I'm a few hours into Felghana by now. As far as first impressions go, the game manages a bit better than Ys Seven. Dialogue is less wordy, allowing the story to progress more quickly. Most importantly, it lets us jump into the sweet, sweet gameplay that much faster.
I suspect it'll be a hotly contested debate as to which Ys boasts the better gameplay this year. Where Seven prefers huge towns and vistas to roam, Felghana scales things down to structured, interconnecting maps and dungeons. The former prefers its combat fast and loose, the latter more intense and tightly knit. The boss battles are cut from different cloths, too; Seven's are knockdown, drag-out button-mashing endurance fests, while Felghana's are more pattern based and reflex-heavy.
But where the games deviate the most are in their challenge levels. Seven's Hard mode is like a walk in the park when compared to Felghana's Normal. Make no mistake, Felghana is a BEAST. The difficulty ramps up right when you reach the Illburns Ruins, and I managed to get my ass handed to me a few dozen times before taking down the boss. No healing items, save for random enemy drops, so when it comes to bosses, you've either got the hardened skills to persevere or you don't. Luckily, there's an instant retry option where you can continue from within the same zone or boss battle where you were felled. What might have been turned out to be an arduous, frustrating and ultimately game-breaking affair is mercifully saved by the grace of this single, critical feature. It really gives a wonderful incentive to keep up the good fight. In any case, I'd hate to see this bad boy on Hard, let alone Nightmare and Inferno.
Graphically, the game is very good. I've not played enough of the PC version to make a call, but it looks like the graphics were preserved and scaled down appropriately enough for the PSP. The framerate is a rock-solid 30fps as opposed to the 60 that a well-equipped PC can handle, and I love that every major character so far has their own designated character portrait. (It is a little strange seeing Adol and Dogi regress back to their younger looking selves after Seven. Especially Dogi.) Nearly all of the characters are voiced, too, some to charmingly hilarious effect. (Yay, Margo!) My only complaint about the graphics is that a few of the enemies sprites were compressed is such a way that they blend too well into some of the backgrounds. This makes them tough to spot on first blush.
To say nothing of the music score itself (which I've been swapping back and forth between Felghana and the highly likeable X68K version), the sound design in this game is INCREDIBLE. Every enemy has their own, distinctive sound set, from general movement, attacks, to death cries. I do wish there were a way to tone down the obnoxiously heavy footfalls that Adol and NPCs make, but they're a minor blemish on an otherwise pristine sound scape. Do yourself a favor, and play this with a good pair of headphones.