Ys VI: Ark of Napishtim - Staff Review  

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by Jordan "J_Sensei" Jackson

Easy to Medium
10-25 hours


Rating definitions 

   Ys is the continuing story of hero Adol Christin as he explores the ruins and mysteries of his world, and in Ys VI: Ark of the Napishtim, Adol goes not only to a new chain of islands, but to a portable gaming system for the first time in this port. The adventure is fraught with powerful monsters, a swirling vortex, dangerous jumps, and enough loading time to nearly double the length of the game. Though Adol has successfully ventured into several lands, the land of the PlayStation Portable may be his biggest challenge yet.

   The plot picks up right where the previous game left off with Adol and his best friend, Dogi, aboard a pirate ship, but the corsair ends up being caught in the powerful currents of the vortex. Adol is washed overboard and found by two young Redhans, a race of long-eared, tailed demi-humans that are native to the island. The pair rescues the unfortunate traveler and brings him to their village. Adol awakes three days later to discover that the people of that village don't particularly trust him or humans in general. Chief Ord declares that Adol must leave the village, and thus, Adol begins his quest to unravel the secrets of the Canaan Islands.

   To discover every nook and cranny of the island, the hero must fight hordes of monsters on every screen, but the going is not as smooth as one might hope. The action-based combat is awkward at best; hit detection seems random at times, especially for flying monsters. Also, when moving to a new area, monsters can easily overpower Adol until he gains a couple levels. Luckily, leveling in new areas is never a problem; experience points are gained in such a way that the player receives more points for killing monsters higher than Adol's level. It is usually possible to gain at least one level within minutes after encountering a new set of monsters, but the rate of experience gain drops sharply with each level. This prevents the player from staying in one place and power leveling, but it also increases the length of time required to be at a sufficient level to take on the bosses.

Or you can trade everything for what's behind door number 1! Or you can trade everything for what's behind door number 1!

   Visually, the game is impressive. Each area of the game has a unique look and feel, and most of them are bright and colorful. Also, the camera zooms in or out depending on the size of the screen you are currently in to show the vast size of some of the dungeons. Overall, the camera does a good job of staying centered on Adol and gives a good view of both the area and the monsters around Adol.

    While the visuals are quite good for a PSP game, the music is its best selling point. Each of the 36 tracks is quite memorable. That is good because you'll be hearing several of them for a very long time as you navigate each dungeon and level. The tracks are also arranged in a way that they improve as the game goes on, so those that make it to the end will be rewarded with some truly good music. But as good as the music is, the sound effects are mediocre at best with various squawks or grumbles as each monster is defeated. Despite that, it doesn't really affect the overall feel of the game.

Awesome sword magic Awesome sword magic.

   Though the PSP port is lacking the voice acting the PlayStation 2 version contains, it makes up for this by adding a separate dungeon of mini-games called the Sealed Cave. With nine trials in all, it provides many opportunities to break up gameplay if things start getting stale. Though the challenges themselves are quite simple, completing all that is required for a reward can be extremely hard and even frustrating. Despite the annoyance of not being able to complete something that looks easy, the Sealed Cave adds a lot to the game. And since the choice of the rewards includes a free level per trial, they can be a boon at the end of the game when new levels are increasingly harder to obtain. Overall, the game wouldn't be that bad if it weren't for the horrendous load times, which can be as long as 20 seconds in places. The plot is relatively cookie-cutter, but the visuals and music are really nice. For a system with so much potential yet so few RPGs, Ys VI: Ark of the Napishtim could have been a real asset. The game seems ideal for gaming on the go, but the net result is too much loading, not enough game.

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