The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III review (Switch)

NIS America’s port of The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III for the Nintendo Switch is almost here, finally giving players the chance to take this game on the go. Does it hold up? Time for a closer look.

For me, the first two games in the series made sure I’ll always associate Trails of Cold Steel with portable gaming. Sure, they were also released on the PS3, but for me and many other gamers this has been a series with a strong background on the PlayStation Vita. When the third game wasn’t being developed for the Vita anymore it was disappointing, but having enjoyed the series so much I decided to make the leap to the PS4 version anyway.

trails of cold steel iii

Everything I said about that version in my original review still holds true and I would recommend giving that a read to learn more about how the game stayed true to the rich characters and world of the first two games while introducing new gameplay mechanics at the same time. For this particular review, my main focus is on how things handle on the Switch – and in particular when playing in handheld mode. Even though it’s been years since Cold Steel 2 on the Vita, being able to go portable will probably be the biggest draw here for longtime fans of the series (who likely already picked up the PS4 version). If you’re new to the series and starting on the Switch, then at least we already know that part 4 has already been announced for the platform even though there’s no word yet on whether or not the first two will make an appearance. That’s important to note, because this one’s not that newcomer-friendly and your appreciation will be greatly enhanced if you play the first two games before this one.

Content-wise, this release has everything that the previous versions for the PS4 and PC had, which means you get both voice tracks so you can choose if you want to play with the English dub or the original Japanese one. The game isn’t fully voiced, but considering the staggering amount of narrative content this was never going to happen and what’s there is of excellent quality – which carries over to the music and sound effects as well. Very often a game that sounds decent enough in handheld mode will sound a little “flat” when plugged into a TV, but Trails of Cold Steel III soundtrack on the Switch is excellent – making it sound like the PS4/PC version even if it looks slightly less crisp.

trails of cold steel iiib

The move to the Switch means that the resolution for the games was scaled down to 720p, making the visual quality of the game sit somewhere between the original two Vita games and the more recent releases of Trials of Cold Steel III. The resolution is the same when you pick up the Switch and use it in handheld mode, which means you’re looking at crisper visuals than the 960×544 that the Vita offered. As with the Vita, however, you’ll notice a few framerate drops – most visible during scenes that feature a lot of buildings and NPCs. These drops are more rare than they were in the Vita games though, which makes this an impressive port that runs at a steady and fluid framerate most of the time even though it’s a lot more visually impressive than I and II were.

As a result, I can definitely recommend The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III as one of the best RPGs you can grab on the Nintendo Switch – huge in scale but still running fluid (for the most part) in handheld mode. You’ll want to play the first two before diving into this one though, so consider your options before taking the plunge.

Score: 8.0/10

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