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Ys I and II Chronicles Review

KevinS By:
T What do these ratings mean?

Let's have a chat about the word "classic", shall we?

With all of the retro collections and re-releases of classic games coming out in the past few years, it's not surprising that more obscure systems are seeing some of their best revived on current consoles. Games like Bonk are finally available to a wider audience than their hardware platform would allow, and now we have available to us another classic TurboGrafx-16 franchise player: Ys. Don't ask me to pronounce it [The pronunciation is like 'geese', but without the 'g'. ~ Ed.], but Ys. Not just the first game, but the first two games.

click to enlargeWaitaminit… Ys I&II were released on the DS back in 2008! I actually ran the opening scenes of both games side-by-side, DS and PSP, and it is exactly the same. I dare say, the DS screen being slightly more compact actually made the cinematic look a tad sharper!

In case you missed it the first time on the TG-16 (and then again on the DS), let me explain just what happens in Ys: People tell you to go places without much information to go on as to what you actually need to do to carry on the storyline. Then you venture out into the world - which feels a lot larger than it really is, which is nice to find in an older game - and you run head-first into baddies on the map to kill them. Then, once you hit the level cap (which is dreadfully low and takes very little time to reach) in both games, the rest is just based around equipment (of which there is little to choose from).

Really, the whole of this game is as bare-bones as I've seen: the equipment selection, the grinding, the storyline, the plot, the characters… everything is as routine as it gets, with the exception of the "run into that guy and kill him" aspect of combat. You play as Adol, a red-haired traveler from beyond the world of Ys, who manages to get through the barrier blocking off the kingdom from the rest of the world.

click to enlargeAs big as some of the maps might feel, this might be the smallest, shortest RPG that I know of. Each game is limited to only a few hours in length and tells a very basic story before it's just... over. Over the course of the few hours, the main character remaind as clean a slate as when I first turned on my PSP. He doesn't speak, but when another character might ask a question, a box comes up saying "Adol introduces himself" or "Adol explained what happened at so-and-so's house". Combining that with the already bland storytelling and characters with nothing more than simple RPG archetypes and it removed me even more from the experience. It was as if I wasn't involved at all… I was just a bystander, watching this drama play out with hardly more impact than someone shouting at a television screen.

Mechanically, both Ys games show themselves to be dinosaurs released in a world of spaceships. From the lack of attack skills (just a single button for magic in Ys II) to the shopkeep menus (buy one item at a time, usually with a short loading time between menus and buying items), it's filled with little odds and ends that have been fixed by every RPG released since. This reminds me of all the games I would rather be playing through instead.

All of that brings me to ask: Why was this released a second time? Was it because of the newer Ys games being released on the PSP, and the new publisher Xeed wanted to bolster the name a little? That would have to be it, because I can think of no other reason to re-release this weak 20+-year-old for the second time in less than three years. It's not even as though anything is specifically "wrong", just that nothing is done particularly right or well, except in appearance. The sprites are big and pretty, the world is colorful, and the music is lively and fitting (though loops annoyingly in some spots), so even when I'm not engrossed it's still fun to look at. Makes me want to watch it play out on YouTube more than my console.
C- Revolution report card
  • Pretty (in that classic way)
  • World feels big and open
  • …but is really compact and bland
  • No features worth getting excited about
    Reviews by other members
    No member reviews for the game.

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Also known as: ys, i and ii chronicles

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