Author’s Note: This review was originally published on May 19th, 2010. Like other reviews of the time, I separated sections with “witty” taglines.
Ys has been around for over 20 years, but my experience with the series has been minimal. I dabbled in a few titles thanks to emulation, but my first, full-fledged Ys experience was Ys VI: The Ark of Napishtim for the Playstation 2. The game was short, but it was a blast while it lasted thanks to the classic graphics, fast-paced action, and the legendary music the series is known for. With the release of Legacy of Ys: Books I & II, I was able to see the origins of this long running action/RPG series. Much like Ys VI, Ys and Ys II were short and sweet action/RPGs. The perfect traveling companion, Legacy of Ys: Books I & II is a great collection for those who wish to experience Ys for the first time or for those who have been with the series since day one.
The Adventures of Adol.
The protagonist in the world of Ys is the warrior Adol Christin. With his fiery hair and clear, black pupils he has the aura of a warrior who fights against the forces of evil. Adol sets sail to explore the world and during his travels, he learns of the tragic tale of the island called Esteria, a once prosperous nation now engulfed by disaster. He ends up landing on the island and gets wrapped up in an adventure that will reveal the legendary history behind Esteria and the entire world of Ys.
Along the way, Ys will meet some familiar faces such as Dogi and Feena that fans of the series will be happy to see on the DS. Adol’s quests usually lack philosophical meanings or characters that develop heavily over the course of the adventure, but they still provide a fun experience. The problem with the first two adventures is that they seem to end before they begin. In fact, you could finish both Ys titles in this collection in one rental. The length of each adventure is probably the game’s biggest flaw. Luckily, the rest of the game’s features make the game worth playing.
Your Listening and Viewing Pleasure.
Let’s get this out here right now: the music in Ys is awesome. It was very kind of the developers to provide a soundtrack along with the purchase of the game new. Every track does the series justice; Ys is well known for having some of the best music in the genre, after all. Much to my surprise, the DS did a good job at showcasing the tunes and not making them sound like they went through giant synthesizer. Plug in those headphones so you can enjoy all the wonderful music Ys has to offer! Visually, the graphics in the Ys world have come a long way since the 1980s. The DS does a nice job at presenting the character models, their colors, and the environments. Adol moves at a good frame rate that never experiences any slowdown. Unfortunately, during some boss battles, there can be some lag due to the screen getting cluttered with a bunch of enemy attacks. During certain conversation events, you get to see well drawn anime portraits. There is even an opening animation scene that sets the mood for both Ys adventures. Overall, the DS did a great job at presenting the latest versions of Ys and Ys II.
Double the Games. Double the Options. Double the Fun.
One of the best things about Ys is that the action is always fast and frantic. You can use the touch screen or the control pad to move Adol throughout the various towns and dungeons. I prefer the control pad, but your mileage may vary depending on your playing style. When Adol runs into a person, he will initiate conversation. Some of these people are vendors who will sell Adol armor, weapons, shields, and items. Adol will also find key items throughout the game that will allow him to solve puzzles. In Ys II, he will find magic spells to use. Most of them are used a few times throughout the course of the game for puzzles. The fireball spell will be used the most frequently to take care of your foes. Both games feature dungeons littered with enemies. The best way to take them out is to run into them. That’s right, you will run Adol into the enemy to cause damage. If this doesn’t suit your fancy, then you can use a button to attack with his sword. Enemies will usually drop money or an herb to heal some of Adol’s lost HP. The majority of the enemies require a few attacks to be taken down. Bosses, on the other hand, are much different. These colossal creatures require various strategies that go beyond mashing the attack button or running into them. In Ys II, many of them are immune to Adol’s sword and require a few fireballs in the face to get killed. The action never stops the moment you set outside. One unfortunate thing is that the action can come to a screeching halt if Adol is missing a level or two. Even with the best armor and shield, Adol’s endurance isn’t very high. Thanks to the action and the enemies re-spawning, though, leveling up can be a breeze. In the end, both Adol’s quest provides a medium level of difficulty and a large level of fun.
Livin’ on Ys-y Street.
While you can play both games in any order, it’s best to go with Ys followed by Ys II. Once both quests end, there will be very little reason to go back for more other than trying the game on a harder difficulty. In total, the games will last around 10 to 15 hours. However, those looking for a great game to play on the go should pick it up because you can get a fair amount of stuff accomplished and save at any time during your morning commute or your break at work. I recommend Legacy of Ys: Books I & II to anyone interested in checking out the series, as well as those who have some familiarity with it. Adol’s quests might be short, but they’re still thoroughly enjoyable.