After three different versions of Ys IV from various third party sources, Memories of Celceta for the Vita is the first rendition developed by Falcom themselves. However, once again, there are a huge number of differences from all previous versions, sometimes incorporating elements from previous versions, while drastically expanding the depth of the story. The Japanese title is presented in English as Foliage Ocean in Celceta, a poetic image that sounds incredibly clumsy in English, hence the change in the localized version.
The storyline skips over a lot of the introductory stuff, including the reason for Adol’s journey to Celceta and the landing in Promalock. Instead, as the game begins, Adol has technically already explored much of the forest of Celceta. However, after a traumatic event, he finds himself wandering back to the town of Casnan, where he passes out from exhaustion. After being nursed back to health, Adol realizes that he’s lost most of his memory. However, due to his experiences, he is drafted by the Romun army to help map out the forest of Celceta, which is still largely uncharted by those outside of the country. In addition to exploring, the duo hope that revisiting old areas where help jog Adol’s memories.
When Adol and Duren venture out to other towns, they find that the townspeople remember Adol…but typically not in good ways, often blaming him for various unfortunate incidents that occurred after his arrival. Adol is innocent in all cases, of course, and instead many of the troubles are caused by masked warriors, who appear to have super human powers. After traveling and gathering party members, Adol encounters Eldeel, and from here, the core of story is similar to the previous Ys IV games.
The game itself is based heavily on the system from Ys Seven. Up to three party members are in play at once, and while you control only one at a time, you can switch between them at will. Each has different weapons, which are more appropriate to certain types of enemies. Your characters cannot jump, but they do have dodge rolls. Each character also has a number of special moves, which sap SP, and can be regenerated by killing enemies. Each also has a special power which lets them clear obstacles or defeat certain enemies – for example, Duren can lockpick chests while Ozma can use his spear to break cracks in rocks. The “Flash Guard” move from Ys Seven has returned, where you’re granted extra SP if you precisely guard an attack, but there’s also a “Flash Dodge” if you dodge an attack immediately before it hits. This slows down time for a few seconds, allowing you to get in a few extra hits.
There’s also a substantial crafting system, allowing you to create new weapons, armor and items from bits of loot found by destroying enemies or attacking harvest points. New to Memories of Celceta are jewels that can be crafted and used to upgrade weapons or armor, making them more powerful, or inflicting or guarding against status ailments.
While the forest of Celceta was a location you visited a few times in previous Ys IV games, here it’s the central hub that connects the entire game. It’s an absolutely vast overworld, filled with optional subquests and powerful monsters, though warp points are frequent to allow for fast travel. The game keeps track of the percentage of land you’ve explored, challenging you to uncover 100% of it.
The plot has been expanded substantially, with several new characters, and the ones that are returning have been changed around. Duren was previously a rather minor character in the original Ys IV games but here he’s one of the main protagonists, filling in the role of the rough-and-tumble compatriot usually played by Dogi. Karna is no longer a swordswoman, but is instead the daughter of the village chief of the tree village Comodo, and attacks with throwing knives. The other three playable characters are entirely new. Refer back to the Ys IV page for the original character roster.
Ozma hails from the town of Selray. He is the sole remaining member of a tribe that has been charged with tending to the herd of holy beasts known as Spardas. He attacks with a spear.
A disciple-in-training in the city of Highland, Calilica is a young girl who wields a club that resembles a gigantic lamp post. In spite of her diminutive stature, her weaponry is classified as heavy, making her an alternative to Duren.
A female warrior from Danan, a village hidden deep in forests that’s inhabited almost entirely by outcasts. Her and her people know much about the old kingdom of Celceta. She’s also accompanied by a fairy named Nina. It’s subtly revealed she was also entagled with one of the characters in Ys VI. She wields a spear and is similar to Ozma.
Unlike the previous versions of the game, the Romun army isn’t presented as evil, but rather than organization with various members, each with their own motivations. Griselda represents the noble side of the country, a governor-general sent to Celceta in charge of exploring and mapping the land. She hires Adol and Duren, and pays them quite handsomely.
Ranking beneath Griselda, Commander Leo from Dawn of Ys is still around, but instead of being openly antagonistic, he’s presented as an oaf, who competes (poorly) with Adol and his quest to map Celceta. He is joined by two hapless companions, Sancho and Pansa, named after Don Quixote’s squire from the famous Spanish story. They’re all pretty harmless, and function as comic relief.
Parts of the story have been rewritten to cast the villains with more shades of grey, particularly regarding Eldeel. In the previous games, Eldeel was mostly portrayed as an evil villain, but here, he’s presented as a benevolent angel who also has a mysterious dark side. The story also expands a bit on the history of his race, integrating some of the elements that were explained in Ys VI: The Ark of Napishtim, as well as discussing some elements about the war between Romn and Altago, as mentioned prominently in Ys Seven. It also delves a little more into Adol’s backstory. Scattered around Celceta are memory fragments, which not only reveal events that happended during his journey in the forest, but also his childhood. Adol has always been a mysterious character, so these little vignettes help flesh out the reasons for his wanderlust.
Some elements of the story have been removed. Like A New Theory, you no longer revisit Esteria, and most of the ties that the game previously had with Ys II have been cut. Dogi only makes extremely brief cameo appearances, and Dr. Flair is only mentioned by name.
The story isn’t particularly fascinating, but it’s less chatty and obtrusive than it was in Ys Seven. While it’s also a much longer than previous Ys IV games, with the quest lasting twenty to thirty hours, there’s enough fresh content without it feeling padded out. The climax does feel a little rushed though, with a rather unsatisfying ending considering the amount of time the game spends trying to make you care about the characters.
All of the music has been remixed, consist with the style of Ys Seven, with some nice live instrumentation. The arrangements are all excellent, though as before, some songs are used in different spots. There’s a brand new intro theme, and the old opening theme, “Dawn of Ys”, is used as a location theme instead. However, a large number of tracks are completely missing, most noteably, Karna’s theme. The soundtrack album has 35 tracks, compared to 55 from the three Perfect Collection albums.
However, the visuals are not great. The game looks like it began development on the PSP and later shifted to the Vita, but rather than upgrade the visuals, they just applied some graphical effects that end up heavily smearing the entire screen. The equipment menu shows the character models in the native Vita resolution, and they look quite nice, so it’s unfortunate that they appear so low res during gameplay.
Memories of Celceta is a definite improvement over Ys Seven. The story is better paced, and the action and gameplay systems are slightly more refined. It’s also the best version of the Ys IV plot, fleshing out its characterization and backstory substantially, even though it’s hardly a comprehensive view of the story, considering how much has been removed.
Character Artwork Comparisons