Reviewed: August 31, 2010
Released: August 17, 2010
Woah -- where the heck did this game from? I had heard of the Ys series, but had been successfully ignoring the franchise my entire gaming career. I booted up my PSP with many expectations, but an extremely fast paced action RPG was not one of them. Granted, I was able to tick off many of the other items on my list of expectations. Generic looking anime characters with too many accessories and spiky hair? Check. Women wearing clothing that is entirely inappropriate for combat? Check. A story that involves monsters suddenly appearing outside of the city? Check. Cramped fingers from playing the PSP for an extended period of time? Ten checks (one for each finger). Boring, repetitive, slow-paced combat? That item was thankfully left unchecked.|
Ys Seven tells the continuing tale of Adol and his ongoing journey of monster fighting, and world saving. The story is a major part of the Ys Seven experience, but it does not provide any revelations in narrative, or character development. You play as Adol and you have to do some stuff to save some other stuff in order to prevent some bad stuff. Your true motivations really arenít even revealed until you are about a third into the game, and even then the incentive for completing your mission is kind of ambiguous. Thereís enough there to compel you to get to the next chapter, though.
While most of the characters represent a pretty standard stable of JRPG cliches, there is one notable exception in your pal Dogi. He is with you the whole game, and often offers humorous insight into the absurdity of the tale you are part of. He comments on the ridiculous nature of the circumstances, and Iím glad he was there.
The graphics are totally fine. The game is bright, colorful and very Japanese, but it does not do anything to push the processing power of the PSP. This is not necessarily a bad thing though, since the framerate is spot on. It may not look as sharp as something like Metal Gear: Peacewalker, but it runs a whole heck of a lot smoother.
The music is bright and actiony, and nothing you have never heard before. The opening animated cinema has some sweet violins pumping you up for melodramatic conversions and fast paced swordplay, but after that? Nothing special.
The gameplay is where the game really shines. Itís basically a hack and slasher, with special attacks and an emphasis on dodging. You always play with at least two party members, and you have to switch between party members on the fly, depending on what enemies you are taking on. Adol, your core dude, takes on the regular enemies, while your pal Dogi does more damaga to the shielded beasts. Other party members have differeing strengths, and their weapons will work best against certain enemies. Itís all about figuring out who can dish out the most damage, switching to them quickly, killing your monster, and moving onto the next enemy.
Dodging attacks plays a crucial role in combat, and it is implemented well here. Pressing the square button offers a very fast, very vast dodge roll, that gets you out of the way fast. You will be jamming on the button often to both get away, and to get back to the action. It makes the combat frantic, and fun. Itís like a cross between God of War and Kingdom Hearts, which is a pretty sweet combination.
In the field enemies rarely offer any kind of extreme challenge, but the bosses are very much the opposite. Bosses are big, have life meters that often stretch far too long, and require more dodging than sword slashing. They can be a real turn off toward the Ys Seven experience, and it is just something you have to muscle through, despite their difficulty and annoyance. As with any RPG, they get easier as you get stronger.
The dungeons are standard mazes filled with angry beasts with very limited puzzle solving. All dungeons present an impassable obstacle, and a hidden object that must be equipped to get past the obstacle. For example, there is a door underwater, and you canít breathe underwater, so you have to find the object that will let you breathe underwater, and then you can move on. It wonít make your brain hurt, but it wonít make it rot either.
On of the problems with these dungeons, and really the game as a whole, is the need for backtracking. The dungeons often force you push your way into the heart of the maze, and then push your way back out. Itís a good thing fr farming experience, but itís a bad thing for having fun. Part way through the game, you do get the ability to warp around the map, as well as warp to a limited degree around the dungeons, but about halfway through the games, the rules of magical transportation get tweaked, and for the most part, you have to back track across the entire map on foot, even though there is something in your inventory that just a few hours ago was letting you skip this tedium. Again, itís not a bad thing for gaining experience, but my fingers are cramped. I donít want the gameplay to be artificially extended, thank you very much.
Throughout the many dungeons and combat areas between dungeons, are an assortment of plants, chemicals, special rocks, and other assorted elements that you can exchange for money, or use to strengthen weapons an armor. Itís just an extra little incentive for checking every nook and cranny.
In the end Ys Seven is a surprisingly good Japanese RPG. If you like JRPGís, then this one will not disappoint. If you donít like JRPGís, then this one will probably surprise you. It still has many of the problems that plague similar games in the genre, but the combat is so fast paced and fun, that it is pretty easy to get past those recurring flaws. Good games on the PSP are pretty rare, so if you are tired of letting your handheld collect dust, Ys Seven is certainly a worthy reason to charge the thing up.