Ys VI: The Ark of Napishtim
PlayStation 2
Reviewed: 06/09/2005


Until The Ark of Napishtim, the Ys series (pronounced as “ease”), hadn’t seen American shores in over 10 years. That probably explains why the number “VI” was omitted from the American packaging. Since then, RPGs have greatly increased in popularity, which was likely to be a contributing factor in Konami’s decision to localize Falcom’s Ys: The Ark of Napishtim. It also helps that the game is very easy to pick up and play, and no gamer will feel out of place when playing it.

The Ark of Napishtim continues the story started by previous Ys games, with the familiar hero Adol still being chased by his enemies. A battle on the high seas lands his shipwrecked, red-haired self on an island of elf-looking beings called Rheda and players pick up from there. Without spoiling anything, the story is quite good, especially when compared to other Action RPGs. This is because games in the the Action RPG sub-genre tend to deliver a weak story that feels like a total afterthought to everything else. It’s good to play Ys VI and see that–compared to other Action RPGs–the story is much more polished. It will assist in keeping gamers entertained for the length of the game, whether they blaze through it in 8 hours on Easy mode or set it on Hard mode and do all the extra things for over 30 hours.

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Boss battle

Hacking and slashing through swarms of enemies in this game is fun to do and doesn’t get boring. The game takes a basic action RPG combat system and adds the proper combos and special abilities, then uses a perfect camera and simple controls to make this so. Adol gains 3 swords in the game, all with different elemental properties. Players can change which sword Adol is using with L1 and R1. The system is used very well, and makes players pay attention to what kind of enemy they’re fighting, rather than just say “Oh, an enemy, attack button, attack button, attack button….” This is made even better by the fact that proper timing in the button presses will be required to pull of many of Adol’s special moves, instead of just mashing.

All this storytelling and enemy slicing is done in a fully 3D world. The camera isn’t rotatable, but that’s okay because you can always see what you want to see. The character models don’t look very detailed, though. You can get the general idea of what they look like, but for the most part, viewing a character in the game’s out-of-cinema graphics is like using a pair of glasses that isn’t quite strong enough. When an important character is talking, you’ll hear his/her voice and see a large, animated image of him/her on the screen. The artwork is great and the voice acting also pretty darn good. The actors read the lines well and most of the dialogue sounds natural. If you’re impatient, you can just hit X and skip the talking.

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Olha is an example of one of the many well-acted voices in Ys VI. Plus she’s pretty hot.

Falcom did an amazing job producing the soundtrack. The tunes in Ys: The Ark of Napishtim are great inside and outside of the game. It’s blended into the gameplay and story very, very well. I don’t know what else to say other than it’s musically the best game on PS2 to date.

Ys: The Ark of Napishtim is definitely one of the best Action RPGs of this generation. It has all the right stuff: an entertaining (but not too complex) story, fun battles, awesome music, user-friendly menus, and graphics that get the job done. These ingredients, used in the way they were, made a great game that does the genre good. It’s not marketed as a mainstream title, but the game is very playable for all gamers–not just RPG players.

-Heath Hindman

Score Breakdown
Very Good
Out of 10
See our Review Criteria
Gameplay Great
Story Good
Graphics Very Good
Sound/Music Legendary
Replay Value Good
The Verdict: 7