Ties are something we try to stay away from when it comes to our yearly awards. The last time we had to hand one out in our year-end awards, it was 2008... and oddly enough, it was for traditional RPGs. I haven't seen such a fierce argument for two quality games like this in quite some time – our staff was evenly divided between the Falcom-developed adventure The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky and the Atlus time travelling epic Radiant Historia. These two titles scratch the same itch, but manage to do so in quite different ways.
The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky plays like a mix between Lunar and Grandia and tickles the fancy of the more traditional JRPG fan. It's one of Falcom's flagship series, and it's chock full of quirky content to flesh out its traditional story and gameplay. Immensely long, The Legend of Heroes hearkens to titles like Phantasy Star and Dragon Quest with its core gameplay. It might be slow to get itself rolling, but once it's got momentum, Trails in the Sky isn't a game you'll want to stop.
Radiant Historia feels much like an RPG that would have been developed by Square's talented developers in the late 1990s, had the PlayStation not come along and shifted the world to 3D. Featuring a strategic twist on the traditional, turn-based battle system, Radiant Historia is carefully balanced and a lot of fun. Much like Trails in the Sky, Radiant Historia may not evolve the genre, but it perfects what we already love about it. The time-jumping plot is full of twists and memorable characters, the soundtrack is totally outstanding, and there are a great number of sidequests to dig into. Radiant Historia comes in a time when truly great JRPGs are hard to come by.
We are unbelievably fortunate that 2011 gave us so many great traditional experiences that we couldn't settle on just one for RPGFan's Traditional RPG of the Year – which is why we have given the award to both The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky & Radiant Historia.