You may remember the Legacy of Ys: Books I & II release back on the Nintendo DS only two short years ago. It was a quality compilation of the first two Ys adventures for US RPG junkies, and just that short time ago it was considered the more “definitive” release of the quintessential Ys classics. Fast forward to 2011, and in true Falcom fashion, yet another re-release has been made available yet again, this time for the PSP, entitled Ys I & II Chronicles. With actual development duties handled by Falcom this time around, things are looking (and sounding) better than ever.
There are two titles here, Ys I: Ancient Ys Vanished and Ys II: Ancient Ys Vanished – The Final Chapter. This release is actually based on Ys I & II Complete, the PC remake of the first two games rather than a remake as seen on the DS. It’s important to keep in mind that this is an extremely traditional RPG in both gameplay and mechanics, and with that potential buyers may be divided on whether or not it will be right for them.
The story follows Adol, a sprightly young adventurer. One fateful day, he is washed ashore on an isolated island. Though he has no prior knowledge of the island or its inhabitants, he takes on the task of helping out the inhabitants of the island. It seems that monsters have taken a liking to the island and the surrounding seas. On Adol’s journey he will meet thieves, royalty, and goddesses, in most peculiar ways. The story is a bit peculiar for your standard RPG fare, but based on story merits alone, it will hold your attention.
Ys is an action RPG, through and through, borrowing many cues from the more recent Ys PSP releases, in glorious full color, with accompanying character portraits that can be altered to your tastes – game modes that use the 2001 PC release portraits, or new ones tailor-made for this particular bundle. The same goes for the soundtrack – a loving option that series loyalists will no doubt appreciate.
Most of your time will be spent either exploring towns and getting information about your next task to complete. Often, you will be given a mission, or a particular item. The game does not hold your hand through things such as this, and that is ultimately one of its low points. If you don’t have a walkthrough or haven’t played the Ys games before, you will probably find yourself at a standstill quite often. This is unfortunate, as the game could move at a much faster pace if you had any semblance of what to do or where to go.
Battles are decidedly peculiar, in that walking up and slashing away at enemies is the extent of combat. Because of this, battles that you would assume that would take more than a few minutes take only a few seconds. This makes the pace a bit more lively, but also a bit confusing for newcomers to the series, especially with the fact that simply running into an enemy head-on has different implications than you might thing. Often you will run headlong into a baddie, only to find that instead of an advantage, you actually cannot attack them from a good enough angle. Enemies will block and you will need to find a way around this. Rather than allowing for hack-and-slash and mindless button pressing, this requires a certain level of skill. Unfortunately, when the novelty wears off, there’s little to retain from combat other than it’s pretty simple when you learn all its tricks and you can level up fairly quickly.
This is an absolutely luscious, gorgeous release. Full-color anime scenes interspersed with the action as well as vibrant, detailed sprites replace the flat textures and pixels of old, allowing for plenty of areas awash with color and loving detail. This game looks fantastic, especially if you thought Ys Seven looked great. As far as the music goes, both Ys games are ripe with tunes that beg listening to over and over, especially some particularly memorable battle themes that have been newly-arranged and remixed to great effect. There’s three different soundtrack options to choose from here, so you should have no problem experiencing come of the most popular techno-metal compositions in the series’ history.
Forget the DS release from a few years back – if you’re new to Ys and you want to start from the beginning, Ys I & II Chronicles for the PSP is where you should head first. If you’re a fan of a simple story with lots of grinding and wondering where to go next, then this will be right up your alley. Gorgeously redrawn visuals and three different arranged soundtrack options make the game look and sound amazing, and while it will seem a bit bizarre at first, as it is a throwback to the very roots of RPGs, after a few hours spent you’ll definitely warm to it. All in all, this isn’t the most exemplary RPG you can enjoy on your PSP, but it absolutely isn’t the worst. It’s been lovingly remade by Nihon Falcom and if you enjoyed it as a child it will be a treat to revisit now.
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