Review by Ramza FFT

"Mostly under the radar; Ys: The Ark of Napishtim has delivered a solid action RPG experience"

Ys: The Arc of Napishtim (Ys is pronounced yeez)….I've never even heard of this series in my life. Apparently this game was released about a year ago on the pc, now it has recently been released for the PS2 (obviously). I will say that I have seen some undeserving criticism for this game from game critics. While it does not have top notch productions values by any means it is just undeniably fun to play. Which is kind of ironic considering some of the top notch busts this year alone (I don't feel the need to mention the games). But enough of this, it is time for the review.

Story – You start your adventure as Adol the red, an adventurer who has washed upon the shores of a mysterious island, trapped inside a great vortex, after the pirate ship he was on was smashed to pieces by an imperial fleet. The local tribe, the Rehda, are a mysterious people who uneasily take Adol in for care. Gradually Adol wins favor from the tribe through his exploits, as well as adoration from some chicks, and the game takes off. Adol must find and use the three magical swords to battle evil and unlock the mysterious of the great vortex and of the islands in general. Also, a great theological God known as Alma plays a major role in the outcome of the islands. What exactly is the Arc of Napishtim? Who is behind the evil occurring? Who will save the islands and the world? I was enthralled by the story. Although it pretty much turns out to be a save the world story, which is in almost every rpg, I enjoyed it.

Gameplay – Few games are as fun to play as Ys. The combat is simplistic yet never dull. Complete mastery of the system can be obtained in roughly 15 minutes (yes even the dash jump which I can do 9 times out of 10). There is also some platforming elements in the game.

Throughout the islands there are three swords, each with their own magic ability, to find and use. The swords can also be leveled up in order to strengthen their attack and magic. This can be done with emelas, which can be found off enemies or won. Armor and accessories can also be found, awarded or bought. I was a little disappointed since there really is not that much equipment to find (only 6 shields and 6 armors), but I'm over it.

The boss fights in this game require quick reflexes but in general the game isn't very tough. Leveling up in new areas will allow you progress fairly easily. Leveling up happens often, except after level 50, with the cap at 60. In the ten hours I played this game I leveled up 51 times, that's a level about every 12 minutes. The world, and dungeon designs are quite simplistic too, with a few exceptions, in other words the game is quite linear. But trust me, taking down that first boss will prove to you why this game is such a blast to play. Also, there are some extra side quests, secret bosses, hidden armor and accessories, and miss able sequences.

Graphics – In general I really like the art and overall feel of this game. The world is exotic and vibrant. The color palette is decisively bright and varied. The art work is nothing short of amazing but indeed I would have liked to see more. The FMV scenes are pretty cool too. But the animated scenes are astounding. The game is 3d but has somewhat of a 2d feel to it. The use of sprites during cut scenes is what the 2d feel is about. The resolution is a little weak but it doesn't hinder.

Sound – First off I think that some of the English voice acting is good, but some of it is poor. I recommend going the way of the Japanese dub, English sub. The background music in the game is nice. Some of the tracks I thoroughly enjoyed. The song in the animated scene is a true standout from the rest of the music in the game. The game supports Dolby Digital Surround Sound, and this is taken advantage of by the action sounds going on in the dungeons. The sound effects are well done and spot on.

Replayability - The game took me about 10 hours to complete. RPG wise this is short. But I don't hold the length against this game. After completion there is a new difficulty level as well as a boss rush time trial. There is also some hidden stuff unlockable through codes, such as the animated scenes and Japanese voice acing, along with a few other goodies. So it's fair to say that this game warrants a second play through.

Overall – I completely enjoyed this game. The gameplay is simplistic yet never dull. The soundtrack is great, but the English voice acting is a little weak. The graphics and especially the artwork are excellent. The story is enthralling. While most will find the game to be short, there are unlockable modes after completion, warranting a second play through. My quips for this game are few and do not subtract from the overall experience. I feel this game deserves a 9/10. To casual gamers I say rent, but for RPG gamers I say, what are you waiting for?

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 03/03/05

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