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* Canon to the series

Ys The Ark of Napishtim
Nihon Falcom, Konami
Napishtim Engine
February 28, 2006
Reflections of Ys
By Limfinite

The Ark of Napishtim on PSP was released two years after the original PSP console release (model 1000) and less than a year after the PSP 2000 release. It is not surprising that most who purchased this game were playing on the original model. Playing The Ark of Napishtim on a PSP 1000 is like playing with a large pebble in your shoe. The load times are incredibly long, up to 15 seconds from personal experience. However, playing on the PSP 2000 or 3000 makes a world of difference because of the UMD Cache option (under system settings) that buffers data from a UMD during play. The load times are nearly halved! Compared to the other Ys games available on PSP, its a wonder why there are even load times at all, since Ys I & II Chronicles, The Oath in Felghana and Ys Seven have virtually zero noticeable loading. It's simple, really: Napishtim on PSP was the third game in a line of ports. Rather than porting straight from the original Japanese PC version to the PSP, Konami ported it first to the PS2 (released the year before), and then compressed the PS2 version to the PSP. The results were... adequate.

I had already completed The Ark of Napishtim on the PS2 and the differences were immediately noticeable. It was obvious where Konami had made sacrifices in order to complete this port. Voice acting was gone, 3D character models were replaced by the original PC sprites, and much of the extra PS2-exclusive content was removed. The overall gameplay and story were left intact, which is pretty much what most players wanted anyway. They got the job done. For the sake of comparison, The Oath in Felghana shares the same game engine as The Ark of Napishtim. Felghana on PSP included full voice-overs, practically zero load times, and incredibly sharp graphics. Why couldn't Napishtim on PSP harbor similar results? Again, one could only assume that these were a result of a port of a port.

Napishtim on PSP came with its array of exclusives. During the course of the game, Adol will eventually be given optional retrieval quests for certain NPCs. Fulfill Largo's mission and you'll unlock short mini games in the form of trails, which are similar to Alma's Trials on the PlayStation 2 version. Complete Raba's quest and he unlocks the character database that, oddly enough, should have been written in Adol's journal to begin with. Present August with the item he's looking for and you'll unlock the Ys Media Player, which is an achievement list of music and movie clips. These are filled as you progress through the game and organically experience the listed items. It's a nice way for collectors and completionists to have something extra to strive for.

The Ark of Napishtim on PSP received lot of notable but often exaggerated criticism upon release. Realistically, the game plays quite well and the loading doesn't impede on the experience if you're playing on a PSP 2000 or 3000 with the Cache settings on. The translation is decent but not nearly as polished as the 2015 Steam port. If you're looking for a portable version of Napishtim, this is it. Unfortunately, Konami decided not to publish it on PSN so finding a physical copy will be quite challenging. Otherwise, I recommend The Ark of Napishtim on Steam.


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