as its predecessor. 

The third game in the series, Trails in the Sky The Third has been announced for a 2017 western release as well, but we have no details on specifically when or what platforms it will be hosted on.

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Flying Dragon: The Secret Scroll And Legend of the Mystical Ninja Added To Virtual Console

This week's Virtual Console update offers two lesser-known releases with Flying Dragon: The Secret Scroll and Legend of the Mystical Ninja.

Flying Dragon: The Secret Scroll is available on Wii U . Originally released on the NES in 1987, it is a side-scrolling platformer that follows Ryuhi in his journey in the mastery of Kenpō marital artsLegend of the Mystical Ninja will be available on the 3DS. It first released on the SNES in 1991 and has players fighting to save Princess Yuki by battling Kid Ying and Dr. Yang through 2D and 3D zones. 

You can buy Flying Dragon: The Secret Scroll on Wii U for $ 4.99 here and Legend of the Mystical Ninja on 3DS for $ 7.99 here.

Nintendo has been adding new Virtual Console to its systems
every week allowing a new generation of players the chance to play the classics
from past systems. You can follow the links for more on Yoshi's Story, Paper Mario, and Mario Tennis from the N64 or The Legend of Zelda: A Link To The Past from the SNES.

[Source: Nintendo via Business Wire

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Don’t Call This Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild Figure A Doll

Medicom is making a The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild figure for it's Real Action Heroes series. Another way to say that is: get ready to spend some money.

Medicom's Real Action Heroes are highly detailed figures that often come equipped with real clothing. This upcoming figure of Link looks highly game accurate and will be 1/6 to scale. No word yet on if this is coming stateside or if you'll have to import it, but if you can't wait then this Wind Waker version of Ganon from First 4 Figures might also be up your alley.

[Source: @figsoku via NintendoInquirer]

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Hip-Hop Legend RZA Composes New Album Based On Atari Game Music

Wu-Tang's RZA recently announced a partnership with Atari to produce a collection of new music based and inspired by the sounds of Atari’s collection of games.

You're not the only one who love classic Atari games. RZA, one of the original members of the Wu-Tang Clan, is prepping to release a set of songs based on classic Atari titles like Asteroids, Centipede, and Pong. RZA previously worked with Atari when he provided the voice over for Atari 2006 title Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure (watch us replay that game here).

“We are thrilled to partner with RZA, one of the greatest hip-hop producers of all time,” said Atari CEO Fred Chesnais. “RZA is a multi-talented artist and soundtrack virtuoso and we cannot wait to hear the new tracks he creates based on Atari’s iconic video game sounds and music.”

 

Our Take
I'm not a huge RZA fan, but I know some people who are, so that makes me cool. I might not be the target market for this, but I'm interested to see what RZA ends up producing. How about a Space Invader's song first?

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Xenoblade dev Monolith Soft co-developing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

In order to perfect its open-ended version of Hyrule, Nintendo has enlisted the help of Monolith Soft, the team behind open-world action RPG, Xenoblade Chronicles. …


Gamasutra News

Monolith Is Helping Work On The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild

Update: Nintendo has clarified how it is working with Monolith on The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

Last week we learned that Nintendo was working with Xenoblade Chronicles X developer Monolith Soft on the new The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild when Shigeru Miyamoto told us that over 100 people were on the team. This week, we were able to confirm that the entire Zelda team is over 100 people, which includes both Nintendo and Monolith Soft, as opposed to 100 from Monolith alone.

Original Story: The developers of Xenoblade Chronicles X are helping Nintendo with the massive task of building The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild’s open world. 

Last year while speaking with Xenoblade Chronicles X’s directors Tetsuya Takahashi and Genki Yokota we learned that the team at Monolith Soft was interested in taking its expertise with open world games and helping develop the next Zelda. This didn’t seem too unreasonable since the team at Monolith Soft had previously worked on Skyward Sword as well. This year we learned that Monolith Soft would continue this tradition by helping shape The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

During an interview at E3, legendary developer Shigeru Miyamoto told us, “Yes they are involved in this Zelda. People from Tokyo and Kyoto are working together on this. There is a team of over 100 helping work on this project, and their work has really been helpful.”

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild’s world is massive, so we’re not surprised to hear that Nintendo has so many people helping bring this new interpretation of Hyrule to life. For more on Breath of the Wind, be sure to read our hands-on impressions of the game from the show floor.

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