The JRPG fans are typically fond of Ys, and it’s because the series continues to offer old-school, traditional gameplay in a world loaded with open-ended, more mature, choice-driven adventures. Although you’ll probably never see another franchise installment for a home console, you can bet they’ll continue to hit portable units; Ys Seven for the PSP will be available in August, for instance. The good news is that many titles in this relatively popular series never break the Japanese border; this one is being brought to the US by Falcom, so fans should definitely appreciate the effort. Protagonist Adol is back and once again, he will tackle dungeons infested with vermin, visit picturesque locales and towns, and meet plenty of unique and fantastical characters along the way. In other words, the structure will remind you of the golden days of JRPG entertainment on the original PlayStation, which may be a step backwards for some, but nostalgic bliss for others.
Despite the traditional arrangement of elements, one should remember that Ys utilizes straightforward real-time combat; players can mash away on a button to attack if they so choose, and there are several special skills and abilities as well. The rest is all vintage role-playing: characters level up, weapons and equipment can be purchased, found and equipped, skills are leveled up through extended use, and your enhanced maneuvers and weapons will change in appearance and effectiveness. You may remember the way Final Fantasy IX worked, in that pieces of equipment included a certain skill, and that weapon needed to be equipped in order for the character to use that skill in combat. But once the weapon reached a certain level, that skill could then be permanently learned. Ys Seven features a version of that system, with a dash of Disgaea-esque depth attached to the direct advancement of your weapons. Obviously, the inherent depth is enough to entice hardcore RPG-ers.
Characters also have their own original abilities as well, and they can be engaged when you’ve built up the requisite amount of energy. They’re both powerful and flashy, and should – unsurprisingly – be saved for tougher encounters. With three characters allowed in a party, hundreds of different weapons and items, and plenty of encounters looming large in the dungeons, you could spend a great deal of time with this one. In fact, the developers say the basic storyline will take you 30-40 hours to complete and while the game may appear old-fashioned, it features a convenient save-anywhere system. In your quest for the Five Great Dragons of Altago, you will wander through a colorful and very artistic world, which is a God-send for those who really appreciate this particular Japanese style. And for a PSP title, based on what we’ve seen, the game will definitely look quite satisfying.
Ys Seven is set to release in the US on August 17 and will carry the standard $29.99 price tag. However, if you’re a big fan of the series, you might want to pony up the extra $20 and get the Limited Collector’s Edition for $49.99. This package includes the game soundtrack CD (with over 20 original songs), a 60-page art book featuring pieces from Ys Seven, Ys: The Oath in Felghana and Ys I & II Chronicles, and a nice 12.5” by 34” cloth map that depicts the world of the series. Doesn’t this remind everyone of the way Working Designs used to package their stuff, like Lunar? Man, those boxes were great.
7/1/2010 Ben Dutka