Accidental Innuendo: The guy you talk to before entering the martial arts tournament in FC asks you if you're prepared for "a day of hot, hot action".
Alternative Character Interpretation: Was the Lord of Phantasma really trying to merge Phantasma with the real world, or was it trying to be a Stealth Mentor to the party to make them learn to face reality and to prevent them from making the same mistakes as Liberl's predecessors?
Angst? What Angst?: Joshua and Estelle don't act seem very put out by the impending coup d'etat by the Intelligence Division in the final chapter of FC.
Loewe used to be this in the first build of SC, but after Falcom released a patch to upgrade him, he's universally considered to be even harder than the Final Boss.
The Final Boss of The 3rd is basically a preemptive strike for the party, meaning they'll have enough turns to cast their buffs before the boss can even act. Alternatively, it's a perfect time to wale on it before it has time to set up its barrier pillars.
Every Enforcer battle is cool given how badly both the player and the party want to take them down a peg, but the fights with Renne are particularly intense. She's been hyped up throughout the game as one of the most powerful of the group, and when it's finally time, she backs it up with a powerful S-Break and efficient tactics that'll have the player staring at the continue screen in shock. And in The 3rd, you get to fight three Enforcers at once! All while the awesome arranged version of their boss theme plays.
Loewe's boss fight in SC. One of the most iconic themes mixed together with one of the most memorable bosses in the franchise's history. Being That One Boss just made beating him on Nightmare without any retry offsets is practically an achievement by itself. Lampshaded in The 3rd where there is an achievement for doing just that.
Bizarro Episode: In The 3rd, Moon Door 5 qualifies. Unlike the other Moon Doors, it doesn't star a major character, instead focusing on Mary, one of Matron Theresa's orphans, as she looks for a birthday present for Theresa. Things take a turn for the strange when she gets lost looking for her friend Polly and ends up befriending a baby dragon who gives her a wish-granting stone. Then it turns out to have been All Just a Dream... maybe. It's given an easily missed Continuity Nod in Cold Steel II but we don't know what significance it has to the series as a whole, if any.
The Final Boss of SC is such a Hate Sink that it's almost therapeutic to beat on all three of his forms despite (or because of) the sheer HP count of the last two , especially if you're having Joshua spam Dual Strike.
The 3rd might as well be called "Catharsis: The Game". There's something undeniably satisfying about having access to almost every single playable character throughout the whole trilogy, giving all of them proper closure from the events of SC, and getting to fight characters who have been built up in the previous two games as being supreme badasses, like Kilika and Cassius. And then there's getting to use Richard and Renne, and yes, they are just as overpowered as they were when you fought them as bosses in FC and SC respectively.
1) Clock Up EX + Earth Wall and/or Grail Sphere if Kevin is in the party. Maintain buffs at all times.
2) Cast arts and drop the occasional S-Craft on the Critical, STR+10% or STR+50% turn bonuses. (FC and SC has physical attacks hitting like a wet noodle compared to arts unless it's an S-Craft.)
3) Repeat until enemy is dead.
Kloe is such a useful party member most players will reflexively keep her in the party in SC whenever possible. While her S-Craft doesn't do any damage, it can revive everyone on the field from KO, give an extremely high amount of HP to anyone who's standing, and temporarily gives an additional 50% Defense at 200 CP. What's more, she comes with all her Orbment Slots on one Line. In theory, this is balanced by the fact that a whopping 3 Slots are Water-exclusive, but her ATS are the highest in FC and SC, making her surprisingly strong with the Arts you can teach her. The cherry on top is her Kaempfer Craft, a debuff that cuts an enemy's Strength by 30% and Defense at 20% (it used to be 50% to both stats in FC), giving her incredible versatility. If there is any downside to her, it would be her low HP even with a HP Quartz equipped in one of Water-exclusive slots, meaning that she often gets defeated in one hit especially on Nightmare difficulty with the enemy AI having a tendency to target her to cripple your support.
In The 3rd, it's easy to end up sticking to the same party members for most of the game, especially those listed in Game-Breaker, at least until the final dungeon makes the player use all of them.
Cryon Bits... but only during the Ravens' Star Door chapter in The 3rd. Their speed is insane compared to the Ravens so they'll often get multiple attacks in a row, sometimes as many as 4 turns to your 1. Their attacks can freeze, and you only get two Lighters for the whole chapter. They're immune to Defense Down, so Shakedown won't help you. And the worst part is their size and color makes them very hard to see on the field, making it very easy to run into them accidentally while you're heavily weakened. Better get to Save Scumming!
Disappointing Last Level: The Liber Ark, to an extent. Filled with several mini dungeons that are a bit too maze-like for their own good, tedious key and password sections that pad out its short length with Backtracking, a retread of The Glorious with the least helpful party member in the franchise required to come with you, and mooks that are more obnoxious than difficult blocking the way. What saves it from being a complete slump is the intriguing lore. Fortunately, the Central Axis Pillar is very straightforward, features rematches with the Enforcers, and a suitably climactic endgame.
Disc-One Nuke: Aerial is at least a downplayed version. It's the first multi-target attack spell you get, it's cheap to cast, and the center point of its area of effect can be set to any square, not just where an enemy is. White Gehenna is similar, but it's Non-Elemental, costs 1.5x as much to cast, and has a chance of inflicting Faint, though it's not available as early. Hell Gate on the other hand is only somewhat weaker and locks on to an enemy automatically, it's also cheap to cast and is very easy to install on every party member.
Epileptic Trees: One's worthy of noting outside the WMG page, with the speculation that this game may take place in the future of the world Ys is set in. Of course, this crops up with other Falcom games and is usually scoffed at... but then Alternative Saga came out and the shaking trees caught fire. The Word of God hasn't explicitly clamped down on this or confirmed it... yet. Another popular option is that it takes place in the far, far future of the same world as the Gagharv trilogy.
The idea that the Kiseki world is the future of Ys seems exclusive to the English-speaking (and non-Japanese-reading) fandom; the game itself says the characters were drawn from different worlds (the setting is also largely derived from Xanadu Next but nobody seems to think that it's the same world as the Ys or Kiseki games) and it's pretty clear from the lack of reaction to Chester and Loewe and Lloyd not recognizing Renne or the Brights in Zero no Kiseki that the events of the game didn't 'really' happen. The connections to Gagharv are much more solid, mostly centered around the Doll Knight novels from Cagesong of the Ocean.
Then there's the painting of Gagharv found in The Third's prologue. One could guess whether the painting is just from the painter's imagination or not.
Even Better Sequel: While the backstory and setting of FC is sweeping in scope, the combat is fun, and the characters likable, FC ultimately plays a fair number of tropes relatively straight at least up until its very last act and even comes across as a little cliche at times, and really serves as more of a setting-establishment piece. It was SC that completely blew the lid off of player expectations (and a whole mess of tropes) across the board, gave large quantities of Character Development to the whole cast, and delved into many mature themes without losing its charm, cementing Trails' place in history and the Japanese gaming zeitgeist. (Given what initial reactions to SC's announcement were, there's a level on which this is intensely amusing.)
This could be applied to the previous Legend of Heroes series too, taking the best aspects of those games Up to Eleven.
Franchise Original Sin: The first game ends with the party and Richard seemingly outmatched by the Ring Guardian, only for Cassius to suddenly leap in out of nowhere and cripple the mechanical beast, leading to either him or the party finishing it off, depending on how well you did. This kicked off the much-maligned trend that the series would become notorious for of having the party beat a boss in a battle, only for it to suddenly overwhelm them in the subsequent cutscene to allow for an NPC saviour to leap in and hog all the glory.
Through Xseed's localization, empty chests have its own different hillarious quips since FC and SC is now back at it again. look at this gallery and see it again after reading an article put in "Troubled Production" trope below...
Chapter 1 ends with a fight against three monsters that can and will spam a Life Drain attack on you. They were annoying enough when fought one at a time as sub-bosses in the dungeon leading up to that point.
Surprisingly, the second battle against Lt. Lorence counts. He has lower STR this time around and his attacks are easier to survive, but he makes up for it by spamming Tearal and Earth Guard EX (both of which have very quick casting time and low cooldown) a lot in an attempt to outlast your resources. Not to mention that his skillset covers confusion, faint, and mute, meaning anyone who doesn't have a Grail Locket will have to be tended to for at least one ailment. And you're stuck with a party of 3 rather than 4, one of whom doesn't have a damaging S Craft.
Halfway though the Prologue of SC, you fight the Jaeger Woman. She isn't particularly strong, but she loves run outside your melee range and shoot you from afar. Estelle has Comet, but Anelace has no long-range Crafts at all, and the boss can cancel your Arts. This leaves Anelace useless for a lot of the fight.
The end boss of Chapter 1 of SC, the Storm Bringer. It on its own isn't too bad, apart from two things. First, it summons Puppet Fraggers, which can inflict Faint with their basic attacks and buff the Strength and Speed of everything on the field when they die. This forces a Sadistic Choice of leaving them alive and risking getting overwhelmed, or killing them off but making the boss more dangerous. Second is its Curse Blade, which is a strong AoE attack that inflicts a random debuff. What makes this annoying is that one of the possibly debuffs is Delay, which often results in the boss getting to move again imidiately. Curse Blade's damage can be healed off on its own, but Curse Blade plus another AoE attack right after... not so much.
The Abyss Worms in SC aren't particularly dangerous while at full health: other than the fact that there's a lot of them, they only attack with a simple basic attack that does moderate damage to a single character. However, the moment one takes even a single point of damage, they stop using their basic attack and begin using Earth Shaker, a much more powerful attack that hits all characters on the field. They spawn in large numbers, so the average player's instinct will be to use AoE attacks, but doing so is virtually guaranteed to result in a complete party wipe. Actually beating them demands that you painstakingly whittle them down one at a time while healing the damage the rest of them do with their basic attacks.
The Divine Penguin is only difficult for two reasons: the first is that it gets an automatic preemptive strike and can easily kill the NPC you have to protect before you get a chance to move. The second is that it has an AoE Confusion skill, and you only have access to one Confuse-proof accessory at this point.
Ragnard in Chapter 5, in an unusual way. The fight is actually pretty easy, but it's made occasionally annoying by Ragnard's sheer size blocking your view of most of the battlefield, making it hard to tell where your characters are positioned.
Harsher in Hindsight: The Star Door "Return to the Empire" in The Third is already ominous on its own, but it's even worse if you've completed Trails of Cold Steel II. Essentially, everything you did in that game helped all Osborne's plans come true.
Olivier is really close to Mueller, who unfortunately has to put up with all of his shenanigans, even flirting with the guy.
Maybelle and Lila. They're both so Ambiguously Gay towards each other that it's barely ambiguous. Maybelle outright says Lila is the most precious person in her life, during a sidequest. They spend all their time by each other's side, and in spite of being the mayor of Bose, shows no signs of wanting a husband.
Luciola and Scherazard. They're childhood friends, Schera looked up to her so much that part of her drive to become a Bracer was to prove to her mentor that she could be someone worth her pride, neither can bring themselves to hate one another, and in spite of feeling no regret over killing Mr Harvey, someone Luci explicitly loved, she never could forgive herself for leaving Schera knowing that she'd lost a father figure and her adopted sister at the same time.
On a minor note, when Estelle and the group are interviewing citizens of Rolent who may have seen the Bewitching Bell, when asking Elissa she admits that she thought Luciola in her black dress was "kinda hot".
Estelle and Kloe become rather close as best friends, particularly during SC. Especially on Kloe's end, it can seem as if she's passed some of her admiration from Joshua to Estelle. She also is close with her roommate Jill who was the one to give her that nickname in the first place, and the only one other than Hans and the Dean she trusted with her secret.
Loewe vs Joshua. Multiple people have called the fight, without irony, even more epic than the entire climax sequence of Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children. Made even more impressive by the fact that it's all done with sprites and it still manages to be an emotional climax to their arc and completely awesome.
It's kind of hard to protect the fact that Renne is a major character, let alone the reveal that she's an Enforcer since SC's been out for a decade in Japan. Alternative Saga practically references it wholesale, she reappears in Zero and never mind all the videos and whatnot spread all over the Internet.
Thanks to Cold Steel, Olivier's true identity isn't a secret anymore.
Richard and Renne are Promoted to Playable in The 3rd. Given that every other character you get from a Sealing Stone was a party member from the previous games, the inclusion of these two was probably intended as a surprise. Now it's one of the main things people talk about regarding The 3rd, especially due to both characters' reputations as Purposefully Overpowered.
Speaking of Renne, Star Door 15 is one of the most talked about scenes in The 3rd due to how surprisingly dark and mortifying it is.
In FC, the second fight with Lorence is winnable... provided he doesn't spam Earth Guard EX and Tearal too much. If his AI decides to use both spells too frequently, you might as well give up.
The Divine Penguin sidequest boss in SC begins with a preemptive strike for the enemy... and you have an NPC to protect. If all the enemies decide to attack him, you'll get a Game Over before your party had a chance to act.
In SC, Loewe as boss will summon powerful clones that cannot be inflicted with any stat down effects, which he'll decide to do with a random frequency. If he summons only one clone, he's fairly easy to tank with Earth Wall spam, but if he summons more, he'll easily rip the player's defenses apart.
Magnificent Bastard: Cassius. A rare case where such a character is on the protagonist's side. Mostly.
Memetic Loser: People not remembering Grant's name is a running gag in the fandom due to him being something of a Generic Guy.
On /vg/, spamming "TITS SC WHEN" is this. Another variation is "TITS ON STEAM WHEN".
GameFAQs seems to be fond of making fun of people who question Estelle's behavior towards Olivier.
A portion of the fanbase also loves to make a lot of salt-related puns towards Weissmann. Explanation (Spoilers!) In reference to getting impaled and turned to salt at the hands of Kevin in the end-game.
"Time for ul-tra-vi-o-lence!" explanation Just before she's about to lay a beatdown on Gilbert, she says this with an amazingly smug expression◊ that quickly grew popular when SC was released internationally.
Moe: Estelle is very lovable and can definitely qualify, despite being the protagonist. Tita's Adorkable moments qualify as well, it helps being the second youngest characters in the cast (she's even this in-universe). Renne, when she's not a source of Nightmare Fuel.
For what it's worth, almost all of the characters in the game (even minor and background characters) fall so hard into character archetypes that it almost seems clichéd (Estelle as the upbeat but Book DumbGenki Girl, Joshua as the melancholic Teen Genius with Dark and Troubled Past issues, just to name two examples), but uncharacteristically this makes them not the least less enjoyable, especially since the game goes out of its way to explore their personalities from an objective standpoint. Olivier in particular is essentially Narm Charm on two legs.
Cassius Bright's Qilingong craft is one of the most dramatic self-buffs in the series, to the point where it resembles a powerup sequence from Dragon Ball. It still does a good job of establishing his strength and experience in a World of Badass, and that your party has a long way to go despite being over level 100.
One True Threesome: It's not unheard of for some fans to ship the Official Couple of Estelle and Joshua with Kloe, since she already had a crush on Joshua to begin with and develops a close friendship with Estelle.
In battle, you can't reposition characters and then perform a non-move action, unless you want to use up more turns. While using "Attack" will move the character, you can't control where they will move, possibly resulting in inconvenient positions for the entire party. This can make certain attacks (like Joshua's Flicker) harder to use if the character isn't lined up perfectly.
NPCs on any difficulty above Normal, especially in SC. At some points you're accompanied by an NPC, who causes an instant Game Over if they die. On Hard or Nightmare, their stats don't scale with the enemies', which means that, especially in SC, almost everything you encounter oneshots them. This can result in battles being lost before you get a chance to move if you get unlucky with the enemy A.I. Roulette and they move first and attack the NPC. It also near requires you to waste an Earth Guard on them.
There are multiple points across the first two games where a character temporarily leaves the party and takes all their Quartz with them, with no indication. This can be frustrating if they had any strong, rare Quartz that would be useful to have on other characters. The worst instance of this is one point in SC where several characters leave the party right before Estelle is forced into a moderately-tough solo dungeon, which contains an optional boss who's very hard to defeat without high-level Quartz on Estelle. If the members who left had all your best Action and Cast Quartz, this can be a problem. The Cold Steel games fixed this by automatically removing rare Quartz from characters who leave your party.
The ZFG mechanic in Chapter 8 of SC. Every character in your party has to choose between either giving up an accessory slot for a ZFG or not using arts at all. Worse, the number of ZFGs available decreases as the chapter goes on, to the point where you only have one for the final part of the chapter. This has the effect of putting a hard limit on the number of arts users in your party (hope you didn't like using more than one!), hamstringing your party's effectiveness (especially since you'll eventually only have one person who can heal and/or buff without items), and it also tends to make battles quite boring, since the only thing non-ZFG characters can do is attack or use crafts.
The way the Boss Rush at the end of The 3rd is set up makes it so that you can't change any party's configuration once the rush begins. If you messed up one of the parties, you'll have to reload and do several portions of the final dungeon over again.
Relationship Writing Fumble: From a friendship perspective, Tita claims that Renne is her best friend and that she's always motivated to help her out. But other than a few scenes where they were together, they barely form a friendship bond that one could say that they're best friends. It doesn't help that their "best friend" relationship carries over in the Cold Steel arc where Tita is a lot closer with new Class VII compared to her scenes with Renne.
Ship Mates: Joshua/Estelle shippers tend to support Agate/Tita and Olivier/Schera as well.
As sequels popped out, they add these ships in their list: Zane/Kirika, Loewe/Karin, Lechter/Kloe and Kevin/Ries.
In both games, the Achievement for getting every chest in the game. There are a lot of locations you only visit once, so it's easy to miss out on a few. This includes monster chests, and the final dungeons have some pretty nasty ones. Also, the Achievement requires you to not only open each chest, but examine them again for their "chest phrase". It's easy to forget to do this...
FC has "Preemptive Powerhouse", which requires you to defeat 2nd Lieutenant Lorence in your second encounter with him, a fight the game doesn't expect you to win. Even with the right setup, it's still a heavily luck-based fight, for reasons detailed under Goddamned Boss. Defeating Lorence is also required for getting maximum BP in that story mission, meaning that if you're going for all sidequests, you still need to win the fight for the "In Justice We Trust" Achievement.
SC has "Breakfast Safari", for being a total Guide Dang It!. The description says to find "Bacon", "Eggs" and "Golden Toast". It fails to inform you that they're pigeons, some of which can be permanently missed. And all pigeons look identical, and fly away if you run near them.
"Odyssey of Anton", also from SC, requires you to find and talk to one specific NPC at multiple points through the story, all of which are Permanently Missable. And some of Anton's appearances require long backtracks to obscure areas, and sometimes he changes his dialogue within a short span of time.
"Ramblin' Gambler" in SC. It first requires you to get all 14 Gambler Jack books, most of which are Permanently Missable Content. But on top of that, you also have to get a 21 in Blackjack (not too difficult) and a 4 of a kind in Poker (very difficult, that's a less than 1/1000 hand). There are reports of players spending as long as 11 hours trying to get this.
The 3rd has Fierce Fighter and Flighty Fighter. The former requires you to have won at least 300 battles and never fled from a single battle. The latter requires you to run from at least 300 battles. As if those restrictions weren't bad enough, there are several more: you can only get ONE of these achievements per playthrough, only get them near the end of the game (making Fierce Fighter more of a pain), you have to win 400 battles to open one of the Star Doors (escaped fights do not count) if you want 100% completion (making Flighty Fighter more of a pain), and to top it all off, the spot you need to examine to get either of these achievements is not all that obvious, meaning players without a guide might just miss it entirely. Fierce Fighter in particular is made even more difficult due to the dark rooms in Grimsel Fortress during Chapter 4. If you encounter an enemy but no one has the Night Goggles accessory equipped, then every action except Flee becomes disabled. The problem comes from the fact that players can't get access to a copy of the Night Goggles accessory before the dark rooms, but instead must traverse two dark rooms without encountering any monsters before they come across the room that contains the chest for the Night Goggles.
The final boss of FC has Death Rage. It's not actually a One-Hit Kill, but it does ridiculously high damage (as in, around 1900, when even 700 or 800 would be considered high for other attacks encountered around the same time in the game), so unless you are overleveled/have invested heavily in high-tier defense and HP quartz/are at full or near-full HP (and aren't Tita)/all of the above, it might as well be one. Though you can still No-Sell it with Earth Guard or Earth Wall. On Hard or above, it's even worse, doing around 2700, which practically is a One-Hit Kill.
The Shadow Spear art, for its 20% chance of instant death. If you don't have Deathblow-resistant accessories, prepare to hold your breath every time someone gets hit by one. Losing a crucial member's CP due to the instant death casting at the worst time can cause things to quickly spiral out of control.
Feather Shower from Flame Velgrs, which hits a huge area (i.e. almost guaranteed to hit your whole party unless you're in a very awkward formation) for a not-insignificant amount of damage (a little over 1000 on Hard in SC, at a point where your party has 3000-4000 HP max). Alone it isn't bad, but Flame Velgrs tend to show up in groups and love to all spam Feather Shower at once, resulting in unavoidable massive party damage.
Pretty much any attack with a high chance of inflicting status effects (bonus points if it's Faint, Petrify, or Freeze) might qualify.
Delay Cannon from R-II Gespenst is an AT Delay AOE, which can allow it to double-turn the party if their SPD is too low and if they're too bunched together. The boss of Chapter 1 has something similar, made more frustrating by the Delay effect being random.
Speaking of AOE Delay, Cassius's Rend Armor in The Third. After the boss buffs himself, Rend Armor is practically a guaranteed Total Party Kill if you don't have Earth Wall up, as he'll almost always follow it up with Lightning Flash to finish everyone off.
The final boss of SC, Angel Weisman has Ruined World Noaba. Small violet circles will appear around the party and you have one turn before they go off. That's your single chance to run like hell, because if they're in its range when his turn comes up, that character will be permanently Vanished for the rest of the battle. There's no way to revive them and they're out of commission for the final fight when you need them most. If it's Joshua, you're screwed.
The Prologue of SC ends with Kurt, who is durable, capable of healing himself, and has crafts that can knock party members across the battlefield to make it long and tiring to find opportunities to kill him. On Normal he's more of a Goddamned Boss, but on anything higher this fight is a brutal roadblock for many players, as the boss' damage output is far more than you can reasonably heal off at this point in the game, and he can easily run you out of EP. And the Blown Across the Room effect on his basic attacks hurts Anelace's usefulness a lot, since she has no long-ranged Crafts. He's also very fast, and can often get multiple turns in a row to kill your characters before you can heal.
Loewe in SC. He is such a formidable foe that the game actually lets you choose to proceed without defeating him. Loewe will create two doppelgangers (which, unlike previous Enforcers, are not illusions but full-fledged new enemies to deal with), interrupt your casts (and his doppelgangers share this ability), is flanked by two tenacious mini-bosses and will frequently open the fight with his S-Craft, Dead Emperor Sword, which will most certainly hit all your team members (or only 3 of them if they are spaced out) and possibly kill them outright, or leave them at death's doorstep at best. In short, you will begin the fight severely wounded (unless you bring Kevin with you and use his S-Craft, Grail Sphere, right off the bat), and chances are Loewe will finish you off quickly if you don't heal your party to full health immediately. And if you manage to survive the first turns, then you will be outnumbered once the doppelgangers join the fray. The saving grace is that Loewe and the mini-bosses (but not the doppelgangers) aren't immune to Clock Down, allowing you some breathing room once you manage to stick the status debuff on them. For all these reasons, Loewe is considered to be the hardest boss of the game, even harder than the actual final boss.
Renne also tends to make people pull their hair out in SC, particularly the last fight with her when she's accompanied by Pater Mater. It's bad enough that she can use her reaper-esque S-Crafts to one shot your entire party if you're positioned badly and not prepared with instant-death protection. When she's accompanied by a mountain of steel and HP that can punt you across the arena and revive her when she's knocked out? The suffering never ends.
On the higher difficulties, Renne's first fight is a strong contender for the most difficult battle in the game other than Loewe (and even on the lower difficulties, it's no walk in the park). Not only do her attacks all have the potential to inflict Instant Death (and she'll open with an S-craft that will one-shot your party if you don't have protection against it), she's accompanied by a large number of Gorgons, annoying little mooks who will quickly spread out around the outside of the arena (thus making them difficult to hit with AoE attacks) and shoot lasers that all have the chance of inflicting the Petrify status.
Grimoire!Kevin and his five Death Sluggers from The Third. For starters, he likes to spam Grail Sphere EVERY TURN. And the sluggers...OHMAIGAWD THE SLUGGERS. They have an attack that hits one ally unit multiple times with high damage each depending on the difficulty, with four times in nightmare mode. This boss fight is basically a race on who can inflict high damage the fastest and unless you bring Kloe for her +50% Def S-Craft bonus, you won't survive.
In The 3rd, Cassius is often compared to Loewe and while he has slightly lower stats than Schwarzritter on paper, he makes up for it with his cheap craft selection. His Lightning Flash craft has an AOE to rival S-Crafts and higher end arts, his Rend Armor craft is a fairly wide line AOE that AT Delays, his S-Craft hits the entire field, and he can buff his STR and SPD to make the previous points worse. He's also completely immune to debuffs and all ailments, ensuring that the player can't do anything to weaken him like with previous bosses. The only saving grace is that he has no minions and doesn't seem to inflict many ailments.
In The 3rd Schwarzritter aka Loewe isn't quite as tough as when he was a boss in SC due to summoning clones later in the fight and only having one robot minion, but like Cassius, he has complete immunity to both ailments and debuffs.
SC also has Captain Amalthea's tank at the end of Chapter 3. Its HP and defense are stupidly high for this point in the game, and it's only the second fight of three consecutive boss battles. (The third one, fortunately, is easier, but the tank is practically a Marathon Boss on its own. And it doesn't exactly slouch in attack power either.)
Luciola in SC, as she has powerful Fire attacks that hit several of your party members and is flanked by multiple minions with high evasion and the ability to cancel arts and inflict Sleep, AND two bulky minibosses that are immune to arts and physical attacks respectively. The second fight with her is particularly bad as she has TWO devastating S-Crafts to demolish you with AND can summon clones that cause you to hurt your party members when you attack them, meaning if you've been relying entirely on Area-of-Effect attacks until now, you're in for some serious pain.
The first three bosses of the Boss Rush in The 3rd always start the battle as an ambush encounter, meaning they and their mooks get the first turn. If you don't have enough CP to S-Craft most or all of the mooks before they can move, you'll probably have to restart most or all of the final chapter. The worst of them is R-II Gespenst, which has Delay Cannon to AT Delay party members that are bunched close together. In contrast, the fourth boss aka the Final Boss gives you the first turn and more than enough time to set up buffs.
SC's Prologue is often regarded as one of the most difficult segments in the entire series on the higher difficulties. You're restricted to a few small areas without much chance to grind (there are Shining Poms, but good luck killing them this early in the game), so you're mostly limited to the resources you find in chests. And it ends with a brutal boss fight. On a Nightmare, Non NG+ run, it's possible to render the Prologue Unwinnable by using up your resources too early.
Chapter 8 in SC. With the story rapidly approaching its climax, Ouroboros succeeds in disabling the tetracylic towers. A gigantic flying city appears over Liberl and the Orbal Shutdown Phenomenon spreads outwards from it, knocking out all orbments in the entire country. But do you get to go board the city for the final showdown with Weissmann? NoooOOOoooo, you're stuck playing delivery-girl, running around the entire country ON FOOT to turn the phones back on. Worse, for the entire chapter you have a limited number of ZFGs, items that take up an accessory slot and must be used if the wielder wants to use any arts whatsoever. Aside from the very end of the chapter, nothing of any real story substance happens during this chapter and the game could pretty much jump from the end of Chapter 7 to the start of the attack on Grancel and not miss anything of importance.
Some of the doors in the 3rd will involve flashback battles, where you're stuck with limited arts, items, and equipment. In some cases, you don't even get to use arts.
Star Door 6 ("Training - Agate-style") stands out in particular, as you're using three Joke Characters with weak stats, no Arts and a heavy reliance on CP, have very limited healing items and have to take on a full dungeon rather than a single fight.
The fishing minigame door is dreaded by many for the difficult timing mechanics and the AI opponent's luck in getting larger fish.
They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: Tita and Renne develop a friendship in SC's third chapter. Even after The Reveal, Renne still wants to be friends with her. In The 3rd, Tita's motivation for working on the Orbal Gear is to help Renne, even if it means making an archaism that can stand up to Pater-Mater. When they finally meet her, she's confrontational and it seriously looks like Ries is going to pick a fight with Renne, only for the situation to be quickly defused. At this point, Tita's unlocked her Orbal Gear Craft, which would've made for a great rival battle. Even then, their aforementioned bond is hardly referenced after that point, both of Renne's final scenes in SC and The 3rd lack any dialogue with Tita, even if you bring her along in the former.
Tier-Induced Scrappy: Josette is a Low Tier example. In both the second and third games, she has crappy stats, no noteworthy crafts, and an S-craft that requires the player to unlock it (by rescuing her brothers in SC, and in The 3rd winning a mini game and a boss fight to unlock its upgraded version. She also happens to be a Required Party Member for a moderately tricky dungeon at the end of the second game, which doesn't exactly endear people to her given her lacklustre stats.
Useless Useful Spell: Did anyone ever actually use Sylphen Wing during the game? The speed buffs, Clock Up and Clock Up EX, are a case of taking a long time to become useful: in FC they only really become worth using toward the end of the game, when they actually last a decent time (and by then, there is little point in ever casting the lower-tier buff since you likely have enough quartz to use the upgraded one), while in SC they and companion spell Clock Down become near-mandatory for any serious fight once you can cast them. Status effect spells for the most part subvert it: a surprising number of bosses in FC are vulnerable to Chaos Brand, which inflicts confusion, and almost all of them in SC are vulnerable to Clock Down. You can easily cast Chaos Brand on, say, the Special Ops Guards or the opposing teams during the Martial Arts Competition and watch them beat each other up.
Values Dissonance: The relationship between Tita and Agate. While most players enjoy the older brother/younger sister dynamic between the two and the Heartwarming Moments it provides, Western fans are a lot less receptive to the strong Ship Tease on Tita's part. The age gap between them is a whopping 15 years, and Tita doesn't graduate past 13 by the end of the trilogy. Such gaps aren't unheard of in Japanese media, and have a higher chance of being better received there, but to western fans it can come across as more uncomfortable than cute. Indeed, practically the entire cast of The 3rd are enthusiastic about the idea. What keeps it from being completely unliked by most fans is the lack of any romantic affection on Agate's part, and by the time of Cold Steel some fans have warmed up slightly, if only because Tita's now reached the age of majority consent, making the pairing a little less unbalanced.
What an Idiot!: In Chapter 3 of SC, Estelle receives a mysterious letter that's SUPPOSEDLY from Joshua, telling her to meet him alone in a certain place. No one ever considers the possibility that it MIGHT be a trap by Ouroboros. Guess what happens when Estelle reaches the meeting point? It's made even worse by the fact that the entire plot of the chapter revolves around someone sending threatening letters throughout the city.