You may have heard today or perhaps earlier that a pack of Ys games are coming to North America. Xseed has Ys SEVEN, the latest entry in the Ys series, lined up for a late summer release. We spoke with Toshihiro Kondo, President of Nihon Falcom, about it and the history of Ys.
Falcom, in the West, is probably best known for action RPGs. What elements do you believe make up a good action RPG?
Toshihiro Kondo, President of Nihon Falcom: It needs to be simple yet gets the player excited just by making the main character walk and run around. When creating an Ys game we try to figure out how to obtain that goal first.
Let’s go way back to the beginning. How did the Ys series begin?
Unfortunately, I wasn’t a part of the development staff and was merely a player and fan back then. However, I did hear that it was originally thought to be one game but with all the ideas that came out they decided to make it as “I” and “II”. It’s the same concept as how we created Trails in the Sky (Sora no Kiseki) into a trilogy. We were very excited on making something new and gave everything we had into the title. I believe it was the same for the team that first created Ys back then.
Adol is Falcom’s most recognizable hero. How did you create the fiery adventurer?
His signature red appearance is because when the team was creating “Ys I” the amount of color that could be used in the graphics was limited and they just happened to pick red. As time went by it just sort of stuck as he became to be known as the “red-haired adventurer.”
Also, he’s a young adventurer and even though in his profile it states that he later writes over 100 adventure journals, in-game he never speaks and you can never tell what type of person he is. This is because we wanted Adol to portray the player within the world.
Now Adol is beloved in the same way as a popular historical figure. He is a very mysterious character who never speaks, but fans still have their own interpretations of “This is like Adol, and this is not like him.” Throughout the series players have been imagining who he is through his actions and adventure records, and now that common thought has become part of who Adol is. In that sense he is a character that has been fostered and molded by the players.
In Ys he was a child that nobody ever heard of, but in Ys SEVEN he is now 23 yrs old and has an established reputation as an adventurer that’s continuing to grow thanks to his numerous adventures.
Regarding the game system, this will be the first completely 3D real-time action in the series. Our selling point is that its frantic pace allows players to defeat more enemies than a regular RPG. You will not be able to experience this unique satisfaction from any other game in the genre.
Ys SEVEN is the first time you travel with a party. Where did this idea come from?
Since we were creating a PSP-specific game we wanted to have an Ys that’s made for the system.
One of the characteristics of handheld systems is that it’s easy to see everything on the screen in a glance. We thought we could create a party-based action element where the controls would still feel tight without being sloppy, while keeping the basic essence of Ys yet adding a new sensation of action in the game.
What’s in store for Adol next?
He is someone that constantly travels to new locations that he’s never seen before in search of adventure. I think we all wish to keep challenging ourselves and keep evolving like him.
What Ys game do you feel is the pinnacle of the series?
As a game player, the very first Ys, Ys I, had the biggest impact on me, but now as a developer it will be the newest Ys, Ys SEVEN. It’s a title that we successfully integrated new system elements while retaining the unique Ys feeling. We’re very proud of the title and we think it’s a game that can live up to the high expectations of the series.
Unlike Adol, we’re not silent characters at Siliconera. We asked Kondo more questions about The Legend of Heroes: Trails of the Sky and other Falcom titles. Check back on Monday for the second part.