Falcom's Ys series has been around for nearly 27 years appearing on a large number of formats over time. The most famous of those would probably be Ys I&II on the TurboGrafx-CD, with the adventures still continuing on the PS Vita today.
When I was 14 I would look at screen shots of Ys IV Mask of the Sun which was originally released on the Super Famicom (a Mega Drive and Mega CD version were unfortunately cancelled), and pray it would get released over here, but sadly it never did. Ys IV Mask of the Sun was developed by Tonkin House and there was another Ys IV game called Ys IV The Dawn of Ys developed by Hudson for the PC Engine Super CD. Falcom have decided to replace these two games with a re-telling; Ys Memories of Celceta.
The Ys series has become to be a well loved franchise over the last decade in the west with releases on PSP and Steam bringing the games to larger audiences. Falcom have done a great job in keeping the franchise alive over the years, the budgets for the games have been kept realistic to what their fanbase is and slowly they have been growing the fanbase of not just Ys but the Falcom name in general. It's amazing to see a company last for so long and stick to making the games that has made them who they are today. We've seen so many Japanese giants rise and fall during the lifetime of Falcom and Ys and yet here we are in 2014 celebrating another remarkable game in the long lived series.
Ys is a fast paced action/adventure RPG. In this re-telling of Ys IV, Falcom have freshened things up from previous games (including Ys IV) by having a party system (first seen in Ys Seven), previously the series protaganist Adol would be on his own but now he can be accompanied by two more characters at one time. This changes how the game plays a lot from the original, now instead having just Adol and his available skills to solve puzzles you have different characters that can now use their skills to get through the dungeons.
Ys Memories of Celceta sees the previously mentioned Adol Christin awake in a town with his memories completely wiped. In order to return his memories Adol teams up with Duren to set out into the forests of Celceta. Along the way Adol meets friends and enemies he has come across in his original exploring of the forests and slowly restores his memory.
The gameplay hasn't really changed from the previous game in the series, Ys Seven, the combat is still as fast and slick as before and of course has the party system from Ys Seven. Each character can equip four skills to enhance their moves in combat as well as a special move that fills up in a meter as you successfully and stylishly take down enemies. More skills open as your characters level up and the skills learnt can really help out when taking on the games impressive boss battles.
The story may seem a little slim during the first 8 hours or so, but as Adol starts to regain his lost memories the story really starts to get interesting. It's nothing amazing but it does the job well enough for a game of this type.
Having this game on a portable system is an abolute god send, being able to spend some time exploring the game world, then a quick press of the power button and your Vita is in standby mode until you next pick it up and carry on where you left off.
Ys Memories of Celceta is one of the best portable RPGs of modern times, sure it doesn't look particulary impressive graphically (think a good PS2 game, not PS3) but it plays so well, the story is involving and the music is absolutelty superb (not quite up to the usual standard of the series though). The Vita is not exactly starved of top quality games, but this has to be played by every Vita owner.
If I could go back in time and show 14 year old Chris the Vita he would think it's the best system ever, I am starting to agree with my 14 year old self thanks to games as good as this.
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