There are so many great RPG's out there and quite a few I have never played but very much wanted to, namely the Legend of Mana series and Ys. Ys definitely has its fans and after the DS remake of the game, I felt I needed to hunt down a copy and give it a shot. I zipped over to People Play Games on Clark and grabbed a copy, feeling pretty lucky the actually had one there!
I cleaned off the PCE and fired it up when I got home, eager to see what the hullabaloo was about. First of all, because its a CD game, the audio is of stellar quality, but also some of the best RPG music I have heard in a long time. Fantastic.
The game itself is almost like a cross between Dragon Warrior and Zelda - Dragon Warrior for its level-grinding and Zelda for its action-based gameplay. In Ys, you don't have random battles or cut scenes for the actual batttles - you just run into enemies the appear on the field. Yup - you just run into them. Which at first, I thought was kinda lame, but after playing for a while, really, really started to enjoy. It makes level grinding waaaaaaay easier and really speeds up the game. Especially since you have no magic to use in the first game.
The game follows the whole overworld/dungeon mechanic with the last level being a giant tower that is much longer than any other dungeon in the game. I did find it kinda funny that I maxed my gold out halfway through the tower where I could never seem to have enough to buy the stuff you need early in the game, but whatever.
The inventory screens are simple to navigate and you don't have to do the sell something to get a stronger weapon mechanic - you can keep all of the weapons you buy or find in the entire game and never run out of room. The items in the game are also easy to find uses for - there are no cryptic puzzles or adventure-game style item matching components in the game.
The story itself is good and simple and there are areas of the game with voice overs and very nicely drawn anime-style sprites to represent the characters talking to you, which adds a kind of dreamy quality to the game as for most of the game you are blasting through enemies and running from place to place on kinda of a rampant tear and they are the few moments where you get to sit and chill for a moment.
I beat the first Book of Ys in about a day and a half, maybe 8-10 hours of game time and its excellent. Lots of fun and something I will definitely play through again. I have started on Ys Book II and I'm about four or five hours into it and it's also excellent. They didn't really mess with the formula too much, adding magic spells, which you can shoot, which is very cool. The two games tie into each other back-to-back, so that in the first game when you finish collecting all the Books of Ys and kill Dark Fact, you start the second game needing to replace the Books on the statues that correspond with on a floating continent. Very cool and a lot of fun for sure.