Preview: Ys Seven

By Chad Awkerman

August 11, 2010

Many JRPGs of late have found a cozy little home on the PlayStation Portable. It seems to afford the publishers the outlet they need to get great games out to their fans, as well as keep development and publication costs low for the publisher, since many of these games are niche titles. Ys Seven is one of these, and represents the first in a line of Ys titles that will be coming to Western regions under XSEED’s fairly new partnership with developer Nihon Falcom.

The Ys games have been generally well received over the years, so this new title will likely do pretty well in these parts. The game follows a couple adventurers who are seeking out a means to make money and pursue their passion. Of course, what starts off as a relatively innocent adventure-seeking venture ends up with them working to save the world after discovering that an evil is brewing. The world also holds five dragons, which awaken near the start of the adventure and lend our heroes a helping hand by bestowing them powers to help them save the world.

Ys Seven is a traditional JRPG through and through, but it contains a straight-up, button-mashing, real-time battle system. That typically has a negative connotation in my mind, as if a game allows you to just hit one button to regular attack, chances are players will overuse it. I’ve been guilty of this and I’m sure many others have, too. How do developers avoid this? By giving you enough things to do in battle that make button-mashing to win less appealing than other endeavors. There are special skills and abilities you can put to use here, as well, which hopefully will off-set the temptation to let the entire battle system digress into an uncalled-for X-button beating.

To add some depth to the whole battle system thing, your armor and other equipment have abilities attached to them, which you can learn over time if you keep that item equipped. This is reminiscent of a similar system in Final Fantasy IX and other RPGs. Even though it sounds simple, it does bring about a lot of depth and tends to make me more OCD than I actually am. Even if I have two new pieces of stronger equipment, I won’t replace one I’m already wearing until I learn that ability. Yes, I’m one of those people.

To add to that, you can improve and upgrade your weapons, as well. So if you don’t think the ability-learning system is enough depth, you have this to tack onto it. Not to mention the fact that, besides regular abilities, characters have their “big flashy kill things fast” abilities, as well, which is par for the course in a JRPG. While these abilities look great, they probably shouldn’t be used willy-nilly. There is usually some drawback to being able to use these, and it is typically the depletion of your mana, health and/or “ability points”.

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All in all, Ys Seven is shaping up to be a great PSP RPG, if you aren’t utterly revolted by a real-time battle system. The game boasts story enough to fill up 40 hours of your life, not to mention all the extras in the form of side questing, leveling up characters and weapons, exploring and all sorts of little things that fill up the breadth of the game. You also won’t have to worry about short play sessions, either, as the game has a “save anywhere” feature. All I have to say to that is, “It’s about time!”

Ys Seven hits store shelves next week, on August 17, in two versions. You can get the standard physical version for $29.99, or upgrade to the Collector’s Edition for $49.99, if you’re a fan of extra goodies. Naturally, it will also likely be available in download form on the PlayStation Store the same day. This is definitely a title to look at if you need to scratch that JRPG itch. But, that isn’t an itch that is hard to scratch lately, especially on the PSP.

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Chad Awkerman

Chad joined the DualShockers staff in mid 2009 and since then has put much of his time into covering RPGs, with a focus on the Japanese side of the genre, from the obscure to the mainstream. He's a huge fan of iconic games like Secret of Mana, Final Fantasy VI and Persona 4 yet enjoys the smaller niche titles, as well. In his spare time he enjoys experiencing new beer, new foods and keeping up with just about every sci-fi show on television. He's married to an intelligent, beautiful Southern Belle who keeps his life interesting with witty banter and spicy Cajun cooking.

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