"This game surpasses its predecessor by offering improved visuals, faster and flashier combat, and a suite of more robust features."
I was elated to get an opportunity to play Ys: Memories of Celceta earlier today, and it was just as speedy and stylish as I'd hoped it would be. This complete re-imagining of Ys IV is built from the ground up for the Playstation Vita, and while it uses the same engine as Ys Seven, the similarities are only surface deep. This game surpasses its predecessor by offering improved visuals, faster and flashier combat, and a suite of more robust features.
For those not well-versed in the real-world backstory of Ys, here's a quick recap: there were actually two completely different versions of the fourth game in the series, each featuring a different story, due to Falcom licensing the IP to separate developers in the early nineties. Ys IV: Mask of the Sun was created by little-known studio Tonkin House and released on the Super Famicom in November 1993. A month later, Hudson Soft released their own take on the game for the PC Engine Super CD-Rom, entitled Ys IV: The Dawn of Ys. Neither game received an English localization, and neither were actually Falcom titles, ultimately making Ys: Memories of Celceta the "canon" fourth entry in the series and the first exposure of North American fans to this long-lost chapter in protagonist Adol's storied history. Celceta retains some thematic elements from its original versions, but the narrative has been expanded and completely rewritten.
Anyone who's played an Ys game knows that they center around lightning-quick, skill-based combat. Celceta is no different. Like in Ys Seven, Adol adventures in a three-person party; one is directly controlled by the player, while the other two act according to customizable AI. Switching between characters is as simple as tapping a button, and players will need to make use of each character's unique weapon characteristics (slashing, blunt, and piercing) to damage enemies efficiently. Special attacks, learned by fighting optional free-roaming boss monsters, are used with the R button in conjunction with a face button. Each character also has a unique super move, unleashing huge damage over a wide area. These attacks in particular are flashy and feature stylish animations. Equally important as offense is the strategic use of dodge rolls and blocks to mitigate enemy damage. Skill and quick reflexes are a player's best friend in any Ys game.
The interface is clean and attractive, making use of the Vita's touchscreen in various ways. Besides the main menu, where players can set skills and manage equipment, there is also an incredibly robust mapping system that encourages thorough exploration. The map has icons for gathering points, treasure chests, and other landmarks, as well as tiny footsteps showing where Adol has recently tread, and an info box with the exploration percentage of the current area. Completionists will undoubtedly shoot for 100% exploration, and with a game world several times bigger than that of Ys Seven, there's plenty to see and do in Celceta.
I, for one, can't wait to dive into Adol's latest adventure. I already know the gameplay is solid, the music rocks
, and I'm going to spend hours and hours searching every nook and cranny of this exciting new world. As long as the story holds up, there's no doubt that Ys: Memories of Celceta will be a fantastic addition to the Vita library when it releases this fall.