A tasteful visual overhaul and an attention to detail make Ys I & II Chronicles the definitive remake and the best way to play the classic RPG.
- Gorgeous graphical over-haul of a retro classic
- Obtuse design favors challenge over hand-holding
- Optional audio and gameplay modes serve purists
- No help means grilling every villager in town
- Bump-and-run combat may feel simplistic to turn-based vets
- Adol's hair isn't spiky enough for a guy who hopes to save the world
Ys I & II Chronicles Review:
The first time Adol strikes out from Barbado Port for the City of Minea he does what every gamer does in the beginning of their adventure: he heads North. However, rather than find a friendly gate welcoming him to town he finds a towering, impenetrable wall. The door to town isn't where you'd expect it to be. It's on the opposite side of the fortress and there's nothing to do but walk around.
That's the kind of willfully obtuse game design that defines Ys – an obscure, but beloved Japanese RPG series that first launched in 1987. Gamers, tired of decades of spoon-fed video games, hold a special affection for Ys because it wasn't afraid to turn the player around and get them lost.
Ys I & II Chronicles, a hand-held re-release for the PSP, revamps the first two games with new visuals, re-recorded music and a slew of new features. If you've ever wondered if you were up to the challenge of Ys this new edition offers the best way to find out.
Red Head Redemption
Ys follows the adventures of a red-headed swordsman named Adol. His quest to vanquish the evil that has beset the land of Esteria will require him to collect six ancient books containing the secrets of the lost land of Ys. But first things first: Adol is in a new town, stripped of armor and weapon and has no idea where to begin. There's no fairy giving Adol hints either. The player has to ask around, pumping the villagers for information before he realizes that the first steps of his adventure will require him to track down a village treasure – a silver bell – that has been stolen. Figuring out next steps are half the fun of Ys. The other half, of course, is the fighting.
Run, Fight, Win
Ys splits the action adventure of The Legend of Zelda and the role-playing progression of classic Final Fantasy games right down the middle. Adol gets stronger as he conquers foes. He earns money to buy and equip better armor and swords. But fighting is much simpler than the turn-based combat you might expect. Fights are much more visceral in Ys I & II.
When Adol runs across the countryside or waltzes through a dungeon he need only bump into an enemy to do damage to them. Early on he'll have to ram into them over and over to make a dent in their defenses. But soon, when he's stronger and sturdier, he'll cut through them like butter. That doesn't mean the game is easy. Ys frequently throws tough monsters at Adol, forcing the player to fight conservatively or run like hell.
One Ys To Rule Them All
Not surprisingly Ys II picks up right where the first game leaves off. With tower of Darm scaled and the books collected Adol must return the books to the ancient spirits who penned them. Both games are beautified by new art. The original games were, as you'd expect, rudimentary when it came to visuals.
The recent re-release of Ys I & II for the Nintendo DS, with its wrong-headed 3-D models, is ugly by comparison. The landscape, characters and props are all rendered here in detailed, colorful sprites. Graphical flourishes like lens flares and a handsomely wrought heads-up display make this re-release extremely easy on the eyes. Re-recorded music (optional if you're a stickler for the original) is kind to the ears as well.
The years have seen many versions of Ys – the game has been on more consoles than most people have heard of. But this PSP version of the game is the only one you'll need – until next time at least.