A lot of characters' Active Voice lines when finding treasure chests are worded... kind of badly ("What an amazing chest!" and so on). Except for Crow's, which given his character is probably intentional. And then there's Angie's in Cold Steel II: "Always happy to lay my hands on another chest." Given Angelica's usual behavior, this is also probably intentional. Oh, and in the original Cold Steel, the Trophy/achievement for opening all chests in single playthrough is "Chest Grabber."
If Fie is chosen as Rean's Love Interest, she gets one when Rean asks her if she was going to water the flowers and she responds that he "needs more watering now."
Osborne: Is he a Benevolent Boss who ultimately has to make the most difficult decisions or an uncaring bastard who will use his subordinates to further his goals? The fact that in the first two games he helps Erebonia with most of its problems but gives people from other countries and cities hell doesn't help. Cold Steel IV answers that question with him really being Good All Along and that he legitimately wanted to get rid of the curse for good.
Osborne in Cold Steel I and II era: when he says "Well done Armbrust," is he congratulating Crow for assassinating him and actually besting him or is it congratulating Crow for being a part of his plans to start off the Civil War and Crow was just his Unwitting Pawn?
Rean's relationship with Elise: Does he really not see that Elise has a massive crush on him or is he just being selectively oblivious about it and knows that his sister would be better off marrying a noble who would take care of her? He even shows some approval points for Patrick in Cold Steel III and even lets him have a dance with her. Cold Steel IV reveals that he's just that dense to Elise's feelings towards him as he only saw her as a little sister until she started confessing her feelings towards him.
The ARCUS units and their effects on Rean and the relationships between him and even his classmates: Do they actually allow two people to work together or do they manipulate two users who do not get along to forcibly work together even if the two of them would like to not cooperate at all or kill one another? Class VII seems to have genuine bonds, but what does that mean for other characters? Even though it is shown in the first game that links cannot be fully achieved and will always break intermittently between two incompatible users which suggests the former, many still debate this topic occasionally.
Alisa's family. Her mother already knew that Alisa's father, Alberich, was still alive. Was she aware of his true intentions or was she fooled by him like everyone else? Some fans suspects both - she really thought he was dead until the truth somehow reached her. And the discovery of his tricks was what lead Chairman Irina to the personality change from a caring mom to a cold, calculating, and manipulative big cheese.
Valimar's memories. Did Valimar really forget a lot of things while he was sleeping after Dreichels used him for a long time or did George tamper with its memories when the latter hooked Valimar up to his computer? And if so, what's the reason for it?
Angst? What Angst?: Despite being in a uniquely difficult position, especially after the (supposed) death of Osborne, whom she affectionately called "Gramps", Millium never shows any emotion other than upbeat enthusiasm. At least, until Class VII breaks up at the end of Cold Steel II, at which point she breaks down bawling.
For a boss that's described as terrorising Heimdallr during the Dark Ages and is considered important enough to appear in the opening movie, Zoro Agruga is a bit on the easy side. It's a single target and never summons flunkies (unlike the previous chapter's boss), it's large size makes it easy to hit from nearly anywhere, it's very susceptible to Delay, has few attacks, and its Arts are very easy to cancel. In fact, it's entirely possible to prevent it from even attacking, by inflicting Seal and then cancelling its Art every time it attempts it.
This discrepancy makes more sense when reading the Black Records in Cold Steel 2. You're fighting what's LEFT of Zoro. When you consider that the boss is been around for over a millennia it's in good shape for it's age. And when you fight the properly revived creature in Cold Steel 3, it puts up far more of a fight.
While treated as one in-universe, Loa Luciferia could also be one for a Final Boss even if it does have a HP to 1 attack especially with all of the game breaking strategies players can employ.
In the third game, the fight against Arianhrod and Demon McBurnshould be one of the toughest Boss Fights in the whole saga. It...doesn't quite live up to the hype, thanks to all the game-breaking strategies you'll likely have access to at this point. Not to mention, they're only the first fight of the final dungeon's Boss Rush.
The earlier fights against Arianhrod and the Eisenritter is just as disappointing, being really easy to win without taking a single point of damage, only in part thanks to Aurelia.
In Cold Steel IV, it is possible for players to make Osborne piloting Ishmelga to be thisif they get lucky and the status debuff "Seal"note Prevents all physical attacks for one turn for bosses. sticks.
For those who thought that Olivert's screen time for both games was too minimal, Cold Steel III has him revealed far earlier than the other characters of Class VII and will also be wearing his "Olivier Lenheim" clothes.
Localization-wise, NISA apparently learned from their Ys VIII's localization disaster and are trying to avert another disaster. First, they didn't announce PC version right away possibly to reduce workload considering the massive amount of work that needs to be done. Second, they managed to involve three people who worked on Cold Steel I and II in this localization; Brittany Avery, (former localization producer of XSEED and known Trails Fangirl), Kris Knigge (freelance localization editor) and Ryan Thomson (translator) to make sure the lore is still consistent and the end product to have similar, if not the same feeling as the previous two games, something that worries the fanbase the most. Lastly, they released a teaser trailer for III with Sean Chiplock reprising the role of Rean, assuring fans of the VAs that they are interested in keeping the current cast- note made possible thanks to the happy coincidence that both NIS America and X Seed shared Bang Zoom! Entertainment as their de facto talent agency and recording studio In the end, the only VA they couldnt get to return was Ashly Burch, and only because there was a scheduling conflict. Theyve even decided to delay Cold Steel III for a month when it became apparent that there are previously undiscovered bugs that happened due to the audio length not matching up with the animation script and causing the game to skip scenes rather than Christmas-rushing the game.
Machias can be considered this. Some love his tsundere-like antics and his banter with Jusis while some others hate him for the exact same reason, calling him massive whiner. Do note that his whole feud with Jusis started because of his rather out-of-nowhere rambling on how he hated nobles and Jusis playing typical noble role aggressively which aggravated Machias on several occasions. However, his start of meltdown in chapter 2, his reason for hating nobles (which is reasonable) and his usefulness combat-wise (if played right) change some hater's heart and become one of strong points among his fans. Haters still exist though.
Some people love Jusis' cool and detached attitude and his massive Character Development throughout the series. Others dislike him for being haughty, arrogant, and his amounts of angst throughout the second game.
Possibly the most polarizing character among Class VII is Alisa. Her detractors point to her as an overly-cliched anime girl whose Tsundere tendencies and Pervert Revenge Mode reaction to Rean's clearly accidental Funbag Airbag moment at the start of the first game make her wholly unlikable (the fact that Rean/Alisa tends to be pushed as the closest thing to an Official Couple the game has doesn't help). Her defenders will typically point out that her Tsundere actions get toned way down after the first chapter of the first game and that she does admit to an overreaction and apologizes for her Armor-Piercing Slap. However, despite all this, Alisa herself actually does well in popularity polls and is especially popular in Japan as seen with the Cold Steel III popularity poll where she came in at 3rd place right behind Rean and Altina respectively.
As for protagonists, Rean is a general base breaker for the Kiseki fans among the Western fanbase. Either his entire character arc is interesting, complex, and his angst are thoroughly justified, or he's a whiny, Wangst driven teenager whose past compared to the other characters in the Kiseki franchise comes off as dull and uninspired. Then there's his insistence in wanting Crow back to the academy, never mind the latter assassinating the highest official of the empire. Is it thoroughly justified for Rean to wanting to bring him back to atone for the crimes that he's committed just like the other protagonists before himnote Estelle adopting Joshua and Renne as siblings, never mind both being former Ouroboros members, Kevin abandoning Ries in her time of need after he accidentally kills her older sister, or Lloyd forgiving Ian for shooting his brother. or are his reasons to bringing Crow back to the academy very flimsy and can come off as forceful, never mind the other guy being very insistent that he's doing all this on his own accord. The fact that he's the protagonist for a total of four games compared to his predecessors doesn't help his case. Though many fans now do think that Rean's angst are justifiable at the end of Cold Steel II and especiallyCold Steel III. Although, keep in mind this is mostly for the Western fanbase. Rean is very popular on Japan, ranking third place in a post Cold Steel II poll with the characters of the entire franchise, only being beaten by Olivier and Estelle. He is also comes in at first place in the Cold Steel III and Cold Steel IV popularity poll.
Emma is another polarizing character in the series mainly thanks to the fact that many players consider Celine to be Rean's partner-in-crime when it comes to the witch side of the story and Emma feels like a redundant character. Plus many players have always liked the relationship with Rean and Celine and their interactions felt more natural. Many players wished that they would have been merged as a single character rather than having two characters with the familiar overshadowing her master.
Crow is also very polarizing due to how Easily Forgiven he was by Rean and the others for his actions as leader of the Imperial Liberation Front. Those who hate him think the story tries to downplay his crimes which among other things, started the civil war that makes up the bulk of the second game. On the other hand, those who like him think the game makes it clear Crow is a villain, as he still helps Duke Cayenne and the Noble Alliance during the civil war after Osborne's presumed death, and instead take issue with Rean and the rest of Class VII for being so lenient with Crow. These fans think Class VII has incredibly Skewed Priorities, which Crow calls them out on when they try to bring him back. His situation has also been compared to other characters in the Kiseki Series such as Renne and Joshua, with people pointing out how forgiveness has always been a theme in the franchise given that Estelle forgave those two for their actions as Enforcers of Ouroboros. However, there are also fans who see the comparison of Crow's situation to those two as a false equivalence due to the differences in their situations, such as how Renne and Joshua were much younger than Crow when they joined Ouroboros, and how Joshua was brainwashed by Weissman, whereas Crow's actions as C were of his own free will. Take note that this mainly applies to the Western fanbase just like Rean because as of Cold Steel IV, he's the second most popular character of the series, right behind Rean according to the popularity polls◊. In fact, he has two times the number of votes compared to the character in third place (Altina) in the Cold Steel IV popularity poll.
Crow + Ordine in Cold Steel I absolutely qualifies. It's unexpected, tense, exciting, and the music is absolutely phenomenal. It also completely relies on your skill and ability to adapt, making it impossible to cheese it.
The duel between Rean and Crow in Cold Steel II. Because this is the first time players get unlimited access to Rean's Super Mode and Crow will still make you work for your victory.
Vermillion Apocalypse in Cold Steel II because it allows you to use all of Class VII. And yes, that includes Crow in Ordine, giving players an exclusive Combination Attack for the final part of the battle.
Loa Luciferia, also in Cold Steel II. As the true final boss of the game, it has oodles of HP, some extremely powerful attacks, and basically allows (and, to a degree, forces) the players to go all out against it. It manages to hit that nice sweet spot of being a tough challenge without ever feeling unfair or cheap. Not to mention, as the pre-battle dialogue highlights, this is the last hurrah for Class VII, One Last Field Trip before they go their separate ways and one last chance for them - and for the player - to relive their glory moments and say their goodbyes. The fact that the boss has an absolutely amazing BGM playing when you face it just adds to how incredible the whole experience is.
Cold Steel III finally gives us the long-waited battle between Class VII and Arianhrod. Except you're not just fighting the Steel Maiden herself, you're fighting her along with all three Stahlritter at the same time! But to even the odds, you've got Aurelia in the party, who more than lives up to two games worth of being hyped up to be one of the series' strongest characters. The fact that Unfathomed Force returns from when you fought her back in Ao just makes the experience even more epic. Oh, and you can finally see Grand Cross in glorious 3D.
The second-to-last boss of Cold Steel III is one of the most emotionally-charged fights in the series, as you take on the Ironbloods - Claire, Lechter, Millium and Rufus. The first three are former party members who you've likely gotten attached to, and they're clearly conflicted over having to fight Class VII. Meanwhile, Rufus is someone players will likely have been wanting to beat down ever since he completely trouncedClass VII's ass back in the second game. Aside from being a legitimate challenge, it manages to be both incredibly cathartic and utterly gut-wrenching at the same time.
Rean himself as a boss fight in Cold Steel IV ends up being one of the best fights in the game as he is in full Spirit Unification mode against his students with him no longer holding back anything when he was a boss fight 3 games ago.
The True Final Boss of Cold Steel IV, Ishmelga Loge allows players to use all of the playable characters of Cold Steel IV and is split into three teams.
Back in Japan, they consider the final duel between Rean and Crow in Cold Steel IV in their Divine Knights to be the best boss fight ever. Mainly because Rean has access to every single subcontractor in the game while having to fight against Crow. And that does include both old and new Class VII.
The Intermission stage, Pantagruel, is also another fan favorite stage despite it being mostly a cutscene based stage. Mainly thanks to seeing all the villains that you've fought for a game and a quarter talking with Rean nonchalantly, breaking out Alfin and getting to use her powerful Arts, and Rean's best moments in the game, capping it off with a Duel Boss with Crow that you can actually win for a change.
In Cold Steel IV, the Black Workshop ends up being one of the best levels in the game due to the sheer number of boss fights players get to deal with, Rean actually breaking out of his chains and is permanently buffed throughout the entire level and is joined with Celine, Crow, and Duvalie, and some of the best boss fights in the game, capping off with New Class 7 joining with Rean against Osborne and Arianrhod.
In Japan, the ending to Cold Steel breaks the base some, just because it's soWhammy that a lot of people feel like it's more of a non-ending and too cruel a cliffhanger after that long a game - even Sky FC at least ends with some kind of player accomplishment, while Cold Steelends with the entire team violently broken up, the Noble Faction on the verge of total victory, Heimdallr in ruins, robots everywhere, and a badly-injured Rean being carted away.
The numerous amounts of Big Damn Heroes moments in Cold Steel 2. Is it justifiable that the villains Class VII face are way out of their league and thus needs saving, or is it just a terrible narrative making Class VII look really weak due to constantly being Overshadowed by Awesome in the end? This is fairy egregious due to how the Sky party was at least able to force the bosses to retreat, though it can be argued that Class VII is facing worse odds due to fighting Dual Bosses rather than simple Flunky Bosses.
The bonding system can be this for the fans. Was it an interesting mechanic to find out more about the lives of the other Class VII members (and some other playable characters) and finally date them, or did it hurt their Character Development and series continuity in a game that's big on them? This got worse in the second game where detractors claim that aside from Rean, Fie, Jusis, and Emma, everyone else felt Demoted to Extra.
Building off of bonding system's example: Cold Steel IV officially added Juna, Altina, and Musse to Rean's harem. On the one hand, some who liked the new girls and their relationship dynamics with Rean were happy with the development. Others, however, were less than pleased, as not only did this up the count of Rean's possibly suitors (already a touchy subject from the first 2 games) from 8 to 11, but it can involve Rean possibly making the unethical decision to consider a future relationship with one of his students, which the detractors claim is very uncharacteristic of him (even if the age gap is fairly small). The base is especially broken for Juna (due to her being part of a Fan-Preferred Couple with Kurt) and Altina (due to most people considering her to be too young for Rean, as well as preferring a more familial relationship between the two). It wouldn't have been as bad...had it not been for the game's decision to make the Class VII girls' bonding events all unambiguously romantic.
Cold Steel III's ending broke the fanbase even further as it ends with Osborne getting what he wants easily, Rean is fully broken, Angelica presumed dead- shot by George no less, Millium dies, the Courageous blows up with Toval, Victor, and Olivert inside it, and then the final text says that it is to be continued in Cold Steel: The Last Saga. Fans went livid because the Calvard arc is getting shoved again for a confirmed fourth game setting in Erebonia yet again.
The song in 2nd PV of Cold Steel III was thought to be the opening song of the game as the norm for the previous games but when the game came out, the opening is completely different. This made quite an argument among the fans wondering which song fits the game more and is the better of the two. Not to mention it made the fans wonder if the song in the 2nd PV isn't the opening theme, then what was the actual role of this particular music track? Although it turns out that it was the ending theme of the game which definitely fits as everything really went south very quickly.
The introduction of the Divine Knight battles from the end of Cold Steel onwards. A long-awaited way of allowing the protagonists to even the odds against enemy Humongous Mecha or a poorly timed case which resulted in Medium Blending between Fantasy and Science Fiction?
Some fans disagree with how Class VII is stated to be "neutral" in the civil war, since their skirmishes with the Noble Alliance break neutrality. They argue that "independent" would be a more appropriate term because the class doesn't follow the chain-of-command from either faction. On the other side of the argument, some fans argue that Class VII is aiming to be neutral in a similar way to the Bracers by focusing on helping civilians and students rather than directly aiming to win the war for the Imperial Army.
Finally in Cold Steel IV, it's revealed that the whole Curse of Erebonia is Ishmelga and is the Bigger Bad of the Erebonia Arc. Did it invoke Rousseau Was Right properly? Considering the fact that one of the running themes of the series is how there's no such thing as a "single source of all evil" and the choice of being evil is derived from one's own choices rather than outside forces, this did not sit well with some fans as now pretty much every villain established at the end of Cold Steel III spontaneously has this convenient scapegoat to pin all their evil actions they caused throughout the series on it, making it look like a cheap cop-out for the characters who would have been villains without Ishmelga's influence given their personal motivations anyway. On the other hand, this also explains how some characters spontaneously underwent Took a Level in Jerkass and/or FaceHeel Turn for seemingly no reason.
Cold Steel IV as a whole ends up becoming this even in its own arc. Was it an exciting and epic conclusion for all three arcs and a fitting Grand Finale while starting a new arc or was it a mess of a game with lots of Padding issues, the character bloating which meant that some are gonna be Demoted to Extra, wasted plot ideas, and a nonsensical Giant Space Flea from Nowhere of a Bigger Bad whose motivations are never explored and felt like it was suddenly shoehorned into the series in the last moment?
The fact that Cold Steel III and IV as well as the Crossbell arc would be localized by NIS America instead of XSEED has created a fractured base. There are fans who are unhappy with NIS taking over for several reasons, some justified (mostly their tendency to churn out translation train wrecks and porting disasters, although voice talent changes and even censorship has been cited) and want XSEED to be involved instead. Another group instead are just happy that it's at least getting a localization at all.note The latter group also noted that both XSEED and NIS share the same voice talent agency, and that NIS has took aboard several ex-XSEED staff who worked on Falcom localizations in the past, and rationalized accordingly.
The bonus characters only available in the sequel's final dungeon. They're all extremely broken, and there's just something about playing as Vita and Crow, with all their overpowered boss abilities that's SO satisfying.
To the fans who were getting tired of Class VII jobbing and having a poor performance in Cold Steel II, Cold Steel III pretty much makes all of them take levels in badassery, and do much better.
For those who were sick and tired of Ouroboros coming out on top every time, having Osbourne actually make them lose for once as of the climax of II is refreshing for once.
Complacent Gaming Syndrome: As soon as players have access to a level 5 Moebius and Chrono Burst, battles end up becoming "group up characters, have one character spam Chrono Burst and have said character use items to buff up the team and feed them CP and spam using S-Crafts like no tomorrow."
As for characters, expect players to never take Rean out of the front lines in all four games unless the plot says so. It's because of how versatile he is with his restricted slots (two Time slots and one Fire slot which translates to more speed and attack power), his skills that are just too powerful, and his levels are tied to the Divine Knight fights.
Contested Sequel: While Cold Steel games are not really a sequel story-wise since events run in the same timeline with Crossbell duology, fans still debate which is better between the two of them. The catch is, not everyone has access to Zero and Aos story and gameplaynote The only way to learn the story is by extensive knowledge of Japanese (PSP and Vita version) or Chinese (PC version) since localization is pretty much near-impossible by current condition. There's a fan translation in progress but it will take quite some time to finish. so people who can objectively compare between the two games are few. Tension between the two groups stems from Crossbell supporters who insist about Zero and Ao's superiority and Cold Steel supporters who are annoyed since they feel said games are too overhyped. The comparison extends to character power tier since two characters from Crossbell fought Cold Steel's main character and one more character who made a debut in the second game. There's also another comparison with Sky trilogy and it's more intense...
While the basic plot of the Divertissement is perfectly understandable without knowledge of Zero no Kiseki, the characters occasionally go on long-winded speeches name-dropping tons of characters from that game, which will leave people who haven't played it (which is a lot) very confused. The localizers' notes Lampshade this.
Translator's Note: god here comes this part where we're name-dropping like 45 characters from the previous games why does this exist
While the first two games can be played without knowledge of previous games, Cold Steel III and IV are much more heavily tied to the Sky trilogy and Zero/Ao duology as they feature characters, settings, and important plot points that have appeared in both those series. IV in particular is especially guilty given how three of the four main protagonists in the entire franchise◊ are all in it.
Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: The third game's ending can certainly feel like this. By the end, Millium is Killed Off for Real, Angelica, Olivert, Victor and Toval are all presumed dead, Rean has become fully broken and lost control of his Superpowered Evil Side, and unintentionally plunges the entire empire of Erebonia into darkness, and the game ultimately concludes with yet another decisive victory for Osborne. It's particularly bad for the fans who expected Cold Steel III to finally bring the Erebonia arc to a proper conclusion, and some are just mad that we've gotten three cliffhanger endings in a row. Thankfully, it all paid off wonderfully in the final game.
Die for Our Ship: Given that there are a lot of people that can be shipped with Rean, this trope tends to crop up though Alisa usually gets the worst because of what she does during the beginning of the first game where she overreacted to the situation and not accepting Rean's immediate apology right away considering they've already done their Meet Cute moment during the beginning portions of the game. Being pushed by Falcom as the main love interest and being the only female character to kiss Rean on the lips in her bonding event for 75% of the saga didn't help.
The Epilogue's final dungeon in the second game is generally seen as a let-down. For one thing, It's 17 floors (albeit not particularly lengthy ones) and there's five boss fights packed in there, and it's all procedurally generated, meaning it comes across as fairly flat and lifeless, particularly compared to, say, the Realm of the Great Shadow or the Infernal Castle. Basically, think of the place as a mandatory Bonus Dungeon. The fact that even the game itself points out the whole mission is pointless anyway can also ruin any dramatic tension or investment.
On the other hand, some love it for giving you access to every game breaking character in the game. In addition, each randomized floor is guaranteed to have a chest of each rarity, thus allowing for grinding of super rare quartz and powerful accessories. Add in the phantasmal mirrors and you have nearly infinite strategies and party combinations to tackle the dungeon.
The third game's final dungeon also fits. It's not bad but it's easy to see why it's considered underwhelming compared to the previous chapter's dungeon. Despite a cool aesthetic and exciting soundtrack, it's little more than just several straight hallways of enemies, with boss battles in-between floors. The Final Boss is also seen by many as vastly inferior to the fight with the fully-revived Zoro Agruga in the previous chapter. Doesn't help that for all of the boss fights, the chosen characters have permanent 75% buffs throughout the fight.
Crow for quite a bit of fans who were really enamored with him. Taken Up to Elevenin his Azure Siegfried persona, even making it 4th for the popularity poll for Cold Steel III despite not even a playable character.
There's also the treatment for Osborne to be this, mostly thanks to outwitting Ouroboros. Mainly in the west at least.
Ending Fatigue: Cold Steel II has two entire dungeons left after the "Epilogue," as well as a whole Free Day of quests left. You still have about 4-5 hours left after beating the Infernal Castle.
Epileptic Trees: Both endings of Cold Steel IV have become a massive speculation ground as to why players are first railroaded towards The Hero Dies ending before reloading a save file, do a sidequest that's framed as flashback sequence, and suddenly the ending changes to the Golden Ending. Not to mention the Grandmaster claiming that the Phantasmal Blaze Plan is complete and authorizes the start of the Eternal Regression Plan. Despite the fact that Ouroboros never manages to obtain the Earth, Fire, and, Mirage Sept-Terrion and even confirmed that it can no longer be used ever again.
Towa Herschel, the Student Council President of Thors Military Academy, won players over with her cute design, hardworking personality, and being one of the few students outside of Class VII to actively help them, to the point of being Promoted to Playable in the sequel. Undoubtedly, her popularity is the reason why she gets an alternate universe counterpart in Tokyo Xanadu.
Mint, one of Elliot's friends from Music Club, proved surprisingly popular with the fans for her quirky personality and funny interactions with her uncle Instructor Makarov. Each game since the first has since given her more screentime and chances to show off her stuff, from working on the bridge of the Courageous in Cold Steel II to working as a mechanic at the Thors Second Branch School in Cold Steel III.
Altina already had her fair share of fans for her role in Cold Steel II, but her appearance Cold Steel III as a playable main character made her popularity skyrocket for showcasing her development as an individual and a heartwarming relationship with Rean that's comparable to a father-daughter relationship. All of this, combined with her more reasonable-looking outfit instead of her clothes in Cold Steel II, made her loved enough to land 2nd just behind Rean in the Cold Steel III poll.
Out of the students of Thors II, Jessica is the most well remembered of the bunch for being playable for one fight against Rean.
Escapist Character: Rean can be seen as a massiveDeconstruction of this trope where at first glance, players find him to be a Chick Magnet, a guy who has a Dark and Troubled Past that has super powers, uses a famous sword style, has a robot that only he can pilot, is a Nice Guy to his friends, and looks perfect in almost every way. Then the game decides to screw him in the worst ways possible, his solutions for his friends being in trouble is to sacrifice himself in near suicidal ways, he's always dragged in the worst situations possible, he's the Unwitting Pawn of almost everyone around him and his friends, and if his situation is getting better, life always finds a way to bring it down to where he comes out worse than before. Even deconstructed characters of this trope still manage to find a happy ending or two in their games. Rean on the other hand has yet to get one happy ending as he's always failed his primary objectives in three games.
Of all of the potential Love Interests for Rean that can be picked in the second game, the most popular ones by far seem to be Laura, Sara and Fie, largely due to how nicely their final bonding events are written. Claire also used to be this in Cold Steel II after the scene where they both awkwardly apologize to each other for Rean snapping at her for not telling him about Osborne being his father, but then see Ship Sinking below. It helps that all of the above characters are also quite popular in their own right, even if it's just for being VERY potent in-game.
Aside from the aforementioned Cargo Shipping, prior to Cold Steel III's release, people loved shipping Juna with Kurt thanks to their circumstances being foils to one another and the entire Pink Girl, Blue Boy vibe they have. The shipping only increased after seeing their interactions in-game. Naturally, a lot of these shippers weren't happy when Cold Steel IV went and officially made Juna another one of Rean's many potential love interests.
After Cold Steel III came out, fans started treating Rean as Altina's dad or older brother figure. They would later rank 5th in the poll for "Top 20 Favorite Relationships◊ as of Cold Steel IV", right above Estelle and Joshua. That being said, whether or not any of these fans approved of Altina being made a potential suitor for Rean is up for debate.
From the Ho Yay side, while Rean/Crow is popular, there's a surprising amount of Rean/Jusis fanart at Pixiv. Funnily enough, the artist for the official manga adaptation likes to draw both pairs on their twitter.
After Cold Steel IV came out, a number of fans wished that Lianne became Rean's mom as many would have wanted a story line where Rean was the foster younger brother of the Stahlritter and interacted with some of the members of Ouroboros. Note that while Teo and Lucia aren't hated by fans, they're unfortunately associated with the more hated Elise, who contributes nothing to the story.
From a character other than Rean, the Jusis/Millium ship is one of the more popular ones due to their chemistry together. When Millium died in III, it's Jusis that went Say My Name. While players were sad that Millium died in Cold Steel III, many ended up rejoicing in Cold Steel IV'sGolden Ending where they got lots of moments and even more after Rean gives Jusis Millium's sword form, making it seem like Rean is a Shipper on Deck for the two of them. Jusis giving Millium a hug in the ending cemented it for everyone and set the ship sailing towards the horizon. Then the ship proceeds to go light speed as it is shown that Millium was the one who caught the bouquetnote It's considered to be a sign that lucky person in question will be the next person among the guests to get married in the future In-Universe and in some real life weddings. during Olivert and Schera's wedding in the credits...while messing with Jusis.
Crow/Towa is also surprisingly quite popular among fans due to their adorable interactions, having strong chemistry together and care for each other despite having contrasting personalities even after Crow's betrayal at the end of the first game, and their height differences making them look cute together.
Other than Machias/Jusis being very popular in the fandom, Machias/Emma and Machias/Fie also get quite a lot of love from fans. The former for being fellow Badass Bookworm, their friendly rivalry in academics, and their respective positions as the old Class VII's president and vice president, while the latter for their comedic interactions (mostly Fie trolling Machias a lot of times), strong Strong Girl, Smart Guy vibes, and the fact that they're always placed in the same group during field trips and looking out for each other after escaping together with Elliot from Trista when the civil war breaks out.
Downplayed with both Rean and Crow. They act more Ho Yay than Foe Yay but the reason this trope exists is because they're on opposing sides and Rean wants Crow back to his side. Crow's only response is that Rean better bring it.
Then there's Elie and Mariabell continuing from their relationship from Ao, mostly from Elie getting trolled by whatever Mariabell is doing at her.
One of the first events at Barehard is when Rufus shows Class VII around the place and makes some small conversations, including Rufus knowing Rean's father, Teo Schwarzer and that both were acquainted with one another, even teaching him a few things a decade before the story begins. Upon The Reveal in the second game, it turns out that yes, Rufus knows Rean's father; his real father that is.
In the second opening, there's a shot of Rean raising his fist up in the air to motivate all of the students of Thors with the shot zooming out and the rest of the students also raising their fists to get pumped up to rescue the royal family. Awesome and all, but then the trailer for the third game comes up and when Osborne declares war on Calvard, the same shot used in the opening of the second game is repeated, only in 3D with the crowd raising their fists in approval.
Some fans who didn't like Rean and his "angst" about his powers argued that his powers pre-Cold Steel III has been nothing but beneficial to him and that he didn't really need to angst that much about it. Then Cold Steel III comes out and at the climax of the event, he shows off what happens when he loses control over it at the Final Boss of the game and it is flat out terrifying to say the least. And after the Final Boss is finished off in-game, he still keeps hacking at the beast after it's all over. And Elise might have even seen that part when they were still kids before Rean snaps out of it. It's a wonder Elise isn't afraid of her brother at this point.
During chapter 5 of Cold Steel I, Sara assigns Rean with Millium and Crow for a team battle against the rest of Class VII for their test. These three people die for good at the end of the normal ending of Cold Steel IV.
Your horse can randomly despawn in the Nord Highlands in II, this is acknowledged as a bug by the developers and localizers. Granted, the developers were apparently really perplexed by the bug and why it's happening since their workaround was to implement a button to respawn your horse by bringing up the hint screen and then pushing 'A', meaning they couldn't figure out why the horse was despawning and how to prevent it from doing so. Additional reports also mentions that this even happened to some players with the original Playstation 3 and Vita versions of the game. While a workaround has already been implemented, it still confused players who were uninformed of the glitch and the fix beforehand, and a number of players of the PC port still brought it up in the Steam bug report forums when encountering it in-game for the first time.
In Cold Steel III, there's a bug in the game where if an enemy attack finishes with them moving from one spot of the map to another with a Dash Attack, there's a chance that the enemy will go "out of bounds" of the battle map. What that means is that the enemy can no longer move but will be constantly skipping their turns while the playable characters can wail on the enemy easily.
Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: Somewhat. You spend the first three games trying to balance it out between the Nobles, Reformists and Ouroboros, with the villains flip-flopping between Duke Cayenne and Chancellor Osborne, with only rumors of a curse. Then IV comes along and everything was still fine for the most part- then you suddenly learn that the events to date is caused by a being called Ishmelga, which is essentially the rogue A.I of a secret 7th Divine Knight. Despite the Divine Knights receiving considerable foreshadowing in the prior games, Ishmelga has zero mentions in the first three games (up until the ending), despite being primarily or partially responsible for the major events present in the previous games. In the end, defeating it is key to breaking the curse and bringing things back to normal.
Immortal King Nosferatu isn't particularly hard if you're prepared, but his Your Soul Is Mine attack is extremely annoying. It takes a random character out of the fight until you damage the boss enough to free them, draining their health all the while. This normally isn't too bad, but if he takes out the wrong person at the wrong time (read: your main AOE user right as his flunkies are about to unleash a barrage of Arts), things can go south very quickly.
Campanella in Cold Steel III, as you'd expect from someone like him. He doesn't hit particularly hard, but his evasion is above average for a boss and his Exchange ability forces the next attack on him to hit an ally (while he swaps places with them).
Good Bad Bugs: In Cold Steel II, the Water Shrine has a switch that Sara can barely hit on the field that lowers the water level, allowing players to pass through. Except visually, said water is still there, making it look like that the player on the field is traversing underwater. Speedrunners exploit this as it's a massive time save for an otherwise glitchless game.
Anything relating to Crow and his interactions with Class VII (and everyone else in the story for that matter) are this considering he turns on them in the end, though the bonding events during the festival hurt the most especially on the player's second playthrough. The dance event? Crow quips that if Rean continues to be the Clueless Chick Magnet that he is, he'll "break even more hearts than I will." By the end of the game, Crow probably broke the hearts of almost everyone in Thors Military Academy by helping the Noble Alliance take it over. Draw a luck fortune at Class IV's teahouse? Crow's fortune will read "Great luck. You make your own luck behind the scenes and you make it well. Thorough preparations will net you excellent results." While this applies to Crow's role in Class VII's concert, it can also hint at his role as C, working behind the backs of everyone to kill the Chancellor, a deed he succeeds in through thorough preparations. Play Mishy Panic with Crow? Rean will give a line that's incredibly harsh knowing that after the truth about him comes up, Rean's probably not going to admire anything Crow does anytime soon.
Rean: Someday, I'm going to admire something you did and you won't be able to ruin it by opening your mouth.
There's a Running Gag involving a local Prince of Pranksters kid in Celdic, and the other kids he drives crazy. The whole thing becomes so much harsher in the second game when he ends up in a coma saving her when Celdic is razed. Re-playing the games with knowledge of this makes all their earlier dialogue hard to sit through.
As of the third game, any scene involving George. Seeing as he possibly killed Angelica and planted the bombs on The Courageous, which was eventually used to kill Toval, Victor and Olivert, it's a bit hard to watch him interact with her or anyone in his circle of friends, just like with Crow.
Throughout the Cold Steel series, one of Gaius' main motivations in joining Class VII was to protect the peace of the Nord Highlands. In Cold Steel IV, "Operation Jormungand" has the Nord Highlands be one of it's main battlefronts.
All the way back in the first game of the Sky trilogy, Colonel Richard's motivation for the coup while seeking the Aureole is because Liberl is at risk of being invaded again with Cassius retiring to the Bracer Guild. After saving him from the Ring Guardian, Cassius proceeds to give him a haymaker for thinking that one man alone can deter a nation whose military might is many times the size of their own from invading and putting him on an unrealistic pedestal. Sure enough in Cold Steel IV, "Operation Jormungand" would show that even with Cassius back in command, it's not enough to deter an invasion from Erebonia, having to abandon Bose, Rolent and even the capital of Grancel for a pincer attack in Zeiss to prevent Erebonia from invading Calvard through Liberl.
In Cold Steel II, during Millium's bonding event at Roer, Rean tells Millium that everyone in Class VII would be very upset enough to cry for her if anything happens to her. At the climax of Cold Steel III and the prologue of Cold Steel IV, everyone in Class VII ends up reeling at Millium's death with Rean actually losing his sense of self and gives in to his Superpowered Evil Side to destroy Millium's killer over and over again.
Heartwarming in Hindsight: It took Millium three games for Jusis to hug her first (because he found it annoying and that she's a lot younger than he is) but he finally did it at the end of the Golden Ending of Cold Steel IV.
One of the final quests of Cold Steel II is named "My Jormungand Want None◊", something translated by XSEED. While the description is funny by itself, it's even more hilarious when in Cold Steel IV, the operation name for the empire to wage the world war is called "Operation Jormungand".
Gaius's associatation with the wind becomes quite hilarious when you realize his English voice actor, Kaiji Tang voiced Wingul in Talesof Xillia, whose primary element is also wind, and serves a man who is coincidently named Gaius.
To say the fanbase went nuts for one of the reveals of Cold Steel IV where Cassius is using the sword instead of his staff would be an understatement.
The amount of party members get by the time Cold Steel IV happens is insane to say the least, ending with 39 playable characters that players can take to the final boss.
"Operation Jormungand", the simultaneous invasion of the entirety of Zemuria.
Erebonia would invade Calvard from 3 fronts (Crossbell, Nord Highlands, Legram) while marching through Liberl and the Principality of Remiferia to reach Calvard before topping it off with a naval invasion from the south, effectively making 6 simultaneous battlefronts. Each front has both sides involve up to at least 100,000 troops on average with the biggest one being the Crossbell front: 350,000 Erebonians against Calvard's 280,000. On top of that, both sides' respective reserves exceed 100,000.
As for the Bracer Guild and the Septium Church? They pretty much declared it an international crisis and deployed every bracer and Gralsritter member available, which pretty much includes all the other non-playable characters from the previous games. It's got so bad that even First Dominion Ein and Holy Beast Zeit had to get involved. On the other hand, this also meant that Ouroboros and the Red Constellation couldn't resist doing the same thing as well with their jeagers and Enforcers, pretty much turning all of Erebonia into a warzone. With all the pieces in place, cue Big Badass Battle Sequence.
It's Easy, So It Sucks!: General consensus among fans is that the Cold Steel series has been one of the easiest games in the saga thanks to the numerous amounts of game breaking strategies that fans can employ, sometimes with enemies not even having any single turn whatsoever even on Nightmare difficulty. Cold Steel III takes this up a notch with the introduction of the Break System where after inflicting a ton of damage on the Break Meter, bosses will be vulnerable and have to waste a turn to recover (and thanks to certain orders, they may not even get one). Even bosses who have to use their S-Craft have to wait a turn by filling up their entire CP and ramping up their their defenses can easily be broken just by using certain orders.
It's Popular, Now It Sucks!: One of the biggest criticisms of the games is that it has opened the doors to a newer generation, making the people who stuck around from the Sky games annoyed that they have to explain to the newbies to play Sky first.
Now that Cold Steel is out while the second of the trilogy has been in market for 2-3 years, it's kind of expected to see people spoiled by Crow and Misty/Vita's revelation being villains and worse, Crow's fate at the end of Cold Steel II from simple search engine browsing.
Rean's father being Osborne is such a huge revelation that fans forget that The Reveal only happens at the climax of Cold Steel II. And yet it's discussed by fans as though it's common knowledge.
Due to how infamous the event is in Cold Steel III, many remember Rean slaughtering the Nameless One in rage and hacking at its dead corpse.
Quite a few fans are skeptical that Olivert truly died aboard the Courageous. While the situation does look quite dire, Never Found the Body not only applies, but Olivert is one of the most important (and popular) characters in the whole series, with his character arc being developed since the Sky trilogy. The same also applies to Victor and Toval, with fans doubting that Falcom would really kill three major characters at once, and in such an anticlimactic way. Players were indeed proven right when all of them survived though it turns out that George did have a hand in their survival.
Ditto for Angelica. Though she's presumed dead after being shot by George, the scene cuts to black without actually showing her getting shot, and later George noticeably hesitates when Towa asks if he really killed her. Again, Never Found the Body is in full effect here. According to Word of God however, this one depends on Georg. As predicted, Angelica did survive but ends up becoming Brainwashed and Crazy, taking on her new identity as Rossweiss.
In Cold Steel IV, this is subverted with Rean, Crow, and Millium as they did get Killed Off for Real in the default ending of the game and players without a cleared save are railroaded to that ending. The trope only gets played straight thanks to Deus ex Machina with Rean being reminded by Franz that he had a gift from Algres' spirit to eject Ishmelga from him. Meanwhile in Crow and Millium's case, the six Divine Knights give them life again with the powers of the two Sept-Terrion alongside Franz and Roselia booting up the Sacrament Protocol before all of the Divine Knights disappear along with Franz.
Getting the bonus 3APs during the fight against Rufus in Cold Steel II. Good luck, if the Random Number God is feeling particularly nasty towards you, it'd let Rufus unleash Clamioh Solarion against you in his first turn by granting him zero arts, leading the battle to be over before it even starts. And oh, the game would potentially also just fail every single unbalance crafts you have. This in turn, means that if you previously failed your battle against Xeno and Leo, battle against Altina and Bleublanc (easy on it's own, but Altina's That One Attack makes completing this battle, which requires you to down both Bleublanc and Altina within 40 moves if you want that bonus AP, really challenging), and your battle against Duvalie and McBurn (another tough one since McBurn can potentially unleash a powerful arts attack on his first move, again ending the battle before it begins, or even continuously delay your party and hack away without giving you somuch of a turn- and you need to burn Duvalie down to size in this battle before McBurn can burn you), even if you got everything right, this is the end of your chance to unlock That One Achievement for this playthrough.
In Cold Steel IV getting the max 10AP requirement for reducing Osborne and Arianrhod's HP to a certain threshold at the same time at the end of the Black Workshop can be frustrating at times, especially if the player has no idea that's even possible. Especially since Arianrhod's HP is 1.5x less than Osborne's HP especially this early in the game and players might accidentally damage her before letting Osborne reach the HP threshold since the fight ends after either of their HP crosses the line. While thankfully they're not programmed to use their S-Craft this early in the game, they still have damaging attacks and they're ARCUS linked together, so they can deal even more damage if they manage a link attack (even more if they do a Rush attack). Both also have moves that can debuff your party (though Rean is immune to strength, defense, and speed debuffs for this fight as he has a permanent status buff for this fight only, although he's not in Spirit Unification), and both deal a lot of damage. Not only do you have to deal with Arianrhod's attacks while whittling down Osborne, but you also have to pray to Random Number God that Arianrhod doesn't miss her attack on someone who can counter her at a range where her HP crosses the line till you're ready to unleash a S-Craft to hopefully let both of their HP cross the line.
Memetic Badass: According to the official Japanese polls◊, Aurelia is considered to be the most powerful character of the series, above even McBurn. Considering the woman took on a Divine Knight and a Hector at the same time with nothing but her Ace Custom and is actually a legitimately hard boss fight that players have a permanent status buff on the two and can potentially still lose the fight, that really says something about her.
Considering it's been three games and he still hasn't won a victory at the end of his games, Rean ends up being this in the eyes of fandom. Strangely enough, this ends up giving fans a lot of sympathy for him.
Vita is another one for the fans at the end of Cold Steel II where the fans claim that she's Wrong Genre Savvy about Cayenne, Osborne hijacking the plan, and Ouroboros gets Out-Gambitted instead of managing to obtain whatever they want. Fans did not let her live that one down and many players have declared her to be the dumbest Anguis of Ouroboros.
By Cold Steel IV, Arianrhod ends up becoming this to fans not because she's not powerful, but rather because she doesn't even end up with any of the men that she wanted to be with for a long, long timenote Dreichels moved on and married someone before Lianne came back to life, Osborne ended up marrying Kasia and Rean was born, Osborne chose to become Ishmelga's Awakener while Lianne wasn't around watching, and before she could agree to go alongside Rean in life, she gets back stabbed., ultimately dying dishonorably due to Rufus stabbing her in the back and taking Algreion's Divine Core for himself.
Ouroboros in general became this trope in IV for a lot of fans mainly due to being Overshadowed by Awesome when pitted against Osborne. Even when the Grandmaster claims that things are still All According to Plan, many felt that it was a botched attempt at saving face than proving how cunning and powerful they are. On the other hand, this can be considered Catharsis Factor as until the climax of II, Ouroboros was this Invincible Villain for 5 games in a row, with them having the most to gain by the end of each plot. Being outwitted for the remainder of the Erebonia arc shows that for all their power, it's possible to beat them and prevents them from looking like Boring Invincible Villains. Now with Osborne dead, it's safe to say that they might be getting back their competence in future instalments.
Laura became this in Cold Steel IV thanks to her first bonding event with Rean lifting him up and kissing him in a cave.
When Cold Steel IV came out, Ishmelga became this in the eyes of the fandom as fans depict him being very obsessed with Dreichels and his Reincarnation Osborne. It's not too far off canon but fans take it Up to Eleven where Ishmelga's depicted as a Stalker with a Crush.
Head patting can make people fall in love with somebody.note While Rean does pat a lot of heads towards the girls, he also gets head patted by Crow which many fans explain why he's obsessed with him.
Somebody stop this serial head-patter! note Rean, especially in the second game, pats the heads of almost every female character in either optional or mandatory events, and almost every girl he pats the head of is noted to or seems to have feelings for him, leading many to jokingly accuse him of the above as if he was taking their virginity.
Semi-confirmed in Cold Steel III. After all, why else would this happen?
Market Manager Ottonote A very minor NPC in the game who appears in the first chapter of Cold Steel I and II who ends up dying during the Civil War in Cold Steel II, and yet all the major characters that the players care about claim that he's one of the most important people in the series. While many players are shocked at what happened to Celdic, they do also mock at how the game plays Otto as this really big character when he's just a minor forgettable NPC that the characters do talk to.
A pre-release screenshot from Cold Steel III showing Tio making the "ok" hand symbol with a hilariously deadpan expression on her face has already become the source of many memes.
Cold Steel III only had a 15 second advertisement, yet the fans first impression of Juna is that she wants her Crossbell back.
Ever since Mint was shown to be maintaining Valimar, fans made jokes that Valimar will be destroyed thanks to Mint's clumsiness.
The narm-tasticEngrish in the third game's Stinger ("Watch the Damn Fairy Tale until it has finished") became a meme almost immediately, often used in reference to the insane Cliffhanger ending.
Machias and Elliot are the Gunlord and Crimson Virtuoso Enforcers of Ouroboros while Karl Regnitz is the most powerful Anguis.note The meme comes from the pre-release months of Cold Steel IV by Machias and Elliot fans who felt sorry that their characters and arcs are Demoted to Extra and felt they should have been elevated a bit more. Needless to say, the meme did die when Cold Steel IV came out but some fans do look back on it fondly.
Musse wants you to join her and her Weissland Army!note During the pre-release of Cold Steel IV, /fg/ users have posted that they wanted to join the Weissland Army after pre-release screenshots depict Musse as Osborne's equal in politics with Osborne declaring that Musse's a more Worthy Opponent than Olivert was. Needless to say, this meme did die in Cold Steel IV when Juna says one friendship speech about Musse needing to help them find their instructor Rean and Musse immediately joins them.
Whenever Rean uses his final S-Craft in Cold Steel IV, players have a habit of playing the counting game, to sync with Rean showing off all the eight forms of the Eight Leaves One Blade style.
Lianne's a cuck.note In Cold Steel IV, Lianne loved Dreichels but couldn't be with him. She then saw his Reincarnation in Osborne except he also married Kasia and had a son with Rean. Then Osborne's life went downhill and made a Deal with the Devil with Ishmelga while Lianne wasn't looking. Finally, Rean gives her a chance to come with them to life except Rufus back stabs her at the worst moment.
Ayy Lmaosnote In Cold Steel IV, it's revealed that McBurn and Ishmelga are not from Zemuria but from a different world. The alien jokes wrote itself.
Laura will make you get in the cave. note Laura's first bonding event in Cold Steel IV has her lifting Rean up with one hand, pinning him against the wall, and kissing him passionately. This one stuck out with fans as the rest of the girls bonding events are tame by comparison (barring Musse's 2nd event but it didn't stick out as much, mainly for the Squick factor of Musse kissing her teacher while he was off-guard).
Flirting with Altina! note An excerpt from an edgy snuff fic. It was spammed at such a high frequency that it quickly turned into a meme. Variations are now common (ie: Flirting with Shirley!, Studying with Rean!, etc) though they're far less squicky and generally more humorous than the original.
Estelle unintentionally dabbing◊ has become one during the release of the game.note It comes from when the group is putting a show in order to distract security while Rean and his group sneak in to Orchis Tower and disable the beam surrounding the barrier.
Memetic Troll: Professor Schmidt is starting to gain this reputation, due to him casually stopping Rean summoning Valimar mid-invocation at the end of the new Class VII's first test.
Mondegreen: Numerous fans have heard Rean's comeback when countering in the first game as "Cheese off!", with many assuming Cheese being a G-Rated substitute for the F-word. The line was re-recorded for Cold Steel II, when Rean now clearly says "Too slow!".
Duke Albarea crosses it when he orders the soldiers and the Northern Jaegers to burn down Celdic. It was such an atrocious event that Rufus had declared to tell Class VII to apprehend him because Rufus can't thanks to his position in the Noble Alliance, Never mind his real reason- which is to destroy the nobility system. Scarlet declares that you have to be one mad person to even support the guy and only fights the heroes because she's Driven to Suicide, and Duvalie declares that the only reason why she's at Aurochs Fort was that she can witness its fall. She'd even gut Duke Albarea right there and then if it wasn't for the orders of her leader.
So many people cross this in Cold Steel III that even Shirley and Campanella think things are going too far. To wit:
George shoots Angelica when she starts to know things too much (whether she's dead or not is a different story as the game fades to black and a gunshot is heard, and the game is usually not shy in showing off people getting shot as Ash does shoot the emperor thanks to his curse on-screen). If he didn't cross the line then, he certainly does when he rigs the Courageous with explosives and tries to kill Towa.
Alberich detonates said Courageous with Olivert, Toval, and Victor still in the sky, and gloats about how his marriage into the Reinford family was just another part of his plan.
Cedric nearly chokes Altina to death, and gives Alberich the OK to blow up the Courageous - effectively making him to one to (possibly) bring about his own brother's death.
And to top it all off, Osborne delivers a Neck Lift to Rean, his own son, and tells him that it's time for things to begin and engulf the world in despair.
In Cold Steel IV, Rufus finally crosses it when he back stabs Arianrhod as she was dying in her duel against Rean and Crow in their Divine Knights, who then absorbs her and Algreion's divine cores to add to his Divine Knight.
Most Wonderful Sound: Anytime Rean calls out Valimar and Valimar's sequence going towards Rean will be bound to be this.
Chapter 4 when you finally witness epic duel of Laura and Fie, two of the best fighters among first-years of Thors... basically throwing their crafts at each other. You'll laugh at it after seeing how Joshua vs Loewe in SC fought during cutscene.
The concert scene, where everyone moves like a Chuck E. Cheese's animatronic band, and a low-key song with only a single singer has not only the rest of Class VII, but the entire audience acting as backup singers, despite their being only one voice in the song.
Some people thought the ending of the original game with Rean screaming "No, they need me! Let me staaaaay!" was rather cheesy. Not helped by the last thing we see being Valimar flying away to who-knows-where before a jarring Smash Cut to the ending credits with a fast-paced song playing over images of the cast.
While it fits his character, Bleublanc's extremely campy voice in the sequel makes it hard to take any scene with him in it seriously.
Speaking of voice acting in the sequel, those playing the Steam version of the game will know of the provincial army officer who gained a Scottish-accented voice with heavily-rolled Rs in the first game. The voice-acting is back in the sequel and while it's obvious the voice-actor is having the time of his life, it makes the serious situation that's happening, namely him holding Elliot's sister Fiona hostage at sword-point, very difficult to take seriously.
For some people in Cold Steel III, the Engrish at The Stinger can be this, especially with the line: "Watch the Damn Fairy Tale until it has Finished."
Machias' newest S-Craft in Cold Steel III, "Justice Bullet", ends up being badly animated compared to the rest especially at the Gun Kata part compared to the BFG.
The entire Say My Name moment in Cold Steel IV where Rean dreams of his friends and students calling out his name over and over again with Ash being the odd one out, calling him on a Last-Name Basis. Many fans felt that the say my name got a bit too out of hand.
Rean's final duel with Crow in the sequel is full of extremely cheesy dialogue, to the point where the other party members lampshade how cheesy it is. That doesn't make it any less awesome.
The "Bank of Rean" line Rean makes at the Final Boss of Cold Steel I sounds corny. In context, he's making Crow pay for even trying to betray them to the Noble Alliance and he wants Crow to pay every last mira.
Never Live It Down: The "boob accident" in CS 1 prologue kinda gives a bad start for players to like Alisa because of the reaction she gave that time, thus cemented her position as cliché tsundere girl who can't get past that incident. She really is a tsundere, but she tried to apologize for three weeks albeit didn't manage to because of the awkwardness. Her issue with Rean gradually dies down and she shows her kinder side as time goes.
Nightmare Fuel: Rean losing his control over his Superpowered Evil Side in Cold Steel III is scary to look at. What makes it worse is that after the final boss fight, he still keeps on hacking the boss for a good amount of time!
One-Scene Wonder: The final batch of animation stills at the end of Cold Steel IV, where almost every major character from the previous games who didn't make the playable cut in this game shows up for Olivert and Schera's wedding, including Zin, Kevin, Ries, Noel, Lazy, Rixia, and Ein.
In the final chapter of Cold Steel III, no less than four playable characters pull Face-Heel Turns - Sharon, due to her returning to her position as an Enforcer, and Claire, Lechter and Millium, due to their loyalty to Osborne. Considering you've likely gotten attached to at least some of them, their betrayals can hit particularly hard even if you were expecting it.
Then of course, the death tolls. In a series (Mostly in regard to Cold Steel) that has been criticized for lacking important character deaths (aside from Crow in II), Cold Steel III includes at least 5, 3 of them being Ensemble Darkhorses (Olivert, Toval and Victor), one being someone whom you've come to accept as a trustworthy ally(Angelica) and the other one of your party member since Cold Steel I (Millium). Alleviated as all of them turned up alive in Last Saga, and the golden ending allows Crow to be stabilized and Millium to be revived. And to top it all off, the former three going out in an exploding Courageous no less is akin to receiving a powerful kick in the groin.
And then of course the revelation that George was Evil All Along. While IV eventually revealed him to be a Reverse Mole, general consensus is that players seeing the scene for the first time tends to develop a deep hate on George, and Cedric's FaceHeel Turn. Especially the latter, which made some fans wish Rean had just slain him along with Duke Cayenne in Cold Steel II.
Polished Port: The PC version of Cold Steel I is much nicer to look at compared to the PS3 version, with a recompiled light engine, unlimited shadows and the option to increase field-of-view, decompressed textures and unmodified HD character art, it adds the turbo mode that significantly makes the game run much faster making Nord Highlands a lot more bearable to travel, and all in crisp 1080p 60fps with unlimited draw distance and ultra wide screen support to fit any monitor known to man. Included is the obligatory 4K option, on top of adding 5000 new lines of dialogue, several of which was done for Rean so he's no longer jarringly silent in several conversation scenes as well as the English cast being brought back to rerecord parts of the script. This gives the modern English version twice the amount of spoken dialogue compared to its Japanese counterpart on all other systems. Cold Steel II when ported to PC includes all of these features as well.
Rean's relationship with Crow is supposed to be one filled with rivalry, especially after the final battle of Cold Steel I where they clearly have opposing beliefs. Circa Cold Steel II and beyond however, and the entire thing could be seen as a Ho Yay couple who had a bad break-up and both are trying to mend their relationship rather than two people who have differing opinions. It doesn't help that both Rean and Crow have similar primary elemental orbments (time) yet polar opposing secondary elemental orbments (fire and water respectively). It also doesn't help that unlike the bonding events in the games being optional and thus can be skipped, any scene between Rean and Crow from Cold Steel II and beyond are all mandatory to the plot. Finally, the promotional artwork in Cold Steel II, and the first image tease of Cold Steel III have the two of them paired up together (as rivals at least). Rean's declaration of bringing Crow back to the academy repeatedly isn't helping things nor does it help that the only real Combination Attack in the entire Erebonia saga belong to them. Were the rumor about Proto!Alisa being the protagonist in Rean's place and Proto!Rean having Crow's backstory true, the whole Ship Tease would suddenly make sense. And just to drive it home, one of the promotional images of Cold Steel IV has all of the protagonists of the Trails franchise paired up with their main love interest. Guess who is paired up with Rean.◊ It went up to eleven in the fourth game's bad end, when Rean was about to sacrifice himself to defeat Ishmelga. In the bad ending, instead of dying in peace, Crow choose to follow Rean and die along with him and Millium. And according to the official poll for pairings, Rean X Crow◊ is the most popular ship of the Erebonian arc, eclipsing the rest of the pairings.
Another case of the writers fumbling with the relationship would be Juna and Kurt. Throughout Cold Steel III, the two of them had interacted quite a bit with each other, and even their first meeting was very similar toRean and Alisa's accidental moment, only it didn't take Juna quite as long to apologize to Kurt. When the players first obtained the horse and bike, it was always Kurt and Juna who were together, with Rean taking Altina. There's also the time when Kurt had his hand on Juna's shoulder and tried to raise her spirits up while she was undergoing a Heroic BSoD in Crossbell. Finally, there's the evening dance at the Esmelas Garden, where Kurt and Juna danced together for a lot longer than all the other pairings. For bonus points, Juna's relationship with Rean wasn't really portrayed as all that romantic in Cold Steel III; it was mostly just Juna wanting, and failing, to thank the hero that rescued her and her family. Even when the final dance shown was Rean and Juna, it looked more like a simple, teacher-student scene used to more or less cap off her character arc. Taking all that into account, many were confused when Cold Steel IV had Juna's bonding events focus on her feelings for Rean becoming unambiguously romantic, while her relationship with Kurt, despite all their interactions in III and all the promo images with the two together, is pretty much never brought up. Made worse by how unethical it would be for Rean to even consider a relationship with one of his students, even if he says he'd only do so if she's still interested in him when they're no longer teacher and student. Admittedly, as bonding events are optional, players could skip them if desired, but the idea that Juna could suddenly go from wanting to thank the hero that saved her life to falling in love with him in only a month's time in-game still came off as weird, and it doesn't change how Juna and Kurt stopped having any meaningful interactions with each other.
Knight combat in the sequel is much improved from the first game, adding direct ways to counter enemy Crafts (Morning Moon is now a guaranteed dodge-and-counter, you have access to Impede Crafts), more options for healing and CP charging, allowing other party members to assist with their own unique support moves, and giving you an actualDefend Command. All of this makes Knight battles far less of a Luck-Based Mission and more of the Tactical RockPaperScissors they're meant to be.
Rean's detractors were won over when he became a teacher, which made his trademark speeches less annoying because it's now his job to guide students, meaning his Team Dad tendencies ended up being very entertaining despite only a few years older than his students. Also, his angst is more thoroughly justified compared to the first two games.
Cold Steel IV has this in spades, not least revealing that the villains was behaving the way they did because of Ishmelga, but the most notable one was that George and Black Alberich was revealed to be actuallyGood All Along (opposing what you saw in III), with the former revealed to have installed a failsafe in The Courageous along with those bombs to allow Toval, Olivert and Victor to survive and actually didn't kill Angelica, and the latter not only helped the Divine Knights, Vita and Rose stabilize Crow, but also prepared a way to revive Millium by means of preparing a clone of her body.
McBurn in Cold Steel IV got rescued thanks to lots of things revealed about him. While he wasn't exactly hated, prior to Cold Steel IV, he was mocked by the fanbase for being a bit too much of a try hard, edgy guy whose fashion sense tries to invoke Evil Is Cool a bit too much even though he's a pretty chill guy for one. Then Cold Steel IV came out and it's revealed that he's been Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life since it turns out that he's had amnesia for over 50 years after roaming around Zemuria, he treats life or death battles as a shock therapy, and when he finally goes all out with no regrets and someone actually manages to harm him, he finally remembers who he is, what he is, and what he now needs to do. He then apologizes to Class VII for the troubles he caused, he refers to Rean not as "Ashen kid" but as Schwarzer, showing that he respects the kid, gives him an item to help him out against the battle against Osborne, and then teleports away from the place, needing to take care of business that he needs to deal with. Even most of his vitriolic haters ended up liking the conclusion to his character arc and the start of a new one as it opens up brand new avenues to the Kiseki lore.
Rummage Sale Reject: When Cold Steel III first revealed Fie's outfit, many players were weirded out mostly by how loose her clothes are compared to everyone else, even more than her Cold Steel II costume.
Elise is widely disliked in the West due to her Clingy Jealous Girl and Big Brother Attraction tendencies towards Rean. That and she is generally regarded as the worst of the playable characters in Cold Steel II. It got worse as the series went on as many players believe that she could be removed entirely from the story and nothing would have changed, making her presence so insignificant that anyone else could have been at her place, the most common character to replace her would been Alfin.
As of Cold Steel III, Prince Cedric became widely hated in the fanbase due to him taking a massive level in jerkass, doing such things as almost strangling Altina, and giving the OK for Alberich to blow up the Courageous (knowing his own brother was on-board, no less). The hatred's so intense that some fans wish Class VII hadn't saved his life back in the second game.
Scrappy Level: While the level is very nice looking, the fact that players can't fast travel at Nord Highlands makes the entire chapter a chore to get through in the first game. Thankfully in Cold Steel II, the developers have added the option to fast travel there.
The Dark Dragon's Nest in Cold Steel III. You have to split your team in three on the spot and usually only realize afterwards that you've forgotten something important (like placing an arts user in every team because the place has enemies that reflect all physical damage), the enemies are some of the most annoying in the entire series like two types of mirrors that reflect physical and magical attacks respectively and that love to show up together or Necromancers who will spam high-level healing magic and attacks with Deathblow chances and you have to constantly switch back and forth between teams because each side has levers that allow the others to continue. The one saving grace is that it's chock-full of treasure chests with nice loot.
Due to the story being very cutscene heavy (which isn't a bad thing by itself), you get the option to save before proceeding or choose not to save at all. The problem is that these options come after a massive cutscene and/or a long boss fight, meaning that players cannot just save and leave.
The final bonding events in each game. To unlock them, you have to get your chosen partner's link levels to the highest possible in-game while spending bonding points with them in the penultimate bonding event. While not too bad at first, the problem comes is that the crossroads where you have to choose which partner you are going with is immediately proceeded by or even sandwiched between at least ten to fifteen minutes worth of cutscenes before you can reload the save file to choose another partner instead of simply offering to save and load immediately before the moment of choice and after the event respectively. The PC version mitigate this by employing a fast forward option however, it's considered a pain for players trying to get 100% Completion by having to sit through the same set of cutscenes around a dozen times after witnessing the final bonding events.
In the Final Boss is the first enemy in the entire game who can Unbalance you. Unfortunately, when it does so is entirely random. On higher difficulties, you can lose the battle unavoidably if the boss gets too many Link Attacks off, regardless of how well you were doing, especially since once he Turns Red, he'll always follow up an Unbalance with his super move, which can take out around 50% of Rean's HP. Normally this wouldn't be so bad, but... the Final Boss is a Duel Boss using completely different game mechanics than you're used to, and you only get two heals for the entire fight, making it very unforgiving.
In the second game, any boss battle where new party members join causes the party's formation to be arranged differently from what the player had before. Not only does this mess up whatever strategy the player is used to, the new party members also aren't equipped with optimal gear and quartz. This means the player will have to waste several turns trying to get their old party formation set up again. This is especially bad for the Act 1 Part 3 Dual Boss, which is timed to forty turns like the previous ones.
Millium's field attack will summon Lammy, but she can't walk through the doll, meaning she has a harder time running from the enemy after a failed field attack.
Any kind of shipping between Rean and Claire was gone the moment she decided to side with her boss. Then after the boss fight against the Ironbloods, Rean and the new Class VII run past them with Claire, in slow motion, reaching her hands out to Rean and Rean not even looking back.
As for Cold Steel IV, any ship with Olivert or Schera that are not with each other are sunk, because they married each other. Unless a third option is chosen, of course. Also, the game deeply implied that Jusis and Millium are an item, so this can be applied to them.
And, in a weird way, Crow with Vita. While Crow did say they had "something" in the past, their relationship was not like this (romantic) when asked. He also said he regretted starting something with her so this ship was sunk as well.
Ship-to-Ship Combat: Thanks to Rean's status as a Launcher of a Thousand Ships and the ambiguity of who is exactly canon by Cold Steel IV, practically any shipping wars ends up resulting in this. The most vocal ones usually are the "Rean-Alisa" pairing versus the "Rean-Laura" pairing, with "Rean-Fie", "Rean-Sara", and "Rean-Claire" shippers chiming in, that's not even starting on the "Rean-Crow" shipping. What's worse, many players that preferred shipping Juna with Kurt in Cold Steel III got angry with the decision to add her (and Altina and Musse) to Rean's harem in IV, as he already had so many girls vying for his attention in the first 2 games alone, and although Rean categorically rejects getting into a romance with Juna, Musse and Altina due to being their teacher (and in Altina's case, he explicitly mentions their age gap) there is still legitimate complaint with this development as it's not properly built up and still ethically dubious).
Signature Scene: Ask any fan about Cold Steel III and the first thing that comes to mind is Millium's death, Rean losing it, and Rean brutally killing the Nameless One long after it dies.
Stop Having Fun, Guys: Because of the infamous game breaking combination of both "Chrono Burst" and level 5 Moebius, there are fans who will mock players for even using this strategy to win against boss fights instead of other, somewhat longer methods.
Strawman Has a Point: At the beginning of the climax of Cold Steel II, Rean is complaining that Elise is aboard the Courageous because she's being supportive of her big brother. The rest of the party, even Valimar, is against him in that Elise should stay just so Rean will actually come back safe, even claiming that Rean is just being overprotective. The problem however, is that Rean's actually in the right because Elise isn't even a part of the military, never mind not being a military student. And it isn't like she's safe in the Courageous either since the Pantagruel is still there and there's a battle going on at Heimdallr. It's not like they can just take a civilian with them on the most cutting edge ship of the empire.
Superlative Dubbing: One thing fans can agree on is that Sean Chiplock's delivery of Rean is the best thing that happened in this game. Helps that the guy is One of Us and has played the game and the other is that he voiced Rean already having some knowledge of the game.
In both games, the trophy for opening every chest in the game. Miss a single chest in a One-Time Dungeon (of which there are many, the entire first game is practically one)? Have fun doing another playthrough to get the trophy! The second game isn't quite as bad because you get an airship that allows you to revisit most locations, but there are still a few that can be gotchas.
A number of achievements in both games are this. Often you'll find yourself replaying the game several times if just to get every single Master Quartz in the game (which is not possible with just one playthrough), cook every single recipe in the game, complete every single quest in the game (Aidios help you if you miss a hidden quest or couldn't complete the optional ones due to poor planning/bad foresight), or even scan every single monster in the game thoroughly (forgot to stock up on battle scopes? Time to reload the last save from when you're still at the last town).
II has this one achievement, Honor Roll, that requires you to achieve A0 rank. Achieving that rank means missing out no more than 10APs in a playthrough. It's particularly tough since some of the APs are achieved through extra requirements that must be met during boss battles, some which are downright devilish (e.g. vs Altina and Bleublanc, where you need to fall both within 40 turns — not tough on its own if it wasn't for Altina's That One Attack) while others are complete luck-based missions (the battle against Rufus and Duvalie/McBurn - since for the latter you need to half his HP before he kills you — and he can kill you before the battle even starts if the Random Number God is feeling particularly malicious, e.g. granting first strike and a zero arts, and he uses it, while the former can completely delay you indefinitely or even one-shot you without giving you so much of a turn at start of the battle, and the RNG has been known to abuse this, turning the entire battle into a hapless cinematic).
That One Attack: Pretty much any enemy's S-Craft qualifies, but a few really stand out.
As mentioned below, Rean's Flame Slash in Laura and Fie's sparring match against him in the first game. He can use it with no warning and it's almost always a One-Hit Kill at this point in the game, and the arena is small, making it hard to avoid.
If you thought the first game's Flame Slash hurts, prepare to be frustrated when you're fighting him as Lloyd and Rixia and he hits you with Termination Slash - Dawn.
C's Deadly Cross. Nearly always a One-Hit Kill, hits a very wide area, and can be used with no warning. The best you can do it keep using Adamantine Shield and hope you get lucky and he uses it while it's up.
In the second game, Xeno and Leonidas' S-Crafts. Not individually, but more for the fact that the duo likes to use both of theirs at the same time. One S-Craft is survivable, but two in a row is certain doom without Artemis' Tears. Particularly bad in their final encounter, where they can use this double S-Craft trick at anytime from the start of the fight to the end, with, again, no warning. You can be doing well in the fight and then suddenly double S-Craft, Total Party Kill.
A non-S Craft example, Stratos Diver's Hyperactive Discharge in Cold Steel III. It hits the entire battlefield, does over half your HP in damage at that point, and the boss will spam it repeatedly if you're unlucky.
In the first game, the final battles of Chapter 6 stand out as it's a Marathon Boss against two tough opponents who each have an S-Craft that can one-shot your party and have huge areas of effect. Both also have backup and an array of wide-area attacks that make it very difficult to keep Adamant Shield active.
The boss of Chapter 2, the two Kazakh Dovens, can be this due to their hard-hitting physical attacks and ability to buff themselves, as well as a Combination Attack that's nearly guaranteed to one-shot anyone in your party (and if someone somehow manages to survive, it inflicts Faint). Making things worse is that everyone in the Chapter 2 team is a Glass Cannon apart from Machias, and you don't have Elliot's extremely useful Resounding Beat Craft (raises defence and gives gradual HP regeneration) to fall back on.
Unsurtr, the boss of the 5th floor of the Old Schoolhouse. A large dragon-like boss just like the end boss of Chapter 4, which was surprisingly easy, so this should be the same, right? Hardly. Unsurtr not only has massive Strength and Defence, it's also really fast, has AOE on nearly all its attacks, and everything it does can Freeze. It's also heavily resistant or outright immune to every status except Blind and Nightmare, and this includes Delay and Stat Down, so many of the Game-Breaker tactics mentioned above won't work. Blinding it is the only saving grace you get, and even that's unreliable. Due to its speed, it's extremely difficult to come back if it KOs any of your party members, as it'll eat through your remaining members faster than you can revive them.
Gordi Schnarr G in the sequel, which is only a normal sidequest target, manages to be this due to its Chest Beating. This move buffs the boss' Strength, Defence, Speed and heals it, turning it into a Lightning Bruiser and a Stone Wall. But it's made even worse by what the boss does when the buff almost wears off. It first uses a massive damage area attack, then it re-applies Chest Beating, causing all these buffs to stack up to 50% boosts. With +50% speed, the boss can use its area attack repeatedly without giving you a chance to cancel it, leading to a Total Party Kill very quickly. You know it's bad when most walkthroughs recommend Nightmare Mode-level strategies for this fight and tell you to simply spam S Crafts on it once its HP falls below half.
The Order of the Lion can be this in the second game. They're as close as you can get to a Mirror Match in this game, meaning they can use many of the same Game-Breaker strategies you can, like Delaying/Cancelling, buff stacking and powerful arts. And if you're going for the 100% battle book Trophy, you need to scan all of them, giving them several turns to buff. Edel in particular is one of the most brutal, as she can cast very powerful Arts like Adamantine Shield, Crescent Mirror and Seraphic Ring (a full heal and revive on the whole party). Let her get a few of those off, and it can be very hard to recover. The characters even remark on how scary she is in-universe.
But by far the biggest and most infamous one in the sequel is McBurn, who's essentially Cold Steel 2's equivalent of the Chapter 6 fight with C in the first game. He has nearly twice as much HP as the previous bosses, takes half damage from all Arts (except Fire, which he's naturally immune to), is immune to all status except Stat Down and Delay... which has only has 10% vulnerability to, so he's a complete Stone Wall. Offensively? Flames of Judgement is powerful and also has a Status-Buff Dispel effect (one of the very few examples of that in the entire game, and buffs are necessary to beat him) and Hellhounds can inflict instant death. And those are just his basic attacks. His Purgatorial Flame Art can potentially deal double your maximum HP in damage, his S-Craft has a wide area and is pretty much a Total Party Kill, and as if that wasn't enough, he can use a Lost Art, Sol Eruption, which might as well be named "cancel this or it's an instant Game Over". And often, he doesn't give you the chance to. Overall, this is the kind of fight where you have to go all-out with every single Game-Breaker available to you to even stand the slightest chance of winning. And to add insult to injury, McBurn isn't even using 10% of his full power.
Generally, Cold Steel III is one of the easiest games of the series, but this doesn't stop this trope popping up from time to time. Take Aurelia in her Ace Custom for example in chapter 3. The first fight against her with Class VII isn't that bad since players do have some supports from Altina and a second character and that the requirement to get the extra AP is to reduce her HP to 50%. It's when she challenges both Rean and Randy inside Valimar and a Hector respectively is when things get hairy as they can only rely with one another with no supports from other characters (which means no refilling HP-CP and EP from any support except by themselves which will guarantee them wasting turns). While both Rean and Randy have a permanent 75% buff to their stats, it might as well have almost been non-existent as Aurelia deals a lot of damage against them, especially when she manages to get an additional link attack. Enough unlucky rolls and Aurelia might pull off a Total Party Kill with her 5 BP move.
Cold Steel IV has a few that could be considered as one of these if the players aren't careful/it's a Sequential Boss fight that the player isn't totally prepared for. Take for example the boss fight against Rutger, Xeno, and Leo. By itself, it isn't that bad except this is similar to the turn limit boss fight with Xeno and Leo back in Cold Steel II, they're all ARCUS linked so they will get extra attacks in and if they gain enough Brave Points, they will use Rush attacks. Rutger is also built like a tank this early in the game and players are required to reduce their HP to a certain point in less than 40 turns. It doesn't help that the players had to deal with Gilbert and his jaegers in the previous boss fight which, while not hard since it's Gilbert, could leave players unprepared for the next boss fight.
That One Disadvantage: Any equipment with a penalty to speed. Doesn't matter how good it is, if it takes away from speed, it probably isn't worth it.
That One Level: The Divertissement puts the player in control of a party of two with a suboptimal Orbment setup, locked Master Quartz, no initial Sepith, no initial healing items, and no shops. The only saving grace is that there are several Orbment Charging Stations that allow Quartz synthesis. The game flat-out admits this by making the Divertissement chapter skipable in NG+.
To some fans, Randy not being a playable character outside of one Divine Knight/Panzer Soldat Battle was a sore spot, as the fans really wanted to play as him again instead of just having Tio for the Zero characters while the Sky characters had Agate, Tita, and Olivert in his Olivier Lenheim costume. This was averted in Cold Steel IV.
In a more minor case, when the characters from the previous instalments came in and became playable in Cold Steel IV, most of them ended up with their lower-tier S-Crafts instead of their most powerful ones. Examples include Lloyd's Meteor Breaker, Elle's Divine Crusade, Tio's Orbal Gear and Zero Field and finally Estelle's Phoenix Wave. This seems weird because Randy was happily using his Berserga and Joshua has Phantom Raid with no issues.
From a storyline perspective, many fans felt that Lloyd and Elie were highly underused despite being the protagonist and the Implied Love Interest of the Crossbell arc. Elie's subplot with her best friend turned enemy Mariabell also didn't have much of a conclusion as most of the subplot with Bell went with Juna who barely has any connection with her other than being the SSS' junior. Especially since the game was supposed to resolve how Crossbell was going to be liberated but it ended up being an off-screen resolution. Contrast to Estelle and Joshua's roles in the game which are also reduced but still end up contributing something to the plot.
A lot of players felt that Gaius was highly underutilized in the entire saga despite becoming a Dominion as his role in Cold Steel IV ended up being the captain of the Merkabah till the Courageous 2 shows up and to have the obligatory Dominion party member. Machias and Elliot also were underutilized by fans who thought they could've been implemented by the plot better than what they got. Having to share spotlights with so many characters didn't help their cases.
Lechter is also a prime example. The guy has been built up since The 3rd as a major Wild Card who, while publicly a follower of Osborne, is hinted at having his own agendas - to the point of outright telling his boss that his loyalty may not last forever. The fact that he kept showing up over and over before the Erebonia saga even started just added more fuel to the speculation. And by the end of it all... he really is loyal to Osborne, all of his suspicious actions were just Red Herrings, and he doesn't even do much in the main plot outside of fighting the party several times, and having a somewhat interesting backstory. After all the intrigue and hype, he turned out to be nothing more than a coward who simply talked big.
Thomas not being a playable character in Cold Steel IV. A lot of players wished he was playable especially since he was the more interesting Dominion in the cast compared to Gaius.
Considering the role that he plays in Cold Steel IV, many were surprised that Bleublanc is not playable in the game, not even joining either Duvalie's team or Aurelia's team.
Schera in Cold Steel IV. Despite the fact that she's one of the first characters revealed in the game, she doesn't really do much throughout the game as most of her adventures are off-screen and when she's finally on-screen, all she does is being one of the lead dancers for the Arc En Ciel concert, being Olivert's Number Two in the Courageous II, getting a confession and marriage from Olivert, and a supporting role with her Brave Order. Many players wanted her to be a playable character and see her in action as an A-Ranked bracer but were disappointed when she's just a support character.
If there's one character who got hit really hard by this trope, it's Mueller. His overall screen time throughout all four games amounts to maybe two to three hours at most for all four games. And he doesn't even get to do anything important throughout the Erebonia arc.
Wanna know how Crossbell is liberated in Cold Steel IV? It's all told in a short narration using Ao's art style at the end of the game without players experiencing any of it.
Osborne and Cassius pitting their intellect against each other would have been one of the best moments of the series. Alas, it was never meant to be. In a similar vein, remember when Ein was mentioned as being one of the only people who could match Arianhrod in a fight back in Ao? Well, barring another Phantasma-esque situation, that's never going to happen, as Arianhrod bites the dust while Ein never even shows up in the arc outside of a cameo showing that she was among the forces deployed in "Operation Jormungand" and the Golden Ending credits.
Many players were also miffed that there's no section in the game where players could have the three protagonists team up for at least one or two dungeons other than the True Final Boss fight.
Tier-Induced Scrappy: For the higher end of the scale, Chrono Burst ends up becoming the most useful arte of the game as it allows players to have infinite amounts of turns as long as players have enough items to accommodate for the upkeep of the characters' EP.
Osborne ends up being one of the most powerful, most charismatic, and most intelligent beings ever to walk on Zemuria and he's only fought at the final game of the Cold Steel saga. The fact that he's been trying to lose on purpose in Cold Steel IV makes it even more impressive. So it ends up being natural that he had to go out in style at the end of the game.
Arianhrod/Lianne Sandlot as well. She's one of the strongest characters in the series and a legendary nigh-immortal warrior who has lived for over 250 years, and every time she is fought she will either utterly curb-stomp the party, turn out to be holding back, or even both. And then, after her final defeat, it seems like she's actually going to pull a HeelFace Turn...? Sadly but not surprisingly, it really is too good to be true, as she's promptly killed by Rufus.
In the context of the first Trails of Cold Steel, there's the high-stakes turn bonuses, which first appear roughly halfway through the game for a very short dungeon, and very rarely afterward. Then there's Divine Knight combat, which is basically an Unexpected Gameplay Change dropped on the player for the last two fights in the entire game.
The stance system in Cold Steel III ends up being this as only Juna has this in the entire roster, being able to switch between striker and gunner. And players just end up using gunner mode because it hits multiple enemies and she doesn't need to be next to enemies despite being the weaker of the two. Worse, it's not even improved at all in Cold Steel IV as Juna and Crow are the only characters in the entire playable roster who are able to change stances at will.
People expected Aurelia to be a boss fight at some point in Cold Steel III with Rean fighting her Soldat in the screenshots. What they didn't expect, however, was that she would also be Promoted to Playable, fighting alongside the other characters against Arianrhod and the Stahlritter.
On a similar note, few people expected that Lechter would be Promoted to Playable for a brief section of Cold Steel III, especially since there was nothing in the promotional material that indicated he would be a party member.
With Agate and Tita making their long-awaited return to the series, many fans were hoping for another Liberl character to show up in Cold Steel III. Sure enough, they got their wish. Could it be Estelle? Renne? Maybe even Kevin? Nope. It's...Josette. Though to be fair to Falcom, this was softened by one of her staff showing up in one of the screenshots before the game came out so people did somewhat expect her to show up.
Speaking of characters from Liberl, people were surprised to see Renne come back for Cold Steel IV, especially considering that she was among the first few characters confirmed for the game. That surprise would only multiply when it was revealed many months later that not only would the rest of the Bright family be joining her, longtime allies Scherazard and Kloe would also be making their return.
There's also the inversion of unexpected characters who don't show up in the game, namely Rixia, Lazy, and Noel, all of whom don't show up outside of a cameo in the true ending. What makes this especially notable is that Rixia's seiyuu is already in the game voicing Elliot's older sister Fiona and both Lazy and Noel had their names dropped in Cold Steel III. The fact that Rixia made a full appearance and was even briefly playable in the second game, only to not show up again for the entire arc also disappointed many fans.
Some fans felt that Claire, Lechter and Millium crossed the Moral Event Horizon when they sided with Chancellor Osborne in the final chapter of Cold Steel III, and that the game's attempts to play up their Conflicting Loyalty and reluctance to fight Class VII did little to excuse their betrayals (not to mention willingly participating in a plan that would result in death of Altina, someone they were shown to care greatly about in earlier scenes).
It's at least implied that Millium was planning to take Altina's place since the beginning, and Lechter did show conflict for many scenes in the game before that. But Claire is still in denial over the morals of her "father" and Rufus is 100% unapologetic, making those two last examples hard to feel sympathy.
Crow Armbrust gets this due to his desire for revenge against Chancellor Osborne, and the fact that he's the leader of a terrorist group called the Imperial Liberation Front. Crow's backstory is sufficiently sympathetic, as he's upfront to Rean about his motivations being entirely self-serving. However Crow's "revenge" against Osborne is extremely disproportionate. For instance, the False Flag Operation the group tries in Chapter 3 of the first game almost started a war between Erebonia and Calvard, the two biggest nations on the continent. They also planned to launch a Weapon of Mass Destruction at the city of Crossbell (which has a population of at least 500,000 people who have nothing to do with his or the rest of the ILF's grudge, and is in fact on the verge of sharing the same fate as another victim of Osborne's policies), just because Osborne was attending a trade conference in the city at the time. There was also the fact that the group was responsible for starting the Civil War that makes up the focus of the second game when Crow sniped Chancellor Osborne in broad daylight. Yet despite these actions, Rean and the rest of Class VII don't care and just want him to come back to Thors and live out the rest of his school life before graduating. Made even worse that the closest thing to karma he receives for his actions, his death at the end of the second game, is undone as he's resurrected in Cold Steel III, and fully resurrected for real by the end of C Old Steel IV, though Crow is aware that his crimes can't be forgiven and strives towards atonement.
Rean and the rest of Class VII get this from the fanbase due to their desire to bring Crow back to Class VII, while barely bringing up the fact that, as mentioned above, he's the leader of the terrorist group that started a civil war. Some fans think the group is selfish and has Skewed Priorities for caring more about the well-being of one person than the damage said person caused and see the whole scenario as Protagonist-Centered Morality. Bonus points for one of its members actually kidnapping Rean's sister yet Rean barely bats an eye to it despite being depicted as an overprotective big brother.
Some fans criticize Lianne's Honor Before Reason moment for not telling her best friend Roselia that Dreichels was being stalked by an curse entity or that one of Erebonia's biggest issues is that there's a literal curse breeding in Erebonia. Lianne's reasoning is that she's honoring Dreichels' last wishes that the curse is a human's problem and not something that she need not concerned with. But not only did this leave Roselia clueless, it made the situation in the empire worse, culminating in a lot of events that happen throughout the series. Which retroactively makes it worse that Arianrhod never told Loewe that the reason Hamel was burned to the ground is because of the curse of Erebonia when she was training him. While fans figured Roselia doesn't have enough power to fix it, fans figured that this was something she should have been informed with, rather than finding out about Dreichels and Lianne's dark secret two centuries later and nearly dooming the world in the process.
No one was surprised that Azure Siegfried is Crow Back from the Dead as even the characters comment on it. The game however plays with this in that Azure Siegfried has no idea that he's Crow as his memories are sealed and that he's in a different body. He only manages to start getting his memories back during the climax of the game after seeing Valimar fight off the beast and reminding him of teaming up with Rean to take on Vermillion Apocalypse.
Played straight with Arianhrod turning out to be Lianne Sandlot. This was something that many fans had been taking as a fact since the character's first appearance, so the actual reveal ended up being little more than a formality. In a similar vein, Laura's middle initial "S" standing for Sandlot was also something that had been predicted for a long time.
Same with Gaius and his new position as the new Dominion. Many people made theories way before the third game was out, because of his own connection with Barkhorn, his ability to sense where the higher elements are active and weapons from the church. When his new position was revealed in the last chapter of the third game, many fans already saw it coming and rejoiced for it finally becoming something official. The only twist was that Gaius inherited Barkhorn's stigma rather than manifesting his own with an artifact, something players didn't see coming.
Longtime Kiseki fans also thought that Lughman, the professor you meet thorought the whole game in Cold Steel III was suspicious, given such characters as Professor Alba and Joachim Gunther. And they were right to suspect so: but him being a villain is hardly the biggest twist regarding his character.
Values Dissonance: Rufus' angst of being an adopted son and feeling like he'll never be loved by his "so-called dads" sting more from a Japanese perspective than someone from the West. Curiously enough, the game doesn't make him anymore sympathetic for this mainly thanks to both Rean and Jusis' circumstances of being in the same boat as he is with their Bastard Angst issues.
Wangst: One of the biggest things detractors accuse Rean of when it comes to his powers, is that it makes him feel more like he's a pariah when no one else in the game thinks about it. Sure it's scary, but they don't resent or fear Rean for it and even some of them encourage Rean to try and master it instead. Then there's his entire relationship with Crow and how he feels about the guy, who he wants to bring back to the academy yet the other guy seems to be content with staying at the other side. Some fans seem to think that Rean is being too pushy about the subject, never mind the other guy putting him in a coma and separating him and his classmates for an entire month when the Civil War is happening. This notion does disappear by the end of the main story line for Cold Steel II and throughout Cold Steel III where players do see Rean's angst being very justified.
The Woobie: By the end of the game, players will probably feel sorry for Rean and his entire life going the opposite direction from the other Trails protagonists.
Iron Woobie: Toval offered him to go and become a bracer but Rean is insistent in going with his decision to work for Erebonia despite the things not working out well for his well-being.
In the original Japanese version, Sara's Red Baron title is Eclair. In the English release however, it's changed into "Purple Lightning" instead. While it was taken from the French word for lightning, the change was made possibly to avoid pastry joke fans might create. Consequently, her S-Craft was changed from "Omega Éclair" into "Plasma Storm".
In another sense, trophy for getting your teammates' (and Towa's) bond was changed from original script; While original Japanese version has normal name of achievent like "Alisa's Bond" or "Fie's Bond", here it was localized into "R is for Romance (Alisa)", "More Than a Fie-ling(Fie)" and so on. This trend is continued into Cold Steel II with different title.
The intro of the sequel was just a montage of every character from the previous game saying Rean's name in the Japanese version. The English version changed it to each character giving a line from the previous game significant to their development.
Millium originally didn't give Valimar any nickname in Japanese version, yet the localization gave one, "Valley". Reason? The Localization producer admitted it felt natural for her.
The first Final Boss of Cold Steel II was changed from the extremely Engrish-y "End of Vermilion" to "Vermilion Apocalypse".
Just like what XSeed did to treasure chests in The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky, they changed empty chest messages into pun. However, this is limited to Cold Steel 2 only, and not all of them are changed; only trial chests.
Rean saying "Heed my call, Valimar the Ashen Knight!" sounds way more grand in the English version compared to the Japanese's "Come, Ashen Knight Valimar!"