Ys: Memories of Celceta is an action role-playing game that can also just be classified as a Japanese role playing game. It was released on the PlayStation Vita on September 27, 2012 in Japan and November 26, 2013 in North America. It was developed by Nihon Falcom Corporation, who is known for several popular series including Ys in Japan.
The Ys series has a strange history of releases, including re-releases even by other developers. Memories of Celceta is the third game to be considered Ys IV, but it is actually the first time it was developed by the original Ys developer Nihon Falcom Corp.
I had wanted a PlayStation Vita really bad ever since it was first released almost two years ago. The only thing holding me back was that I was not sold on there being enough “good” games for me to get it. That all changed earlier this year when I saw the trailer for Memories of Celceta. I am not sure what it was about the trailer that was so appealing to me, but I knew I had to get a Vita before it was released. I quickly bought one and had patiently been awaiting the release of Memories of Celceta since this summer. But would I really enjoy a role playing game on a handheld device, especially one in a series that I had never even played before? I had no idea.
The basis of the story for Ys is one most of us are familiar with: the protagonist has amnesia and is trying to find what the hell happened to him. You might be thinking something like, “here we go again!” But honestly it was pulled off phenomenally. You play as Adol Christin, a red haired young man with amnesia. The story starts out as you stumble into a city not knowing where you are or who you are. Eventually you meet a friend and are tasked with completing the map of the Great Forest of Celceta, a forest that no one has ever entered and returned from.
Like I said, the overall amnesia premise is very familiar as I have played many games that started the same way. Ys: Memories of Celceta stood out. You meet some interesting characters along your journey as you explore the forest and discover memories from Adol’s past. Adol’s memories will keep you guessing on how he actually lost his memory and what part he had to play in the overall conflict that is going on in the world at the time. I was kept guessing throughout most of this 25 hour game, and most of the time I was completely wrong. That says something for someone who prides himself on being a story driven gamer that has played 100’s of games.
The graphics for Ys: Memories of Celceta does not push the limit of the Vita by any means, but this does not mean that it suffered. For a role playing game on a handheld, it was exactly what I would expect it to be. The character models were a little blurry/pixilated when standing still or in cutscenes, but most of the time the action is going so fast that you will not even have time to notice it. In cutscenes I found myself reading the dialogue and paying attention to the animated avatar next to the text more than I was looking at the character models; so again, you won’t even notice. The menu was very polished and easy to use: both with or without using the touch screen.
The music was very catchy which is exactly what I have come to expect of a Japanese role playing game. It was fast paced which really suited the action packed gameplay mechanics. I don’t believe I have played a JRPG made in the past 8-10 years that didn’t have a good sound track.
Battles are extremely fast paced, with most of them taking no more than 2-3 seconds. They are all real time on the battlefield as it does not have to go to its own separate battle screen like other traditional Japanese role playing games. You have a normal attack button, a skill attack list you can use by holding the right trigger and hitting a face button, and a special move you can use by hitting the left trigger once you have built up enough experience for it. These quick battles made the game feel action packed from the get-go. I never felt bored running through dungeons or long maze-like paths because there were always new monsters around that I could kill really quickly. At the end of each dungeon you will will run into the a “boss battle” with a monster that is normally 10 times your size. These battles will typically take you many times longer than the normal battles do because they have much more health, but are still not very difficult as you can spam attacks and skill moves.
Y’s: Memories of Celceta has a party based battle system. You will have up to six characters in your party at one time, but can only put three of them in your active party to help you battle. The interesting part about this party system is that your other two active party members will run around the battle with you acting on their own. If you run by some enemies they may run right up to them and engage them in battle, or if you run by a harvest point they may run up and start to harvest it for you.
Speaking of harvest points, these along with treasure chests are spread all over the world for you to collect. Memories of Celceta has quite the deep loot and crafting system, so you will want to try and collect as much of everything as possible. Even if you decide to only sell it in the end, you can make a bunch for upgrades. Another addition to the game that will make you want to explore everything is the world map system. Since the story is based on you trying to complete the map of the Great Forest, you will want to go down each and every path. Every time you pull up the world map it will have an updated percentage of how much of the map you have discovered. This was one of those things I was checking on constantly because I was interested to see how much I discovered each time I went into a new area.
As with many JRPGs, Y’s: Memories of Celceta has a new game plus mode. This mode will allow you to carry over all of your weapons, levels, stats, and discovery data to a brand new game. This is especially helpful for those who want to try to play on the hardest difficulty their second playthrough. I have always loved new game plus modes like this because they give me an extra incentive to go back and play them again later.
The Verdict: 9.0 out of 10
Everything about Ys: Memories of Celceta made it an exceedingly fun game for the PlayStation Vita. It is not the typical really long Japanese role playing game, which came as a surprise to me. This, however, didn’t hold it back in the least. The fast paced battle system and the crazy story made it seem like it was a much longer game. At the beginning I was skeptical about the amnesia story, but by the time I finished the game I realized it was one of the better stories I have played in recent history. It has nothing that will affect you psychologically or emotionally like The Last of Us, but it is still a really damn good story. Anytime a game is as fun to play as this one, there will most likely be high replayability. This is one of those games that I will definitely be playing again in the future. I am glad this game came out on Vita instead of the PlayStation 3 because the Vita needs as many strong titles as it can get to sell more units. I just hope Y’s sells enough for them to continue making them and bringing them over to the west! Go buy this game; you won’t regret it.