In 1987, Falcom introduced the world to the fables of Ys and its adventurer, Adol Christin. Ys I and II have weathered the tests of time having been released on at least one console for every generation since it launched twenty-four years ago. But can you consider this game to be a true classic? Or is this just another attempt to revive a cold, dead series?
Ys I & II follows the adventures of Adol Christin as he winds up in the land of Esteria, an island country isolated from the rest of the world by a mysterious Stormwall,(an enchanted line of storms that have been preventing ships from leaving the island). Any ship that attempts to penetrate these storms will only becomewreckage along Esteria’s beaches. Along with the appearance of the Stormwall, monsters began appearing across the land attacking villagers, forcing them to hole up inside their villages as travel between towns became treacherous.
Adol embarks on a quest to retrieve the six books of Ys. These tomes detail the history of a civilization long forgotten, and hold the key to the current inhabitants’ salvation. Without going further into the story and spoiling it for those who’ve never played this series, Ys II picks up immediately after the events of Ys I in the adventures of Adol.
Ys I & II were very unique role playing games for their time. One of the more interesting things about Ys was the battle system. Unlike the traditional turn based combat systems that dominated the classic RPG, Ys used real time combat in the form of a “bumper system”. Essentially, you would just walk into an enemy to attack them with your sword. How you’re aligned with the enemy when you make contact will determine how much damage you deal, as well as the damage that you receive. However, don’t worry if you’ve taken too much damage if you’re outside of a dungeon. If you find an area where you can stand still for a few moments, your health will slowly regenerate allowing you to save those potions.
Also exceptional with Ys was the motivation to “grind”, or level up and get mass quantities of gold early on in the game. Instead of progressively giving you the chance to purchase higher level weapons in the game as you play along, Ys I gives you the chance to purchase some pretty heavy duty weapons upfront. This encourages you to do some grinding to collect a massive amount of gold in order to purchase these higher level weapons early on. This as a tip is something that will make this game much easier to play for the first half or so.
Another fantastic feature is the save anywhere ability. This is, in my opinion, a must have in any older RPG. However, if you’re more accustomed to newer games with their auto save features you may want to remind yourself to save. It isn’t very difficult to find yourself having played for two or three hours at a time and dying, only to find that (surprise!) you’ve just lost all of that hard-earned progress. Not to mention that having to go and cover ground that you’ve already travelled over once can make the game very frustrating to no fault of its own.
The game play overall is very basic, even compared to other role playing games of its time. However, this simplicity allows you to be able to truly enjoy the game overall; and there’s plenty to enjoy. The story is very rich and deep as many Japanese role playing games were back in the day. The graphics take an update as well, maintaining the classic look of the game, but giving it a bit more depth in the appearance and feel. Furthermore, the anime cut scenes are epic, doing well to explain the story that’s unfolding before you. (maybe talk about the sounds too, since you tend to talk about sight, sound, story, gameplay?)
Falcom has done an excellent job of bundling these two games together. They’ve given you the option of being able to select between the newly revamped version (2009), and the previous PlayStation 2 version (2001) which was closer to the original release. This gives gamers who enjoy a bit more of a nostalgic feel the ability to play the “classic” version of the game, while others may want something a bit more up to date. The story hasn’t been tweaked much from the previous version found on the PS2, however not having played the original, I cannot verify how far removed it is from its original release.
Ys I & II Chronicles are about much more than nostalgia. This game is one of the few classic RPGs with a story so deep and immersive that it’s honestly difficult to put down the controller, or in this case, PSP. It’s truly an adventure that you can spend hours upon hours playing non-stop with no sense of the time that’s gone by. If you have a love of the role playing genre, there is no reason why Ys I & II should be left out of your collection.