Ys is a series with an extremely long history in Japan, but it hasn’t seen the best localizations here in the West. All of the versions that make it here to the West have been developed by third parties and not the original developers of the Japanese version: Falcom. Xseed is trying to finally bring this series to America in its intended form, and is being developed directly by Nihon Falcom themselves.
Xseed is bringing over Ys 1 and II on a single disc titled Ys I and II Chronicles, Ys 3 or Ys: The Oath in Felghana, and Ys Seven which is a new title in the series. Ys games are action RPGs that typically have a simple overarching story that amounts to a gathering quest. This doesn’t mean that the stories are boring, just that they never get too convoluted. From talking to the rep it seems that newcomers may want to try their hand at Ys seven first to see if they like the series.
The seventh title is the first in which a party system is used, but this mostly just means that you have three characters that you can quickly switch between, like most action RPGs. While there are three characters in your group, there are actually four more sitting in backup that will gain a small amount of experience as well, so they don’t get totally left behind if you forget to switch often.
One thing that makes Ys Seven a great match for the PSP is that you can save anywhere, making it a nice game to play in short spurts. Those short spurts will last you quite some time as well, since the game works out at around 30-40 hours. The representative also mentioned that the remakes of the first three Ys games were the definitive versions of all of those games, and I would be inclined to believe him. Ys I and II Chronicles would take around 20 hours combined to beat, while Ys: The Oath in Felghana takes around 20 hours by itself. Although I didn’t get much time with the games (they are JRPGs after all), I can say that I came away with complete trust in Xseed’s ability to faithfully bring these games to the States. The rep I talked to was a super Ys fan who was so excited to show me his favorite series, so I have no doubt that these Ys titles will be brought over in the best possible way.
The rep also mentioned another JRPG Xseed was brining over on the PSP called Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky, which is again being developed by Falcom. Unlike the Ys series this title is a turn based JRPG that is semi-strategic. Xseed’s rep said that his favorite part about that particular series is that almost all of the sidequests are actually relevant to the story.
All of the Ys games mentioned are scheduled to release sometime this year with Legend of Heroes following some time after that. If you count yourself a JRPG fan you should definitely give these titles a shot.