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Red Head Redemption- Ys: The Oath in Felghana Review

Ys: The Oath in Felghana
is a remake of a remake – that is to say that it is a recreation of the 2005 PC only Oath in Felghana which was itself a reimagining of Ys III: The Wanderers from Ys, as well as the spiritual sequel to Ys: The Ark of the Napishtim. With all that inbreeding, you’d think that The Oath in Felghana surely runs the risk of making its PSP debut as a mangled mess akin to the end of a game of telephone, but the end result is surprisingly great.

Oath in Felghana follows the story of Ys III, which many will remember as the Castlevania-style adventure on the SNES and SEGA Genesis. Many of character and location names have been changed, and much of the plot is elaborated on, but the basic story remains the same.  Three years after the events of Ys 2, Adol Cristin, and his traveling companion, Dogi, arrive at Dogi’s hometown of Redmont. After reuniting with old friends, the pair discovers that the local tyrant has been tearing Felghana apart, looking for four sacred statues with the help of Dogi’s childhood-friend-turned-rival, Chester. It turns out that the statues have the power to summon powerful beasts, and have been attracting violent monsters to the continent.  Adol takes it upon himself to retrieve the statues and keep them out of the clutches of the evil Lord McGuire.

Although the story is based on Ys III, the gameplay itself is actually based on the ill-received Ys: The Ark of the Napishtim. Before you stop reading out of sheer disappointment, let me tell you that the modifications made the combat system not only make the game playable, but actually a lot of fun.  Adol is no longer required to be close enough to kiss his enemies before swinging his sword, and his pace is much livelier.  Combos are still simple button mashes, but new elements like magic spells and the boost gauge add just enough strategy to make each engagement unique and keep you on your toes. Dungeon crawling involves a great deal of puzzle-solving, as well as some light platforming, and although there are some points in the story that require you to back track, the areas never feel repetitive. Many of the JRPG location tropes are present, such as the inside of a dormant volcano, or an abandoned mine shaft, but they are all very detailed and seem fresh, despite their tired source material.

A quick disclaimer: boss battles in this game are what I like to call “MegaMan Hard.” Every boss comes equipped with a handful of lethal attacks, all of which can be avoided, once you’ve learned the nuances of their individual patterns.  The result is that you will fight the same boss over and over again, doing a little better each time, until you finally defeat them without a scratch on you.  This type of abuse may seem a harsh to players that never experienced the punishing 8-bit era, but could also be very nostalgic to gamers in their 20s and 30s. Either way, you can’t deny that beating a boss that seemed almost impossible only an hour earlier can give an ego boost that no hand-holding HD platformer ever could.

Although the original Oath in Felghana was released years before Ys Seven in Japan, the port’s presentation is so top-notch that you really can’t tell. Felghana is not as technically impressive as Ys Seven, forgoing polygonal heroes with meticulously hand-drawn sprites, but it is arguably much more visually gripping as a result.  The beautiful hand-drawn sprites are reminiscent of older Sega Saturn RPGs, like Shining Wisdom or Lunar: Eternal Blue, but in much higher resolution and with double the amount of animated frames. As I mentioned before, the environments are all look gorgeous on the PSP, however some dungeons were a little too dark to see clearly on a portable screen. The soundtrack, which is a rescoring of the Ys: III soundtrack, is fantastic. It sets the mood of each event and destination, and is catchy enough to make me wish I had bought the special edition rather than just downloading the file from the PlayStation Network.

The Oath in Felghana had a lot of proving to do when it arrived at my doorstep: it had been only three months since my last excursion to Ys, and to be honest, I wasn’t exactly thrilled at the idea of a playing sequel to Ark of the Napishtim. Nevertheless, Felghana far surpassed my expectations, and rocketed its way from a passing topic of interest to one of my favorite handheld games of the year. The game is short, relatively speaking, but also can be frustratingly difficult. Those who aren’t looking for a deep, challenging experience might want to try Ys Seven first, as that title is paced a little more forgivingly, but if you aren’t afraid to get your hands dirty and sacrifice some time and frustration, Ys: The Oath in Felghana is one of the most satisfying experiences you’ll find on the PSP.

About Robert Allen

With over 35 years of gaming experience, Robert 'DesertEagle' Allen is Tech-Gaming's resident worrier/warrior who spends his days teaching at three colleges and his nights devoted to JRPGs.


  1. Thanks, NOLA. How long does it take to complete?

  2. Cool review, but I feel you have to know a bit of the Ys series to understand it.

  3. Did you say “MegaMan” hard? You got me, right there. SOLD.

  4. Whats with Paul’s lips? That looks real unattractive.

  5. Awesome title!

    I haven’t played any of the Ys games at all. Is there any sales on 7, then?

  6. thanks for reviewing a game that certain site (IGN, Giant Bomb) can’t be bothered with.

  7. This review was like an episode of Retronauts. I mean that in a good way- I liked the way you liked the Ys games.

    BTW- A chart would be even better!

  8. I heard a guy asking for the new “Wise” game. This is what the newb must have been asking for.

  9. Better than the 1up review. Give this man a raise and a gold controller.

  10. Roscoe Pepperspray

    How big is the file size for the download version? A 8 GB card doesn’t seem to hold as much as it once did you know!

  11. I bought it day one. I like the series and this one is better (and harder) than Ys Seven, but I don’t think the game deserves an A-

    It’s pretty linear and also pretty damn frustrating. There was really no need to make the bosses this tough.

  12. I miss being able to roll. Seven really spoiled me.

    Also, you might have mentioned that Oath doesn’t make you fiddle with tons of items and gobble down herb and edible to recharge your MP. It’s all handled pretty smartly.

  13. How grind-happy is it?

  14. GamesRadar said 10-15 which doesn’t seem all that short.

    Are there sidequests? Whats with the five hour difference?

  15. Not my kind of game, but thanks for the review, NOLA.

  16. There’s a definite disparity between the play-clock time and the actual time spent playing the game. I finished the game in 12 hours according to the play-clock, but I definitely spent more time than that when you tally up all the times I had to reload boss fights.

    I said “short” because I was comparing it to contemporary JRPGs, which tend to run for 30+ hours. I suppose if you compare it to action titles, the length is just right.

  17. These were the other titles I had in mind:

    Pimpin’ ain’t Ys-e, But It’s Under Control
    Bitch Gave Me Felghanarhea!
    Never Felghana Give You Up
    Honey Bunches of Oath

    The cheapest I’ve found Ys Seven for is $25. I’m sure it’ll be less than $20 SOMEWHERE on Black Friday.

  18. I thought it was about Deagle’s friend Shipwreck at first.

  19. Your sidekick’s last name isn’t Howser, is it?

  20. Yeah, but you’ll probably have to punch an old lady in the mouth to get it 😉

    Let’s hope one of those online retailers comes through.

  21. Yeah, I heard it more action that talk. Which is how more games should be.

  22. Grinding is an option, but not a necessity. I got through the game without grinding at all. Boss battles are more reliant on your skill rather than your stats. That being said, it can be nice to have an extra HP pillow during some of the later bosses, just in case.

  23. I used to pronounce it like “Why-Ess”, as if it were an acronym. It wasn’t until I heard it on Retronauts years later that I found out how I was actually supposed to say it.

  24. I heard Oath has voice work. How is it?

  25. I heard Europa is actually pronounced “Europe”.

    Oh, those Japanese!

  26. It’s not bad. Dogi is kinda campy, but in an endearing way, and the narrator is quite good.

    XSeed actually posted some scripted “outtakes” the other day, and they’re a pretty fun listen.

  27. Leo the Lionhearted

    This is my favorite:

    “Chupacabra, Chimichanga, robotic wonderland”

  28. Addict of the Stick

    Never Felghana Give You Up is funny?

  29. No double review for this one? I wouldn’t mind hearing from Deagle on this one.

  30. We originally planned on double-teaming this one, but SOMEBODY got stuck at one of the early bosses, and then decided to play Blood Drive.

  31. Your response, Deagle?

  32. Guilty as charged on both counts.

    I would like the court to know that I was playing CoD:Bo, Atari Greatest Hits Vol. 1, Knights of the Nightmare, Apache: Air Assault, and Aqua Panic.

    Have mercy on my aging reflexes, which no longer permit the cat-like movements required by Felghana.

    Seriously, it’s a good game. The voice work is great, the dialog isn’t mundane (Like Seven), and combat is still fun. But, those bosses…

  33. LOL. Nice!

  34. Haha. Sentanced to 2 years of Superman 64.

  35. I for one, prefer sprites over polygons.

  36. I think most gamers over the age of 23 or so do.

  37. Thats a pretty cool link right there.

  38. I wont be too hard on you. You do review as many games each month as Game Informer, and your review are longer than three sentences.

  39. Good review, NOLA

  40. That sounds cool. Stopping all the time for a HP refresh gets old.