While Ys: Memories of Celceta is the latest entry in the game and features an all new story, it’s still something you could call a remake. There were two entries which took the name of Ys: 4 in the past, however both were outsourced to external companies and (to a degree) conflicted with the overall timeline of the series. Because of this, Falcom created their own fourth title in the series with Memories of Celceta – and we’ve taken a close look to see what they’ve come up with.

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There are a few things almost all Ys games have in common, the big two being some epic music and the main character. Adol Christin is a young man with a zest for adventure and an uncanny knack for being in the right place at the right time (or the wrong place, depending on how you look at it). In the beginning of the game, he wakes up with amnesia; his memories lost and his energy sapped. He stumbles into town and is beat down by a random stranger, collapsing to the ground. The local pub owner takes you in and while you’re inside a friend from Adol’s past named comes to his rescue. This friend reintroduces himself as Duren, and before long they’re getting along just like old friends would. In conversation, it’s revealed that the last Duren had heard, Adol was venturing into the forest of Celceta; an area from which nobody has ever returned from once entering. The question therefore arises; how did our red-headed protagonist pull off the impossible and what caused him to lose his memories? These are the questions the two friends ponder as a tremor starts outside of the pub; their curiosity leading them outside and towards the origin – the local mine.

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This is where your journey begins, as in the mine you’re introduced to monsters, swords, fights and partying up. You touch your first blue orb, which restores a memory of your past and informs you of your skills with a weapon. You team up with your first partner, fighting a battle in which you can switch party members at any time. You take out your first monsters and save your first villagers. In this dark mine you take your first step in regaining your memories – and your first step towards exploring the world.

On your travels you will most likely come across a bunch of the blue memory orbs you encountered prior to the battle tutorial in the mine, a static effect on screen indicating they’re nearby (unless you’ve gotten far enough to reveal a bunch, which happens at certain “checkpoints” throughout the game). Only Adol can initiate contact with the memory orbs, and as such the indicator will only be white for him.

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There are also other actions you will need to perform on your travels which use the same indicator system, including locked chests, ropes to cut, walls to break and more. Each requires its own character to activate and the result is usually used to further yourself in the game.

Skill attacks are learned through battling, their power and your range of skills increasing as you progress and use them. Each character you add to your party has a total of ten skills, with Adol having twelve – and each skill has three levels which require various amounts of use to unlock. You can check your skill progression through the skills section of the menu as well as other varying attributes of the skills to best cover all your bases – seeing as how you can only enable four at a time. I’d also advise not using all high-end skills, as they require more stamina points to use and will run your meter down quicker. There’s definitely a strategy for setting up your character and this is where most of it lies.

This isn’t all there is to the battle system though, as there are several bonuses that are rewarded to you for certain kill types. These bonuses are based around aerial combos, skill finishes, and excellent kills – each having its own unique rewards for pulling them off.

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In boss fights is where the game begins to shine; the combat aspect gets a whole new level of difficulty as simple button mashing won’t get you very far. You’ll need skill, proper experience (a single level can make all the difference sometimes) and a good weapon to cut your way through the bosses – a welcome amount of difficulty considering a lot of ARPGs are too easily exploitable. You have to study the enemy, so don’t be ashamed if one of the later bosses kills you a few times – it’s all part of learning curve.

This game features a very fast and fluid combat system which rivals many other games of its type, giving you one of the best action experiences you can have on a Vita. Combat is reason enough to buy this game, but let’s move on to some of the other great aspects of this remake-cum-reboot.

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Your main task next to collecting your memories is to map out the whole traversable area of the forest – and beyond. The forest is full of enemies that can (and will) kill you if you are insane enough to attack them. This is emphasized by the fact that even in the first area outside the town you wake up in (Casnan) you will see a big, ape-like monster with whom fighting would be a bad choice before getting some experience. This makes mapping some areas harder and gives a bit of a challenge no matter when you happen to pass through a region – yet another layer of depth to keep you interested.

In the forest you will also be introduced to the day and night system, which has an effect on the strength of the monsters that spawn. In these areas, there are also camp sites; areas in which you can recover health, have a dream and skip over the night (to stay safe from the stronger enemies). The day and night system only runs in certain areas though, so watch your HUD for changes.

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Strange monuments litter the map in key locations, allowing you to save, heal and teleport between monuments of the same style when you encounter them. As soon as you see one, it would be advisable to save and make sure that you are ready though, seeing as how they tend to either mark that you’re entering a new area or are about to enter a boss fight.

Along with your regular tasks, there’s a set of non-story quests for you to earn some extra items or money through helping local non-player characters with their in-game issues. The quest system is run through buildings that deal with the community in each town, the bulletin board being where they’re listed. After reading the list of quests for the first time you can then accept quests from some of the non-player characters. Once accepted, you are given a time limit (which varies) and a task to complete. Completing tasks will get you rewards such as gold or useful items to aid you on your journey.

In the towns you can also buy items, armor and weapons; though not everything can simply be bought. A lot of weapons and other items in the game must be found (or crafted) and the battle system becomes a bit more extensive as you explore the ability to re-enforce and alter the properties of weapons and armor. Materials for crafting and enhancing weaponry and armor come from harvesting raw materials throughout the world, or synthesis through certain shops or merchants.

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Fans of the series should have realized by now that you don’t necessarily play Ys for the story, though this one is actually done quite well. It keeps your attention and interest; driving you to play more to learn what happens next. Though it’s not as fleshed out as the stories in some other RPGs, it fits the game play style well and keeps a flow that leaves you glued to the screen. Also notable is the fact that you can respond as Adol in certain situations, choosing what you say and altering the conversation. Otherwise however, he’s silent – and the story unfolds as it may around him.

The control system works quite well and mostly uses the physical buttons, though some commands are doubled on the touch screen for ease of access. Simple attacks are executed with the square button, the strength of the attack depending on your level and chosen weapon. The left trigger activates a special attack if the circular gauge is filled will yellow liquid and the right trigger plus one of symbol buttons trigger one of the bound skill attacks (of which you can enable four). The “x” is a dashing move which is for avoiding attacks or quick movement. The triangle is the blocking move, which guards your character from damage. Both the triangle and “x” actions can be used as an attack is thrown at you, giving way to a flash move which can earn you points and give you an advantage for a short period of time. The circle is a character switching button, allowing you to switch between active party members at will.

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Graphics in the game are good, but nothing fantastic; an anti-aliasing filter would have been more than welcome. That said, the graphics are done quite well for an RPG and blend properly into the overall setting – especially for their first real foray into 3D elements in a Ys title. One more thing about the graphics I want to mention are the character models, which seemed a notch above the rest of the game in quality and were much better than in previous iterations.

The music in Ys is amazing, but don’t take my word for it. The battle system is very fluid, and innovative; something rarely found in a modern action RPG title. The story pulls you in and the mystery and game-play elements keep you hooked; it’s no wonder I’m already anticipating the next entry in the series. Until then this one’s good enough for a few replays, and I’ll likely be doing just that some time in the future.

Do yourself a favor and go buy Ys: Memories of Celceta right now.

REVIEW OVERVIEW
Presentation
Gameplay
Lasting Appeal
Execution
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Yuuki is 21 and from Germany. Gaming since 1998 and starting with a SNES he progressed through all Nintendo systems as well as an Xbox 360 and Sony consoles, including his newest addition to his console history, the Vita. Favourite genres include jRPGs and Strategy games.
  • Magnumstache

    Definitely getting this when it comes out over here. I’m not a fan of turn-based battles, so this sounds perfect.

    Magnumstache.

  • Delon

    Just finished the game. Loved it. Another great review! Need More Ys for vita!

  • Brian Sharon

    Great review Yuuki. Given how much you liked it, I’m interested and will probably pick it up somewhere down the line.

  • fatdog21

    Great review!Just got it today and its a ok game. Plan on playin all weekend since i dnt have to work.

  • Lester Paredes

    Oh, I hope I get this for Christmas!

  • aros

    I’m impressed with what I have played so far but am hopelessly addicted to Terraria so am only a couple of hours in.

    • diabloNL

      I know, right? “Just a little bit digging before I go to sleep”….and BAM! 2 hours before the alarm clock goes off!

  • Jonathan Harding-Rathbone

    I’ve never played an Ys title so looking forward to this (and FFX/X-II).

  • Satu Patel

    Excellent review as always. Well written and easy to read.
    I’m here in the States, and I got the limited edition set the day it came out. Though I didn’t mind it at first of the pacjied in contents, and just bought it to buy it. I am so glad I did. The music CD and the strategy guide was well needed for me. I got lost too many times in the random forest and the guide helped out. The music CD is a bonus.
    I played a Ys game on either the NES or SNES I can’t exactly remember and didn’t like it too much of a side scroller. Though to support the vita and after watching numerous YouTube videos, I was sold on the new release. Really good gameplay and yes the music is really cool. Its an ARPG and on the go to boot so well worth it for me.

    • Yuuki

      the snes ones that came statewise werent the best possible version of the games through, if you wana play a good snes YS then look at YS 5 which received a fanpatch a few days ago;)

  • WhyWai

    Another great game for Vita!

  • Eric Xin

    I think the game is ok, but average and vanilla. No hard choices, just straight hack and slash with teenage boy hero + companions.

    The quests are pretty so-so, barely qualify for World of Warcraft standards.

    It is not a bad game don’t get me wrong, but it is just…plain.

    • Yuuki

      I can accept you opinion, but World of Warcraft?
      Really?

      • Eric Xin

        I am referring to the side quests. The ones given at each town were pretty underwhelming. Go kill some side monster somewhere, and two chat with town people side quest.

        I know it is RPG, but these side quests were pretty soul-less as far as I am concerned. Even WoW (post Burning Crusade) has more variety.

        It would be even nicer to see more competitors for the “great forest mapping” than just two other prospectors and Leo (which are all for comedy purpose).

        The main story is vanilla, and it is OK if you are looking for vanilla.

        Finally is Leeza, which is one of the worst character designed in recent video game history. Don’t get me wrong, she is charming, but she doesn’t do anything and slow you down needlessly.

        I don’t regret my purchase, but I wouldn’t recommend to anyone looking for a really amazing story.

        In a era with games such as the Witcher, the Last of us, Uncharted, Dragon Age, YS is a playback to early days of gaming, and I guess some of us are beginning to outgrow it.

        • Yuuki

          ah okay, never said through that you should play it for the story.
          if you want to play a game with a massive story then Trails in the Sky would be the get go.

          • Eric Xin

            How is Trails? I heard it is great but the graphic is very dated. But then I also heard YS: Memories were done using PSP graphics.

            I am never a man cringing story vs graphic, but shelling out $300+ for a game system I should at least get something eye-pleasing.

            And are the new trails coming to the US? Hopefully in less than 10 years?

          • Yuuki

            the first two entries in teh serie of the by now 7 entries came on the psp, the first one is avaible in english since late 2006(or so), its a really good game story wise, the second chapter, psp too will come out next year.

            the first 2 games in itself are a complete story, true the other games continue the world but the story of the first two is complete.

            To your question of the US release of the newer games, i hope they are.

            Xseed once said that they want it too but Falcom is releasing one games after another and they arent big enough to translate that fast.

            This picture sums up the problem with the series:

            http://operationrainfall.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/1378428490599.jpg

            on a side note, the usual FF has around 1.000.000 Character of text

          • Eric Xin

            I will give it a shot later. I just picked up Persona 4 as my replacement for YS. Don’t want land myself Steam Syndrome (I.E buy a million games on sale but end up playing two max).

            YS I got far as the final dungeon, but I just don’t have the nerve to keep going. It is like they created just to extend the game size.

          • Yuuki

            okay will see you in a year 😉
            edit: 24.12.2014 i mean

          • Eric Xin

            A year? o_O The game is that long? :3

          • Yuuki

            no not really, persona can just be rather addictiv^^

          • Eric Xin

            Haha. Ok.

            Can you recommend any JRPGs? I am looking for one more…Monster Hunter-eque. Where a player stop by the inn, chill, read the quest board and hang out at the hub city that can feel lively.

            When I read about how YS: Memories was like that, I was excited. Then it turned out quest boards are pretty much useless and you had a grand total of two people competing to map the great forest. It would been nice meeting more NPCs in the forest -_-

          • Yuuki

            hmm the only game that comes to my mind curently is Raknarok Odysey and God Eater 2, which hasnt a west reaslese date as of yet

          • Eric Xin

            I thought Ragnarok is out? I swear I saw it in the PSN.

            The other game I wanted to try is Valkyrie Chronicle II, but buying a PS3 for a single game would be down right idiotic.

          • Yuuki

            raknarok yes, but god eater not.
            You can play Valkyrie Chronicles 2 on psp too, no idea if it is in the store through.

          • Eric Xin

            VC2 on Vita apparently require me to buy a PS3, then port it over.

            I dunno know why, the PSN store is full of glitches that Steam never have. So far I encountered

            -Games mis-labled- Tactic Ogre is listed as $3.99, but when you hit order, it show you some racing game instead and TO is actually $20.

            -Game not found-I couldn’t order YS-memories when it came out (straight from my VITA). It was only three days later I saw it through an AD link at the PSN games, of all things.

            -Need other gaming systems-VC II is perfectly compatible for VITA….but you must own a PS3. Other games need a PS4. That is just garbage.

            Sigh -_-. Sometime I feel I got the worse end of the bargain when I exchanged a DS 3D for a vita during company holiday gifts.

          • Yuuki

            not to mention that the psn likes to give errors once you want to buy something.

  • Dude

    my friend recommended this to me as jpRPG he’s totally right … thanks Yuri great review