Ys:Memories of Celceta is a really odd duck out of the many Ys games, being the fourth version of Ys IV to exist. Back when YS IV originally launched, it had two versions released for different consoles. The Super Famicom with Ys:The Mask of the Sun and the PC-Engine CD with Ys IV:The Dawn of Ys. They had mostly the same basic plot, but the PCE-CD version also did many things differently. Years later on the PS2 a remake of The Mask of the Sun was released as Ys IV: A New Theory. The interesting thing here is that none of them was created by the series originator, Falcom. Now in 2013, Falcom, after having gone on record stating that The Mask of the Sun is the canonical story the the Ys universe, has decided that they will settle the matter once and for all on their own terms. It should also be noted that this is the first time in the West that the game has been made available in any legitimate form. The result is a game worthy of Ys fans and Vita owners.

    While the game is a remake of The Mask of the Sun, Falcom decided to use the Ys Seven engine and re-tweak it for the Vita’s feature set. This has led to the game needing major retooling in terms of level and gameplay design, as the game employs a multiple party member system. As such, elements of the plot and locations are tailored to suit this change. To accent this, the plot is mostly the same as the original title, but now Adol loses his memory sometime while in the region of Celceta, and now has to retrace his steps to discover why he was even here in the first place, and to also restore his memories. The party members that accompany you are all new characters, save for Karna and Duren, whose roles in the story have been greatly altered from NPC to main character status. Each character can be swapped and each has their own strengths against the different types of monsters, so you will need to change up your approach to battle. Returning from Ys Seven is material collection and while you lose the ability to make your own weapons and armor, you can at least customize and strengthen them. You can make crafts though, provided you are in the right town, as the game doesn’t have enough forethought to provide every location with every facility. This becomes an issue early as true fast travel doesn’t unlock until a certain point in the game. Instead you can only transport from monuments of the same color until the ability to go anywhere is unlocked. This also makes doing some early sub-quests hard to do, and some sub-quest have a time limit. Be sure to check back at each town’s pub board to find new quests.

    Combat is still the fast paced action from Seven, and it’s even better in this title. Skills have returned but now they only have three levels of power. Because of this, each skill takes a long time to improve, but the increase in power means more for each level. The AI also has been improved, and can even be ordered to evade enemies or go all out on them. Falcom made the odd decision to map these commands to the bottom touchpad of the Vita. You have to pinch in for evasion and pull apart to go into aggressive modes. Using the right analog would have been a better choice, as it does not have a function. The touch controls also extend to a few puzzles in the game, and it kind of breaks up the flow of the game a bit. Especially seeing as one of the later puzzles needs a bit of precision to do correctly, otherwise you find that you accidentally highlight the wrong thing. I do no understand why developers feel the compulsion to include touch features in a game for the sake of it. At least there are touch implementations in the game that do make sense, like touching an enemy on screen to tag them and give the player it’s stats.

    The music in the game is mostly remixed version of the tunes from The Mask of the Sun, but some tracks were replaced with original content, either to make up for  tracks that got recycled at certain parts or replace them entirely. Good thing the new tracks are for the most part superior replacements. Just like many of the other Ys games, sometimes the heavy rock tracks are reason enough to play the game. There also is voice acting, which while well done, is limited. While the story of the game is decent, it’s mostly just a vehicle for the great gameplay. All and all, Ys:Memories of Celceta is solid remake of YS IV, and a great Action RPG for Vita owners. And even a good excuse to finally pick a Vita up. There’s just a few niggling issues that keep it from being perfect. Still, definitely a must buy.

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