Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Game 8: Ys: Book I & II (TG-CD) - Final Rating

I had decided to split the rating in two for Ys I and Ys II, but after writing it out and grading each game it turned out they scored very closely. The only points lost for Ys I are a weaker combat system, and less puzzles. So, to simplify, I just averaged those two scores. It is one continuous game after all (there's no way to play just Ys II without going through Ys I), so there's a good reason to have one score. Time to CAPICE:

Bumping to hit removes the need to be dexterously accurate, but takes away some of the challenge from fighting enemies. Much of the "challenge" is getting to an appropriate level, and having the best equipment. During Ys I, bosses were either pathetically easy, or impossibly hard depending on the equipment I had. There are a few that required a bit of thought and strategy to beat, but rarely was it necessary (the mantis boss was the standout here). In Ys II, all bosses had some kind of weak point, and very often it felt gimmicky. The only real challenge came in the final battle. Still, some were fun to figure out.

Normal enemies in both games don't stand a chance, and most will wander around or charge at Adol at varying speeds. Adol has access to rings to improve his stats during Ys I, but magic is introduced in Ys II. The only combat relevant magic is fire, and it completely obsoletes melee fighting (especially once the idols are found). If only they did more with magic this may have been higher.
Rating: 4 (Ys I gets a 3, and Ys II gets a 5)
This boss isn't the boss...
There's a lot of missed potential here. With the limited equipment, the paper doll effect we just witnessed in Faxanadu could have been reproduced flawlessly here; if not for the original, then for this remake. There's not much in the way of customization for Adol, and every player is forced into using the same equipment for the final encounters with Dark Fact, and Darm. Both episodes get points for levels with actual stat increases, and good control (even at fast speed).
Rating: 2
They have Adol with sword or no sword, why not go a step further?
The main quest is long with intertwined tasks that has the potential to keep things entertaining until the end. Some of the tasks are obscured by very little to no hints (I'm looking at you Luta Gemma), but not completely outside the realm of logical reason. Side quests are available, although at a minimum (maybe one per game). The logic and puzzles really stand out in Ys II when compared to the first game, and especially surrounding the use of the transformation magic. One thing that bothered me was the strict one off items only used to solve a single puzzle. In fact, it wasn't limited to items, as one of my spells turned out to be the solution to puzzle, its only use.
Rating: 4 (Ys I gets a 3, and Ys II gets a 5)
No hint on where to use the ice drops, but this seemed the most logical place... they're now useless
The main story is comfortable in a cliche kind of way. Of course, games this old are going to seem this way, but I'm not judging based on past standards. Lost civilization, magic books, hidden goddesses, and of course the all power evil that only the hero can defeat. It's helped through by some good dialogue, but I never felt invested in the story. Many of the wandering NPCs (those moving around towns) offered very little advice, which made them irrelevant to the story. There's no way to influence the direction of the narrative, and all acceptable actions lead on to the next step in the quest.
Rating: 3
"Rather than have you look for this item, I'll just give it to you"
There are numerous items to find; many become quest items though, so while I felt like I may have found something unique, it turned out necessary to get in the end. I only missed one item, the Cape of Holy Spirit; it heals Adol outside of towns. Rarely did I need to heal outside of town, and when I did it gave some tension to what I was doing. Much time could have been spared, but looking back--I'm glad to have not found this.

It's harder to tell if everything was found in Ys I, but it appears I filled the inventory spaces at one time or another in both games. Some items are actually used up after their use, and leave an empty square never to be filled again. Also, the last items I got didn't end at the edge of the screen. Equipment is obviously filled, but there's little reason to have everything. The economy is a joke, and in both games I maxed the gold counter by the end boss.
Rating: 4
After this point I grind another level and hit max gold
One of the advantages to being a CD based game is to have a rockin' soundtrack. A second benefit is enough space for detailed colorful sprites, and full screen character portraits. Even some live voice acting was thrown in. It all added to the effect, but most of the areas were lacking any standout visuals. The dungeons had little variation in the twisting passageways. While there weren't many unique sights, everything was consistently good. Looking for secret passages is necessary, and often rewards Adol with a small optional item. I'm sure the Cape of Holy Spirit was hidden in such a spot.
Rating: 5
By far the best background is in Belfry

Final Rating: 22 (37%)

For a remake of a 1987 game, it holds up well against its peers. It's a fun game, and I'd definitely suggest it to anyone interested in playing older action-RPGs. The combat takes some time to get used to, but afterwards you'll hardly notice you're even in combat half the time. It's possible to get through the game much faster if you can avoid getting lost (and find the necessary secret passages). Definitely check the game out if there's any passing interest, and from what I'm told, this is the version to play.


  1. Actually, the 2000-ish PC/PSP port of the game is much better in just about every way.
    Not to mention that it looks and sounds just about jaw-dropping.

    1. How different is it? I also get the sense the tg16 version is the best version that still captures the original.

    2. I hope that the PC port gets released on Steam like Origin and Oath of Felghana; it'd be great to have the entire series on my computer.

  2. I think he meant the best contemporary version to play. The latter port clearly falls into the remake category. Now on on to miracle warriors! (oh wait....)

  3. Yes, I was going with port and not remake, but I haven't tried or seen the PSP game. I'm glad to finally get to Miracle Warriors and make actual forward progress.

  4. Late as hell, but just thought I would mention. Light is used for more than just solving that one puzzle. In fact it was used in the mines specifically as a way to find the hidden passages. It actually would illuminate stones by the entrances to each area, and you could see the glow coming from below.

    But yeah, transformation magic was the best.