Today marks the first Fandom Friday, this is the column where I will feature fan works and contributions to the English-speaking Falcom fan community. These works can span all sorts of areas, but todays will feature two relatively big updates that may be of interest to everyone.
If you are interested in submitting more to the site for the next Fandom Friday in two weeks, feel free to let me know by reaching out to me on twitter, or making use of the new contact form! You can find it here.
Trails in the Sky Manga Scanslation
Earlier this week, the group Strega Appreciation Society released scanslations of the first two chapters of the Trails in the Sky manga. I planned to write about both of these, when I found out that they have also released chapter 3, as well.
The Trails in the Sky manga is a six vol manga series, penned by Shinki Kitsutsuki, the same artist that did Ring of Judgment, which was featured in this site’s Translation Tuesday series not too long ago.
RPGFan.com’s Falcom Encounter Podcast
Falcom was focused in RPGFan.com’s latest Retro Encounter Bonus Round podcast, called Falcom Encounter.
This is just short of an hour and a half of talk and thoughts about being fans of Falcom, and their current games and so forth. The people behind RPGFan are fantastic people, and getting to listen to them sit down and have a great conversation about Falcom’s titles was quite an enjoyable time.
The people on the podcast are:
You can catch this podcast on the RPGFan website here.
Ries Fanart from @YF_Studio
This year, Endless History celebrated its 7th anniversary! It’s been a long time, but it’s a nice, magical number for the fans of the Kiseki series. As such, the wonderful @YF_Studio has drawn me artwork of Ries Argent, my favorite Kiseki character.
If you like this art, you can also commission him to draw art of your choice, too. Reach out to him on twitter, or his patreon to help support his great artwork.
Fan Thoughts: Ys VIII -Lacrimosa of Dana-
The following was submitted to me by email from sinjitsu_itiro on twitter:
This is less a review of Ys VIII than an overview of how Falcom has evolved their approach to storytelling through videogames.
Falcom always addresses the faults of previous games – for example, the character animations in Sen no Kiseki/Trails of Cold Steel were adjusted in the sequel – so it’s no surprise that Ys VIII improves over its predecessors in the Seven “line” (Seven and Celceta.) What is surprising is how much they’ve managed to improve.
For example the personality of Adol Christin has always been what could charitably be called a cipher and yet Falcom has clearly been making an effort to reintroduce him to players, first through a modernized take on his armor in Seven and then with the flashbacks to his childhood in Celceta. In VIII Falcom seems to have found its stride – the dialogue options are neither too earnest nor too outright snarky, giving the impression of a young man who means well, really can’t wait to see what lies over the next hill, and also isn’t above gently tweaking his friends every now and then.
The story is completely new but familiar at the sane time – Adol’s bad luck with ships is a running joke with fans, so it seems only reasonable that he would get shipwrecked on a desert island once or twice. The other tidbits Ys VIII reveals about him also fit with what we know about him – it’s only logical that someone who travels on his own for great lengths of time should be able to cook, and that he works as a sailor to earn his voyage is also reasonable for someone who misplaces every ancient treasure he finds and is thus perpetually broke.
The cast of characters that surround Adol this time also help clarify Falcom’s intent with the series – they’re colorful, diverse in background and outlook, and lighten an adventure straight out of old-fashioned shipwreck novels, with strange creatures, intrigue between castaways, and complex structures built out of driftwood. Falcom is clearly playing to their strengths here with a limited cast of likeable but sensitively drawn characters, and it works.
The rest of the gameplay also follows naturally and organically from the setting. With no one else to rely on in the wilderness, it’s only natural for the survivors to band together; with no knowledge of their surroundings, it just makes sense to map the environs; and with nothing to eat, what choice do Adol and his friends have but to gather fruits and go fishing?
It’s clear that Falcom put a lot of thought into making the disparate systems mesh together as an organic whole. As you explore the island, you find other castaways, who help you with their unique skills (such as arms forging, sewing, cooking, etc) and also move barriers so you can explore new areas. And this is all done in a way that suits the setting – none of the castaways have any money so there’s a barter system instead, and while the appearance of the Kiseki subquest system in Celceta felt a bit off, here it’s hard to object to Dogi asking you for materials for a rowboat.
The game sets up an addicting positive feedback loop that makes you eager to progress in your exploration. And the fact all the castaways are actually helpful in gameplay make them more likeable and make the player more sympathetic to their plight.
One new element here is the defense battles which again unify a number of different elements: the materials you gather can be used to strengthen your fortifications, improving your relationships with other characters will make them more inclined to pitch in, and the notification of an impending assault just as you reach the end of an area raises the tension. The presentation of the attacks is also effective: once a battle starts you’re in a frenzy of killing the enemies before they can kill you, keeping an eye on the minimap for ambushes, and listening to the castaways shout in encouragement. And of course Sound Team JDK does a great job of hyping up the player, as always!
Falcom being Falcom, they leave the choice of participating in the defense up to you. I always participated because I’m a goody-goody but others may not. You can also turn off voice and even your health bars if you want to.
I should add that this is not a game that minds if you get lost. I found a number of areas before the plot pointed me there, and the game didn’t block them off or indicate I wasn’t supposed to be there yet. Want to drown because you can’t swim yet? Falcom’s not stopping you.
In short: a wonderful demonstration of Falcom at its best. Bring on Ys IX.