Ys 1&2 (1990)


I had long planned to play Ys, but wasn’t sure which was the best version to go. From the older versions the PCEngine one seemed to get the most praise, so thats what I settled on finally. So, how does the game holds up these days?

Well, there are a few nice aspects to the game. A rather unique fighting system where you have to ram enemy sprites. How much damage you’ve inflicted on the enemies or they on you depends on your level and gear. It’s a bit simple, but rather fast and a nice break from the random encounter battle system that plagues so many other jRPGs from the time. The graphics are well done and there’s good music. These are the good points.

Searching on the net one finds nearly unanimous praise for the Ys games, especially for the first two. Consider my surprise when the games turned out to be awful. The story is rather generic and even the few animated video sequences and the extensive voice acting can’t hide the fact that it’s just another generic evil haunting your generic fantasy kingdom story. So, with the story not that impressive, lets turn toward gameplay. Here’s where the game completely falters. Sure, the fighting can be fun initially, but with the endlessly re-spawning enemies turns out to be just another sort of grind. Then there are the mazes.

The first one has three mazes, the second one a bit more, all of them are badly designed. Confusing, needlessly big without much content or variety to make it fun playing through them. If that weren’t enough, the gameplay is dominated by countless fetch quests that force you to traverse the same badly designed mazes again and again. The worst offender in that regard is the last dungeon of the second Ys, which cranks the annoying fetch quest gameplay to the max. Made me nearly give up.

I can understand why people who played the Ys games when they came out can enjoy them, there’s the nostalgia factor involved, but I doubt anyone else will get much out of them today. I rather watch paint dry than play Ys 1&2 again.