06| Ys Origin

Released: May 31st, 2012

Available On: PC

It could be argued that Falcom was the last developer to come stateside after the Japanese RPG floodgates opened. After Final Fantasy VII became one of the best selling games on the Playstation, it seemed that every Japanese role playing developer moved their titles stateside. Enix quickly hopped onboard, as did Namco. Atlus took a few years but was soon solidified, as did Nippon Ichi. However, there was one developer who's presence was glaringly absent. And that's the developer who arguably started the entire genre in Japan. Falcom was developer mostly known for their action RPG titles in Japan. Mostly known for the Ys and Xanadu series, Falcom published tons of quality action RPGs in Japan. They even ventured successful with traditional turnbased JRPGs with the Legend of Heroes series. To be fair, these titles were released in the West, and to very high praise. The NES release of Faxanadu was said to be one of the best games on the system for the few who played it. Ys for the PC Engine was ground breaking at the time, thanks to its cutscenes, voice acting, and CD quality soundtrack. However, despite these two titles being well respected, neither series received another Western release for decades. And for a quality port, it would be even longer.

A big reason for this is because unlike every other Japanese role playing developer (or really any other Japanese developer), Falcom did not focus their products on consoles but rather the niche Japanese PC market. And while there was a clear market for Japanese role playing games for consoles, it wouldn't be for nearly a decade and a half later until PC market was proven to be a friendly place for Japanese role playing games. But for the longest time Japanese role playing games, and really Japanese games in general, were seen as a nonexistent market for the Western PC market. As a result Japanese developers rarely localized the PC versions of their games, and this included Falcom. In fact, Falcom's games didn't begin being localized on the PC market, but for the console. The studio moved production to consoles/handhelds due to the fact that PC niche market eventually shrank too small even for Falcom. Thus a lot of their previous titles began to be ported to the PSP. They were pretty successful, and thus Falcom kept porting.

In an odd twist of events, thanks to Square-Enix taking the chance with the port of The Last Remnant and Carpe Fulgar localizing the extremely niche but addicting Recettear: An Item's Shop Tale, the PC market was proven not just to be viable for Japanese role playing games, but showing that the genre was actually in high demand. As such, Falcom began porting all of their old classic PC titles, which almost all of them selling very well. So well in fact that they are now starting to port their recent titles to the PC exclusively for the Western market. Quite the contrast to Falcom's previous viewpoints of the Western PC market.

Now since Falcom began their PC and Sony portable localization binge there have been plenty of quality games they've brought over the Western shores. As a matter of a fact, I'd argue that all of these games are of high quality, accept maybe Ys VI. If I had to pick one game though to take the top spot, I would easily pick Ys Origin. The reason is very simple, it is the best action RPG ever made, and I do not bestow that claim lightly.

To explain the game, it would be best to explain its context. Falcon would truly make the jump from PCs to handhelds in late 2007 in Japan. Ys Origin was the last full, ground up, mainline major title they were developing for the PC. It was, in many ways, a signal to the end of an era. As such, Falcom truly gave it their all with title. In truth, there is nothing unique or innovative about Ys Origin in a core gameplay sense. The player can select between two (eventually three) characters each with their own unique play style. They then explore a, pretty linear, dungeon as take out enemies, solve puzzles, and fight tough bosses. What makes the game stand out is just how well everything packaged.

The combat is wonderful. It may not be Bayonetta, but is extremely satisfying as it is so fast and frantic that it keeps the adrenaline rushing. Each character plays completing different from a traditional hack-n-slash character, to a long range "bullet" attack character, to a rush down down in your face character. There is something for everyone to choose from. To add to that, each character has their own unique story in the game. The truly get the entire experience and understand what is going on, one must play each character to see the story through "their eyes" so to speak. It is very enjoyable and adds a lot of replay value.

The level design is top notch. Darm Tower isn't most challenging dungeon in gaming, but it is very fun to transverse. The way enemies are placed and distance doors and different levels are from each other just make for such a smooth and seamless experience. The boss battles are "epic" and just so intense. And the story more than holds one's attention and truly fleshes out the characters, their unique personality, and their struggles.  And the music. The music! Holy shit! THE MUSIC! THE FUCKING MUSIC! Ys Origin comfortably has the best soundtrack I have heard in all of gaming. I realize that I often complement an entry's soundtrack on this list, but believe me Ys Origin is the absolute pinnacle of this category.

Add in a ton of replay value, great tie ins with the other entries in the series, and various hidden tidbits, and you have a must have title for anyone's RPG collection. There really isn't anything else to say about Ys Origin, it is simply the best of the best. The ultimate action RPG.

Posted by Punk Rebel Ecks Sat, 11 Feb 2017 05:33:34 (comments: 4)
Sat, 11 Feb 2017 07:41:59

I've never played one of these games but I see them on the Steam Store all the time, and a few times I almost pulled the trigger. Now I'm even more intrigued.

Sat, 11 Feb 2017 12:59:06
I remember talk of a compilation years ago.
Sat, 11 Feb 2017 20:42:17
edgecrusher said:

I've never played one of these games but I see them on the Steam Store all the time, and a few times I almost pulled the trigger. Now I'm even more intrigued.

Ys Origin is the best one. Ys: Oath in Felghana is good, but it's best to play the first two before it. Really every Ys game is good except one and MAYBE VI.

Mon, 13 Feb 2017 00:38:32

Only one I've ever played in the series was Y's Book I & II when it came out on the Virtual Console. It didn't connect with me, and I kind of wrote off the series because of it. Maybe I'll give it another look at some point with a more modern release.

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