When the name Ys is mentioned in video games, most of you will probably just scratch your head wondering just what exactly it is. I mean, the title doesn’t really tell you that much does it? Ys I&II is a Japanese RPG that was originally released on the PC-Engine CD-ROM in 1989 and was made by Nihon Falcom and Hudson Soft. A year later, it was released as Ys Book I & II on the TurboGrafx-CD in North America. Since this time it has been released on the PS2 (Japan only), Wii’s Virtual Console, the Nintendo DS, and finally the PSP.
Fast forward to today and the PSP version has been remade and released by XSEED Games. The game’s story revolves around a young swordsman named Adol Christin. Throughout the first game, he is tasked with finding the six books of Ys which contain the history of the vanished land of Ys. These books will give him the knowledge he needs to destroy the evil that is bearing down on the land of Esteria. The second game has Adol being transported to the land of Ys in order to stop the evil that is overtaking both Ys and Esteria once and for all. But has time taken its toll on this classic? Here are the Hots and Nots of Ys I&II Chronicles.
Graphics are Beautiful
To start off, the game will have you choose to either play the Chronicles or Complete version of the game. The only main difference here is the character portraits you will come across. The Complete version carries portraits from the 2001 Windows release while the Chronicles version carries entirely new portraits created for this release. The colors in Ys are very vibrant all the way through. Adol’s hair stands out among the other characters in the game and the various enemies and environments each have their own different color schemes so that it doesn’t seem like you are fighting the same bland enemy in the same bland environment. The scenery in some of the backgrounds shown can be pretty impressive for a PSP game that used to be an old computer game.
The FMV sequences in the game are also visually impressive. There are a few of them strewn through the game and they provide a nice colorful break from the action in order to progress the story or show interaction between the characters. Definitely a welcome addition to the game since the original title.
Music is Extremely Catchy
There are three types of music you can choose to have playing while you are enjoying the game: the PC88 release, the 2001 Windows release, or an entirely re-orchestrated soundtrack created for the PSP edition of the game. All three of them are awesome and worth listening to. My personal favorite is the new Chronicles soundtrack because the battle music sounds like a mix between Legend of Zelda and hard rock. Each set of music manages to give a different feel and mood to the game so its worth switching it up every now and again so you can have a taste of all of them.
Battle System is Easy to Pick Up
Ys involves a simple battle system called the “bump system.” It’s exactly as it sounds too. In order to attack your enemies you simply run into them. But as simple as it sounds, there IS a trick to it. Attacking your enemy head on will resort in a block on their side and damage on yours. In order to counter this you must either attack your enemies from an angel or from behind. But it still is not that simple. Every enemy has a different speed, attack, and defense rating so it turns out that this simple battle layout requires tactical thinking and a little bit of skill if you want to manage to come out on top. You may rush towards an enemy thinking you have the advantage only to find out that they have a high speed to prevent you from getting a good angle on them.
Battle System Gets Old
Although it’s pretty easy to pick up and play, the battle system makes it too easy at times. You will start to wonder if you are even fighting monsters that will fight back. On top of that, simply running into your enemies to attack leaves little in the way of variety. Its simply run, attack, kill, repeat. There aren’t any buttons to press unless you switch it up by using the D-Pad. It’s fun and feels kind of epic at first, but the novelty of not having to press anything but forward wears off pretty quickly.
All in all, Ys I&II Chronicles is a pretty solid game worth checking out if you are either a fan of the original or looking to find a new RPG to play. The graphics are nice, the music is catchy but the battle system is easy enough to pick up and so simple to where it stops being fun and starts getting a bit bland as you play. If you have a spare $24.99 in your wallet and want a new RPG to play then mull it over with some videos and reviews before you decide. It isn’t worth rushing out to buy, but it is good enough to hold your attention until the credits roll.
[Editor’s Note: Ys I & II Chronicles was reviewed on the PSP platform. The game was given to us by the publisher for review purposes.]