Titel: Ys: The Oath in Felghana
:usa: eind 2010
:jap: 22 april 2010
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Na enkele jaren niets op consoles gedaan te hebben is sinds een korte tijd Falcom weer actief op de PSP. Nadat de Ys-serie van developer naar developer is gegaan voor remake na remake, is er de titel weer terug op het oude nest. Xseed heeft, na al enkele Falcom-remakes van RPG classics uitgegeven te hebben, aangekondigd deze port uit te brengen als deel in de gehele serie van Ys re-releases, remakes en ports.
Ys: The Oath in Felghana is een remake van Ys III en verscheen in 2005 op de PC in Japan. Het maakte toen deel uit van de verhuizing die Falcom maakte voor alle series van consoles naar PC. Nu zijn ze weer terug op consoles en dankzij Xseed kunnen we hier in het westen nu ook weer een en ander aan Ys spelen.
Falcom would continue to focus on the PC as their platform of choice for development and in 2005, while Konami released Ys VI, the developer surprised fans with Ys: The Oath in Felghana which may very well be one of the best remakes of any title on any platform. A remake of Ys III, the differences are so dramatic that if you didn't know the names or history of either game, Oath would come off as something completely unrelated.
I had to forget everything I remembered from Ys III (except the tough-as-nails bosses). The remake didn't go back to the side scrolling view of Wanderers and instead used the top-down combat style used in Ys VI: The Ark of Napishtim with a little more polish to the controls. But the changes didn't end there. Falcom threw out everything from Ys III except for the story and the characters. If this had been a Final Fantasy game, it would have been as if Square-Enix made good on a remake of FFVII in taking full advantage of what next-gen hardware and a legacy of experience with battle systems could provide.
As a PC release at the time, it made use of new, hi-res graphics, an orchestrated and expanded soundtrack, and a number of Japan-only release goodies. The Limited Edition release was a huge box set with a Premium Music CD Box containing eight CDs worth of tracks from Wanderers and Oath. The standard edition is still quite nice with a thick manual filled with illustrations, a large (maybe too large) DVD case for the game, and a well constructed box layered with art.
LET OP: dit is dus NIET de PSP versie!
The changes have also made Felghana my favorite Ys to date because of its frenetic action, great art direction (Adol sticks to his roots as a detailed sprite), and obnoxiously tough â€“ but fair â€“ bosses. Temporary bonuses, such as strength pluses and experience multipliers, were also awarded whenever enemies were killed and encouraged hit chains. An upgrade system made use of special ore found in dungeons and occasionally dropped by enemies and magic was made an integral part to the gameplay. It wasn't unusual for certain obstacles to force the player to think creatively by using Adol's acquired ability to double-jump coupled with a little magic.
The story was also fleshed out with even more detail going so far as including an in-game encyclopedia providing NPCs with valuable background info and a growing list of monsters. Seeing so much background available for everyone from bosses to the NPCs made the story an impressively well told, and very fun, aspect to the experience especially in conjunction with its expressive use of chibi characters.
Design-wise, backtracking has been largely eliminated here with each area acting as a focused dungeon with a definite start and ending filled with a number of challenges and puzzles. The use of 3D hasn't been a wasted effort, either, with the fixed camera sometimes shifting perspective to impress upon the player the size of certain areas as well as adding a degree of well-fleshed out detail to each scene. The player is also free to run back out of each one and whenever you see a telltale marker offering an opportunity to save, markers that often warn that there's something even worse past it. Like a boss.
And the music? It fits in amazingly well with the action onscreen. Valestine Castle's remade theme made storming its staircases and wrecking armored knights an entirely new experience in more than what visuals could muster. As for the ending, if there was ever a promise for another adventure done in the language of song and pics, that was it. Oath is a love letter to fans from Falcom in the best way possible and quite possibly the best Ys title for both veterans and newcomers to enjoy.