Saving the World With the Greatest of Ys
By blueshinra 09-10-2008 08:59 PM
Okay, okay, bad pun. I finished Ys Book I & II last night. Overall, I found it to be good. Did have to run to GameFAQs three times (once I talked about previously, again when I came back to the game the next day and backtracking wasn't helping me recall what I had to do -_-;, and a third time after I beat the game, to find the one shield I had missed). Have I ever mentioned that I hate having to run to GameFAQs?
Anyway, my review, which I've also submitted to Fantasy World:
Ys Book I & II is unique amongst 16-bit RPGs: while sporting your typical sprite-based graphics and simple gameplay, it also features anime-style cutscenes, a robust MIDI soundtrack, and voice acting (the latter two made possible by the CD format used). As such, Ys (pronounced "ees") is a title that was both of its time and ahead of its time when it was released. So, putting aside the game's storied history, how has it held up over the years as an enjoyable experience?
In both "books", the player takes the role of Adol, a red-headed adventurer with the big poofy hair typical of late '80s anime adventurers. Book I puts him in the land of Esteria, where a fortune teller has been awaiting his arrival. The goal here is to collect all the books of Ys and prevent a calamity from occurring. Book II takes place in the legendary land of Ys itself, which is in need of a hero to save the land from darkness and so forth. In other words, they're your typical adventuring/save-the-world plots, rife with items to collect, people to rescue, and dark villains to smack down. The script is generally well-written, though some of the text slowly scrolls and some doesn't, and it's impossible to skip. Also, the few voice-acted segments are generally well done, though one Book II character's lines are quite muddled and there are no subtitles available for any of them.
Talking to NPCs is done in the same way that physical attacks are in dungeons: by running into the character/enemy, no button presses required. For characters, this can get tedious really quickly if you accidentally run into those with the scrolling text every so often. For attacks on enemies, this is, oddly enough, not as tedious as it sounds, though the massive and convoluted dungeons and several spots of required backtracking can make it so. Book II's gameplay varies things up a bit by adding magic into the mix; most of this magic is of the support variety (spells that freeze time, allow you to warp between towns, etc.), but the first one you can get is an offensive fire spell. This fire magic helps add some variety to the regular proceedings, and is absolutely necessary for most of Book II's boss battles. And speaking of bosses, in both books they rank amongst the most interesting (and, at times, toughest) parts of the overall game, each boss requiring a completely different strategy.
As for those massive and convoluted dungeons, that's pretty much what they are. Ys (especially the first book) makes up for the lack of places to go by making some of the places really big. Unfortunately, there tends to be not much variety within individual dungeons, and the general lack of distinguishing landmarks between areas means that it's not all that hard to get lost. Book II makes up for it somewhat with more places, but the later dungeons are even more complicated than those in Book I and, thanks to story events, require lots of backtracking. Some of this tedium is relieved by more forgiving warp magic options (in Book I, warping was available only via a special, expensive item... of which only one at a time can be carried), but a lot of it is not. Throw in a couple spots where it's not entirely clear what you're supposed to do next, and it adds up to quite a bit of wandering around.
Now, the music. This RPG's soundtrack was written by Yuzo Koshiro (also known for scoring Actraiser and Streets of Rage) and while being MIDI, sports a richer sound than many other RPGs of the era, mainly due to the Redbook audio standard made possible by the game's CD format. Although the greatest Redbook game soundtracks were yet to come, the Ys soundtrack holds well on its own and includes some interesting quirks that separate it from other game soundtracks of those days, most notably guitar solos. My only complaints about the music are that the mix sometimes is a little too loud, and that the tracks don't always loop smoothly.
Overall, Ys is best suited for RPG diehards and retro game fans. It is a fascinating piece of console RPG history and has a lot to recommend it, but later action RPGs have since improved upon its formula.
(crossposted from my LJ; sorry it's a day late >_>; And also, the review submission was accepted.)
|Comments (Total Comments: 3)|
|gunm - 09-10-2008, 09:38 PM|
|blueshinra - 09-10-2008, 09:42 PM|
|JEKKI - 09-11-2008, 12:43 AM|
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