Game Size: 256K
Game Type: Top down Action RPG
Other Ways to Play: LOTS! But English language ways I know of include: PC DOS, PC Steam, PSP, Turbografx CD-ROM, Nintendo DS, Wii (Virtual Console Turbo CD)
Power Base Convertor Playable?: Yes, 6 button controller works.
Price I Paid: 20 Dollars maybe?
Price I Would Pay: 10 Dollars.
Condition: Game, Case, Manual
Game Rating: OK*
Game Completion/Desire to: Yes/
My History: One of the games I got when I purchased my Master System circa 1991-92. Completed it at the time, have completed the superior remake versions at least three times with a number of partial playthroughs.
Ahhh Ys! The legendary Action RPG poster child! Known for its' red haired protagonist Adol Christin (Aron in this version. Yay pre 00s translations!) and the combat system of RUN INTO THINGS TO KILL THEM. A game that has been remade and ported almost more times than Wizardry Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord yet still holds up.
Well, the non SMS ports hold up. Our review subject? Not particularly. Its OK on its' own, BAD when you compare it to how damned GOOD the Turbografx CD and PSP ports I own are.
But I am getting ahead of myself. Let's take it from the top!
As I said, you play a red headed young adventurer named Adol/Aron who ends up in a town besieged by monsters that are mostly coming out of a massive tower that reaches into the sky. You start out with a little bit of money and at the main town. Well the larger of the two towns in this version. Accomplishing some small tasks in the town and walking into random townspeople will give you some basic idea as to what is going on. Provided you pay attention before spending your starting cash you can get yourself fully equipped with a sword, shield, and armor and get a level advancement before going outside of town to grind another level or two.
This is the BIG problem with the SMS port. Grinding is slow, tedious, and you only level up around nine total times till you reach the level cap. While each level is a massive upgrade in attributes from the previous one the combat system is mostly based around running into enemies, ideally from the back, side, or slightly off center to hurt and eventually kill them for a microscopic pittance of money and XP. A few items can be found hidden here and there to sell to the town shops for the crucial money you need for the gear sold in said shops, but in general you grind, grind, grind on that super painful cardinal directions only movement/combat system.
Then you move on to the next town where more information and items are given before you are sent into one of the two dungeons in the game. The main one which is the massive tower full of multiple levels, key and item requiring chests and hidden doors, and the covered in darkness mine. Kind of like a Metroidvania the main dungeon has things keeping you from exploring all of it until you have a needed item which will allow you to progress further or open a chest with a key that has the item you need or a townsperson needs who then gives you the item to move upwards through the mazelike corridors, sometimes solving simple puzzles.
Every now and then you run into a boss which depending on your equipment and level are either complete pushovers or practically if not actually impossible to defeat.
It is basically a bog standard JRPG just in real time. The graphics are nice and the audio and play control are fine though like everything else in the game the later versions of the game do better.
You see later versions tend to bundle this game in with its' direct sequel which takes place immediately after this one and you keep your level advancement as the level cap is MUCH higher going through both games as one, with the latter game having a magic system and a far more expansive and interesting quest. (Its roughly three times larger than Ys 1 is, though the Turbo version plays faster and seems to shrink the dungeons a little bit. It roughly takes a third of the time to complete the Turbo Ys 1 over the SMS. The PSP version is a compilation of a pair of at the time Japan only PC remakes with options for various graphics and sound choices.)
Its a fun little game but the SMS version is just too grindy for its' own good and I cannot recommend this version of Ys over the more modern ones. Even at the time I took issue with Ys' grinding requirements. Honestly the other ports are better in every way.
Well let me show you four screenshots from the PSP port. Which was me pointing my camera at the screen.
The iconic opening screen to Ys 1. A blue haired naked goddess with an orb in front of her goodies. (It IS a Japanese game alright.)
Townsfolk in the bar.
The ring start not only still works, if you keep declining you can get a 100 GP off!
The main game mode and graphics got a MASSIVE overhaul. And even options to have your gear listed on screen with stats. I LIKE NUMBERS. DON'T JUDGE ME. Also I watch horsie cartoons for people thirty years younger than me. Don't cry for me. I am already gone. :(
The vastly superior PSP and Turbografx versions. Animated cut scenes! Amazing CD music! The sequel game!
I'm not exactly sure what NEC PC 88/98 RPG megapublisher Falcom did that made me enjoy their stuff so much but here is my current collection of Falcom games. I would like to own more of them of course but I think I have a bit more than half of their physically released in English titles. Unless I am nutters enough to want every Ys 1 release in English. I am not quite that mad thankfully. Game collection tip: Oath in Felghana is the best game in this picture, and I would say Xanadu Next is the worst. Of the Ys games not counting the SMS port, Ys Seven is probably my least favorite of that series so far.
Howabout seven PC Engine (Turbografx) CD ROM shots from the Ootake emulator, most in X2 with scanlines mode?
Cinematic cut scenes! This fellow is quite important. And he really hates silver for some reason...
Another thing the later versions do is add in game engine events to add some more to the story.
You can even change the font and gameplay speed of the TG version.
Certain items have puzzle solving uses. Now on a composite or RF TV of the time this might not be quite so noticeable and even with these simulated TV output thingies hard to tell but with the statue right there it is a clue..
Now you cannot see enemies but you can now walk through this hidden doorway!
A nice screen showing exactly what the region you adventure in looks like. And that big ass tower you get to explore.
Townspeople who show up and have stuff to say. You even have some COMMUNIST CHOICES that annoy me in so many JRPGs. Why even ask me if I am basically forced to choose the obviously heroic one Japanese RPG makers? And it really started ticking me off in the Playstation/Windows 98 era. Games like Ultima and Fallout spoiled me.
Now it is time for a whopping TWELVE SMS screenshots from the Kega Fusion emulator. (And this was supposed to be the easy month!)
In the SMS you just start out in town. Keeps the Adol sprite without shield or sword until he buys them.
The bar patrons again. Take your initial 1000 gold. Buy a ring. Bring it here. Get 1500 gold. A simple puzzle/reward but I like it anyhow.
Find goodies to sell for more money. Equipment is expensive in this game, especially for there only being three purchasable weapons, shields, and armors. And a couple other things.
A nice bit is that you actually see the various goodies you find. The graphical representation brings a level of class to things.
The first mention of Adol's hetero life mate DOGI.
These guys give eff all for XP. But almost nothing in this game really does. Some of the quests give more than these 1-5 XP per critter shmucks do. The other ports give more xp and sometimes scale it too. More gold too.
Notice we are merely third level with the lowest level of equipment. We started with 10 in STR and DEF. Each level is a MASSIVE update to the last in this version. And look how far our life bar is already.
The room people talk screens look a lot less anime in this port too. This guy reminds me of something... I feel like listening to some 80s Queen though. Huh.
Locked chests and doors. The favorite of RPGs everywhere. You will get a lot of keys in this game.
The first boss. In this port victory is more based on level than your skill at taking it out. The wall is a hint as to boss two.
We take a break from the tower to go into the mines. Visibility is seriously reduced in here. And the mine is damned massive, especially because of the darkness.
And the title screen of our subject. God lady, put some clothes on!
I know I am being hard on the SMS port but well.. there have been some vast improvements to this game, some of which were released only a year or two later. Ys is a damn good game even for the time. But there are superior versions. Let me show a couple in console screenshots so we can put this baby to bed.
Four Genesis shots through Power Base Convertor and my trusty(ish) Commodore 1084
Lots of naked women in Japanese RPGs back in the day. Well hopefully they were women and you know, not younger...
Wow. I last properly remember playing this game in 1992 I think? It is now 2015. THE SAVES STILL WORK.
Our pals at the bar.
And now three SMS shots.
Such goddess. Much Ys.
No opening. BOOM WALK INTO TOWN. BEGIN.
And the Seer.
Master System Play: Pretty much exactly the same as on the Power Base. There is a fair bit of color bleed on either machine. I only tested the 6 button pad and the Epyx stick for speed's sake since well? Its all cardinal direction movement and the buttons are only used to open menus and select items really. Nothing too difficult. Anything that isn't Grade Z garbage has your back.
Rating: Damn. This is a toughie! Why? Well the game was OK back in the day on the SMS, but the Turbografx and PSP/PC Steam versions are honestly GOOD albeit not UBERSUPERBESTGAMEEVER levels of Good. Even the SMS version looks pretty nice and sounds pretty nice. Its just a bit of 80s JRPG and for some folks the combat even in the remake versions isn't going to appeal. Yet for folks like me something about this game is just so.. RIGHT. It is kind of hard to explain. It just feels good to play when you need to scratch that RPG itch but don't want to run a full multiple character party or deal with the total randomness of a Roguelike game or whatnot. It is just fun to explore and level up and get new and better gear. It is just the SMS version isn't the most ideal version to play these days.
Next Time: My birth month of SLACKING BUT STILL OVERDOING IT continues with the whole reason I bought a Master System. The one, the only PHANTASY STAR. Thrill to me complaining about how Sega hates me only slightly less than current Konami hates everyone!