Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Ys Seven is Out and You Should Buy It Now

Ys Seven came out in the US yesterday, and it's absolutely imperative that you buy it. I could write paragraphs and paragraphs on how awesome it is, but in the interest of keeping it brief, I'll point to the Official Sony US blog, which should do an excellent job of hyping you up, and I can confirm that it's not the usual PR speak either. The game hasn't been covered in the Ys article proper, just because I hadn't gotten enough time that I was happy to fully review it. I got about eight hours in and got distracted, but don't let my video game ADD put you off - those were eight damn good hours. Plus after I'd heard it was being released in English, I held off playing any further so I could actually enjoy the story.

I love Ys, because I truly believe the Action-RPG is The Best Genre. Despite their proliferation and popularity in the 16-bit era - Secret of Mana, Illusion of Gaia, Terranigma, Beyond Oasis, Landstalker, Crusader of Centy, and even Zelda, if you want to argue that way (I would) - it's sorted of dried up over the past decade. Well....maybe not dried up, so much as torn apart and evolved. Outside of Zelda and its very particular type, you've got stuff like Bayonetta and God of War which weighs heavily on the action side and Champions of Norrath and Shining Force EX/Neo whatever leaning on the RPG side. Most of these don't really hit the sweet spot I'm looking for, although NIER is probably one of the best recent ones. You could probably stick in stuff like Odin Sphere and Muramasa, which are decent, although in different ways.

Ys though? Man. Ys was a series I really liked when I was introduced to it - Ys III is the best worst game ever made - but it really became super awesome with Ys VI: The Ark of Napishtim, which replaced its fun-by-wonky battle system with something far more gratifying. Then it got ridiculously mega awesome with Oath in Felghana, a little less awesome with Ys Origin, and graduated in some of doctorate in awesomise-tisity by the time Ys Seven rolled around last year.

In many ways, Ys is sort of a sister series to Castlevania, at least of the Symphony of the Night variety. I know that claim might put off some people, but hear me out! They are both focused on exploration, world-building, and level-building. Their controls are beautifully smooth, doubly impressive with the Ys games, since they're 3D games that play like 2D games. And they also all have amazing soundtracks.

In fact, Ys arguably does a lot of this better. It's got a beautiful tempo, as the very act of running around, hacking everything to bits, feels like a constant series of miniature rewards. It's better balanced, too. The day-to-day hacking and slashing is hardly taxing, difficulty-wise, but the bosses will test every single old-school arcade skill you've got. (And while grinding will help you out, they won't completely solve the matters either.) Admittedly, over the course of the series, the action actually started to get a little bit rusty by the time Ys Origin rolled around, but they revamped everything by adding a speedy dash button in Ys Seven, and substantially improved the battle system by adding tons of secondary skills. Altogther, Falcom impressed themselves enough with it that they took the engine and turned it into an arena-based fighting game, Ys vs Sora no Kiseki. (Which, to be honest, didn't turn out so well. It might be fun in multi-player, but single player is another story, and one for another time.)

So yeah, you shouldn't just buy this game to support XSeed and the PSP. Well, I mean, they're a brilliant company for licensing these and absolutely deserve your money, but this isn't a charity case or anything. This is one of the best games of 2010 (and of 2009 too, in fact.) I even say this as someone who doesn't particularly care for playing games on portables - I am slightly sad that Falcom abandoned a PC version, because I'd much rather play it on a 21 inch monitor with a proper controller - but it's just rad enough to overcome that inherent obstacle.


  1. "I love Ys, because I truly believe the Action-RPG is The Best Genre."

    Mr. Backward-Dracula-What-Disco-Dances, you are a man after my own heart. Also, I also endorse this game. I will formally do so with a graded review next week, but in the meantime I am finding much to like about it. I hope it doesn't get lost in the shuffle.

  2. well, you could run your PSP through your HDTV (assuming you have a PSP-2000 or newer), and its kind of like playing it on a larger screen ;)

    As soon as I get some extra money...I love Ys

  3. i played this a little bit and i tought that combat was button mashy and the locale you explore dull's

    the two boss fight i had were fun but the rest of the game was godawfull boring

    i really don't get the love

  4. Still don't have a PSP, and it's not likely I'll ever get one. Make an XBLA version and it is an instant buy. :p

  5. I got a PSP just to play this game. It was worth it.

  6. Refa- This game was the reason that I am going to get a PSP. I already preordered it, although having to stare at it without actually being able to play it will be torture. At least I have Ys 6 to enjoy.

    As for Action RPGs, would you consider SotN an action RPG?