DS

North America

Legacy of Ys: Books I & II

by Nick DiMola - March 16, 2009, 6:16 am PDT
Total comments: 12

8

The improved graphics and controls boost both games to new heights.

Many are familiar with Ys Books I & II due to their recent release on the Wii's Virtual Console. The two games were, at the time, remade and combined into one disc for the TurboGrafx CD. In a similar fashion, both games have been remade for the DS and, for North America (but not Japan), combined into one card.

The story of Ys follows the young adventurer Adol, who is first discovered unconscious in Minea, a small town within the land of Esteria. Here Adol is called upon by the local fortuneteller Sarah and asked to find the six scattered books of Ys and stop the evil man in the black cape. Ys II picks up where Ys I leaves off: Adol once again is discovered unconscious, though this time he is discovered in the mythical land of Ys. Here Adol must return the six books to their rightful owners and unravel the mystery behind Ys in order to rid it, and Esteria, of evil.

Although this title has had numerous remakes, the story found in Legacy of Ys is still very light. In fact, most information about Adol's quest is discovered through conversations with in-game NPCs. Throughout the majority of both games there is little guidance via the story, and more often than not, players must hope they talk to the right person at the right time.

Though the story remains unmodified, the graphics, sound, and style of play have all been overhauled to meet current standards. The world is displayed from a top-down view, though it is rendered entirely in 3D. This is a significant upgrade over the sprite-based graphics featured in the TurboGrafx CD version. The game looks crisp and colorful, and the models are detailed enough to be recognizable and unique. The hand-drawn anime profiles used during discussions with important characters are a nice touch, and give the player a recognizable face to associate with each character.

The game's soundtrack is also top-of-the-line. Nearly every tune in the game is catchy, and the accompanying sound track CD makes for a nice bonus that has already gotten play in my iPod. Fans of the original will notice that the soundtrack has been completely overhauled, with every track having been remixed for the re-release. Though sound effects are fairly sparse, the excellent music offers enough variety to keep players' attention.

Those who are familiar with the original Ys games will recall that Adol once attacked by simply walking into enemies. Now players have the option of combating with enemies by choosing the Normal controls in the options menu. With the touch control scheme players still attack with the old method, though I would caution against using it: the slower and imprecise nature make it tougher to be successful. Because Adol must be dragged across the screen, and he slightly lags behind your every movement, the stylus control creates an odd disconnect. It is much easier to use the manual sword slash ability while exploring both worlds. At first players may be surprised at how small the slash range of the sword is, but they will adjust after no time at all.

Both titles feature gameplay reminiscent of the original Legend of Zelda with added RPG emphasis (i.e. level-ups for strength and health). In order to complete the game, players must acquire better equipment from the town store or in chests scattered throughout the land. Whether exploring a dungeon, cave, or the overworld, Legacy of Ys is a blast to play. Part of this is due to the game's fast pace. There are no FMV or lengthy dialogs to slow down the experience, which can make for a very lean experience. Players are also treated to a more advanced second game upon completing the first. Magic is now available, and the game is significantly heftier, taking over three times as long as the first to complete.

The games are not without fault, though. The player will often have no idea what to do next. There were a couple of parts where, without a guide, I would have never figured out that I needed to walk in and out of a town three times, talking to the same person every time, in order to progress. The other sore point lies in how the game determines damage when the player is hit by an enemy. Because there is no period of invincibility after being hurt and no auto-attack when using Normal controls, the player can easily get stuck on an enemy and be hit repeatedly until dead. I came across this situation twice, and both times it drained my health bar within two seconds. It is also worth mentioning that it is extremely easy to die in the beginning of both games, forcing players to save frequently to avoid needlessly replaying large sections.

Legacy of Ys: Books I & II is truly an old-style game with a modern coat of paint. Though some aspects of the gameplay are primitive, there is no denying how genuinely fun both games are. While a guide may need to be kept handy for effective completion of obscure game sections, it doesn't dampen the experience much. Any players who are fans of adventure games such as the original Legend of Zelda would do well to pick up this title.

Score

Graphics Sound Control Gameplay Lastability Final
9 10 8 8 8 8
Graphics
9

The redone 3D graphics look great and definitely improve the experience. The hand-drawn anime portraits that appear during conversations are also well done and give each character a recognizable face.

Sound
10

Both the game's music and sound effects have been retooled. The once-simple chiptunes found in the original are now replaced with catchy, full-bodied tracks. The game is shipped with a soundtrack free of cost, so players can enjoy the amazing score well after the game is over.

Control
8

It is tough to control Adol properly with the touch screen controls, which create a significant disconnect. Additionally, they force players into using the awkward auto-slash ability to attack. Normal controls feel much more fluid and natural, and allow players to attack from a safe distance.

Gameplay
8

Though the game's sometimes puzzling objectives and maze-like dungeons will require a guide, it doesn't hamper the experience significantly. Additionally, the quick and easy deaths, though frustrating at times, do not sour this extremely fun game. Fans of the genre will definitely connect with the gameplay and thirst for Book II after completing the first.

Lastability
8

With two Ys games in one, and four difficulty settings to satisfy all skill levels, players have plenty to tackle in their first playthrough. A time attack mode is unlocked upon completion of either title, which is great for extended play. The game also features local competitive up-to-four player multiplayer modes to enjoy with friends.

Final
8

Legacy of Ys is a well crafted title that is addictive and fun from the first minute and onwards. Some obtuse design choices hold this game back, but Legacy of Ys Books I and II is a must for fans of the Ys series or older-style adventure games.

Summary

Pros
  • Fast-paced and fun
  • Soundtrack is amazing
  • Two games for the price of one!
  • Updated graphics look great
Cons
  • A guide is necessary
  • Odd hit detection can cause instant death
Review Page 2: Conclusion

Talkback

How are the controls improved from the TurboCD game, if you now have to press a button to do what was automatic before?  Do you have increased range or something?

Nick DiMolaNick DiMola, Staff AlumnusMarch 16, 2009

Quote from: Jonnyboy117

How are the controls improved from the TurboCD game, if you now have to press a button to do what was automatic before?  Do you have increased range or something?

It just allows you to be more precise. You can effectively defeat enemies without really taking damage. Before you needed to be very crafty and always attempt to attack the enemies from odd angles in order to avoid getting hit. Now its much more Zelda like in its execution.

KDR_11kMarch 16, 2009

What would happen if I were to play it without a guide? I'm not going to carry additional documentation with me when playing a portable game.

Nick DiMolaNick DiMola, Staff AlumnusMarch 16, 2009

Quote from: KDR_11k

What would happen if I were to play it without a guide? I'm not going to carry additional documentation with me when playing a portable game.

You will undoubtedly get stuck in certain points, unless of course you are familiar with the ins and outs of the original titles. I primarily used the TurboGrafx CD guides on gamefaqs when I got stuck. I can only think of a few instances in the first game where I needed it to find an obscure item or figure out some odd sequence of discussion I needed to have with an NPC.

With Book II being significantly longer, I obviously was consulting a guide far more often then. As a matter of fact the second game starts with an unbelievably complicated maze of caverns that took me forever to navigate without a guide. I had to consult the guide to figure out where one particular spot was in order to save a doctor.

I wouldn't let that dissuade you though. In the instances where you get stuck, you can put the game down until you have access to a computer to figure out what exactly you have to do next.

jakeOSXMarch 16, 2009

this is offered on the wii for download as well...

so is it worth it to get the DS version? or should I try the original first? (assuming portability is not a concern)

Nick DiMolaNick DiMola, Staff AlumnusMarch 16, 2009

Quote from: jakeOSX

this is offered on the wii for download as well...

so is it worth it to get the DS version? or should I try the original first? (assuming portability is not a concern)

The DS game is a complete remake of the TurboGrafx CD remake. The graphics, music, and even control methods have been overhauled. In my opinion, the DS game is a much better choice, but it also carries a higher price tag.

StratosMarch 17, 2009

I got the VC version and found it enjoyable. I didn't have trouble with the maze part, but then I tend to do pretty well in those parts.

Nice review. It answered my questions about the possible value of getting it even though I own the VC version. I think I'll pass on this nice looking remake.

jakeOSXMarch 17, 2009

crap. why do mr jack and stratos have to conflict with each other? why can't we all get  along??? err. or something =)

The TurboCD version on Virtual Console looks decent and has all the crazy music, though obviously not these new remixes.  I can't speak on which one to get, since I haven't played the DS version, but it does seem like there is little reason to get the DS one if you already have it on VC.

StratosMarch 17, 2009

Quote from: jakeOSX

crap. why do mr jack and stratos have to conflict with each other? why can't we all get  along??? err. or something =)

I thought we did agree on the matter. Mr. Jack showed that for a new person or someone who hadn't played it since it came out of the Turbo CD there was a good reason to get it if you like old school adventure-type Zelda games. He also showed that someone who had already recently D/L'd it on VC and played through it there was little incentive to go for it unless you are a hardcore Ys fan. Am I wrong in thinking this way?

Nick DiMolaNick DiMola, Staff AlumnusMarch 17, 2009

Nope, I think you nailed it on the head, Stratos :P

Quote from: Jonnyboy117

The TurboCD version on Virtual Console looks decent and has all the crazy music, though obviously not these new remixes.  I can't speak on which one to get, since I haven't played the DS version, but it does seem like there is little reason to get the DS one if you already have it on VC.

The only reason I can imagine that might motivate someone to get the DS version other than being an Ys fan, is a dislike of the auto-attack nature of the Turbo CD version. In this one with Normal Controls you can use a sword to slash enemies just like in 2D Zeldas.

StratosMarch 17, 2009

Do we know why they went with that 'run into enemies' style originally? Zelda had been out by then and so there was a precedence. I'm sure the Turbo CD could have handled something a bit more advanced, though I did get a strange old-school joy in leveraging different angles and learning the best ways to attack enemies.

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Legacy of Ys: Books I & II Box Art

Genre RPG
Developer
Players1 - 4
Controllers

Worldwide Releases

na: Legacy of Ys: Books I & II
Release Feb 24, 2009
PublisherAtlus
RatingTeen
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