Ys I & II Chronicles Review
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On 07/09/2011 at 10:00 AM by Nick DiMola
I want to know who thought running into enemies to attack was a good idea.
Only for fans of the series looking for a faithful remake. Everyone else is better off checking out the originals on the Virtual Console or the superior DS remake.
I get the distinct impression that Nihon Falcom wasn’t too happy with the DS remake of Ys I & II, Legacy of Ys: Books I & II. The two games have been remade once again, this time on the PSP by Nihon Falcom, the original developers of the series. Having played the TurboCD version of the games, as well as the DS remake, I can safely say that this PSP remake is the truest to the original titles; however, its return to form has excised my favorite improvement introduced on the DS: 2D Zelda-like control.
Once again, Adol is forced to walk into enemies to attack them instead of swinging his sword. This singular change completely transformed the Ys experience for me, making it much faster-paced and enjoyable. Without this ability, the games are much harder to appreciate. It’s awkward, to say the least, to attack enemies by running into them. It creates plenty of unnecessary deaths and dramatically halts rapid progression through the games.
Of course, even Nihon Falcom realized a control change was necessary, as later entries in the series adopted the more traditional control scheme. It seems that with this release the team wanted to preserve this facet of the original games. I can respect what they’ve done here; it just makes for a much less playable game, one that will now only appeal to fans.
Every other facet of the game shines, as the PSP remake looks a whole lot better than the DS game did. While that introduced some serviceable 3D graphics, the PSP version is much prettier and cleaner looking. Additionally, the game has the neat feature of being able to switch the character profiles that are displayed on the screen from their newly created visages to an older look introduced in a 2001 PC remake.
The same goes for the soundtrack. While it was remixed quite well in the DS version, the PSP version has a brand new re-orchestrated version that also sounds great – a testament to the original tunes. Coincidentally, players can switch to the PC88 version of the soundtrack or the 2001 PC release at any time. If it wasn’t obvious, the game was clearly designed for purists and mega fans alike.
Control issues aside, the Ys I & II Chronicles is an extremely lean action RPG that still skews closely to the original Zelda title on the NES. Players will guide Adol through two separate adventures, the first of which takes place in Esteria. Here, Adol will seek out six scattered books of Ys to stop the black caped enemy. The second adventure picks up after the first in the world of Ys, where Adol must return the books to their proper owners and eliminate the evil threats to both Esteria and Ys.
Unlike The Legend of Zelda, the level and enemy designs aren’t all that interesting. Most of the time you’ll be employing the same tactics to defeat enemies and the level designs are more like mazes than coherently designed dungeons. As such, the experience can be trudging at times as it isn’t as varied as Nintendo’s classic.
Despite the nice new coat of paint on the titles, they’re both extremely old school in their design. Ys I offers no other moves than the attack, which is done by walking into enemies. Ys II keeps the same basic design, but works in the ability to use magic. Throughout both games, players are sure to hit plenty of roadblocks if they aren’t thoroughly familiar with the progression and world. Given the target audience, it might be a moot point, but anyone using this title to get into the series will absolutely need a guide.
This edition is true to the original and comes complete with lots of visual and audio palettes so that players can experience the game in whatever way they’d like. While I lament the loss of a button to swing Adol’s weapon, purists are sure to be happy with the return to form here. Of course, if you already own this game in some capacity, you’re best off skipping it as not much has changed.