Long, long ago, there was an ancient kingdom called Ys which prospered under the auspices of two heavenly Goddesses. Over time, the kingdom came to be known as Esteria, and its divine history was largely forgotten by all but the descendants of those who once preached the Goddessesâ€™ will.
This is a new release of the Ys franchise, it includes both the Ys I and Ys II game, which have been included together for a while as they were originally supposed to be a single game.
This release was done by XSEED who seem to be doing a lot of PC ports of their Vita/PSP releases, which gets a thumbs up from me. This release includes both the Chronicles (2009 re-release) and the Complete (2001 re-release). The differences between the two versions are minor, but are enough to make this a great addition. Slightly different art style between the versions, and slightly different music. Together with a different UI, the Complete edition uses the original bordered UI; where as the Chronicles edition uses a skinny UI:
Classic UI for nostalgia, some issues on widescreen HD monitors
Skinny zoomed full screen UI. Has some issues with fonts on HD screens
The differences between the art styles is subtle, thankfully, yet i think the subtle differences make for an interesting change in the style.
2001 Complete art style
2009 Chronicles art style
As you can see in the images above the character designs are almost exactly the same, but the different art styles used make them subtly different . I really like the way you can mix and match the elements, for example you can have the skinny Chronicles UI and the Complete art, or visa versa. Unfortunately the UI can not be changed on the fly, and has to be changed in the configuration tool; the art style however can be changed on the fly in in the display options in game. You can also choose which musical score you want to listen to, the original PC-88, Complete or Chronicles versions; again you can swap these around on the fly.
XSEED frankly are one of the best developers I’ve come across to date, with regards to supporting their releases. The staff are very active on the forums (Sara on the steam forums) helping to fix issues people have had. The game was released yesterday (15/02), but with several issues which caused the game to break at certain points. XSEED were quick on releasing the patches to fix the issues as they occurred and, more importantly for me, keeping the community up to date on the problems.
So even though the game released with some issues (none of which I’ve encountered yet) Sara was quick fix them, and inform the community that patches were in the works and offer advice on workarounds. That said, the bugs this game have are intermittent, and not everyone seems to be having them. Which makes tracking some bugs down rather hard, but itâ€™s great theyâ€™re trying, asking for the community help in mailing crash dumps etc..
The translation seems to be pretty decent, with not to much localisation from what I’ve seen so far, which makes me a happy camper. The port itself seems to faultless, I use my 360 controller and I’ve had no issues so far. However I’ve not changed the default controls as they seemed to be fairly intuitive for me. Some people have however reported that when they changed the controls in the configuration tool it stopped working. There also appears to be an intermittent bug some people have where changes to the configuration tool just donâ€™t stick. these are being worked on, but proving difficult to track down as theyâ€™re not effecting everyone, just a small minority.
The game has ages surprisingly well, while I’ve only played an hour or so of the game it does still look pretty good. On my screen thereâ€™s almost no problems with the way the sprites look. though i donâ€™t run in full HD, preferring to run 1366×768.
My only complaint is that the OSTâ€™s and Art books arenâ€™t available as either a Collectors Edition or additional DLC. There are some amazing looking extras for the games available on the XSEED website, ranging from OSTâ€™s, and Art Books to Maps and Calendars. All of which are really cheap, and i do mean cheap, theyâ€™re all $5 each; sadly though us Europeans get screwed on shipping which costs $20 per item.
Right onto the game itself, hereâ€™s the official trailer:
For me this was really my first experience of the Ys games. Iâ€™m a huge fan of the anime ova and have watched it to death, but as I never picked up the console game versions, mainly because I’ve never really bothered with consoles. I picked up Origin and Oath recently but was told to not play them till the Ys I & II were released as it would spoil the story. When I first launched the game and saw the opening i was hooked, itâ€™s got an opening thatâ€™s right up there with FFVIII, see for yourself:
*grabs a zimmer frame and pipe* For me it reminded me of the good old days when games actually had to work to keep you interested, and not rely on fancy graphics. Also reminds when the gamer had to work as well, Ys is old school hard which makes it amazing fun and highly satisfying when you win.
The game play took some readjusting as well, gone are the days of button mashing, this game (and Ys II) uses the bump system. This is where you literally run into the mobs and NPCâ€™s to interact/attack them. However with the monsters itâ€™s a little bit more tactical, as simply running straight on will mean you take damage as well. You need to hit them at an angle or from behind, this makes you think about your position and attacks a lot more. It took me about ten minutes to adjust to the new style of combat, but once you do adjust itâ€™s a lot of fun.
This game, being of the older generation, does require a lot of reading, and a a lot of to and froing, which can be a turn off for some gamers. However I liked it, and actually ended up being rewarded for spending time exploring the first town rather than simply running off to the next one. The story is told really well, and while thereâ€™s a lot of text to read i found i didnâ€™t mind it. the characters have a lot of personality to them. Except of course for Adol, who is weird, he never actually says anything. The story is handled in first person perspective, with people talking to Adol. However Adol never really talks, what we get are things like â€˜Adol explains the situationâ€™, rather than Adol actually doing the explanation. For me this isnâ€™t a huge issue as i have a hyper active imagination and fill in the gaps well. I do miss the story though.
The game is HARD and at times very frustrating when you lose, but highly satisfying when you win a boss fight. Just make sure you save often and frequently, since there are no lives in this game; when you die itâ€™s game over and restarting can make you cry . Itâ€™s well worth buying though, frankly the entire Ys series is worth picking up on steam and I’m now hoping that XSEED release the rest of the Ys series on PC, as well as some of their other j-RPG releases.
The game is currently available only on Steam for Â£11.99 or your regional equivalent