Esteria is a land falling into shadow. The land of Ys has long risen into the sky and the two goddesses who protect the world have vanished with it. But evil is spreading, monsters walk the land, beasts are going mad and attacking people. From local stores, items made from the magical metal of Cleria have been stolen. In Darm Tower, the evil Dark Fact is growing in power, his plans for domination falling into place...
And so begins the story of Ys, with the hero Adol Christin arriving in the port town of Minea. Viewed from an overhead viewpoint, Ys follows many of the standards of role-playing games, such as killing for money and experience points, buying weapons, items and armour and so on. But the battle system is fairly unique. Instead of slashing with your sword, you bump into enemies to attack them. Positioning is important - if you bump head on, there is more chance of a parry or counter attack, whereas if you make contact from the side, or slightly offset, you stand more chance of a successful hit. As you progress, the grand story takes you to mines and temples, and crosses seamlessly over into Ys II, where magic items are introduced that allow abilities such as shooting fireballs or transforming yourself into a monster to avoid attention. All this draws to a dramatic conclusion where you must face the ultimate evil and destroy it.
Note on pronunciation: Ys is pronounced like EEsss (much like the end of the word 'geese'. It is not pronounced ‘ease’ or 'wise'.
Comment (US Version)
OK, let me just get this over with at the beginning. Ys I.II is my favourite game of all time (Space Harrier a close second as my favourite arcade game). Timing has a lot to do with this. I had played and loved Ys I on the Sega Master System, so experiencing the game with the amazing step up in technology that was the PC Engine CD-Rom was like picking me up and placing me in a little bit of heaven. Seeing the opening to the game for the first time was enough to make me work towards buying a CD unit of my own. But it goes beyond that. There is something indefinable about the Ys story and setting that just feels far more compelling than the usual fantasy scenarios, even though there is actually little to differentiate it from the many others out there. Basically, Ys just has it right. Of course, the music plays a massive role in the appeal of the game - Ys I and II contains some of the finest game music ever composed and it is all arranged with great skill by Ryo Yonemitsu. Graphically, it's relatively simplistic, but looking beyond that is a carefully designed and crafted world that has far more worth than a few extra background tiles. The pacing of the game is flawless. I feel that many modern role-playing games are just too long, which can often distract you from following the storyline, particularly if you take a break for a few days and forget what was happening. Ys has a plot that is simple enough to understand, although there are underlying depths, and the game moves at a speed that keeps you busy - it builds up the tension to the first dramatic encounter in Darm Tower with great skill, and the lead-up to the final climactic battle in Ys II is so perfectly planned that you really do feel the importance of your actions and the joy at the superb ending sequence afterwards.
The translation for the US market is probably the best on the PC Engine, particularly the voice acting, which is extremely well done and features professionals, and not members of staff reading off cards as is the norm with these things. For the most part, the names have been translated faithfully with some minor exceptions, and not dumbed down for the western market. It's just a shame that the same care did not go into Ys III or Dragon Slayer. So there you go. This is a game you must have, and it's a game that I keep coming back to complete time and time again, even after all these years. In fact, despite all the advances in technology, I cant imagine a time where I won’t want to play it again.
Turbo Views Review