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YMMV / Kiseki Series

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  • Arc Fatigue: The Cold Steel games can get this reaction out of the fanbase, as it's the longest arc at four games, two of which end on cliffhangers so devious they're a borderline No Ending in the games that have them. It doesn't help that the Cold Steel subseries is the largest case of Development Hell in the franchise, with multiple points where the games' length and pacing had to be compressed or extended to make full titles out of the existing plot. And though it technically ended in the fourth game, it is immediately followed by Origins, which still takes place in Erebonia, with Rean being billed as one of three headlining charactersnote , which can be frustrating for those who want the franchise to get to the next arc already.
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  • Archive Panic: Attempting to binge the entire series will set you back quite a while. For a series that's famous for it's Door Stopper-length scripts in the hundreds of thousands of words per game, between all the sidequests, lots and lots of NPC dialogue that changes every time there's a plot development, and intricate World Building, it'll take anywhere between 40 to 80 hours on average to fully complete a game, and unlike most Eastern RPG developers, every Trails title takes place concurrently in the same continuity with several references made between games with quite a few character cameos. Between the Trails in the Sky trilogy, the Zero/Azure duology which has yet to be translated, and the Cold Steel quadrilogy, you're looking at nine games with a tenth on the way that will take hundreds of hours to read. Not to mention the novel adaptations, manga that retell each game with their own sidestories, drama CDs that are largely canon, an adaptation of Trails in the Sky running for two 45 minute OVA episodes, and a mobile game, you'll be spending a lot of time exploring its world. Missing one of the main games? You'll experience Continuity Lockout as explained below.
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  • Awesome Music: The series continues to have consistently awesome soundtracks courtesy of Falcom Sound Team jdk.
  • Broken Base: Fans have been divided over the Art Shift in character design, rearranged music, changes in game balance and aesthetic to match later titles, and additional bosses whenever the Evolution versions came out, debating on whether the original or the updated version is better. If there's one thing that fans can agree on, it's the appreciation for the several hours of voice acting that's added to the games.
  • Complete Monster: Georg Weissmann & Joachim. See those pages for details.
  • Contested Sequel: The 3rd, almost by design. In a series that's favored a heavy focus on sidequests, NPC dialogue, expansive towns, and a very linear structure starring one of the most likable heroines in an RPG, 3rd is drastically different in tone from the Sky trilogy, and indeed any succeeding game in the series. Kevin steps up from his position as a reoccurring side character to a full protagonist, the sidequests and non-playable townsfolk have been entirely dropped, the game takes place a while after the current threat has been dealt with, and the gameplay is centered around an expansive series of interconnected dungeons with nonlinear sidestories catching the player up with what the rest of the cast's been up to off-screen. On one hand, many players felt disappointed that several aspects of the series that stood out from other games of the genre were done away with, and dislike the longer stretches of gameplay, especially if they mainly played for the story. For the other camp, 3rd gets praise for its radically unique approach to conveying story and loore that would've been difficult to fit in otherwise, it's large cast of party members and customization, and generally letting players engage in entertaining scenarios for the heck of it. There's also some debate as to Kevin's merit as a starring lead, and the darker, more personal approach to his story. Most of the fanbase will agree it's a game worth playing for its sendoff to the Liberl cast and foreshadowing story developments that was to come in later arcs, but not everyone will like the game for its changes to the formula.
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  • Continuity Lock-Out: While each series has a more or less self-contained plot taking place in different countries across Zemuria, there are many, many side characters from other parts of the franchise that make extensive cameos and references to other events. The games set in Crossbell are an enforced example thanks to not being localized yet, it doesn't help that several characters from Zero/Azure are referenced, and the protagonists from those games are even briefly playable, not to mention some other Crossbell casts making their appearances in the third Cold Steel game, making players wonder who the hell these people are.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • The poster boy for the series without a doubt is Olivier Lenheim, wandering musician and poet who gets into several misadventures, particularly in the Liberl arc. With his antics, Purple Prose, and inflated opinion of his abilities with occasionally questionable sanity, he remains the only character in the series to make a significant appearance across every game. He has been consistently the second most popular character of the franchise, only beaten by Estelle. He's still this in the polls of Cold Steel IV where he manages to tie with Millium and Duvalie, placing the three at twelfth place while Lloyd is at a respectful 17th and Estelle barely didn't get to break top 20, placing 21 herself.
    • For the Sky games, there's Anelace, resident girly girl and goofball who manages to out ditz the already ditzy Estelle as she matures over the course of SC to give her a counterpart to bounce off of. Despite her weirdness, she's a practitioner of the Eight Leaves like Rean, and remains a fairly accomplished swordsman in her own right.
  • Evil Is Cool: The Enforcers of Ouroboros are strong enough to give the heroes hell, have Awesome Music that accompanies their fights, and thanks to the recruitment policy, are all but guaranteed dark and interesting backstories.
  • It Was His Sled: You'll find that a lot of important plot points which should be a huge twist in a game they are revealed to be casually mentioned in the following games. The huge gap between domestic and global releases are a huge factor in this.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • "Kondo hates fat guys!"note 
    • Professors and secretaries, too. note 
    • "X female character is the Grandmaster!"note 
      • Dorothy is the Grandmaster! note  This one was noticed in a fan interview with Kondo himself, where he seemed a little surprised at the reaction, as Japanese fans say the same about Towa.
    • "Kondo": laughsnote 
    • "Holding Back"note 
      • "Stop Holding Back"note 
  • Older Than They Think: Newcomers to the series that start with the Erebonia Arc often assume the school setting, Bonding Events, and calendar system are a transparent attempt to cash in on the success of Persona. While Falcom has never been shy about incorporating popular trends into their work to draw in new players, the Bonding Points system was used in the Crossbell Arc to a lesser degree in a setting that had nothing to do with students, FC had already previously used a school setting for a lengthy sequence, and the calendar primarily helps to keep continuity with the events of Crossbell that take place concurrently with Cold Steel.
  • Sequel Displacement: Many are unaware that Trails in the Sky is the sixth entry in the overall Legend of Heroes series. The Trails franchise enjoys a much larger degree of popularity than the previous Legend of Heroes titles, even in Japan. It doesn't help that the previous attempt in English is infamous for its "Blind Idiot" Translation.
  • Sidetracked By The Golden Saucer: Thanks to the staggering amount of detail put into the most incidental of non-playable characters, the Kiseki Series is the rare RPG franchise where everyone has something to say, with continuous subplots revolving around the local townsfolk. A subset of fans happily put the main plot on hold and dedicate hours to reading up on the lives and relationships of the NPC cast. Thanks to the school setting in the Erebonia Arc, this trend has only grown.
  • Signature Scene: Joshua confesses that he's an Enforcer of Ouroboros, drugs Estelle to sleep by kissing her and saying his goodbyes in the last few minutes of First Chapter pretty much defined the series as a whole where there will be a huge plot twist at the final few minutes of the game.
  • Sweet Dreams Fuel: As dark as the series can get at times, what with the politics, troubled pasts, and the grounded, low-scale setting, the presentation is anything but grim. The main characters tend to be very optimistic people aiding the local community, environments are bright and full of detail, the somewhat cutesy art style, meeting new allies and townsfolk along their travels, and there's always time to take a break and strike up a friendly conversation with the non-playable cast. The franchise rivals the Atelier games in how relaxing it is for an Eastern RPG. Averted in Cold Steel III. So very, very, averted.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!:
    • The Liberl Arc requires a party member to simply equip a quartz with the "Information" trait which reveals enemy stats and have it be automatically jotted down in the notebook after combat. After that from the Crossbell Arc and beyond, to obtain information on the enemy, outside of a certain quartz that allows automatic note-taking upon killing, you have to waste a turn either using "Analyzer" crafts or the "Battle Scope" item on each type of individual enemy. Not everyone is on board with this change, as players who want to get the information as soon as possible to get 100% Completion have to waste the first few precious turns getting information on the enemy instead, which is suicidal on Nightmare difficulty.
    • The restriction of carryovers in New Game+ from the Crossbell Arc onwards. Not being able to bring over everything from your playthrough has earned quite a few complaints, especially if they are locked behind achievement points in the Crossbell Arc while the first two games of the Erebonia Arc is locked behind the number of times you completed the game. This restriction however is lifted in III and IV where players can take all of the carryovers for New Game+.
  • Tough Act to Follow:
    • Subverted with the stories themselves. Most fans can agree the writing is consistently good despite the differences in tone and setting. Played straight however, with the protagonists after Trails In the Sky: Estelle grew into such a beloved and likable heroine she became the standard by which other protagonists are judged. At least in the West as Rean is huge in Japan after Cold Steel III and IV.
    • As more wide-spread knowledge on Zero no Kiseki and its sequel surface thanks to various attempts to translate them by fans, many that have played them claim that Azure is possibly the best in the franchise. Although many fans started to say that Cold Steel III is up there in terms of story.

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