Post by Nester the Lark on Nov 13, 2018 12:46:50 GMT -5
Now that I've had a chance to let Ys VIII sit with me a while, I decided to do a write-up for how I rank the Ys games I've played. I'm not very good at explaining why I like certain games, so this reads more like a fragmented retrospective. Still, I put a lot of work into this.
Set 700 years before the events of Ys I & II, Ys Origin takes place entirely within Ys I's Darm Tower. As such, it's less of a fleshed-out RPG and more of a linear dungeon crawler/tower climber. The emphasis on action and lack of series protagonist Adol Christin (except as an unlockable character in a bonus minigame) made this game rather unpopular when it was first released in 2006. However, it became one of the best-selling Ys game outside Japan when Xseed localized it into English in 2012.
Origin was not my first Ys game, but it was the one that made me a fan. Despite its emphasis on action, the brisk pace and modest length kept me from getting burned out as I have with more recent entries. At the same time, though, there are three playable characters, each with their own story and gameplay style, so the game is very replayable. Definitely one of the best action-RPGs I've ever played. (Cross your fingers that DotEmu will have it ported to Switch like they did PS4, Vita, and Xbox One last year.)
When first released in 2004, Ys VI was the first entirely new entry in the series after an eight-year hiatus. It acted as a tribute, referencing every previous game up to that point, and set the standard for the more action-oriented nature the series would adopt going forward. The additions of platforming and more active combat (as opposed to the infamous “bump” system) were actually lifted directly from Ys V, but implemented in a way that was faster, smoother, and that fans actually liked.
For me, The Ark of Napishtim strikes a great balance, feeling like a fully fleshed-out RPG, but without unnecessary padding, so it doesn't overstay its welcome. It's not without its flaws, but the overall experience was always very enjoyable for me. It is worth mentioning, however, that I played Xseed's localized PC release that added the ability to instantly warp to any save point. This eliminated the excessive backtracking present in previous versions of the game that many fans found off-putting. Without it, I could see it getting a bit tedious. (Luckily, warping is a standard feature in all future Ys games.)
Ever wonder why, unlike other Ys games, the title “Ys Seven” lacks a subtitle and spells out its number instead of using the Roman numeral “VII?” Well, the short answer is probably that it's meant to evoke the new party system introduced in this game with the fact that you can have up to seven members at once.
However, it's also my understanding that Falcom was worried that fans might reject such a dramatic change. They called the game “Ys Seven” so that if it failed, they could brush it off as a side-game, and tell fans that the real “Ys VII” was still on the way. While the changes were controversial, the game was still very successful, so Falcom let it stand as the proper sequel.
Ys Seven was the beginning of Falcom trying to make longer-form Ys games, and as such, I felt it started to drag a little bit towards the end. Still, I really enjoyed how big the world felt, and it really gave me the illusion of traveling across vast plains. And while it doesn't have the best implementation of the party system, I still liked the idea of Adol having companions. It was fun finally being able to play as returning fan-favorites like Dogi and Geis, and the new characters were pretty cool, too.
By the early 2010s, Falcom's Trails/Kiseki series, known for its long, detailed narratives and deep lore, had overtaken Ys in popularity, becoming their new flagship franchise. But so as not to let Ys fall by the wayside, Falcom set out to make a new Ys game that would be even more popular. As such, Ys VIII is the biggest, longest, and most ambitious game in the series yet. Their efforts paid off, as it also managed to become the most successful Ys game ever.
For me, however, Ys VIII buckles under its own weight. As I've mentioned previously, the length of the game feels forced. The sections in which you play as Dana feel like padding (although the narrative aspects are kinda cool). The side-quests start to feel excessive and tedious if you're trying to get the good ending. And the raids... well, just more distractions from what I'd rather be doing: exploring the isle as Adol & company. I would've preferred to play a shorter, more focused game.
On the other hand, it has the best implementation of the party system yet. The “castaways stranded on an island” part of the story is done really well (even if it does limit variety in the setting), and building up the camp amounted to being like a town-building side-quest, which I tend to enjoy in RPGs. And I really liked the characters (as I often do in Falcom games). Fun, but flawed.
Originally intended to be one game, Ys I & II are often bundled together, and have been remade and ported countless times over the years by different developers. The most well-known, perhaps, is Hudson Soft and Alfa System's impressive PC Engine/TurboGrafx CD version, Ys Book I & II (the very first Ys game I played). In the late '90s, Falcom, themselves, decided to update the games, titled Ys Eternal and Ys II Eteranl (oddly released separately). They were then updated and bundled together as Ys I & II Complete in 2001, and then tweaked again in 2009 to become Ys I & II Chronicles, the current canon versions of the original games.
But throughout all their incarnations, they've largely stayed faithful to the design of the originals. Until now, I've always placed them at the bottom of my Ys rankings, pretty much solely due to the fact that even the Chronicles versions feel archaic. Specifically, their level designs are still stuck in the late '80s, having no rhyme or reason, and being confusing and maze-like strictly for the purpose of causing the player to get lost. Additionally, some of the bosses in Ys I are downright infuriating.
And yet, I have to admit, I find myself coming back to them occasionally, enough to get me to bump it up a notch. They have a certain old school charm that I've come to appreciate. I just have to see through the parts that haven't aged well to enjoy it.
Also, it has those amazing Yuzo Koshiro beats that set the tone for all future Ys soundtracks.
While not originally intended to be an Ys game, Ys III: Wanderers From Ys is as much a black sheep to its series as Zelda II: The Adventure of Link is to the Zelda series. As such, it went from being an overhead action-RPG to a side-scrolling platform action game, and was no-less divisive among fans because of it.
After finishing work on Ys I & II Complete, Falcom had plans to give Ys III similar treatment. The dev team, however, successfully lobbied to create an entirely new Ys game instead, resulting in Ys VI: The Ark of Napishtim. After the success of that title, they revisited the idea of remaking Ys III. However, rather than simply taking Wanderers From Ys and giving it a graphical overhaul, they instead decided to use the Ys VI engine to recreate Ys III in the style of a traditional Ys game, complete with overhead perspective (while still including much of the side-scrolling level design). The result was Ys: The Oath in Felghana, often ranked among fans as one of the greatest Ys games of all time.
And yet, here it sits at the bottom of my rankings. It's not that I think it's a bad game by any means, but something about it never quite clicked with me. The first time I played it was immediately after I had finished Ys Origin three times in a row, followed by Ys I & II Chronicles, so I thought maybe I was just a little burned out from the series. Yet, every time I've tried to revisit it since then, I've had difficulty staying interested in it.
I think part of it is that, as a remake, it feels like a short game artificially padded out to be longer. But unlike with Ys VIII, the padding stems from high difficulty. The Oath in Felghana is regarded as one of the hardest games in the series. While that's something Ys fans generally appreciate (many hardcore fans set the games to “Nightmare” difficulty, even on their first playthrough), in this case, it feels like it's there simply to cause the player to spend extra time grinding. That's a really cheap and lazy way to artificially lengthen a game, and for me, it's a little off-putting.
As I said, I don't think it's a bad game. There's still plenty to like about it. It has a really good story, a great variety in settings, and excellent design and structure. But I always wish I liked it more than I do.
- The original Ys III: Wanderers From Ys. - Any version of Ys IV, all of which are Japan-only* except for Memories of Celceta. - Any version of Ys V, none of which have ever been available in English.* - None of the spin-off titles, like Ys vs. Sora no Kiseki: Alternative Saga, Ys Strategy, and Ys Online: The Call of Solum.
* Except for unofficial fan translations.
I can't help but notice that I tend to favor the less popular, more divisive Ys games, while ranking the more popular games in the bottom half. I know my tastes tend to be off-beat in general, so I shouldn't be surprised. It does make me wonder how I'll feel about Memories of Celceta, which I often see considered one of the weaker Ys games. It's available on PC in English now, and I hope to get around to trying it eventually.
Post by nocturnal YL on Nov 17, 2018 12:33:08 GMT -5
I didn't get to read this post because I was busy making something else.
Looking at some short clips, it seems to me that the more popular games are more popular because they're more refined. The series has always been giving an impression of being a generation behind (or rather, being low-budget; it always feels like the designers wanted to do something great, but had limited tools), and I was rather surprised to finally try Ys VIII and be greeted by some fairly modern aesthetics.
How do I put it… when I think of Ys (before having actually played any of its games), I imagine giant rooms with repetitive tiles, 2D sprites (they did away with those for a while), little to no voice acting, and music that is beautiful but obviously made with old (around-2000) synthesizers. I still wanted to play it someday, if only because it's the first thing that comes to mind when I think of ARPGs.
There's also the recent fad that people want everything to be big and all about exploration, for some reason. Linear action games may be less appealing to a more general audience.
I guess I can see why do you prefer the titles you favour. ARPGs (or any other movement-heavy genre) that emphasize on the action does have a better pacing than having to stop every other room to listen to stories and generally not fighting.
Memories of Celceta feels similar to a modern game like Ys SEVEN and Ys VIII at first glance.
Having played none of these games, I can't really say more than just what I see on the surface.
Looking at some short clips, it seems to me that the more popular games are more popular because they're more refined. The series has always been giving an impression of being a generation behind (or rather, being low-budget; it always feels like the designers wanted to do somehting great, but had limited tools), and I was rather surprised to finally try Ys VIII and be greeted by some fairly modern aesthetics.
Falcom has always been a small developer, and frankly, it's kind of amazing that they've never gone out of business, quit game development, or got bought by a larger company like has happened to so many other smaller game companies from the '80s and '90s. While they've gone through some financially difficult times, they've managed to stay afloat by continuing to make quality games that cater to their niche fan base.
In the past several years, they've been trying to grow into more modern game development. They've been hiring more staff and outsourcing work to other companies. Still, they'll probably never be on the level of a Square Enix or any other major Japanese developer/publisher, but I don't think that matters. Falcom has kind of a Nintendo-like approach to games in that they don't necessarily have to be on the cutting edge of technology as long as they're fun on an essential level.
I guess I can see why do you prefer the titles you favour. ARPGs (or any other movement-heavy genre) that emphasise on the action does have a better pacing than having to stop every other room to listen to stories and generally not fighting.
I did notice that most of my complaints boiled down to pacing issues, just in different ways for each game.
I totally get why Oath in Felghana is so highly acclaimed. I just find myself getting frustrated with it easily.
Perhaps Lacrimosa of Dana is more a matter of taste, as I'm not sure I appreciate the influence the Trails series had on it. But it was a lot of people's first Ys game, and if it got more people interested in the series, than that's a good thing.
And just to keep things in perspective, if Oath in Felghana got ported to the Switch, I'd still want to buy it.
The concept of the game is the subtitle “Monstrum Nox” (Monsters’ Night) itself.
The game’s setting, Baldeux, is a three-dimensional town with different elevations. Its outskirts include grasslands, forests, and ruins.
Set in an era after Ys Seven, Adol will appear at his oldest age in the series yet. His name as an adventurer is becoming known all over the world.
Party battles and simple controls return. Additionally, the game introduces supernatural actions that lean on the supernatural abilities possessed by Monstrum. Wall-running and moving as a shadow are also possible.
The new “Guild Operations” system is an expansion of Ys VIII‘s “Drifting Village” system.
The hooded woman equipped with artificial arms and legs is a major key to the game’s story.
Development is currently 50 percent complete.
Adol is the protagonist.
Adol’s name has become known all over the world since Ys VI. The increase in the amount of people that know of Adol is one of the highlights of the game.
While there is a possibility that characters from past games will appear, they will serve a more minor role.
As for the reason Adol comes to the Prison City, it is highly likely he got wrapped up in something based on his previous behavior pattern.
The right arm of the woman in the key visual is artificial. She is a guide in this game. She is also the same woman that appeared on the countdown website.
There are characters that becamse non-human Monstrum for certain reasons.
The dream mentioned in the prologue is unrelated to Ys VIII‘s Dana dreams.
You can climb onto and move across rooftops.
You will be able to play as Monstrum during the course of the game.
There is also flying-esque floating, as well as aerial state actions.
Magic items have been abolished and will be consolidated into Supernatural Actions.
The adventuring gear that appeared in Ys VIII will also disappear. Since there are too many items and categories, the plan is to organize such elements together.
They would like map-making to stay. They also want to include fishing, but various elements have come up that are under consideration.
I'm glad it's set after Ys Seven instead of just being stuck between other games. I also wonder if they'll alter the way the party system works, or just keep it the way it is.
Now all I need is a Switch port (which we likely wouldn't even hear about until at least 2020, which is also when an English version would be announced).
Post by Nester the Lark on Jan 17, 2019 16:08:41 GMT -5
Tails of Cold Steel III on PS4 has (finally) been officially confirmed for localization... by NIS America.
I'm not a Trails fan myself, but I'm guessing Western Trails fans are extremely unhappy about this.
It's interesting. I thought Falcom had a good working relationship with Xseed, but now both Ys and Trails are being handled by NISA. When Ys VIII ended up with NISA, I remember Xseed's Tom Lipschultz mentioning that NISA simply outbid them for localization rights. Then, of course, there was the whole translation fiasco.
It's also worth mentioning that both Lipschultz and Brittany Avery (the main supporters of Falcom at Xseed) have fairly recently left Xseed.
Avery, herself, was Trails' localization producer, and a huge fan who had in-depth familiarity with the lore (extremely important for a lore-heavy series like Trails). They went to great lengths to make sure everything was as accurate to the Japanese version as possible, even patching the PC versions of the Trails games years after release to be consistent with future games in the series. The lore is what fans love about it, and it's a little hard to imagine NISA having quite the same attention to detail.
EDIT: OK, I'm seeing that "certain English localization staff" are returning, so maybe Avery is still involved. Apparently, there will be a PAX panel about it tomorrow, so more info coming.
Post by Nester the Lark on Feb 7, 2019 11:11:01 GMT -5
Apparently, Ys: Foliage Ocean In Celceta (aka Memories of Celceta) is being ported to PS4 with enhancements, and will be released in Japan on May 16. There doesn't seem to be any word on who's doing the port (Falcom?), but then, I can't read Japanese.
Post by Nester the Lark on May 19, 2019 22:39:26 GMT -5
This isn't specifically Falcom-related, but Nippon Ichi Software is apparently having severe financial problems. Since they were the ones that ported Ys VIII to Switch, it makes me think that future Falcom Switch ports are less likely.
Post by nocturnal YL on May 20, 2019 9:46:21 GMT -5
The situation of Nippon Ichi Software makes me rather worried. A single failed game can be catastrophic to a small publisher like this. It's also rather ironic to see a mobile game is what's causing this problem, in today's atmosphere of equating mobile games with the fastest shortcut to profit.
As far as Falcom goes, I wonder if they could find another partner or just do it themselves. Players (of other PlayStation-centric Japanese games) seem to be more accepting of the Switch these days, so making games for it might be worth the effort.
Without further information, this means my options are down to PS4 or not getting it.
(Very special thanks to Sony for abandoning the handheld market, but the complete lack of competitors in this area actually worries me quite a bit…)