Ys 3: Wanderers from Ys (1991)

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While I didn’t much like the first two games in the franchise, the third part on the PCEngine offered enough of a difference to make it look interesting. Instead of a top-down action-RPG with an unusual battle system (bump into enemies to attack), the third Ys game went into another direction. The game is a side-scrolling action-RPG with an active attack button system. Interestingly, there’s actually a side-scrolling action-RPG with utilizes an similar battle system as Ys 1+2, Popful Mail (although that’s only true for the PCEngine version, the MegaCD and the SNES version have both an active attack button system).

The game is unique in that it’s core concept seems to stem from an RPG with the side-scrolling elements grafted on. The game is designed with grinding in mind. Bosses and smaller enemies are supposed to hit you. Only by grinding levels and buying better equipment can the game be beaten, unlike platforming games that have RPG-elements grafted on, where skill still plays a major role in evading hits.

Is it a good game? Well, the gameplay is fun, even the grinding, due to being an action-RPG with a much faster pace. While the story is pretty typical for fantasy RPGs, it’s delivered in a way that doesn’t make you groan (although the voice acting is annoying in places). It’s also pretty small and can be beaten in a matter of hours. Overall, even if you don’t like the first two games much, you might enjoy this one. Alternatively, if you did enjoy the first two (hard to believe, but there are many fans), you might not like the third due the very different gameplay.