Ys I & II Chronicles+

Ys I & II Chronicles+ is a remake of two Japanese action role-playing games from 1987-88. Ys I: Ancient Ys Vanished: Omen and Ys II: Ancient Ys Vanished – The Final Chapter have been given graphics, sound and music upgrades while retaining the classic story and gameplay. As Adol Christin, “bump” your way through all manner of monsters as you try to find out what happened to the land of Ys.

Release Date

February 2013.

Pros

The tunes of Ys I have stuck in my head since the Sega Master System days. With this Chronicles+ version, there are three versions of the music to choose from: PC-88 Original, Complete and Chronicles. The remade Complete and Chronicles versions sound absolutely wonderful. I was also happy to hear that the tunes for Ys II continues to be great.

The bump system combat is quite interesting. This is the only RPG I am aware of where you must bump into monsters to fight. The challenge is, you must bump them off centre, or else you will take damage. In Ys II you can shoot fireballs as well, but in Ys I, it is all bump or nothing.

Ys I has a good story, but Ys II takes the story and launches it high into the sky (literally and figuratively). The story also concludes very nicely with explanations of what happens to many of the characters.

This Chronicles+ edition of Ys I is a very faithful remake of the original released back in 1987. It plays the same way, but with much improved graphics, sound and music. I cannot say anything about Ys II since I never played the original.

In Ys II you get to be a demon kangaroo! I will not say what happens, but this is actually a lot more fun than it sounds.

Cons

Every monster you slay gives you gold, but there is nothing else to loot. You also cannot sell your old equipment, so the only reliable way to get gold is grinding fights. There are other ways to get gold, but they must be discovered in the game and I do not want to spoil that.

The variety of weapons and armour are seriously lacking. Ys II has a few more weapons and armour than the first game, but the number is still very little.

For an RPG, the games have very few statistics. Ys I only has five, which are strength, defense, hit points, experience and level. Ys II adds one more which is magic points.

Other Points

The introduction cutscenes look and sound beautiful, but I do wonder whether a new player with no prior knowledge of Ys would actually understand what is happening. There is no dialogue and no text to explain what is happening. Some parts are easy enough to understand, but the rest look like random events to me. Luckily, Ys is not a game that needs an introduction to start a story as the game tells it very well as you play. The Sega Master System version of Ys I does not even have an introduction, so it is not a big deal.

In Ys I, levelling up and upgrading your equipment dramatically improves your combat performance. A monster can be challenging to fight at first, but after increasing one level up, or upgrading your sword, that same monster suddenly becomes very easy. Ys II does a much better job of balancing levelling up combat power vs difficulty of fights.

When you are outdoors and in some selected areas, you will heal over time when you stand still.

The gameplay graphics are simple, but get the job done. Each area is also well detailed.

There are two versions of artworks to choose from. These artworks display for certain NPCs you talk to.

In Ys I there are a lot of different types of monsters, but the only thing different about them are their looks, speed, attack and defense values. Except for the bossess, all the of monsters just run around and try to ram into you. No different attacks or defense here. Fortunately, Ys II introduces a few more abilities for the monsters.

Ys I has a level cap of ten and the chances are you will reach it before even getting half way through the game. It makes fighting monsters pointless once you reached the level cap. On the plus side Ys II fixed this. I managed to complete Ys II without reaching a level cap and even though I did reach the health and magic points limit, the attack and defense values are still increasing at level 52.

There is no manual for the game. Luckily there are only a few keys to learn and they can be modified with the configuration tool.

The quests are not clearly defined. You must talk to everyone and explore to figure out what you need to do and how to do it. It is not that difficult though, since the game world is small.

The boss fights play less like an RPG and more like a shoot’em up. The problem is the enemy does most of the shooting and you have to dodge and figure out how to attack it. Not all the bosses shoot, but skilled dodging is always required. You do get to shoot fireballs in Ys II, although some bosses are immune to them.

Biases

Reviewed GOG.com version of the game.

I played Ys I on nightmare difficulty until I got stuck with the third boss fight. Then I restarted on easy difficulty and completed the game.

I completed Ys II on hard difficulty.

I really enjoyed Ys I back in the day and again in this Chronicles+ remake. Continuing Ys II immediately after Ys I was also great fun.

DRM

Ys I & II Chronicles+ is available DRM free from GOG.com

Minimum Requirements (as stated on GOG.com)

  • Windows: Windows XP / Vista / 7 / 8 / 10
  • Processor:Pentium III 866 MHz
  • Memory:1 GB RAM
  • Graphics:64 MB VRAM, 3D accelerator compatible w/ DirectX 9.0c, DirectX®:9.0c,
  • Hard Drive:2 GB HD space
  • Sound:Compatible with DirectX 9.0c, Mouse, Keyboard

Computer Played On

  • Windows 7 64 bit.
  • Intel Core i5 2.3GHz
  • 4GB RAM
  • NVIDIA GeForce GT 525M 1GB RAM
  • Conexant SmartAudio with earphones.
  • Graphics settings are set to whatever I feel comfortable with playing on this PC. They are usually not set to the highest settings. All screenshots are taken with my settings.

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