The Legend of Heroes: Trails from Zero served as the origin story for the Special Support Section while teasing what’s to come for Crossbell in subsequent games. Just a few months after The Legend of Heroes: Trails from Zero saw its first official release in the west, The Legend of Heroes: Trails to Azure comes to close the Crossbell duology as a truly brilliant sequel. The Legend of Heroes: Trails to Azure itself is a blueprint for crafting an incredible RPG with its addicting turn-based combat, compelling side-quests and characters, superb worldbuilding, and an emotional story that resonates well after its ending.
The Legend of Heroes: Trails to Azure is a captivating and memorable RPG made even better by quality-of-life improvements and availability on portable platforms like Nintendo Switch and Steam Deck. The Geofront, PH3, and NIS America helped create a remaster-like experience for The Legend of Heroes: Trails to Azure on modern platforms. This JRPG rewards players for all of their time well spent in Crossbell while preparing fans for the story arcs that follow in the Trails series. The time to dive deep into Crossbell is now.
Crossbell’s Uncertain Future (Story Spoilers Ahead)
The Legend of Heroes: Trails to Azure picks up shortly after the events of The Legend of Heroes: Trails from Zero with the Lloyd, Noel, Arios, and Dudley forming a special task force to take out the last remnants of the D∴G cult. The group is being led to the Altair Lodge on the border of Calvard and Crossbell in order to apprehend Ernest Reis and Speaker Hartmann for their misdeeds. After a long pursuit in the Altair Lodge, the group eventually catches up to Ernest and Hartmann. However, Ernest decides to demonize himself to obtain the power Joachim Guenter once had in the previous game. This ploy for power backfires immensely, but Father Kevin makes his triumphant return to quell the demon and return Ernest to his senses with Lloyd’s help.
The task force ties up loose ends in the D∴G cult incident as Kevin warns about the potential state of Crossbell in the near future. Lloyd and Noel head back to Crossbell with lingering doubts about what may come for the city-state as the Prologue approaches its end. They’re greeted by Elie, Wazy, KeA, Sergei, Zeit, and Fran shortly after arriving at Crossbell City Station. Randy and Tio are still busy with their own endeavors, but Sergei officially recommences Special Support Section operations. The Prologue chapter is great at catching players back up to speed with the events of The Legend of Heroes: Trails from Zero while foreshadowing what will immediately come for Crossbell. At this point, players are left wondering what could possibly happen to the city in just a few weeks’ time as the West Zemuria Trade Conference approaches.
The tried-and-true turn-based combat of Trails is refined even further in The Legend of Heroes: Trails to Azure. Alongside the Arts and Crafts at a character’s disposal, players may now use the Burst mechanic during intense story-driven segments of the game. The SSS will be powered up for a limited amount of turns after entering Burst mode, which is great for boss battles and grinding certain sections of the game. Each character has more Crafts to use this time around, allowing the SSS to tackle more dangerous opponents than before. The Legend of Heroes: Trails to Azure is the pinnacle of sprite-based Trails games, and it’s aged quite well.
The Orbment system is improved due to the introduction of Master Quartz, which becomes a staple for the series going forward into The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel. Master Quartz is a powerful quartz that provides a whole host of useful bonuses in combat. For instance, a certain Master Quartz raises strength when a battle begins. These Master Quartz may be leveled up, providing greater bonuses for the character that equips it. The Legend of Heroes: Trails to Azure features a ton of quartz to discover and earn, so players may several options for creating a powerful Orbment set.
The story of The Legend of Heroes: Trails to Azure has many twists and turns that involve Crossbell and the world around it. Crossbell is a really unique region that faces daunting challenges due to political instability and corruption. The city-state’s corruption was brought to light in The Legend of Heroes: Trails from Zero, but the lingering consequences are made even more apparent in The Legend of Heroes: Trails to Azure. The game establishes themes of uncertainty and perseverance right off the bat in the Prologue, creating a compelling atmosphere for the setting and the story. At the same time, the game does a great job of building on the connections between its characters and their backstories. Exploring through Crossbell, anticipating those major moments, and uncovering more truths with the SSS makes for a seriously great experience.
The entire city-state may be explored in The Legend of Heroes: Trails to Azure, allowing players to fulfill quests and discover secrets across a large region. Each chapter provides a lot of support requests to complete alongside the main story, so there’s a lot of traveling to be done in Crossbell. Players won’t need to take bus rides or walk the long stretches of road either. Early into the game, a special orbal car is given to the SSS, allowing them to rest up and fast-travel to prominent locations across the entire Crossbell region. This is a great addition since backtracking to monster chests and fishing spots is a lot quicker by car than on foot. However, it’s recommended to scope out the highways and venture off the beaten path from time to time to open treasure chests.
From Zero to Azure
Players may continue their journey in Crossbell with a number of bonuses and changes by transferring clear save data from The Legend of Heroes: Trails from Zero. These bonuses include clear data character levels, bond levels, fishing rank, combo crafts, and so much more. Certain dialogue and story events are slightly altered as well. For example, if Lloyd completed the support request featuring Ilya and Sully in the previous game, Sully will comment about their last encounter. I absolutely recommended playing The Legend of Heroes: Trails from Zero first to get the best possible experience out of The Legend of Heroes: Trails to Azure.
Playing The Legend of Heroes: Trails to Azure on Nintendo Switch is a dream come true as a fan of Trails and RPGs. The game’s visuals hold up really well due to various texture improvements and enhancements. In addition, the game’s performance is great on the Nintendo Switch in both portable and docked modes. All of the new features introduced in The Legend of Heroes: Trails from Zero are present including high-speed mode, auto text advance, and water rendering. Players may adjust these features in the Options menu to their liking including anti-aliasing options. The feature set found on the Nintendo Switch version is very similar to the PC version, so players can expect a surprising level of parity between both versions.
Closing the Crossbell Chapter (For Now)
After completing The Legend of Heroes: Trails to Azure, the Extra mode becomes accessible from the main menu. Players may view their achievements in Extra mode and unlock bonuses for a subsequent playthrough. These bonuses include carrying over stats, items, recipes, and Master Quartz. In addition, players may unlock an auto-battle feature and browse character art and visuals. Extra mode is great for those looking to 100% the game and recaps finer details of the story before playing subsequent Trails titles like The Legend of Heroes: Trails into Reverie.
The Legend of Heroes: Trails to Azure closes out the Crossbell duology as the final sprite-based Trails entry in the series. The story of Crossbell was filled with heartwarming moments, tragedy, and uncertainty as the SSS challenged every barrier in its way. Despite the Zero/Azure arc of Trails reaching its completion in The Legend of Heroes: Trails to Azure, it’s only a piece of a large overarching story. Players can expect to return to Crossbell for another journey after experiencing what The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel I and II have to offer.
Crossbell’s Finest Hour
The Legend of Heroes: Trails to Azure is undoubtedly one of the best RPGs ever developed. From an emotionally moving story to amusing turn-based combat with an incredible soundtrack, this game does not let up until the very end. This is the RPG that leaves a mixed feeling of melancholy and satisfaction because the delightful cast of characters in the SSS have to exit the stage for a little while. Personally, I wouldn’t have it any other way because The Legend of Heroes: Trails to Azure is an impactful experience by a talented slew of developers that genuinely love the world of Trails.
Nearly a decade after its initial Japanese release, the worldwide release of The Legend of Heroes: Trails to Azure reminds players that Falcom are experts at crafting fascinating worlds with lovable characters and addicting gameplay. The game is even better than before with technical and quality-of-life improvements by NIS America, the Geofront, and PH3. The Legend of Heroes: Trails to Azure aged beautifully for a PlayStation Portable title, and the title finally marks the end of an era. The Crossbell duology is finally complete in English on consoles and PC, and there’s no good excuse not to break down those barriers with the SSS.
Disclaimer: NIS America provided Final Weapon with a copy of The Legend of Heroes: Trails to Azure for review purposes.