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Ys: Memories of Celceta
Score: 91%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: XSEED Games
Developer: Falcom
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: RPG

Graphics & Sound:
A while back, I reviewed Legacy of Ys: Books I & II for the DS, which was a port of an older RPG to the DS system but was ported beautifully. Now there is a new one called Ys: Memories of Celceta. If youíre wondering where it fits in the series canon, it falls after Book II and before Book III. Yes, there have previously been games that follow the same basic story for other systems, but this one has been developed for the PSVita by Falcom, the developer of the first two Ys games.

Since Books I & II was a port of the older games, the characters were still in the old school 8-bit graphic style. Since Memories of Celceta has been newly developed, the graphics look much newer and modern. The game does use your previous hero Adol, so he has been given a new, much more detailed appearance. His flame red hair is still there though, as that does make him relatively unique in this world. The other characters are well done too. Adol visits different towns and the characters reflect the changes in some places. They definitely are not just cookie-cutter NPCs.

I was particularly impressed with the way they managed the graphics when the characters go from swimming on top of the water to underwater. The graphics donít chug or skip a beat, even with the water currents going full force in some places, which is impressive.

The background music is pleasant but unobtrusive, which I quite like. You donít have to listen to it, if you donít want to. Personally, I kept the sound off sometimes while I was listening to other music. The characters do speak out loud, but usually they only say a small portion of the on-screen text, so you will have to read everything.


Gameplay:
Ys: Memories of Celceta begins with your hero from the previous games, Adol, showing up to town with total amnesia and collapsing in the main square. Duren finds him in the bar and apparently knows who he is. Duren doesnít really give Adol much information about himself though. Duren is a bit of a rogue. Heís your second character that you can play as, but he doesnít always tell Adol everything that you wish he would. Anyway, right after Adol shows up to town, monsters appear in the mines. Adol and Duren save the miners and the Governor decides that they are just the people she needs to map out the Great Forest. Adol decides he will take the job as he is hoping to recover his memories that he lost somewhere in the forest. Duren decides to join him as he wants the money that they are offering. Adol is going to have a difficult path as he doesnít remember anything. This means that he could be walking into the same thing he did before or, even worse, will have to explain things he might or might not have done before that he doesnít remember doing.

Different characters have different abilities, so you are going to need to swap between the characters at times. For example, Duren can pick locks so he can open those locked chests that Adol canít. This is an action RPG, not turn-based. Monsters are everywhere in the dungeons and respawn after a time period. Donít feel you need to kill every enemy that you run into or youíll probably never get through the game, as they respawn pretty quickly.

When youíre in the towns, make sure to pick up side quests for extra money and other stuff. Side quests can be found on the bulletin boards in the town. It feels to me like there are fewer side quests than I have seen in other RPGs, but they are there. I didnít find that they were usually very hard to do. Plus they will get you traveling to various locations. As you are traveling, Adol will find various memories. At first, they really donít help you much, but sometimes you will need this info. You also usually get a stats bump after the scene is over, which is nice. Eventually Adol, Duren, and the rest of your characters that you pick up from time to time will get you where you need to go to finish the game.


Difficulty:
Ys: Memories of Celceta has four possible difficulty levels: Easy, Normal, Hard, and Nightmare. Once you pick a level, you are more or less stuck with it. You can lower the difficulty, but once you do, it canít be changed. You canít raise the difficulty, so if you find that things are too easy, you will need to start over. All difficulty levels are unlocked at the beginning though, so there is no need to play the easier levels if you donít want to.

Monsters have various strengths and weaknesses, just like your characters. You will find that some characters can kill some monsters easier, but will have a harder time with others. You will make your life much easier if you have your characters attack the ones they can kill easier. You can tap on the monsters on the screen to see their different attributes. After you kill the monsters, make sure to hack up the monster corpses until they disappear to get all the items from them.

Keeping characters healed can be a huge problem in some games. In Ys: Memories of Celceta, the stone monuments that you find around will heal you and revive party members. They will also warp you from place to place so these things are really handy. You can stand still to heal in the great forest and some other areas, but this doesnít work in all areas so make sure that you keep a stash of healing potions handy.

Weapons and armor have stats and elements that can be upgraded and/or reinforced with materials that you collect on your travels. Personally, I havenít bothered with it much yet as I havenít really needed the extra power, but from the bit I have played with, upgraded weapons and armor can be very useful!


Game Mechanics:
Ys: Memories of Celceta is easy to get the hang of playing. The camera angles are automatically controlled for you, so there is no control to move the camera. The stick will move your characters around. You only control one character at a time and the other characters will just follow you. You can switch between characters at any time with the (O) button. (Square) is attack, (X) is evade, and (Triangle) defends. Your characters will get skills as you go along. You use skills by equipping them in the Camp Menu and then holding down the right Bumper and whichever button you equipped them to. It takes a minute or two to get used to it, but youíll get the hang quickly.

The map of the great forest is handy, but it will only show you after youíve been to places, so basically you are developing your own map. You actually have two different maps. There is the map of the great forest that will show you the big picture, but you also have a local area map in the top right corner of the screen. It will show you your immediate area, or at least what you have discovered of it. Other than the maps, I love that you can save your game pretty much anywhere. You will find the save option under your Camp Menu by touching the bottom right corner of the screen. This is a definite need for handheld games as usually they are being played on the go.

While there are some things that I donít like about Ys: Memories of Celceta, like having to speak to every person in a village and trying to find my way through the forest labyrinth, overall I really enjoyed the game. I have yet to completely finish it, but I will soon. It is a suitable sequel to the previous games. If youíre looking for a solid RPG to play this holiday season, check out Ys: Memories of Celceta today!


-Cyn, GameVortex Communications
AKA Sara Earl

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