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ups: Interesting boss fights, cool adventure feel.
downs: Long and frequent load times, pacing is not friendly to portable play.

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Ys: The Ark of Napishtim Review
game: Ys: The Ark of Napishtim
three star
posted by: Matt James
publisher: Konami
developer: Konami
ESRB rating: E10+ (Everyone 10 and Older)
date posted: 01:21 PM Sun Apr 2nd, 2006
last revision: 01:21 PM Sun Apr 2nd, 2006

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Click to read.I\'ve been playing a lot of PSP games lately. Sadly, this hasn\'t meant playing any RPGs, my personal favorite genre. It has meant a lot of discussion about PS2 ports and long loading screens. Then along came Ys: The Ark of Napishtim. Finally, I am given the opportunity to sink my teeth into an RPG for my slick little handheld. The only problem is I have far from escaped having to bring up the subjects of porting from the PS2 and the quality/load time dilemma inherent on the PSP.

In a lot of ways Ys is more of an adventure game than an RPG. It has as much in common with, say, a Zelda game as it does with a Final Fantasy. I found the story to even be similar to the first Zelda game on the Gameboy. (Ok, so I admit it, a lot of these games have very similar stories. It was just more striking to me in this instance.)

Ys: The Ark of Napishtim begins with the main character, Adol Christin, being washed ashore on a strange and exotic island populated by some not-quite-humans, the Rehda, and hordes of deadly monsters. Adol is taken in by a young woman who cares for him despite the rest of the locals\' distrust of vile Humans. Seems they have been burned in the past after trusting the pesky Humans. Welcome to the club. Soon Adol finds himself swept up in their battles while trying to find his way home to Rome.

Ys is a bit of an odd choice of a port since it was originally released on the PS2 almost exactly one year before its re-release on the PSP. Furthermore, even for last year, Ys has a bit of an outdated feel. The graphics aren\'t bad but the game play isn\'t any more interesting than they were on the original PlayStation, for this type of game. Heck, the gameplay isn\'t really that much evolved than the Zelda titles on the Super Nintendo or Game boy. It is pretty much just a hack-n-slashing, button mashing, Action RPG.

Ys doesn\'t lend itself that well to on-the-go play either. It just takes too long to do anything of significance. (Much of this does have to do with the load times, but more on that later.) Many will say that is the nature of an RPG but I can sit down and play Elder Scrolls: Oblivion for 5 hours or a half an hour and have a decent experience either way.

With an RPG you should be able to have fun simply existing in that world for a while. Ys will only inspire you to speed through the story. On the PSP this is a problem because when you only play in small chunks you are constantly trying to figure out what the heck you were in the middle of doing each time you start the game back up. Once you do remember, the doctor is ready to see you and you have to power down again. (I hope he doesn\'t have bad news.) It is cool if you are using your PSP like a console and playing at home for hours, obviously sitting within a cord-length of a power outlet if you\'re playing for that long. A lot of people didn\'t buy their PSP for that kind of gaming.

Now, about those dreaded load times. You\'ll, well, begin to dread them. And they are everywhere. Every time you enter a shop or a house in the village there is a load. These aren\'t as long as the full area loads, though, which are at least a half minute long. After a while I got very frustrated with the loading. Sitting on my couch I decided that to keep my sanity I would switch on the 360 so I had something to do during Ys\' lengthy and frequent loads.

This problem is exasperated when you are trying to level-up. Once you clear an area\'s monsters out, you have to exit the area and re-enter for the enemies to respawn. It means loading when you exit and then immediately loading again when you return. You can expect at least a minute of load time just to perform the already mundane task of gaining experience. Ys has a steep difficulty curve too. Expect to spend time leveling early and often.

You are also expected to do lots and lots of backtracking, which is bad enough. Couple that with the lengthy load times and it is enough to discourage even the biggest RPG fans.

I really enjoyed the boss fights though. I usually do. I enjoy spending time figuring out the deeper strategy that these fights typically require. Ys doesn\'t let down in this regard. The bosses are interesting and difficult in a rewarding way. In fact all the enemies are interesting. Even if the fighting system is pretty uninteresting.

Missing in the PSP version of Ys is the voice acting. It is funny that this bugs me because even when the voices are there I typically can\'t help but read the captions and often end up skipping the end of the narration, instead of waiting for them to catch up to me. Yet bug me it does. Maybe it is because it just seems so static and unalive. Whatever the case, it is too bad that the voiceovers were removed.

Overall Ys: The Ark of Napishtim is an average game of a genre that so far is pretty scarce on the PSP. If you have been dying for more RPGs on the PSP and you plan on committing that amount of time, then you should be satisfied with Ys. It won\'t rock your world, but you will be satisfied. Everybody looking for a game to be played in spurts should look elsewhere. By the time your screen has loaded it will already be your bus stop.

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