This article contains major spoilers for Ys IX: Monstrum Nox
Nihon Falcom CEO and Ys series producer and writer Kondo Toshihiro discusses Ys IX in a post-release interview in volume 682 of Dengeki Playstation.
Part 1 of this article is available here:
Kondo is next asked about how they came up with the story of Ys IX. He says that when he talked to core development members, they said that they wanted to have more vertical action to make use of the three-dimensional maps. But this would be something not possible with the series’ world as it was, and required some form of change.
They felt that they would need the story to justify vertical action, and the idea that came from this was “superheroes”, which when converted for Ys became the Monstrum. The story was built around this keyword, with Kondo pointing out how the secret identities are a staple of the superhero genre, and by combining it with the world of Ys they ended up with the story as seen in the completed game.
It was decided upon early on that the game would take place in a Romun city, and when thinking of something big to represent the city that would tickle Adol’s sense of adventure, they came up with the idea of a “prison city”. As a prison city, however, it would not be the capital of the Romun empire. Additionally, the idea of a prison city leads one to think of the Bastille in France, and when applying that to the world of Ys it became part of the Gllia region.
The interviewer next asks about Ingrid and her role as an investigator of supernatural phenomena. Kondo says that she belongs to the Romun military police, and hopes that players will recall another member of the Romun MP that Adol met in a previous game.
Kondo next discusses the Monstrum and Grimwald. He says that the Grimwald is something like a water purification plant, and the purification was carried out by the valkyrie-like formerly-human demigods, through their defeating of evil spirits. But with the gods gone, the Grimwald lost its ability to purify water, and the Monstrum were created as a substitute.
As the Monstrum were created by Zora artificially, they are a completely different thing from the demigods, and as long as the Grimwald remains, they have to continue fighting the evil spirits.
There was a period of time at the end of the war where nobody was left to purify the Grimwald: After Roswitha’s execution, Zora left the war to research alchemy, creating the Monstrum some time after, and the evil spirits were left to roam free in the Grimwald during this time.
Zora himself is not a Monstrum, but he is using a homunculus body, and Kondo says that because of how long he has lived, he might be even more powerful than the Monstrum.
The interviewer asks why Xavier is missing from the mural of Roswitha and her compatriots, and Kondo says that this was because he fell before the other heroes, and was not one of the members of the group that the general populace saw as “the heroes”. Outside of the lore, Xavier was created and added to the game because the staff wanted to make a Roo.
When asked why Aprilis turned Adol into a Monstrum, Kondo says that Adol is now quite famous throughout the world. Aprilis was troubled with being stuck doing the same thing over and over for hundreds of years, when Adol, a symbol of change, appeared in Balduq. However, Zora got to him first, and when she finds him in the prison it is a homunculus there, and that is what she meant when she says that she was too late. Nevertheless, she turns him into a Monstrum hoping that he will still be able to find a way to change things.
The bullets Aprilis uses to turn people into Monstrum are not a power of her’s: The bullets are special alchemic ones made by Zora. Kondo adds that it is unclear if all the Monstrum throughout history had the same abilities as their current incarnations, and that it is likewise not mentioned if the original heroes they are based on had powers either. Only the Hawk’s abilities as a descendent of the berserkers is innate to his blood, unrelated to his Gift.
The interviewer points out how Aprilis employs different methods of speech in the flashbacks and present in the Japanese release of the game, speaking normally in the past but employing a “tougher” sounding mode of speech in the present, and asks why this is. Kondo says that this is a result of Zora’s teachings. Roswitha, likewise, was under Zora’s guidance when she liberated Balduq, and used the same form of speech when speaking in public. He also jokes that Aprilis’ poses might also be a result of Zora teaching her to do so.
Chatelard is discussed next. The interviewer asks when the real Chatelard died, and Kondo says that they did not decide on a concrete time: It might have been before he was captured eight years ago. Regardless, the homunculus was probably readied before his death.
As pointed out in the story, regular homunculi are born as babies and have to grow up, but Chatelard’s homunculus is as old as the real one would be, and Kondo says that while the alchemic technique of creating an adult homunculus was perfected with Adol’s, Chatelard’s might have been created as part of the research process.
Chatelard’s transformation in battle is brought up as well, and Kondo says that it was probably something Zora did to him. Other homunculi such as Marius might have had the same ability too.
The room with multiple copies of Aprilis is mentioned, and Kondo says that these are all bodies that were grown from babies, as the technique for fully-grown clones is still unstable. As Aprilis has to continue fighting, she requires those spare bodies. The room is also supposed to represent Zora’s obssession with her.
Kondo is next asked if the alchemy in IX is related to the alchemy that appeared in Ys V, and he says that this is currently unknown: If they have a chance to tell V’s story again, they might bring up this subject. He does point out, however, that alchemy requires a power source, which was the philosopher’s stone in V. In IX, however, this is not touched upon at all.
The interviewer asks if the Egg of Draupnir is related to the Black Pearl of Ys I and II, and Kondo says that it is not, as it is unrelated to the Eldeen civilization. They constantly consider whether or not to have the Eldeen civilization brought up in new games, but always ultimately decide against it as it would require players to have knowledge of the older games. He also mentions that Grimnir and Luki are long-forgotten old indigenous gods, from before the Eldeen civilization, and that Grimnir is based on Odin of Norse mythology.
When asked how world-resetting systems like the Root of Altago and Lacrimosa are related to each other, Kondo says that the gods of various locales have their own mythologies, and that even if they share the some origin, they might be depicted differently in different places. While the Eldeen civilization also exists, they decided when making Ys Seven and the five dragons that actual “gods” would also exist.
He says that it is unknown what relation they have to each other, and says that for example, the concept of evolution in one place might be known as a different concept in another. He says that they make Ys games with the gods defined ambiguously, and so cannot say anything for certain. It might be that the world has the same unchanging underlying concepts all over, and that they just show themselves as different gods in different places. Kondo thinks that Adol just happening to run into and either aiding or opposing such entities is the story of Ys.
The final boss, Anima Ergastulum is discussed next. Kondo says that it is the result of Zora using alchemy to try to create, combine, and control the gods and other supernatural entities that Adol has met in his journies, that has gone out of control, and the design was based on that.
The first form of the final boss, Atra Nox Philius, gets its name from a Latin word for “black”. Kondo says that he started off looking for a word for the colour, and felt that it was perfect due to it being similar to Adol’s name.
As for returning bosses, Kondo says that aside from saying that they could have returning enemies, both bosses and regular enemies included, the only ones he specified in the story were the Primordials and Nygtilger. Others like the Vagullion were proposed by other staff.
Part 3 of this article is available here: