Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Ys: The Oath in Felghana on PSP Impression

Another Y’s handheld gem awaits in Felghana

What does Adol Christin and slime have in common? They are both the face of well respected and popular gaming franchises in Japan that struggled to see the light of day in the States until recently. The slime of course come from the DragonQuest franchise which is getting great exposure on Nintendo DS while Adol headlines the action-RPG franchise Ys seen on PlayStation 2 but which has hit its stride on Sony’s PSP. The most recent outing for Adol is Ys: The Oath in Felghana and while it’s just the third title in the franchise it’s not a quick, graphics upgrade port. This is a newly revamped game taking the core gaming aspects and story and moving them into an easy to pick up and play portable piece of gaming goodness. What else is there to this years-in-waiting title? Let’s take a look …

Gameplay – Never go on vacation with Adol Christin. The quiet hero of the Ys franchise seems to land on a new shore just to encounter new troubles. This happens again as he visits companion Dogi’s home town only to find childhood friend Elena attached by monsters and a town on guard. Elena’s brother Chester is missing; a victim of the monsters or worse? Time for Adol to get to work in helping the town and diving into yet another action-RPG adventure where gamers hack and slash through forest, ruins and dungeons to solve the mystery, power up, gain new abilities and take on some challenging boss fights. The action is quite simple as gamers run around, kill monsters, solve puzzles and advance the story but real meat lies in the tough boss fights. An adjustable difficulty, on the fly change system allows gamers to cheat a bit on tougher segments.

Graphics – Sharp and oh so Ys. Adol and Dogi look as they always have and the overall look and feel retains the Ys charm seen in earlier PSP releases. This gamer is reminded of titles such as Zelda on Super Nintendo and Alundra, titles that looked sharp with tons of personality. The static character designs are excellent, very anime in look and feel.

Sound – Adol, being all silent, is his usual great sounding self while characters like Dogi, Elena and brother Chester offer up mixed performances. The experience of the voice actors comes through as does some inexperience and overacting. The soundtrack is outstanding, a long running staple of the franchise. Worthy of the CD pickup.

Design – The story is so-so, more like a chapter in a longer running tale, which it is. Adol travels a lot and has many tales, like Sinbad. The question is why does he always seem weaker from tale to tale? The graphics have a nice redesign and the overall action fits the PSP well with plenty of updates made to menus and settings. A franchise that’s past has a future on PSP.

Miscellaneous – Finally is the name of the game. Finally gamers in the States get a taste of … a full meal of the deliciousness that is Ys. It really is a great fit on the PSP both in control and design with easy to get up and go gameplay.

Overall Ys: The Oath in Felghana is a fun journey on the PSP. It’s familiar and engaging and while it’s not even the best PSS Ys this year it’s still a shining star for the system. Fans of Zelda, old-school Zelda, owe it to themselves to take Felghana for a spin.

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