Would you believe games are still coming out for the PS Vita? Yeah, despite the system being effectively orphaned by Sony sometime around 2015, we still see the odd release pop up every now and again. Sometimes we’ve got entirely new games like The Caligula Effect, at others we’ve got series that start on the Vita but end up moving to PC like the Neptunia games,
And sometimes we’re blessed with gems like Ys Origin that eventually found a new home after being ported to the scrappy lil’ handheld. I’ve got nothing wrong with this, and you shouldn’t either!
As the name suggests, this is chronologically the first game in the series. When the twin goddesses of the world of Ys vanish, the land is cast into turmoil. It’s not hard to see how things might get a little tough if your deities just up and leave, after all. Somebody needs to get them back, and that somebody is you…well, where “you” refers to the playable character of your choice. Yunica, in a move that’s a bit unusual for RPGs, is a girl who focuses on melee combat and bashing baddies rather than magic; she’s powerful at close range and obtains special weapons that offer damage and mobility boosts. Hugo, on the other hand, is a frail mage who relies on ranged combat and floating “eyes” that boost his firepower. A third playable character eventually shows up as well if you finish the game with Yunica and Hugo.
This is an older game; it was originally released in 2006, but between fan translations and an official localization in 2012 it’s been available for Western audiences in one form or another for years now. Ys’ classic gameplay is timeless, though…well, maybe not the first couple games with that weird monster-bumping system, but the modern games are fantastic and remain fun to play over a decade after they first came out. Run around smashing monsters to earn XP, smash them faster to get multipliers to improve your monster-smashing speed, grab chests if you see them, platform where necessary, kill bosses when they show up – it’s a refined Zelda-style adventure that’s true to the genre’s roots.
Surprisingly, I nearly don’t have to spend a portion of this review talking about how the poor, run-down Vita can barely manage to run a game without bursting into flames! Sure, it’s a game from 2006, but the Vita can run it just fine…mostly. Sometimes boss attacks get a little too intense and we see the framerate drop a little bit. Alas, poor Vita. You tried. As for controls and the game’s portability, Ys Origin fits the Vita well and is perfectly playable despite originally being a PC game.
Again, if you’re a fan of this series it’s highly likely you’ve already managed to play Ys Origins. If you haven’t, however, it’s easy to recommend this as an introductory step into the world of Ys. The backstory helps frame Ys 1 and 2, and from there you can just sort of follow the games in order, watching as the series grows and evolves over the decades. It’s a neat idea, and it’s nice that there’s now another way to get in on the “ground floor,” so to speak.