Developer: Nihon Falcom, ported by Konami
Alright, not gonna use the usual structure since I’m too lazy. Broken keyboard sucks, and typing on my dad’s old netbook isn’t a good alternative to my laptop in terms of comfort. I don’t really feel like writing a full separate review for a game that has a pretty similar engine to another one in the series. I’ll just be comparing this to the other Ys games I’ve played. Anyway, Ark of Napishtim is the sixth game in the Ys series, and is where the engine for Oath in Felghana originated from. I played the PSP version, which is the inferior version compared to the PS2 and PC versions, but I do love handheld gaming, especially for action RPGs.
Since Ark is released before Oath, it doesn’t feel as polished as the latter. Controls are more clunky, especially when it comes to aerial enemies. Instead of the useful double jump in Oath, here you get the Dash Jump, which everybody hates. It requires a specific timing, and that coupled with buttons that aren’t always sensitive leads to falling many, many times. The combat is pretty much the same as Oath otherwise, you control Adol himself and have fun slashing stuff.
Another complaint for Ys VI is the forced level grinding. The game flows more smoothly towards the end where you won’t be forced to grind much, but in some times during the beginning, you WILL have to grind levels in order to just be able to DAMAGE some enemies that you should be fighting at that point.
In terms of difficulty, Ark is a lot easier than Oath. Ark allows you to carry 9 of one healing item into boss battles in normal mode (if anyone can fill me in on limits for Hard and Nightmare, that’d be great). Compare that to Oath in Felghana where your only means of healing in battle is Double Boost mode, and you’ve got a much easier game just because of the existence of healing items.
Boss rights were pretty decent, but not as epic compared to Oath in Felghana and Ys Seven. Their attack patterns were pretty static and I didn’t find any boss to be particularly hard, at least on Normal. Gotta give nightmare a try eventually, since I think I might actually be able to do it here. I’d say Ark’s difficulty on normal is probably between Oath and Seven. Much easier than Oath due to healing items, and the regular enemies certainly give you more trouble than Seven.
I’ll also add in that there is no teleportation between monuments in Ark of Napishtim. All you get is an item that teleports you out of dungeons, but you can’t choose which monument you teleport to. You even have to travel between the two towns on foot whenever you need something.
The story wasn’t as long as Ys Seven, but I found it to be better than Oath’s story. Ys VI reveals some interesting info about the world, and the existence of two towns makes the game feel more like an adventure than Oath, which had one town only (the latter had the better dungeon design though). It also has more recurring from previous games and introduces Geis, who appears in Ys Seven. As someone who likes the world of Ys, this was a good game in filling in details. Like most of the other Ys games, Ark’s story is still pretty much bare bones in the RPG story complexity spectrum. The localization was done by Konami instead of XSEED, and lacked energy. It’s still passable, but I’ve developed a fondness for XSSED’s localization after playing their games continuously. Konami’s localization just doesn’t feel right.
The reason why nobody likes the PSP version of Ark of Napishtim is due to the slowdowns and long loading times. I’m pretty tolerant for loading times seeing as how Mana Khemia was one of my first RPGs for the PSP and it took so long to load the next screen that they played a slideshow during the loading. The loading times here were pretty bad, but still bearable. Now, the in-game slowdowns are just…WHY? It puzzles me, because the other Ys games on the PSP play very smoothly, and Ark of Napishtim’s graphics are worse than those. The PC and PS2 versions look nice with good textures, but the PSP version looks pretty craptastic and still manages to have slowdowns.
Ys VI: The Ark of Napishtim is a pretty decent game, but lacks polish. The PSP version is not unplayable, but anyone giving advice to buy the PS2 or PC version is probably worth listening to unless you absolutely must play on a handheld (in my case PSP version was the easiest to find). The music also didn’t sound as appealing overall as Oath or Seven. Ys VI is decent, but Oath in Felghana is an improvement in almost every way while keeping the same battle system. I think Ys is a series where you gain an appreciation for the older games when you fall in love with a newer installment (as opposed to never being able to go back to an older game when playing a newer one), so I wouldn’t recommend playing Ark first due to it being a less impressive game.
On another note, I picked this game up in the used game section of a Gamestop in the US for $5, and it was so old they had to replace the UMD casing with a clear one. How on earth do people take such bad care of their games? HOW?