E3: Ys Impressions from XSEEDThat's Ys SEVEN, Oath in Felghana, and I and II Chronicles.06.17.10 - 1:09 AM
When XSEED announced that they were going to bring over six Falcom games to the US, many of us RPG fans jumped for joy and squealed like little girls. After sitting down with XSEED at E3 and getting a look at these games, I have one thing I want to say up front: I am confident that XSEED is going to do these games justice and give us the localizations of these Falcom games we've been waiting for. My confidence was increased further when I met a member of the localization team today. XSEED chose him to join the team mainly because he is a Falcom fanboy. He's just like one of us, so he's doing his darnest to make sure us hardcore fans get the localization as close to perfect as can be. He even assured me that North American fans will finally get to experience these games the way Falcom meant for us to. These ports aren't going to be third party interpretations like we've seen in past releases, like the PSP port of Ys: The Ark of Naphistim
or the DS port of Ys I & II
, but rather in-house Falcom developments.
Ys SEVEN will be the first title to be released of the six Falcom games. We can expect a late summer release filled with that nostalgic 80s old-school Action-RPG feeling. Fans of the series know that it is about gameplay over anything, and this game doesn't try to be anything it's not. What makes this game unique is it isn't solely focused on Adol like past titles. You control a party of three at once and you can eventually choose from a total of seven characters to put in your party. You can control one person and can switch at will to others characters, each of which have a unique type of attack. I'm also very happy to report that XSEED assured us that we can expect a completely unobstructive AI. Each character also has their own strengths and distinctive attacks. For instance, Adol is best suited against fleshy enemies and Dogi, who relies on his fists, is strong against armored enemies. Needless to say, it's best to strategize by switching to the appropriate character for the situation you've found yourself stuck in. Also, every weapon has a skill you gain while it is equipped. These skills grow with experience, and the best part is that regardless of whether or not you actually use the weapon, you acquire the skill. And I'd just like to note the dungeons look awesome and unique. Any dungeon where you have to avoid getting sucked in by wheels of death while flying through the air gets a gold star in my book.
Since this is a portable title, you will be happy to know Ys SEVEN has a save anywhere feature. Also, there are retry points on the map that you can activate whilst you traipse about the dungeon. Once you activate one, if you happen to die you will be resurrected right at that point with the exact same money and experience from when you first touched it. You will additionally have the option to retry bosses if you lose and you will not be penalized. You'll start the boss battle in the exact same state as when you tried it the first time. The game will also have four difficulty settings, so fans of all skill levels can enjoy Ys SEVEN. It also should provide you with anywhere from 30 to 40 hours of gameplay. Although we know the story is fairly straightforward, it doesn't neglect putting some extra effort into the little things, such as NPCs. XSEED assures us they won't just be signposts in this game; each NPC will have their own personality and flavor. Last, but not least, I will say the game is very smooth. All of the controls to move, especially as far as rolling and dashing are concerned, around the dungeons move very fluid. Ys SEVEN is scheduled for a late summer release date and definitely looks like it's going to be the experience all us Falcom fans have been waiting for.
A few months after the release of Ys SEVEN, we should expect the release of Ys: Oath in Felghana, which I should note is a remake of Ys III: Wanderers from Ys and a port of the PC version released in Japan a few years back. Felghana is dubbed by many as the most successful and most thorough remake of a game ever. The first standout part about Felghana from what I saw were the graphics: they are very nice isometric 3D graphics that illuminate the PSP screen well. I also was struck about how fast the load times are on this game. Seriously, there's barely any lag from moving from area to area and this is playing from the UMD. There's also a total lack of slowdown in battles and everything in the game. And you know most Action-RPG's give you three hit combos, well Felghana takes it one step further and you have badass six hit combos. There's also a boost mode, where you can totally crazy-go-nuts hacking and slashing. What's also stand out about Felghana is that there is one big map for you to explore, but you are constantly gaining skills to help you access certain areas of the map. Enemies will bestow buffs similar to an MMO, and this also extends to healing, so there are no healing items for you to keep in your inventory. You simply heal after you defeat enemies by absorbing what they drop. This can make boss battles quite challenging as you only have one bar of life to play with and no chance to heal any other way. In Felghana, if you lose a boss battle three times, it will allow you to downgrade your difficulty. So, you'll never be stuck on a boss too long, however, your ego might get a little bruised when it makes the suggestion. Other than that, XSEED is still not sure yet if this game will include the Japanese track, but this PSP title does feature full voice acting for over forty characters. Fans of the Oath in Felghana fan translation of the PC version will be happy to know, that as rumored, the fan translator has been contacted to assist on XSEED's localization of the title.
Ys I & II Chronicles will be released a few months after Oath of Felghana. It features the same bump-based battle system that those of us who have played previous iterations are accustomed to. In the bump system, you bump directly head on into enemies to damage them, if you hit them off center then they do the damage to you. The combat plays very fast and once you bump away at the enemy they explode into bloody blobs to commemorate your victory. The battle system will encourage you to never stop moving. A pretty nifty feature of Ys I & II Chronicles is that if you don't like the new tracks provided in the game you have the option to switch back to the old soundtrack. And, yes, the cool spells such as changing yourself into a kangaroo to talk to monsters are still there. XSEED promises that this will be the best version of Ys I & II we've seen yet in the US. They even went as far as if you don't like the art style of the new character portraits you can switch to a different art style. Since this is a portable title, you'll have a great friend in the save anywhere feature. Needless to say, XSEED is pouring their heart and soul into the Ys titles to give fans what they've finally been waiting for: a Falcom title localized right. I think it's safe to say those awful third party interpretations of Falcom's Ys are a thing of the past.