Posted 2 years ago By - Marko Djordjevic
Considering the amount of RPGs that have been remade on the PSP, it’s nice to see a proper follow-up make its way onto Sony’s portable console. The latest series to see a continuation comes from the cult classic Ys franchise. With Ys Seven, we get a serviceable game that can be enjoyed by both long-time fans and those experiencing the series for the very first time.
For the unfamiliar, Ys revolves around a silent protagonist Adol Christian and his colleague Dogi who travel the world seeking adventure. This time around, the pair find themselves in the land of Altago and of course, not everything is as it should be. With people mysteriously getting diagnosed with a rare disease and the constant appearances of giant monsters called Titanos, Adol has been magically gifted with the ability of the Dragons and holds the key to preventing the destruction of the land. Similar to most Japanese-styled RPGs, the story is fairly cut and paste and forgettable. Thankfully, it doesn’t impact what manages to make Ys Seven a worthwhile adventure.
The focus is on the game’s fast paced action, which is extremely easy to grasp and surprisingly deep. For starters, your party of Adol, Dogi and a number of other characters that you meet along the way each have particular strengths and weaknesses against the plethora of foes you will face. There are three different attack types that factor into the combat. For example, Dogi’s fists, are extremely effective against enemies with tough shells while two characters you meet along the way have ranged attacks - or pierce attacks - that are key to defeating flying and fast moving foes. With the various enemy types you encounter, more often than not, you will switch your party on the fly in order to proceed further.
On top of the standard offensive maneuvers, all characters have various Special Skills and Extra attacks at their disposal. The special skills are based on the weapons equipped and improved upon as they are used. These attacks can be extremely effective in a number of different situations and your SP Gauge replenishes as regular and focused attacks (attacks that have you hold the attack button for a moment to charge) are used. Extra attacks are significantly more punishing strikes which include a small animation beforehand. These attacks also replenish over time, but your use of them tends to happen only against stronger opposition.
You always control one character at any moment, but can switch between party members when needed. Unfortunately, there are some problems with the AI-controlled members. In situations where a number of different foes are on the screen, they will attack the same one rather than spread the punishment around. There is the option to adjust who they attack, but the generic choices of "strongest" or "weakest" doesn’t help when you want them to attack the one that their character is most effective against. Because of that, you will have to constantly switch which character you are controlling at any given moment to progress.
The combat stands out most during the game’s numerous boss battles, called Titanos. Every battle is a challenge and each one requires a different strategy to defeat. Unlike most action-RPGs that tend to have predictable enemy AI that rarely changes things up, these battles require using the most effective party everytime. There is always at least one attack type that is best against a given foe and planning which one(s) to use can be the difference between an easy battle and a frustrating one.
Visually, Ys Seven translates well to the tiny screen, but it won’t blow you away with what it offers. With a nice palette of foes at your disposal, there are some questionable animation choices, specifically in the many dialogue sequences. The "quirky" use of thought bubbles feels cheap and sometimes, rather than changing the body language in a fluid motion, they will transition suddenly and look out of place. Moments like that occur quite frequently which is odd considering that there are other instances that don’t have the same problem.
In terms of audio, while there isn’t any spoken dialogue other than an acknowledgement when changing characters, the score does a fantastic job at adding atmosphere to each environment and situation you encounter. On top of the strong score, the game’s sound effects also manage to add to the ambiance in each area. While a spoken script would have been nice, due to the pedigree of other JRPGs, maybe this omission is a good thing.
Your time with Ys Seven will definitely vary, but its length works well for a portable title. The main storyline is fairly linear with almost no deviation. Also, thanks to the game’s map, you will never lose track of what you have to do next. While there are a large number of side-quests to partake in, most are generic fetch quests, such as collecting seeds and/or water, that aren’t that memorable. Most also require you to talk to a specific person just to trigger it, so those who rush through a given area can end up missing them entirely. Lastly, once you get to a certain point in the game, the first batch of quests are no longer available. By that time, if you haven’t been actively hunting for more things to do, you probably never will.
While we still might be in need of an injection in the J-RPG landscape, it is nice to see one that does stand on its own instead simply being a generic wannabe that is a blatant cut and paste of past glory. Fans of the series will be happy with what is offered and newcomers will appreciate the easy access and not having to know the main character’s background before diving in.
+ Combat system is robust and deep
+ Interesting mix of characters
+ Fantastic boss battles
+ Great soundtrack
- Stereotypical J-RPG storyline
- Weak ally AI while in combat
- Boring fetch-based side-quests
- Frequent questionable animations
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Release Date : 2010/08/17
System : PSP
Publisher : Xseed
Developer : Nihon Falcom Corp
Category : Action-RPG
ESRB : T
7.0 / 10
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