Publicada: 2 Maio
Ys I & II, being the first two games in the long-running Ys series, have had quite a number of releases over the years. It’s hit a number of different platforms, including the PC88, TurboGrafx, PC, Nintendo DS, Sony PSP, and now PC, each with their own tweaks to the game to fit the platform they were released on. XSEED Games and Falcom, who started their partnership with the release of Ys Seven, have set out on bringing the definitive version of Ys I & II to the PC. The question is, how does this port in the long list of existing ports fare?
Originally released in the late 1980s, Ys I & II definitely shows their roots in their story presentations. You play the role of Adol Christin, a (now very well-known) red-haired adventurer who sets off on a journey of excitement and ends up washing up in a nearby coastal city where he learns of demon attacks which are driving the country’s citizens into hiding. As you progress through the game, it becomes clear that things aren’t as simple as they seem, with items called the Books of Ys being collected as you progress through your journey. These later become important to unraveling exactly what is causing this country’s plight and showing how to set things right.
Most memorable for its combat, Ys I and II combine all the elements of a traditional JRPG: towns, shops, NPCs, equipment, character levels, exploration, and even some minor side quests and secrets. Ys I is more simplistic than its sequel, but both games are strikingly similar and tell two parts of the same narrative, even if those parts are two nearly identical story arcs. Each game can be beaten in less than ten hours, both have moments of great frustration, and they both climax in thrilling and memorable bosses. Ys I and II may be most well known for their shared "bump" combat system in which our hero Adol collides with enemies to injure them (and to be injured by them). The lack of an attack button and Adol's swift running speed make the action so frantic as to be absurd, and at times I found the red-haired sprite's action downright hilarious. I was skeptical and critical at first, but I learned to enjoy the simple combat, particularly during boss fights, which require much more thought than the dull standard enemies. Unfortunately, diagonal attacks are so overpowered in Ys II that regular enemies are slain with ease, and both games suffer from clumsy menus and balance issues.
Being that this is an older RPG, there are some grinding issues present in this release. Ys I, being merely a prelude to Ys II, only allows for Adol to level up to Level 10. Levels control whether you win or lose in Ys I, and at times you’ll have to grind in the initial dungeons to get through some of the bosses. This issue becomes a bit worse in Ys II, which ups the level cap to 55, but lessens the EXP gained from enemies as you level up. This requires players to, at times, spend time farming enemies in one area of a dungeon, lest they get instantly killed by enemies in a later part which Adol can’t touch with gaining more levels and grabbing enough gold to get the best weapons for that period in the game. Some of the latter bosses are particularly unfair in this regard, forcing players to gain 3-5 levels above what the enemies are at just to get through the boss fight with a sliver of life remaining. While this only occurs in a few parts of the game, it’s still an annoyance that could have been fixed with a few slight tweaks by Falcom for this release. Players who enjoy a challenge will find no problems with this though.
As both titles were released back in the 1980s, the RPG mantra of including key items in obscure places holds true. Numerous times in Ys I players will be unable to progress through the story because they forgot to talk to or walk into a specific story event that was either barely mentioned or not mentioned at all. While Ys II fixes this for the most part, there’s one key item in one of the final dungeons which requires players to go to a unmentioned room instead of a house in town, which is where players would assume it was located due to the game’s dialogue. The game could have greatly benefited from some streamlining for newer fans of the series.
Even with those negatives, as with most Ys titles, the first thing players will notice is the game’s soundtrack, which like in Oath and Seven, runs circles around most other games. The soundtrack, composed by video game music legend Yuzo Koshiro of Etrian Odyssey fame, along with Falcom stalwart Mieko Ishikawa, is easily the shining gem of this compilation. As explain before, Ys I & II have appeared on numerous platforms in the past, so the game compliments this by allowing players to choose between three different versions of the music.
One of the most impressive parts of Ys Chronicles outside of the soundtrack has to be the game’s storyline and translation. For a title which was released back in the 1980s, the story still stands shoulders above many other titles of that era, as well as some of the RPG hits of the 1990s. This combined with the music and the general artistic presentation of the game makes for some very heartwarming moments. The main storyline was translated in a way which feels authentic without falling into the “ye olde” trap that most remakes of classic RPGs fall into. XSEED also threw in a couple pop culture jokes in some of the more obscure areas of the game for those who take the time to check out everything.
Despite some of the negatives I've listed here, I thoroughly enjoy playing through these adventures. Being a long time Ys fan I owed it to myself to play the adventures that started them all. There is magic in Ys, and everyone should get a chance to see it.
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