Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Game #49: Ys III: Wanderers From Ys (SNES) - Easing Back In (Finished)

Game 49

Title: Ys III: Wanderers From Ys
Released: 1991 (March - Nov 1991 JPN)
Platform: SNES
Developer: Falcom
Publisher: Sammy
Genre: Action-RPG
Exploration - Side-scrolling
Combat - Action
Series - Ys

Adol bids farewell to another woman as he once again enters the wilderness with Dogi
Ys III was a childhood favorite, but as I played through the end I realized that I had no recollection of the last area or final boss. I may have moved on to Zelda or some other game before I finished it. In any case, I have a confession. I may have put the release date in the wrong year once again. Luckily it's first, and I suspect the release was late in 1991. Without good release info it's probably close enough.
I found the mode 7 in the intro
The story opens with Adol and his companion Dogi traveling through unknown lands aimlessly. After stopping by a fortune teller's stall, and receiving an ominous message regarding the future of Dogi's homeland, they decided to return to investigate.
Most of the names were changed from the original version, but Galbalan is the big bad of this game
While traveling to Redmont they took notice of once docile animals becoming more aggressive. Rumors were abound of strange weather and crop failure. This hardened their resolve to get to the bottom of whatever was the cause of the progressing calamity befalling their once peaceful homeland.
The true title screen emerges
After some time, Dogi and Adol (the main character) reached the town of Redmont whereupon they confirmed the strange happenings and set about their investigation. Dogi greeted the village guard, Mr. Gardener, and a childhood friend, Ellena, before retiring to the inn and letting Adol do all the dirty work.
You know what's funny, how in the cutscene Adol was shown slaying a normally docile wildcat with his sword. Then, he arrives in Redmont without any equipment. I spent the initial 1000 gold on an herb, short sword, leather armor, and small shield. As I made my way through town I heard growing concern that Tigray Quarry would soon become overrun with monsters. Fears were realized when an injured man appeared bearing witness to these events. He then sent me off to save Edgar, the town elder, still trapped inside. Someone named Duey had already departed, but he wasn't controlled by me, so I obviously needed to rescue him as well.
On my way to the mine... err quarry
So, why of all the versions did I decide upon the SNES? Well, as I've owned this cart since childhood, and I didn't feel like going out of my way to get a "better" version. I tried the others for about an hour, and it may be bias, but I still prefer the SNES port. The synth music on the Genesis doesn't sound as good as other games, and the TG-CD doesn't have smooth scrolling. Saving is faster, fighting monsters is less stressful, and combat is easier with invincibility frames after taking damage. It's possible to get cornered or attacked from behind in the Genesis version, and lose all HP before you can react. Granted, leveling is faster in the TG version, but the Genesis version is strangely skewed for the first couple levels where the gaps between levels are larger yet the stat increases are on par for the experience earned. From what I could tell, the story is basically the same.
Receiving the first quest item after a bit of grinding
Getting through the first cave requires a bit of grinding. There are blue slimes capable of massive damage that block the path. If Adol's power level isn't adequate to damage these, then they effectively block the passage forward. The warehouse key was retrieved from Duey after a strange man pushed his way past. Inside the warehouse was Dulan, a robed magician that guarded a long sword. The new sword increased my damage greatly, and past Duey I found another boss monster (this one much tougher).
The game allows saving at nearly any point (save boss rooms), which made redoing this fight 20 times less of a pain
The lightning attack seen here was extremely powerful. While outside the range of the lightning the monster shot a wave beam attack. It's during that attack where I had a window to get one--maybe two--attacks in. I previously gained a power ring that came in very helpful during this fight. Ring power is quickly consumed while rings are equipped, but only 1 point is gained for each monster slain. The herb store owner will recharge ring power to full, but that requires a visit to town. The blue gargoyle-like monster dropped a sun statue, which I added to my quest items. In the next room I chased off the strange man that pushed Duey. He warned me to leave before leaving me to rescue Edgar.
Returning a pendant from the quarry to this old lady rewarded me with a shield ring that greatly reduced damage, the only side quest
Back in town Ellena asked me to investigate some nearby ruins where she found her brother's pendant. (Why does everyone have a pendant?) She hadn't seen Chester in months, and asked a cleric named Pierre to help her search. He disappeared inside the ruins. There I grinded for some more levels. In fact, it was such an easy place to gain experience quickly that I ended up leveling to nearly max level; birds constantly spawned, and it took less than an hour. I also purchased the best equipment from the store, and proceeded to steamroll through the mid-game.
I'd like to know who's pushing me off this cliff into a river of lava
I found Chester who turned out to be the strange man from the quarry, and he'd captured Pierre as well. Down below I fought a fire dragon that died in four hits. I gained the firedragon amulet that froze a river of lava. Emerging from underground I found Ellena had come to rescue me. We ducked into a side room before Chester, and someone named Garland, found us. A random guard informed them that I had slain the dragon "Gilan." Seeing as no one had ever returned from there, I'm not sure how that news reached them. Ellena headed back to town as I ventured further into the ruins to obtain a statue. Another boss dropped quickly, and I gained the star statue.
But thou must!
Chester returned to find me stealing away with the statue. Luckily Ellena returned to cool him down. Revenge was his greatest motivator for aligning with Lord McGaya, and he feared I'd interfere with his plans. I was allowed to leave, and found Dogi on his way to meet his old master in the mountains. Edgar, the mayor, had his house ransacked. He suspected people from the castle were after the statue I'd found in the quarry. He instructed me to return to the quarry, and explore another region previously locked. There I discovered an ancient tablet that told of Galbalan, a demon sealed long ago. My greatly over-leveled Adol quickly took out a snail boss, and I gained a flash statue. I dropped off a shining crystal at the herb shop that allowed me to purchase Brocia's secret medicine. An item that restored some ring power when used. I purchased the fairy necklace (later I found out it's bugged in the SNES version), amulet (damages enemies), and mirror (freezes some enemies) as well.
Fighting a harpy in the mountains
Third statue in hand, I returned to the mayor to find him badgered by Lord McGaya and his first in command, Garland. We refused to hand over the statues (well, he refused and I was mostly ignored). Fearful Dogi would contribute to the quest, I followed him to the mountains. His master assisted by giving me a new sword. I fought the harpy above to gain access to a cave where a dragon guarded the dark statue. Chester showed up to bring them all back to Lord McGaya, but a cave-in trapped us together. We got to talking. Trapped alone, Chester decided to fill me in on the situation. Lord McGaya actually destroyed Chester's home town, and he joined him in order to get revenge. Galbalan is a demon that Lord McGaya hoped to unleash on the world through the power of the statues or something. He agreed to let me keep the statues away from Lord McGaya. Dogi dug us out, and back in town gave me the healing ring before I headed to Ballacetine Castle to rescue all the townspeople. That's right, they were all captured because I didn't have enough reason to confront Lord McGaya.
To get access to this location it's necessary to speak to Edgar
Ellena was waiting for me on the way to the castle; apparently she slipped through the round up. Once again, Adol told her to leave even though she seemed more than capable of infiltrating dangerous locations without harm. The castle had some deadly spike and statue traps, not to mention the guards roaming the halls. I battled an elite guard for a garnet bracelet that granted me access to an area where I dispatched a hellhound. I picked up the battle shield and armor, and noted my dwindling resources. Still I pressed on.
Garland bade me stop Lord McGaya after having a change of heart
Not for a moment did I think Garland had switched sides, but there was nowhere else to turn. I followed him into the depths, freed some prisoners (including Pierre and Robert). I picked up the flame sword and the protection ring (full immunity at double the ring power cost), but was no match for Garland. He revealed Galbalan had been revived (I thought this required the statues), and he would be protected from his wrath with the statues (why aren't I then). I restocked back in town, then thoroughly stomped him. Lord McGaya conceded he had wronged everyone greatly, and pleaded that I defeat Galbalan. His island was the most insidious part of the game. I gained a couple more quest items to automatically unlock the caves, but the passages were concealed with darkness unless I equipped a light source (one of the quest items automatically gained).
Oh yeah, Ellena was captured as well... like I needed additional motivation to stop the big evil bad guy
There's a certain section of the dungeon where Adol falls down a shaft, and there's an obscured passageway on the left side that isn't visible until you find it given the light situation. This, along with a difficult final battle, artificially lengthened the game. There's a long cutscene that plays before facing off with Galbalan. It took a solid hour to find the best pattern and equipment to use (power ring all the way with occasional healing). The main problem was his hitbox wasn't always aligned with his body, so it was difficult to judge where I was safe to strike from a distance. In the end it felt more random than should have been possible in an action game.
Frames before I take damage and Galbalan doesn't... where's the hitbox?!
Adol ran into Ellena as he escape, and learned that Chester was still deep below sealing Galbalan once and for all. The reason Lord McGaya destroyed their village was to prevent a legend that foretold of a warrior from their village previously sealing Galbalan. Chester was part of a lineage of demon sealers or something. The island started to collapse, so we made a hasty retreat. Back in town Adol decided to collect up Dogi and head off to the next adventure. Ellena, seen at the top chased after them to say goodbye, but didn't stop their departure.

Elapsed Time: 5h06m (Final Time: 5h06m)
Just ignore her, she'll stop eventually
Combatant - Combat is a frenzy of attacks that haphazardly connect with nearby monsters that rarely die to a single hit. The swings are so fast, and holding the attack button down will continuously swing it that I often found myself doing that rather than timing strikes. Power increases from levels significantly affect damage output. There aren't many interesting options in combat as most are limited thus best saved for boss battles. Monsters are a mix of strange creatures, and castle guards. In the end max level is always reached, and there's not much reason to engage enemies a little more than halfway through the game.
Rating: 3
One of the best scenes
Admirer - Control is quite good, a nice quality for an action title. There's no customization though, and appearance doesn't change as new equipment is gained. It's possible to grind, but only up to a max level easily reached.
Rating: 3
That's a lot of people for design, so I'm going to guess this is artists
Puzzler - There's only a single path through the game. While the main quest is mostly cliche, it's short enough of a game that it doesn't really overstay it's welcome as a small diversion. There's a single side quest to gain the shield ring. Even though fulfilling it is optional, finding the pendant is  directly on the main path. No real puzzles to speak of in this game.
Rating: 2
The most puzzling part is this message to "master our destinies"
Instigator - NPCs add some flavor to the world, but don't really assist with the game. As far as story, it's not engaging, but seems more of a side story in the Ys tale. Like one of those cartoon episodes where stuff happens, but nothing significant enough to change anything with the main characters. There aren't any descriptions except in the Genesis version, which offers detailed information about equipment. There are no decisions, and it even includes some false choices.
Rating: 2
At some point it seemed like they stop talking about the game
Collector - Most likely you'll collect everything in the game as it's very hard to miss any items. Like other Ys games, there's a space for every item, and the economy is only relevant to purchase consumables. Equipment is on a linear progression without any reason to revert to previous gear. Still, high marks for a complete collection, even if it's not on a single screen in this version.
Rating: 6
All the things (mostly)
Explorer - There's no option for open exploration as locations open based on plot points (with a nice chime to denote it). Graphics and music are good, but not great (the Genesis had more detailed textures). Unfortunately most of the environments are rather bland. The background is often more interesting. There's no real sense of exploration as you're forced down a prescribed path, and each area is rather small.
Rating: 3
Unlike everyone else I've heard from, I prefer the SNES music
Final Rating: 19 [32%]

Overall it was fun. I almost beat it in a single night, but the last cave combined with the final boss saw to it that it wasn't meant to be. I was expecting it to take a couple of weeks given other estimates, but I'm glad I got through it so quickly. Next up is Traysia, a game I know nothing about, and I've done my best to keep it that way until I play. It's nice to come into a game with absolutely no expectations, although the lack of coverage in general has me a bit worried. But first, let's cut a game that was called an rpg some years back and later retracted.
Thank you for reading


  1. Nice review. I love this game - I've finished all the console versions save for the Famicom.

    It's worth noting that the final boss is only annoying in this particular port - he's much more manageable in the others. That fight is certainly my least favorite moment of the game. Also, that the bird-grinding trick doesn't work in the other ports, as they don't respawn nearly as quickly.

    1. There's a Famicom version? I can't imagine it playing very well, given how fast this game moves (at least on the version I played). Interesting, I may have to look for a... shhh don't tell no one... ROM.

    2. It's definitely a trying time to fight Galbalan. Good hear it's only the version I played that is this troublesome. I might play through one of the others if I feel like revisiting it, but we move on.

  2. I hope you play the PSP remake, "Oath at Felghana," when it comes up in the timeline; it's quite good and plays a lot differently from this version.

    1. I don't plan on playing remakes or ports, but by the time I get to that release, I may feel differently. Since it's such a different feel, it might be enough to consider it a different game.

    2. It's definitely a different game. It's not even a sidescroller, for one thing.

      Speaking of Ys games that are completely different, Ys 4... I hope you play the PC Engine version when you get to it, it's so much better than the SNES one, which is, despite both being called Ys 4, not the same game. It's like Rondo of Blood vs Dracula X.

    3. I don't think either version of Ys 4 had a US release. I've limited the project to only US releases mainly for convenience. Trying to obtain hardware from other regions is something I'd rather not deal with at this time.