Years before Final Fantasy VII turned heads on the PlayStation; there was another disc-based role-playing game that was set to take the nation by storm. Ys Book I & II rode a wave of critical praise and hype, instantly becoming the killer-app for the TurboGrafx-CD. Unfortunately the Ys series never caught on in the States. Thankfully that didn't stop Falcom from continuing Adol's journey and ultimately releasing Ys Seven, one of the PSP's finer adventure games.
Things start off a bit slow, with Adol and his pal Dogi out sailing for adventure. Before long they find a large island town full of people to meet and monsters to slay. The townspeople are worried about a series of earthquakes and other disasters. And it turns out they have good reason to be concerned, because the mythical Five Dragons are about the awaken and cast evil over the land. It's up to Adol to make sure this doesn't happen.
But don't get too bogged down in the larger narrative, because much of the story takes a backseat to the action. Most of the time Adol is only focused on the job at hand, which generally involves him exploring a fortress and battling a large boss. The mission structure hasn't changed much since 1989, so expect a healthy dose of Legend of Zelda flashbacks. Each of these fortresses is full of puzzles, loot and special items that will help open up the world to the player. We've seen this style of adventure game before, but I never tire of the formula.
Part of Ys Seven's charm is how many weapons and items there are to collect. Not only can you buy and find dozens of weapons, but players are even able to craft their own unique swords and spears. On top of that, Adol will collect items that help him breathe underwater, walk on spikes, freeze water and even fly through the air. And that's just the start of it. By the end of the game Adol will ransack nearly every inch of this large open world.
Thankfully Adol isn't alone in his journey. For much of the game the player will be part of a three-person team. Only one player can be controlled at a time, so you'll always have to put up with two computer-controlled characters (no multiplayer here). This dynamic could have gone horribly wrong, but the other characters manage to do what they're supposed to and not get in the way. Players can switch between these three characters by simply pushing the "O" button, which is handy when I wanted to heal a teammate or use a special attack.
The gameplay is fast-paced and deceptively simple. Each character has his or her own weapon and special move, plus there are super-powered extra moves that can help them take down an especially tough monster. Still, I found that most of the time I was just mashing the "X" button and hoping for the best. Perhaps it's because these characters level up so frequently or because I love mashing buttons, but I never found the combat to be repetitive.
Ys may not have the clout of a Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest game, but this seventh installment proves the series is as much fun as it ever was. Ys Seven is a great looking game that offers huge boss battles, fast-paced gameplay and a lengthy single-player experience. Sure it relies a bit too much on adventure game cliches, but that doesn't keep it from being a top-tier PSP game!
This product was submitted by the publisher for review. As a rule, Defunct Games does not review games we spent money on. However, that does not always apply to classic/retro games. This specific product, however, came straight from a PR guy for the purposes of being reviewed!