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Ys Seven

 

Ys Seven

ESRB: Teen - T
Platform: PSP
Category: RPG
 
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Developer: Nihon Falcom Group
Publisher: XSEED Games

Features

1 player
448 MB game file size (PSN download)
In game manual

Few series have as long and as confusing history as the Ys series. Beginning in 1987 in Japan on the PC-8801, Ys has seen many releases across multiple platforms (the Turbo Duo being my favourite) via a handful of different developers. Now, twenty or so games later, series creator Falcom has brought Ys Seven to the PlayStation Portable. This marks the second game in the series to hit Sony’s portable, but it is the first one developed by Falcom exclusively for it. Ys is a series that has seen few releases in North America, but now XSEED Games has teamed with Falcom to release a trio of titles here starting with Ys Seven. For those old school gamers this is cause for rejoicing, but will the newer younger crowd love an older style game?

Graphics

While the game’s graphics look pretty good on the PSP’s small screen there are times that they occasionally they can look like they’ve been recycled from every other anime-styled JRPG from year’s gone by. Most Ys purists will agree that this is not a bad thing, although younger gamers may find the sometimes dated look a bit bland and unappealing. Ys Seven has been built from the ground up to use the PSP’s hardware prowess and it shows. I found it to be a bright and colourful title with a few cut scenes intertwined throughout. Most everything in the game is done in real time which showcases how efficient the PSP still is. The game had a few areas of troublesome animations that could by a bit choppy or jerky at times, but this not common. Overall the issues aren’t a huge problem but it can be a bit distracting especially on the smaller PSP screen. I also found a small clipping problem that popped its ugly head more times than I would have liked. Again it’s no deal breaker but annoying just the same.

I marvelled some of the depth in the graphics engine, as the rolling and varied terrain and dungeons had a good amount of depth to them. For example, you can stand on a cliff and look below, there you will see a treasure chest you opened earlier on on the ground below. The game offers more than a few instances of “whoa, that's some really beautiful scenery” moments.

The character models throughout Ys Seven are sharply drawn and the towns and various topography are well designed. Some areas seem a bit grainier than others but nothing worth noting. Overall Ys Seven will impress any gamer with its slick presentation and eye pleasing graphics. It only took me about an hour of playing to wonder how nice the game would look on my big screen. Using the PSP’s component cables, I connected it to my 52-inch TV and surround system and was quite pleased with the output. I immediately thought of how this little machine could hold its own against some PlayStation 2 games.

Sound

Like the graphics, Ys Seven’s soundtrack is solid and memorable as well. The game’s audio really shines through with a soundtrack that fits the moods and situations presented in the game without getting repetitive. While Ys Seven does not have any voice acting, the game's dialogue and story are interesting enough to where I never got bored while playing. The background music is simply phenomenal, as the soundtrack was crafted by Falcom's Sound Team JDK, and it completes the atmosphere the game set out to create. As with any PSP game listening through its headphones is a must. The sound separation is incredible in full stereo.

Gameplay

For as long as I can remember the Ys series has always been about fast-paced RPG combat. Ys Seven is a bit of a departure from its old tried and true style. Falcom has taken the franchise into the action hack and slash arena with great results. The action is rock-solid, riding the line between wanton button-masher and meaningful JRPG substance. To old school gamers these mechanics may come as a bit of a shock as they differ considerably from previous Ys games. Strangely enough though, the game still retains it old school roots, very much like an evolution of what has come before.

One thing I noticed right off the hop was how streamlined the menus are. Gone are the days of sorting through layers of menus to dig up the one thing in your inventory you need to get to. Ys Seven has a very clean, uncluttered inventory that only holds a few healing items, and in a bold move it restricts how much you can buy and carry. This makes going into battle something to think about as you can’t go guns a blazin for long as your stash of goods will deplete very quickly. I loved that I could view my whole inventory on one screen and access it with just one button push, efficient and refreshing!

Our old hero Adol returns as the lead character of Ys Seven. This time around he is joined in battle by a team of warriors who tag along as A.I. companions. In my eyes this is one of the best implementation of computer-controlled combatants in an action-RPG in a very long time. I found that A.I. teammates can be smart as they consistently dodge enemy attacks while striking back effectively. I felt as if I was actually being supported by my team, instead of the other way around which can the case with so many action RPG’s. You can toggle between heroes with the press of a button, and each one brings to combat a number of unique strengths. Each character can attack with their own distinct attribute be it slashing, piercing, or striking. They also wield a variety of different special attacks which boosts the group's combat efficiency with varied benefits.

Adol’s in-battle moves are limited to a normal attack, special attack and dodging. Unlike games before it, this never feels contrived or rudimentary. The fighting system is simple and damage is based off off of logical type-attack advantages rather than a matrix of element-based attacks. Using a sword against a fleshy rodent-like enemy is much more effective than using a sword against a hard-shelled, turtle-like monster. A little common sense and some tinkering will go a long way in fighting any enemy It is also very beneficial to switch your characters accordingly as they may have what it takes to take on certain baddies. In theory this may not sound very appealing, exciting or brilliant, but in practice the scheme makes for frenetic and fresh gameplay. 

The games weapons also play a huge role in combat. Every character is limited to a specific weapon type. Dogi, for example, uses gauntlets for punching, while Aisha makes use of a bow and arrow. These characters represent specific attack types which are useful against certain types of enemies. Dogi is good at handling hard shielded characters while Aisha's piercing weapons are handy when flying enemies come along. This game dynamic forces you to switch between the different characters and maximize the usage of your party. The 20 to 30 hour adventure goes by quicker than any RPG I’ve played in years, with a level of enjoyment not matched by others.

Ys Seven’s button placements are also very well managed. They are positioned appropriately without too much clutter and bother. I still don’t like the PSP’s analog nub, but it works quite well for Adol and his rag tag team. One item of note here is the games manual. I downloaded the game from the PSN network so the game had its manual included with the download. I opened it to see how it worked, and was impressed by its easy accessibility and conciseness. I found the buttons are slightly different from the PSP, and its younger brother PSP Go. I am one of those people that like physical media formats, that being said I thought the process of the games download and install onto my PSP was quite easy and pretty fast.



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