The worst named game of all time – Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of DANA (Switch)

When making a game, you want to make sure your game has every chance of succeeding. The videogame market is a competitive one, so you’d better ensure you’ve got the bases covered. And a not insignificant part of covering your bases is having a good name. Unfortunately I don’t think the publishers, NISA, got the memo. Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of DANA might be one of, if not the, worst named games of all time.

Welcome to the lacrimosa-fuelled world of Ys naming conventions

And that’s sad, because there’s a lovely game hiding behind the god-awful title. This is my very first Ys game – would it shock you to know part of the reason for my never touching the series before now is the name?! – and my past knowledge of the series was limited to the very basics. Action RPGs, awesome music – that’s it.

(Really have to emphasise that “awesome music” part. The music of Ys is up there with the very best in gaming history, and being an old series means that there is a lot of it. Ys is where the legendary Yuzo Koshiro got his start, and his collaborations with Falcom veteran Mieko Ishikawa are pure aural bliss.)

But I digress. Reader, Ys VIII is very good; an action RPG that feels descended directly from Skies of Arcadia. And as readers will know I love me some Skies of Arcadia. Added to that though is more direct, hack ‘n’ slash combat and exploration along the lines of the Xenoblade series. It’s a potent combination. And while the game does not excel in the production value department – Ys VIII was originally a Vita game and it shows – you can practically feel the expertise and experience of the developer. The story, for example, is surprisingly ambitious. But what’s most ambitious about it is how it takes its time. That same principle applies to the game all over: with Ys VIII, you know you’re in safe hands.

Ys VIII doesn’t reinvent the wheel. It’s a tried and tested Japanese RPG, with the added zest of a desert island scenario. Ultimately what sets it apart is heart. There has been a lot of love and care poured into this project, and it really shows. Kudos to Falcom and the team. I think they all deserve a big hug.

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3 comments

  1. Angie

    I completely agree, very silly name. I would assume it sounds better in Japanese? I do need to get back to Y’s. It was fun but I got distracted with the FF HD releases.

    • veryverygaming

      I’ve been tempted by those Final Fantasies too on Switch despite the fact I own all of them in some form or another already… I have never played VII, X or XII :/

      As for Ys, it had better sound good in Japanese! It does seem like someone made a bone-headed decision to localise Ys with that name in the 80s, and nobody’s had the gumption to change it ever since.

      And I really have to once again emphasise just how good the game is despite the name! I’ve actually been watching my partner Maya play through it herself these past few weeks, it’s still a crazy ambitious, delightful romp even on a second go round.

  2. moresleepneeded

    I have not played this game or heard of the Ys series of games. This game seems like it is enjoyable and well-made, with an explorative gameplay and ambitious story. The game also seems to use awesome music, which seems to be a similar feature of these types of games. The criticism of the production values in the article does remind me of one of things I was wondering about regarding one of the features of the Switch. After learning that the Switch can be played either using a large screen or a portable screen, I was wondering if some games are better played using the smaller device, while some are more suitable for larger screens, and if the games were still enjoyable while played on the wrong screen size. Because this game was originally released on the portable Vita, it seems that this has negatively affected the game when it was played on the Switch.
    What is the origin of the weird name of this game and the series it belongs to? Is this game more enjoyable when played on a smaller screen? How long is this game? I am used to games being released on handheld consoles being fairly short.

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