Ys: Memories of Celceta

During the era of 16-bit videogame consoles, the fourth installment of Nihon Falcom’s Ys series was to see release on the main consoles of the era, the Super Famicom (Super NES outside Japan), the Sega Mega Drive (the Genesis to North American gamers), and the PC Engine (called TurboGrafx-16 outside Nippon), with each version having a different developer. While the Super Famicom and PC Engine iterations, developed by Tonkin House and Hudson Soft respectively, did see release (though both were a case of No Export for You), the Mega Drive version ultimately became Vaporware without a single screenshot released. A few generations later, a remake of the fourth installment, localized by XSEED Games and entitled Ys: Memories of Celceta, saw its release, providing an experience on par with the more enjoyable games of the franchise.

Throughout the game, the player assembles a party of three active characters out of six total acquired during the chief storyline, each wielding one of three types of weapon that are effective against specific enemy types, adding a significant degree of strategy in the gameplay. Characters can attack enemies normally or use special skills that become more powerful up to three levels with enough usage. The A.I. for non-active characters is competent for the most part, and each obtains experience for occasional leveling alongside money when killing enemies. The ability to select from several difficulty settings before beginning a new game is welcome to both unskilled and experienced gamers alike, and aside from the slight difficulty of attacking enemies in water (in which case characters cannot use special skills), the battle system very much helps the game far more than hurts.

Each character also occasionally gains unique abilities they must execute to advance through certain areas and dungeons, alongside several artifacts that accomplish things such as shrinking the player’s party so they can go through small tunnels. The other areas of the game interface, such as the menus, shopping, navigation, and an always-convenient save-anywhere feature, also help the remake more than hurt, with a good direction, as well, on how to advance so that the player will very likely never find themselves wondering where exactly to go next. The only real hiccup is that teleportation among all of the game’s health-recovering monuments is disabled until advancing far enough in the game (before when the player can only teleport between monoliths of the same shape).

The game’s narrative revolves around franchise protagonist Adol Christin and company’s exploration of the Forest of Celceta, before when he originally went through it but encountered a case of amnesia, and while that particular concept RPGs have pretty much done to death, the player can occasionally find auras recovering a few of Adol’s memories, some even providing backstory in which he’s talkative. There’s also a minor bit of derivation from the Lord of the Rings franchise, although the translation, despite occasional unnatural battle dialogue, XSEED definitely did well. In the end, the story isn’t entirely original but is by no means bad.

The Nihon Falcom sound team, as usual, did a nice job with the soundtrack that conveys a variety of emotions, and the voice acting in battle and occasionally during cutscenes hardly hurts the game, in spite of some occasional silent moments.

The visuals too look nice, with proportionate character models and a nice variety of enemies with few palette swaps, the only real shortcomings being that characters during cutscenes tend to not show emotion, their anime character portraits mostly doing the job in this area, and the occasional blurry pixilated texture.

Finally, the remake of the fourth game lasts about twenty hours, although things such as the selectable difficulty and a New Game+ can definitely stretch out playtime. All in all, Ys: Memories of Celceta is another fine addition to the franchise, what with its superb combat and control, enjoyable narrative and localization, solid aural and visual presentation, and plenty of lasting appeal. Perhaps the only weak point is the story, although it’s hardly a detriment, and the remake is ultimately of highest recommendation to those familiar with the franchise and those that haven’t had much experience with it.

The Good:
+Solid strategic combat and control.
+Enjoyable story and translation.
+Superb aurals and visuals.
+Plenty lasting appeal.

The Bad:
-Plot is somewhat derivative.

The Bottom Line:
Another great Ys game.

Score Breakdown:
Platform: PlayStation Vita
Game Mechanics: 9/10
Controls: 9/10
Story: 8/10
Localization: 9/10
Music/Sound: 9/10
Graphics: 9/10
Lasting Appeal: 10/10
Difficulty: Adjustable
Playing Time: 15-25+ Hours

Overall: 9/10

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