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PSP Review: Ys: The Oath in Felghana

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I love JRPGs (Japanese Role Playing Games). I try to get my hands on as many Xseed and Atlus games as I can. I also have my fair share of Square Enix titles, including the Final Fantasy, Kingdom Hearts and Dragon Quest franchises. But to my dismay, I had never played any Ys games before!

Ys: The Oath in Felghana screenshot

 I always wanted to try Falcom’s popular RPG series, but English language localizations have been difficult for me to find. Before Xseed started localizing a few Ys titles for the PSP, Broderbund and American Sammy released titles for DOS PCs and the SNES respectively. Years later, Atlus localized the first two Ys games for the Nintendo DS, a console I don’t have. So I was very happy to pick up this English language version of Ys III, localized by Xseed for the PSP.

Ys games feature Adol Christin as the main protagonist, and Ys: The Oath in Felghana is no exception. He’s a redheaded kid who wanders from town to town and just happens to find himself in danger. Heroic as he is, he always does his best to defeat foes to save people.

In Ys: The Oath in Felghana, Adol and his buddy Dogi wander back to Redmond, Dogi’s hometown, about three years after the events of Ys II. Expectedly, matters don’t run as smoothly as Adol and Dogi anticipate.

In your first actual action in the game, after a number of scenes of dialogue, you have Adol protect Dogi’s sister, Elena, from a pack of wild dogs. The game is an action RPG, so you (Adol) whack those dogs in real time, rather than in a turn-based format.

Adol discovers that Elena’s brother, Chester, has turned evil, working for the service of King McGuire. McGuire had the Tigray Quarry shut down, the main source of income for the citizens of Redmond. Later on in the game, you discover that Chester and McGuire are searching for four magical statues, to obtain some sort of immense power.

The plot line and setting are typical for a JRPG, but I don’t mind that at all. The graphics in the game aren’t jaw dropping, but they’re attractive for the PSP screen, and they get the job done.

What really stands out is the music. It made me slightly distressed that I didn’t get the Premium Edition box set to review, which includes a soundtrack CD, instead of the standalone UMD version, which doesn’t.  Ah, but as a reviewer, I can’t be too greedy.

Most of the English language voices are nice too, with one notable exception. Margo, a matronly character who’s found in the inn, has an incredibly annoying voice. The way it goes up and down in pitch drives me nuts!

Two major collectibles in the game are gold and ravel ore. The use of gold is obvious, particularly to RPG fans. Collect money, buy stuff! Ravel ore is used to improve your equipment, which can be done in the shop in Redmond.

Over the course of the game, Adol collects items which aid you in your travels. A map helps you find your way between different regions in the game. A wing talisman helps you transport to previously encountered save spots when you’re in big trouble.

Most importantly, elemental rings give you magical MP consuming powers. As you collect gemstones in the game, the rings become more powerful.  There’s a ring that represents the element of fire. It allows you to kill your foes with bursts of fire, and set light to torches, which will move necessary platforms for Adol.  The ring with the element of wind helps Adol attack foes by quickly spinning around. The ring also helps him reach across long pits.  The last ring Adol collects in the game is the ring with the element of earth. He can use the ring to smash his opponents.

Hacking and slashing enemies in the game may sound repetitive (and it is), but it’s surprisingly a lot of fun. And the boss battles are really over the top.

What the game lacks however are dungeon maps. I was lost in Illburns Ruins for about three hours of gameplay, embarrassingly enough. At least hacking and slashing the same opponents over and over again leveled me up quicker for more difficult areas later in the game.

Some people have said that they completed the game in seven hours, which is disappointingly short, even for a PSP game.  But, I’m living proof that it can take a lot longer (though it doesn’t help that I have a tendency to get lost)!

There are a great number of difficultly levels, ranging from Very Easy to Hardcore, giving the game a bit of replay value. Additionally, the game very conveniently keeps track of every character and foe you encounter, which can be referenced in the guide by pausing. The game even collects a record of the story as you progress.  I have referred to that record to figure out what to do next a few times, it is actually quite useful.

Ys: The Oath in Felghana makes equipment and item management easy, so the focus on the game is really on combat and platforming action. Sometimes, I wish some of the jumps didn’t take me multiple tries, but the game does offer a convenient “no fall” option that’ll bring you back to the beginning of an area if you happen to fall down a pit.

The game is easy to recommend to JRPG fans, and it’s whetted my appetite for Xseed’s other Ys localizations for the PSP, including the upcoming Ys I and II Chronicles.

If you get the game just do yourself a favor and turn the volume down when Margo starts to speak.

Ys: The Oath in Felghana is rated T (Teen) by the ESRB for Blood, Fantasy Violence, Mild Language, and Suggestive Themes.

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