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Review: Ys Seven

Saturday, January 29th, 2011 by

The most recent entry into the Ys series brings with it some interesting changes: It’s the first one built from the ground up for handheld play, and our hero, Adol, no longer has to go it alone thanks to the inclusion of a new party system. One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is Ys’s penchant for fast-paced RPG action.

Thankfully, most of us have the perseverance to make it through the first hour of a game, no matter how banal or dull. Otherwise, games like Ys Seven would be dismissed as simply not being fun. While Ys Seven does suffer from one of the most sluggish introductions in recent memory, all is forgiven when, at last, you’re given the chance to swing your sword. It will immediately become apparent that this no idle, humdrum adventure. On the contrary, Ys Seven is an exciting blend of action, music, and fun.

There are a lot of smart ideas packed into Ys Seven that make it work, like being able to switch control between three characters instantly with a single dedicated button. The most rewarding aspects of RPGs are also present, things like exploration, item synthesis, and learnable skills. Most impressive is that all these ideas are handled in an expertly simple way, sparing you most of the tedium you might expect from this kind of micromanagement.

Combine all of these great RPG staples with quick, reflex-intensive combat, and you’ve got yourself the very core of what makes Ys Seven such a successful union of ideas. The controls are extremely tight and laid out the best they possibly can be; any blame for poor execution lies solely on you.

Your combat party consists of three characters, although you’ll have more than that in your sideline as others join you later. You only control one party member at a time, but it’s easy to switch around and your AI controlled partners are sharp enough to stay alive. Thanks to the game’s smart handling of your allies, you don’t need to worry about them acting stupidly or killing themselves off. Boss battles are long and intense, boasting incredible challenge without ever being unfair. These confrontations make for Ys Seven’s crowning jewel and are sure to keep your eyes locked to the PSP.

The character variety is diverse, with each ally specializing in their own type of weapon. Adol, for example, is the resident swordsman while Dogi prefers to pummel things with his fists. As your party grows, so too will your arsenal. Bows, spears, staves, and hammers will all be yours to use when the right characters become available.

Weapons have innate abilities that can be utilized in battle when they are equipped. With enough usage, a character can learn a weapon’s ability permanently. Thanks to this dynamic, there is always an urge to build your weapon collection so that you can unlock each character’s full repertoire of skills. You can get by with just a few, though, so it isn’t necessary to learn them all. That doesn’t make it any less fun to collect them, though.

The story is not particularly engaging although it does pick up some steam later on. It may be bland overall but it serves its purpose of pushing you ever forward. The locations you travel through are lacking in imagination but are adequate for this type of game. Graphically, Ys Seven is simply okay. It looks neither bad nor amazing.

The music, on the other hand, stands out as some of the best there is and it isn’t afraid to steal your attention away from the game itself. Longtime fans of the series will be relieved to know that this latest edition doesn’t stray far from its musical roots. Like others in the series before it, Ys Seven combines fast and furious guitar work with strings and synthesizers to deliver some awesome old-school listening.

Aside from its slow start, there’s little to hate about Ys Seven. It’s tons of fun and certainly one of the best action-RPGs available for PSP owners. Spiritually, Ys Seven is probably the closest thing I’ve played to Secret of Mana since… well, Secret of Mana. And while a statement like that may mean nothing to some, I’d wager it means a lot to this game’s ideal kind of player. Give it a shot and you won’t be disappointed.

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See Ys Seven in action for yourself:

About the Author

Mark A. Brooks uses the A. initial in his name so as to seperate himself from the teeming legions of other Mark Brookses (there are at least 65,000 in the state of Michigan alone). Keep up with him on twitter, because why not. @unoriginalG

Mark A. Brooks has written 642 posts on Delta Attack
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  • Markham Asylum

    I’m glad you mentioned Secret of Mana; that’s exactly what I was thinking about as I read your review. To me, that’s definitely a good thing.

    This looks like a lot of fun. I’ll watch for it to get cheap on the PSN, as I decided about a year ago that I could no longer stand the loud disc-reading sound of the PSP.

    • mulletsaurus

      It’s definitely a fun game. The dungeons are never too big, the pacing is really pretty good. Definitely keep an eye on PSN for it’s price to drop.

  • Fade to Slack

    I hate games that do that scatter-loot-when-killed thing. It’s one of the primary reasons I could never get into Marvel Ultimate Alliance and needs to be stopped.

    • mulletsaurus

      There is no shortage of loot scattering in the world of Ys. It does suck, and the fact that your AI buddies help gather it does little to soften the blow. Towards the end of the game there is an accessory that acts like a loot magnet.

      It was pricy and ate up a valuable accessory slot, but you know that shit stayed on for the rest of the game.