Just like with Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana, Nihon Falcom’s newest localised game sees a late port to Nintendo Switch in the form of The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III. While Ys VIII wasn’t a great conversion, the team behind Trails of Cold Steel III on Nintendo Switch is Engine Software who ported Ni No Kuni to the hybrid console. Trails of Cold Steel III was originally built for PS4 and it has been interesting seeing how a game that runs at 4K 60fps on PS4 Pro scales down to Nintendo Switch both docked and handheld.
There are a few groups of people who likely have been waiting for Trails of Cold Steel III on Nintendo Switch. The first is Nintendo Switch owners who have only heard about this series and never had a chance to try it. The second is PS Vita owners who wanted to continue playing the series on a portable. The third group is the hardcore Falcom fans who just want an excuse to replay this fantastic JRPG.
In an ideal world, the first two Trails of Cold Steel games would be on Nintendo Switch so this would feel perfect following those. Despite being a good entry point to Trails of Cold Steel thanks to various flashbacks and summaries, this isn’t the ideal place to get into Falcom’s long-running series. If you’re not willing to play Trails of Cold Steel and Trails of Cold Steel II on any other platform, hopefully this game makes you want to go back because the Trails series is worth the hundreds of hours you will put into it.
For PS Vita owners who are wondering about the port quality, Engine Software did a great job with Trails of Cold Steel III when played handheld. This is way better than Trails of Cold Steel and Trails of Cold Steel II were on PS Vita with a smooth frame rate, fast load times, and a ton of extra content included for free. If you held off on buying Trails of Cold Steel III on PS4, the Switch version will be a joy for you when played portable.
For everyone who just wants to know how the port is, Engine Software did a great job with the game for portable play but the experience docked isn’t great. When handheld, Trails of Cold Steel III on Nintendo Switch runs at a target of 720p at 30fps. When docked, the resolution and frame rate targets remain the same but there is antialiasing added with better shadows. Other than that, I didn’t notice any big differences across both modes. Not bumping up the resolution of even the interface when docked is disappointing because even the portraits and some cut-ins during skills in combat are blurry.
In terms of content, Trails of Cold Steel III on Nintendo Switch includes the base game and 26 cosmetic items included for free. These are available from the DLC tab in the item menu. The base game doesn’t include Japanese voice acting and you will have to download it as free DLC when the game releases. Many physical editions include 14 additional cosmetics for free making this one of the best value releases for a Falcom game yet.
Other than the performance differences and DLC included, Trails of Cold Steel III on Nintendo Switch is the same amazing game as it is on PC and PS4. Having now played the game across all three versions, it is great to see a Falcom game finally get a multiplatform release with quality releases across all systems.
My biggest complaint about Trails of Cold Steel III on Nintendo Switch is how it looks docked. If you don’t care about portable play, you’re better off buying this on PS4 or PC. If you want to play on the go, this is the best way to do it and you will easily get a ton of quality JRPG content out of Trails of Cold Steel III.
Overall, Trails of Cold Steel III on Nintendo Switch is a must play JRPG on the system with its superlative music, excellent characters, and brilliant narrative. While I am disappointed with how the game looks when docked under a TV, there’s no denying that this is one of the best portable JRPGs ever and one that feels right at home on Nintendo Switch. Last year, I called Trails of Cold Steel III the best JRPG on PS4. On Nintendo Switch, Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition finally has some competition for the best JRPG of 2020 on Nintendo Switch with Trails of Cold Steel III.