Trails of Cold Steel IV spoiler-ridden interview with Kondo Toshihiro
Response to Cold Steel IV’s rush of famous scenes and enormous volume
It’s been over two months since Cold Steel IV was released. How did fans respond?
Cold Steel IV is a game of enormous volume, something we’ve received the most response to. With a setting that large and bringing together main characters from all over the Trails series, not only united Class VII including Rean, but also Estelle and Joshua from Trails in the Sky and Lloyd and Elie from Trails from Zero to Azure, the game may have felt highly majestic.
As the final entry in the Cold Steel arc, the game is crammed with famous scenes from the beginning onward. What parts did you focus on, or paid extra attention to, when creating the story?
With so many characters, we worried over which character should appear each scene during the creation of the scenario and events. We can't just have all characters out there due to hardware limitations. That also applied to the party formation: some characters had to be removed from the party due to technicalities. That's why we included details as to who appears in what scene more than ever before.
Which event was popular among the development staff?
It differs per staff member what scenes they like, so opinions are a bit scattered. Some like the events related to Hamel, others prefer the final battle in which everyone partakes. Fans probably have similar impressions.
Which event did you like, then?
The last scene for me. Throughout the four Cold Steel games, Rean has always had to suffer during the endings, hasn’t he? (laughs) It's a feeling of relief that he's been rewarded at long last. He’s a character we've been following for 5 years now, so being able to congratulate him honestly made me happy.
Why was the true ending route unlocked after having watched the normal ending?
You experience a different sentiment when watching the true ending after the normal ending than watching the true ending straight away. We made it this way since we thought it could be more moving to watch the final ending after having seen the normal ending once. By the way, the development team first submitted a proposal to make the true ending inaccessible unless all quests were completed. However, I found those requirement a little too strict. I think that those who have seen the final ending will understand that it would be waste to have people out there unable to see that very part. Back when we made Ys Origin, the game was structured in a way that the third route wouldn't unlock until both the first two routes were cleared. There were players who didn't get that far, so for Cold Steel IV we made the conditions so that everyone could watch the true ending.
Actually, is the narrative branched, with each ending its own world axis
What exactly was Ishmelga, the final boss?
Ishmelga has been revealed as the source of many incidents in Erebonia. Please share how Ishmelga came into existence.
Originally, the Divine Knights were the singular Sept-Terrion of Steel, which was split in seven in an attempt to control it. However, doing so only postponed the problem. The very system of the Divine Knights itself was unstable, so I think Ishmelga awakened to bad faith in one of the power's seven fragments.
Did Awakeners exist at that point?
There were no Awakeners at that point. As the Divine Knights themselves are like artificial intelligence. The one that gained the ability to think after awakening to bad faith continued to manipulate the human fighting spirit from behind the scenes, resulting in the birth of Ishmelga. For the same reason the other Divine Knights have each their own personality.
By the way, are the Dark Dragon's curse and Erebonia's the curse the same thing?
It’s fine to interpret it as such.
Was the Dark Dragon itself created by Ishmelga?
It was not. I'm thinking it had an impact on something and had the form of the Dark Dragon.
Why did Ishmelga continue to cling to Dreichels’ soul?
That’s related to Dreichels’ outstanding virtue and sense of humanity first and foremost. Basically, a Divine Knight can’t move without an Awakener, so Ishmelga continued to seek an Awakener for over a thousand years. In the end it happened to meet Dreichels, whose soul quality was high enough to satisfy its demands.
It didn’t look for an Awakener other than Dreichels?
That’s right, keeping Ishmelga's abnormal persistence in mind. It kept looking for him ever after his Dreichels’ death, because a man of his sense of humanity or position comes along only once in millennia.
Osborne is the reincarnation of Dreichels. Are these kind of phenomena happening elsewhere in Zemuria as well?
Who reincarnates as whom isn't precisely set. If some kind of error occurs once the soul returns to the Goddess, the phenomenon known as reincarnation may occur. However, it’s not like reincarnation happens frequently in Zemuria.
Why wasn’t Osborne’s Sword of the End used to slay the Black Holy Beast?
That sword is Ishmelga itself, as shown in the last scene. Not only Ishmelga, all Divine Knights were originally the Sept-Terrion of Steel, making them creations of the goddess. The Holy Beasts are also creations of the goddess and can therefore not be defeated by Ishmelga as a creation from the same goddess. A Holy Beast can only be defeated by a bearer of a soul, so it can’t be defeated unless it is a sword formed from Millium or Altina.
Is Rean's ogre power also related to Ishmelga?
It’s fundamentally entwined with Ishmelga. When Rean’s family home was attacked, Osborne borrowed Ishmelga's strength to transplant his heart into Rean. On that moment, the factor of Ishmelga served as intermediary and took root within Rean. In addition, it combined with the latent potential that already existed in Rean and gave rise to the to the ogre power. McBurn previously described Rean's situation as being “mixed”, but this does not mean that he is mixed with the power of Divergent Laws.
Erebonia’s curse, the Twilight’s noise
Where lies the difference between those susceptible and those resistant to Erebonia’s curse?
If you think back on people who have undergone a major transformation, doesn’t it feel as if they have something in common? People enduring a mental trauma or bearing a large complex tend to be more susceptible to the curse’s influence. Take the mayor of Alster, those messages are easy to follow. Lightning strikes and burns down the Lenheim residence, and then the news of Olivier’s death reaches him, taking advantage of his enormous grief. It’s also partially accidental of course, so some are influenced a lot unexpectedly.
Erebonians are more affected by the curse, right?
That’s right. Those from outside Erebonia are less affected.
Children affected by the curse didn't seem to become aggressive.
That seems to be one of the traditions of the Legend of Heroes series. The idea is that we don't want to see too many children and animals suffer.
There were cases of memory disorder due to the curse. What was the cause of this?
The Twilight itself served as a setting in which it intervened as a noise in different things.
So the Twilight makes one forget things that would be inconvenient for Ishmelga.
Whether Ishmelga itself was aware of it I don't know, but the Twilight’s noise appeared to have been an unintended result.
Was the curse involved in hindering the plans Regnitz was drafting mid-game?
That’s exactly right. It's not that Ishmelga kept watch on Regnitz but rather generated noise as the system.
Is it the same mechanism that caused everyone to forget about the appearance of the Infernal Castle?
They’re one and the same. Think of the Twilight’s noise as the murkiness of consciousness and memories.
Vita was trying to set up a mock Rivalry to release the curse. Had Osborne not taken over the plan, would her attempt have been successful?
With only the manifestation of the Infernal Castle she wouldn’t have gotten the full 100%. However, the whole world wouldn't have been dragged into it if her mock Rivalry had proved successful there.
Characters and countries after the ending
In the true ending, Rean is seen leaving the dormitory at the very end. What happened to Class VII?
I think that basically everyone related to New Class VII will return. I don't know how Ash will be treated, but I want the same for him.
I'm also interested in the subsequent episodes of the main characters.
Future arcs may touch those parts or present them as side stories.
I heard that in the artwork “Class VII, Rise Up”, which served as the game’s cover art, there’s a reason Alisa and Jusis are facing the opposite direction from everyone else. What did you mean with this?
Alisa was in a really severe spot in Cold Steel IV, because all her relatives turned out to be opponents. It depicts the feeling of guilt she has been enduring. Jusis’ actually holds a positive meaning. Since he’s in a leading position when Rean is not around, it shows the part where he fills in the rear guard in cases of emergency. Another reason is that he and Machias are back to back.
How will the circumstances of West Zemuria, including Erebonia, change going forth?
The ending tells Erebonia is paying damages, but it’s not a defeated country. The damages are not only paid by the imperial government, but also by the imperial family, Four Great Houses and companies like the Reinford Group. That said, the national power of the large empire hasn’t dropped below the level of surrounding nations. Although its excessively prominent parts have been suppressed, there’s no major imbalance to speak of, so I think the situation between Erebonia and Calvard will continue in the future.
With Cedric absconding, what will happen to imperial family's right of succession?
Emperor Eugent III is still alive and well, but going forward this will pose a big problem for the imperial family. There are many issues for Olivier (Olivert) to succeed. First of all, the unknown origin of Scherazard, which their surroundings could take an issue with and the Four Great Houses will have to approve or disapprove. Well, what will happen to the class system in the first place is another issue altogether.
Can Cedric, having unexpectedly left the imperial family, safely become an Enforcer?
That topic also came up among our staff members. I haven’t decided yet, but I guess he might become an Enforcer? Speaking of which, Cedric was disliked among players at the time of Cold Steel III, but as of Cold Steel IV he’s been largely forgiven. Now Rufus has been attracting all hate. (sweats)
Rufus owes that to the Arianrhod matter, right? I gasped at that scene.
Stabbing her with the words “It's time for legends to leave” earned him an unfavourable impression.
And then he got arrested during the ending.
Rufus found himself arrested in stead of his father and Osborne, whom he looked up to. Now he’s contemplating what he can do. However, since he is not in the position where I can decide for himself what to do, he has that kind of conflict.
After the war the imperial government is led by Regnitz, so how will the Four Great Houses such as Musse move?
Since Regnitz assumed office temporarily, you can assume that will change in the future. The Four Great Houses are managed by family heads, but Musse is still a student. I think there was talk that she would make herself widely known and so on after graduation, so afterwards she will start to distinguish herself.
Although the war ended in two days, many Erebonians went to war. How many victims were there?
You can’t imagine there were no human losses in such a situation. Although there were less than expected, both Erebonnia and Calvard suffered a great number of deaths.
By the way, the trial grounds for the Golden Divine Knight appeared in Crossbell. Does the land hold even more history for us?
Crossbell is a historically unstable place with periods of being annexed into the Erebonian Empire or becoming a dominion of the Calvard Republic. With those shifts repeated throughout history, it’s become a unique place where various things happen. Perhaps I should say that somehow feels like its fate...
Does that mean there’s also a chance Crossbell will be the setting again in a future arc?
That is perfectly possible.
Speaking of which, we previously heard that Pleroma Grass was unique to Crossbell. Why did it start blooming throughout Erebonia?
Because Crossbell became an imperial province. The curse of Erebonia that manifested in Crossbell is the same. Phenomena unique to Crossbell spread to Erebonia, including the flourishing of Pleroma Grass.
What powers held the Sept-Terrion of Fire and Earth?
Did the Gnomes become Ishmelga's kinship at the same time as the Holy Beast of Earth became the Black Holy Beast 900 years prior?
That’s exactly right. Furthermore, Franz became an immortal through the kinship's influence. That does not mean he became an Awakener, though.
Was the name Alberich inherited from the first chief of the Gnomes?
Alberich is a spirit lifeform-like existence, possessing the finest descendants among the Gnomes for generations. It’s not the name that is inherited, but Alberich's very existence.
Franz and George are the only Gnomes making their appearance, but are there others?
It’s not mentioned, but there might be. It would be rather impossible to run that kind of facility with just the two of them.
Was Roselia’s true identity originally merged with the consciousness of the previous familiar?
Roselia’s true identity isn’t a fusion of a familiar with the Holy Beast of Fire. The fusion of the Holy Beast of Fire with the Elder of the Kinship of Fire was the first Roselia. That first Roselia made a backup of herself by installing a familiar through the Lunar Nether Mirror, and that is the current Roselia. She also has backups in the form of Grianos and Celine. She’s considered a vampire because the power of Fire originally governed the spirit. Since it could manipulate spirits, the part where the spirit is absorbed is mistaken for vampirism.
Ark Rouge, the Sept-Terrion of Fire, and Lost Zem, the Sept-Terrion of Earth, vanished as they became the Sept-Terrion of Steel. What powers did these two treasures originally hold?
Basically, both assumed the form of giants for a period of time and each granted miracles to their kinship. Like the Aureole, the Sept-Terrion of Space, their specific powers are not described in the games, but the Sept-Terrion of Fire governed over the spirit and the Sept-Terrion of Earth over the flesh. Think of what constitutes 'hun' and 'po' [an ancient Chinese soul dualist tradition], where 'hun' represents the spiritual aspect of the soul and 'po' the corporeal. In the true ending, finally booting the systems of the two treasures resulted in the resurrection of Crow and Millium. Still, the fact that the two have fused to become the Sept-Terrion of Steel means their individual powers now appear as one.
Alberich brought up a ranking among the Divine Knights. Why is there a disparity in abilities between them?
This was due to division of roles and individual personalities in the first place. When the Sept-Terrion of Steel’s power was split, it wasn’t split even. Whether the personalities were decided at that moment or development in compatibility with the real world is left to the imagination.
From Arianrhod's revival to the prevention of Cedric’s death from emaciation, the link between Divine Knight and Awakener has a number of effects, hasn’t it?
The Divine Knight closes a temporary contract with the person they want to be their Awakener. This mechanism blesses the potential Awakener with divine protection and keeps them from dying. The reason Cedric did not die from emaciation is because of his temporary registration.
Does that also apply to Rutger, who became the Awakener for the Palatinate Divine Knight?
The fact that Rutger and Baldur managed to fight for three days and nights straight means that both could’ve served as a potential Awakener. In the end Rutger was selected since it was decided he would be an easier person to deal with. Simply put, Sigmund would have been a pain to put up with. (laughs)
For what reason was Rufus selected as Awakener of the Golden Divine Knight?
That process was not mentioned in the game. In the game's setting, life symbolises “eternity”. Rufus lived by kidding himself to some degree. Deep down, he somewhere felt a desire to take back his true self, which corresponded with the longing for eternity. In the background, El-Prado acknowledged his greed and spirit.
Did the Divine Knights completely disappear from this world in the true ending?
They no longer exist.
At the start of the game, the characters in Rean’s name were unreadable. What was the intent here?
It represents Rean becoming uncontrollable and losing his self. Even though the people around him acknowledge him, he himself cannot make out this own name. This is also linked to the lyrics “Take back your name” in the song “Trails toward Tomorrow”.
Argres, the Holy Beast of Earth, also found its name unreadable in the beginning. It becomes readable once you defeat it and it regains its true name.
The Holy Beast was dispatched by the Goddess and was a being affected by laws of this world. The fact that it was killed might be related to the fact its name was unreadable.
Why did the Holy Beast of Earth regain its self and appear in the Sanctus Shrine?
Argres was actually destroyed. What appeared in the game was the placement of its astral body. It could make its appearance in the Sanctus Shrine because it’s a unique place, known as a sanctuary, and because of the Twilight’s influence.
Cold Steel IV scored a direct hit with brand-new revelations
In Cold Steel IV surprising new facts were revealed. Please tell us again about the world of Trails.
First off, I will refrain from commenting on any questions relating to the worldview of the foundation of the series. I can’t explain more than the keywords that have come up so far, as this is related to the development of future arcs.
It's been confirmed that the continent of Zemuria is surrounding by sea areas and airspaces that can’t be reached no matter what.
The concept of an atmosphere has been recognised by physics and nature physics. However, I can’t reveal whether this world is shaped like a sphere. Some might say the world somehow has an edge or that the collapse starts from the end of the world. For now, we’re keeping those allusions at that. What will happen and what form the world will assume will be part of the next games.
The existence of Divergent Laws was also revealed.
That’s the only thing you really know for now. McBurn mentioned several things, but it’s not even clearly stated whether the world he was in got destroyed.
For some reason I thought the Divergent Law resembled Phantasma in structure. There doesn’t happen to be a dungeon from which you can break out by ship into the outside world?
You might think of them as similar in structure.
Was Phantasma a copy of Zemurian laws?
I don’t know about that. Phantasma was the result of an artifact's powers. The artifacts themselves have somehow not been explained properly.
Keywords such as possible world, Eternal Recurrence Plan, phasic engine and AZOTH popped up.
There are many who think of AZOTH as an organisation, but it’s pointed out that it’s an artifact system that records causality. The other keywords don't have the exact same meaning as they commonly have in SF, but are substituted by roles in this world.
Was it a human from Zemuria that McBurn got merged with? Or did he merge with a human named McBurn in this world?
McBurn’s body is that of a human from Zemuria. However, it is unclear whether that person was named McBurn.
Was it a person involved in something, then?
I’ll pretend I don't know that yet either. It may have been accidental or it may have been the consequence of some kind of power.
Does the great compatibility between McBurn and the Angbar actually come from the fact that they're both from Divergent Laws?
That is what the Grandmaster prepared for McBurn. It’s not the sword McBurn originally had.
Do the Angbar and Kernviter form pair?
They do not. The Kernviter is a sword the Grandmaster prepared for Loewe.
It's said McBurn merged 50 years prior, putting this in the same period as the Orbal Revolution.
‘50 years prior’ is an important keyword. If you try looking into what happened around that time, you might discover something interesting.
The D∴G Cult was also highlighted. Will details of the cult's formation be discussed in the future?
Possibly, but nothing concretely has been decided yet. However, the D∴G Cult is an organisation that had influence in the eastern half of the continent. Calvard suffered the most harm. It’s very likely the continent’s eastern half will be depicted in the future, so names or things affected by them may pop up.
What could Joachim of the D∴G Cult see in this world?
If you give it some thought, he probably saw something. What he saw is unknown at this point.
Does the top brass of Ouroboros know what Joachim saw?
They appear to know something related to what he saw.
Speaking of mysteries, is Beryl related to Divergent Laws?
What is she even in the first place? (laughs)
The Grandmaster and the Society are observers? What is their goal!?
The aim of Ouroboros was revealed to be the observation of the Sept-Terrion. Will their stance be the same for the Eternal Recurrence Plan?
There's no doubt they’ll the move the same way in the future.
Considering the meaning of their aim as observers, would you say that the actions of Weissmann in Trails in the Sky were irregular?
Trails in the Sky gave us the impression that their goal was to retrieve the Sept-Terrion, so with Trails from Zero to Azure many were surprised to find them not caring about the treasure’s disappearance. Based on that we can surmise that Weissmann’s behaviour was indeed irregular. The stance as the society is basically observing the Sept-Terrion and it was revealed that the Anguis and Enforcers are also observing.
For the Eternal Recurrence Plan, all Anguis and Enforcers except for those who completely dropped out will return. Why is that?
Like Arianrhod, Vita is also acting in according with the Grandmaster’s line of thinking. What they knew may be a hint. Cold Steel IV has a scene where Juna gets to the heart of the society’s structure. The fact that such a scene was included means that it holds some kind of meaning.
The differences in personality and character between the ones pledging loyalty to the Grandmaster are extreme.
I think that's affected by whether you know or not.
The Grandmaster really is unfathomable.
Everything about the Grandmaster has been said in the game. However, it seems that she differs from the Zemurian laws generally discussed in the games.
By the way, who is the Grandmaster’s voice actor?
Each time we cast someone different so that the Grandmaster can’t be identified.
This time the society lost Arianrhod. She was kind until the end, wasn't she?
She lived to always watch over Dreichels. When she rescued Rean in Trails of Cold Steel I, that wasn’t because he was an Awakener but because he was the son of Osborne, Dreichels’ reincarnation. Precisely because of her devotion the Grandmaster's existence stood out.
Bleublanc appeared as Aleister. Is that a diguise or Bleublanc's real form?
That hasn't been decided yet, but since it’s been said that Bleublanc is of noble descent, it might be true.
Regarding Campanella's sex, the game featured a scene that had me think he was a woman.
Even I haven’t been told about this. If you think about it, Wazy’s pretty much the same. (laughs)
Is the “unwanted child” mentioned in the Black Records Weissmann?
That's Weissmann alright.
How did Nielsen obtain the final volume of the Black Record?
It’'s unknown how he obtained it. The Black Records were originally formless. When they suddenly manifested in the world, they were quickly sold in bookstores. Nielsen said that because he is blind, he immediately knew that the book he picked up was a Black Record.
Yup, I guess Nielsen is suspicious no matter what. (laughs)
The pool of suspicious people has expanded, hasn’t it? Someone like Beryl seems to fit right in. By the way, there were fans commenting that it’s suspicious that Juna's father Matthew is a good person wearing glasses.
Is the full picture of the Septian Church gradually revealed!?
The Septian Church knew about the existence of Divergent Laws. Will they close in on the world’s mysteries in the future?
Yes and no, in a way. The Outside is something they want to keep hidden to prevent chaos. Conversely, in order to avoid confusion, there are also parts they need to know about.
What surprised me about the church is that even the priests in Erebonia were aware of the curse’s existence.
What kind of organisation it is in the first place hasn’t been completely revealed. I think it we’ll have to depict it more properly in the future than was done in The 3rd so far.
Is that the reason the Septian Church is spread across Zemuria?
It’s become clear that the church brought together people to some extent from the Dark Ages onward. That was also when the Sept-Terrion came out. You can think of a number of ways the treasures and the church are connected.
Gaius and Thomas played an active role in Cold Steel IV, but I’m also interested in the developments of the other church affiliates.
Some of them only appeared in the ending. The church’s manpower has become abundant, so I’d also like to present that properly one day.
Wazy had Scarlet become his squire, and I’m curious as to who will become Gaius’ squire.
In that sense, now Rean has become a Divine Blade he's also able to take on disciples. The question is what Divine Blade he’ll become. It's not Ashen anymore. (laughs)
The story hidden in the ending
Has there been a change in characters’ popularity since Cold Steel IV's release?
I feel that Altina, who was at top last time, is popular this time as well. Rean and Crow are also popular. Osborne’s share also increased thanks to those who saw the true ending. They think Osborne was a good father after all.
However, weren’t there comments that in Cold Steel IV many characters appeared only briefly?
That’s some severe criticism we’ve received from our fans, indeed.
Scenes like the Salt Pales in the finale are very exciting, but since equipment and quartz can’t be changed, you dash right through it.
The final Salt Pale was actually discussed among our staff. Some said that it was just a cruise with everything set already, but we eventually decided that there are many fans who'd want it that way.
The final decisive battle is a thrilling moment because there are so many characters. You wanted to include a lot of characters, didn’t you?
There were plans to have church personnel, Matteus Vander and an S-rank bracer appear in the game. However, we were forced to give up on characters in several places. You can’t have a character appear without having them actively participate. Still, I want to complement those characters somewhere.
Several patches were released after the release. Overall, I feel there were many adjustments around the characters’ abilities.
That’s right. Many fans expressed disappointment that their favourite character was weak. Conversely, no one said they wanted to see someone weakened. Another strong demand from some fans was their wish for a harem event. (laughs) That would be problematic since there are also people who wouldn’t like that.
Why was the craft Destiny Blue added for Crow?
We received comments that Crow was relatively weak, so we added it in to meet their request. Many said that they could finally put Rean and Crow together this time.
By the way, what party formation are you playing with?
I also wanted to put Rean and Crow together, so Crow was my starting lineup. Other party members switch as the story progresses or where they go.
How was the response to the ending?
This is the first time we made the ending this extravagant. It featured a lot of illustrations and characters. All fans seemed to be satisfied with it.
It felt like the ending told Millium catches the bouquet and hands out the individual flowers to the female members of the original Class VII.
As a matter of fact, it seems like the ending is telling a hidden story, one even I wasn’t aware of. (laughs) For example, in retrospect it was revealed that the Eastern-style dresses Towa and Angelica wear were actually prepared by Angelica. Another background story is that Alan and Bridget had planned their wedding at the same time as Olivier and Scherazard. Of course, they felt it would out of place and rejected the date. Furthermore, there were also plans to have a wedding ceremony for Rean and whoever he picked during the final bonding event, but since that also could’ve been a minor...
Was the Olivier and Scherazard’s wedding ceremony during the ending already decided at the start of Cold Steel IV's production?
It was decided from the start, but at that time we were planning to show it as an event scene. The person in charge of the illustrations, however, said they would give their all and started drawing. They even drew the dresses for the united Class VII.
Are bonding events actually the hardest to make?
This time bonding events were also substantial.
Bonding events are the easiest for gathering the opinion of fans. However, bonding events are also the ones that makes the development staff complain the most, especially when it involves a lot of special animations... When I mentioned the next title, the first thing they asked was whether it would involve bonding events again. (sweats) But as fans seem to enjoy them, I think they’re okay with it.
Alisa is the most popular character based on the trophies for final bonding events.
Thanks to the main heroine treatment. Overwhelming heroine power, right there. Juna did her best in her leading role, but I have a hunch that didn’t unexpectedly increase her trophy unlock rate.
Maybe people are a little hesitant to seduce their students. Also, Juna feels more like a protagonist than a heroine.
Juna as a female protagonist gives off this feeling we haven’t felt since Estelle.
By the way, what bonding event did you get a lot of response to?
Machias’ bonding event got praise. In these scenes he overcomes the root of his aversion toward the nobility. Many wanted to see them entirely voiced, but the contents of the events were decided at the very last moment...
By the way, the Isthmian Tales that first appeared in Trails in the Sky The 3rd appeared during one of Emma’s bonding events.
In The 3rd, Kevin calls it a banned book, right. Several instances of foreshadowing were included in The 3rd, like the secret first appearance of Vita Clotilde. If you think of foreshadowing from the beginning, you can use them as ideas later on.
What exactly is one such idea that you used later on?
For example, the characters that appear in books. Carnelia wasn’t initially considered to make an appearance in the games and would only appear as Toby’s partner. It was written by a new scenario writer at the time. Similar cases may happen in the future, so if you check the novels now, you may laugh later.
No way... Tomatonio!? (laughs)
Who knows? (laughs) In-game novels are like the first task a new hire at our company gets assigned to. It should be a book that everyone in the Trails universe would read. It draws out the individual characteristics of a great writer. ‘The Life of Tomatonio’ and ‘Coby and the Mysterious Museum’ were written by the same person.
Speaking of which, I don't know whether it qualifies as foreshadowing, but I'm curious about the connections to Nayuta no Kiseki, such as unreachable sea areas and airspaces and the name Herschel.
I don't know if I seriously believe in a connection between those works, but we're very aware of what we make so we can enjoy the investigations into those parts. However, the name Herschel is like Tezuka Osamu's star system. It also make its appearance in Tokyo Xanadu, so it’s not like Nayuta is special.
Is Lif from Akatsuki no Kiseki the niece of Prince Albert that was mentioned in Cold Steel IV?
That hasn’t been decided. The premise of Akatsuki is basically that it’s a parallel [world].
Another one is the Holy Beast of Earth, Argres. A Holy Beast of the same name appeared in The Legend of Heroes III: White Witch.
Like Towa, this is also a case of fan service in Falcom's unique world. By the way, the same applies to the Demonic Sword Angbar and Angue-Barl, the Flame Dragon from Ys Seven.
With Cold Steel IV, the Erebonia arc has come to an end. Please tell us about future developments.
A rough outline of the series was more or less decided during the first stage and we further fill it in when we get to the production stage.
The next game’s setting will be Zemuria’s eastern half!
Specifically where are you considering to have the next arc take place?
We’ve basically come to Liberl, Crossbell and Erebonia so far, so what hasn’t been presented so far are the eastern territories. The Calvard Republic is the biggest one of them. Furthermore, there are several states that have only a name attached to hem. I think the next Trails will begin having its setting somewhere over there.
Are changes to the game mechanics likely?
The Erebonia arc was a big break for us, so we would like to start the new Trails by greatly revising and supporting the games’ mechanics and specs. At the same time there are also parts we haven't been able to conclude thus far. We’re in the middle of our investigation whether we also can make a title that completely exhausts those parts.
What parts connecting to future instalments, like the ending, would you like people to remember?
There are a lot, not just the ending. (laughs) Keywords related to the world’s mysteries or the Ouroboros-related scene you can see after fulfilling certain requirements during the ending will play a big role in future developments of Trails.
Finally, do you have a message for all Trails fans?
It took us pretty much 14 years to reach the grand finale of the Erebonia arc. Whether you’ve been playing throughout these 14 years or jumped in halfway, you’ve been able to enjoy several Trails arcs. I really feel that we’ve been able to come this far thanks to everyone’s help. We’re thinking about continuing the Trails series in the future, and adding new elements to what we’ve been doing so far. Seeing as it’s a considerably long series, I think there are parts that have to be changed as we continue. Keeping that in mind, please continue to support us as we drive the series to its completion.
Source: “Trails of Cold Steel IV spoiler-ridden interview with Kondo Toshihiro”, Sen no Kiseki Magazine, Volume 5, pp. 60–67.