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Ys: Memories of Celceta Review: the perfect tonic for Vita-owning JRPG fans

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on 16 December 2013

Sometimes, a good ol' JRPG is exactly what one needs, and a hearty, pocket-size time sink like Ys: Memories of Celceta is hard to pass up. If JRPGs are on the menu, this is the one to order. Plus, the fast pace of the game's combat could even coax a few on-the-fence gamers to think again about skipping another JRPG.

As is customary in the Ys series, a red-headed hero is on a mission of exploration, and the hero named Adol Christen begins the game in a state of amnesia. Through his early interactions with the unlikely companion and fist-fighting bruiser, Duren, Adol discovers that he is an adept warrior who was on a personal mission of exploration. In hindsight, the story itself is engaging enough to keep the gameplay moving, but the crème de la crème of the narrative in Memories of Celceta literally lies within the hidden memories found throughout the map. While exploring the relatively vast world, Adol comes across flickers of memory in certain parts of the map. To further validate finding all these memories, developer Nihon Falcom awards explorers with permanent stat boosts, such as strength and defense. These memories can be found in any order, so they may seem rather random. However, they all fall together in tandem and deliver a very honorable subtext that frames Adol as a character; again, the narrative has its share of good and bad writing, but watching a young boy grow into his search for the unknown will parallel your want to unlock more of the game's map.

The forest of Celceta is the canvas for explorers to discover, and the numerous zones within it are impressively varied. The same can be said about the second half of the map as well as enemies, where models are rarely, if at all, used more than once; if they are, Nihon Falcom did a phenomenal job of disguising them. Boss battles are a very different ball game from normal combat. Usually, the player has free reign to run around bosses to avoid massive, destructive attacks, and that extra room is needed more and more as the game progresses. In terms of quantity, boss battles aren't plentiful but they're not scarce either, where one appears every three hours or so--give or take relative progression. To top it off, each boss battle features unique attacks and strategies, making each new fight a learning experience.

Continued overleaf...