Author Topic: RFN RetroActive #26: Ys Book I&II (Official Discussion)  (Read 31428 times)

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Offline Pixelated Pixies

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Re: RFN RetroActive #26: Ys Book I&II (Official Discussion)
« Reply #25 on: March 05, 2013, 04:48:15 PM »
I just finished Book I today (My Wii suggests a cumulative play time of around 8 hours, although I'm pretty sure around 40 minutes of that was spent going in a circle at one point, lol) . I wasn't sure that I had in fact (no pun intended) started the second game until I went to the save screen and realised that all my save slots simply said 'Ys I', indicating that I was now in the sequel.
 
It's actually kind of cool, because the second game starts immediately after the finale of the first. I won't go into any specifics, but there's a scene at the end which I thought was pretty awesome. It actually got me excited to start Book II, which I'll probably do tomorrow at some point.
 
Overall, I thought part 1 was pretty enjoyable. My take away thoughts were as follows.
 
  • Given that the game's primary goal is to explore floors and levels of dungeons, the omission of any on screen indicator for which floor you're on is kind of weird. I found myself saving alot simply to see which floor I was on.
  • Volume Toba is such a let down after reading the first volume. Volume Dabbie really brought the series back on track though.  :P:
  • Everything in this game (corridors, stairs, walkways etc) is needlessly long. Yet the game is surprisingly short.
  • Grinding the hell out of the guys who break through the wall Kool-Aid man style on floor 20 of Darm Tower was really useful.
  • Going all the way up to the top of Darm Tower only to have to go
    all the way back down to floor 11 to get the Blue Amulet was kind of
    lame.
« Last Edit: March 05, 2013, 05:57:59 PM by Pixelated Pixies »
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Offline noname2200

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Re: RFN RetroActive #26: Ys Book I&II (Official Discussion)
« Reply #26 on: March 05, 2013, 05:35:01 PM »
I'd forgotten just how long the last dungeon of Ys I is. It's at least a third of the game, and the backtracking makes me suspect the developers were running low on time and realized they still needed to pad the game. Fortunately, the music's pretty great (not that that's a surprise: the game's soundtrack in generally is extremely high quality).

Offline Pandareus

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Re: RFN RetroActive #26: Ys Book I&II (Official Discussion)
« Reply #27 on: March 05, 2013, 10:44:45 PM »
I just canNOT get past this damn vampire bat boss. I can't. I cannot damage him withouth him damaging me, and he's got way more health. And grinding yields 1 xp per kill, and I need 200+ kills to level up. This is horrible.

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Re: RFN RetroActive #26: Ys Book I&II (Official Discussion)
« Reply #28 on: March 06, 2013, 12:23:55 AM »
That boss and the first boss were the two that gave me the most trouble.

Do you have all the Silver equipment? The timing is tricky: he's only really vulnerable for that first second after he forms. The way I get through is to time it so I rush vertically into him the second he finishes forming. Take two or three steps, then immediately pivot. The key is that his arms have to be up. If it looks like you're going to be even a split second late, abort and wait for the next go around. Patience is the key there, which is unfortunate because his attacks hit hard...

The good news is his defense is pathetic, so four or five successful attacks is all it takes.

Offline Pixelated Pixies

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Re: RFN RetroActive #26: Ys Book I&II (Official Discussion)
« Reply #29 on: March 06, 2013, 02:08:48 AM »
I just canNOT get past this damn vampire bat boss. I can't. I cannot damage him withouth him damaging me, and he's got way more health. And grinding yields 1 xp per kill, and I need 200+ kills to level up. This is horrible.

I agree that the boss battles in this game are terrible, and that particular boss was the hardest in the game for me. The strategy that I tried to use with that boss was to rush through him just before he changes into the bats. There seems to be a very very small window of opportunity just before he transforms where he breaks into little balls, and I think that is when you're supposed to rush him. That's as close to a strategy as I was able to get, and even then it took some grinding and like 7 or 8 attempts. On my last attempt the bosses health pretty much halved with one rush and that gave me enough of an advantage to win. I have no idea, though, if this is an actual strategy or if I was just lucky.
« Last Edit: March 06, 2013, 02:12:21 AM by Pixelated Pixies »
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Offline Pixelated Pixies

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Re: RFN RetroActive #26: Ys Book I&II (Official Discussion)
« Reply #30 on: March 07, 2013, 06:09:04 PM »
I have to say, having started Book II today, the lack of any sort of map feature is becoming a huge problem, particularly where I am currently which is the mine area (the first real area you explore in book II).
 
Not all games designed around exploration require maps but when the level design is this generic, indistinct, and, dare I say it, bad, then a map truely is necessary. Every cave I enter leads me into another room which looks exactly like the previous 6 caves I entered, each of which have multiple doors leading to yet more nondescript caves. It's actually kind of intolerable. Then there's the added frustration of knowing that if you do get turned around or lost, and fail to find a certain room, then you might very well miss a crucial item or fail to trigger something which is required in order to progress. All of which would be alleviated by the simple inclusion of some sort of map feature. I appreciate that maps probably weren't in a lot of games back in 1989, but this game truely did need it.
 
The core of the game (leveling up and upgrading equipment) is actually really fun. It's just that the needlessly labyrinthian dungeons and terrible boss battles rear their heads every now and again to ruin that fun.
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Offline Fjurbanski

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Re: RFN RetroActive #26: Ys Book I&II (Official Discussion)
« Reply #31 on: March 08, 2013, 02:21:14 AM »
So, I just beat Book I. I obviously had to use a guide for a few parts (which I'll get into in a minute), but I'm into Book II now.


First off, I love the fact that you can save anywhere. There are a few horrible moments of annoying backtracking, and some of the dungeons are incredibly long. So, not having to worry about save points, like I was expecting to, is a nice change of pace from other games from this era.


Another thing I absolutely love is the heal ring. It's a genuine life saver. Having the ability to heal yourself at any time makes the game much more manageable. It's great to be able to put on the heal ring right outside a boss door and save there. Then if (when) you die to the boss, you're right back into the fight with full health in no more than 5 seconds. It makes the bad parts of the game much more bearable.


The bad parts, I think, are the maze-like level design, the backtracking, and not having any kind of map. This is the main reason why I had to look up guides for the game The worst offender, obviously, is the Mine. Paths snake out in every direction, and you can only see what's right in front of you? Ugh... Add to this the fact that certain main storyline items (harmonica) are acquired by finding them in some random chest. The game makes you search every nook and cranny of the area, but doesn't give you any indication of whether you've already searched an area or not.


Finally, I'm surprised that a lot of you guys didn't like the boss battles. I felt like they were the best parts of the game because, unlike other enemies, the bosses actually have different move-sets, and you actually have to approach them in unique ways. Sure, you still just have to run into them, but it's when and how you run into them that matters. Every other enemy in the game was just the same thing with a different coat of paint: steamroll, rinse, repeat.
« Last Edit: March 08, 2013, 04:53:57 AM by Fjurbanski »
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Offline noname2200

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Re: RFN RetroActive #26: Ys Book I&II (Official Discussion)
« Reply #32 on: March 10, 2013, 03:49:35 PM »
While the boss fights are a little more involved than regular fights, the issue I have with them is that the additional complexity generally isn't that well done. Most of the time it boils down to running away while the boss is invincible, then briefly charging in during the limited vulnerability periods.

To their credit though, the fights are always quick: I usually win or die in under a minute, at least in Ys I. And while imperfect, I find this approach to be a refreshing alternative to the usual "epic RPG boss fight": the final bosses in I and II do feel epic, but because they're fast and challenging, rather than because the boss has enough health to drag on forever.

Offline Fjurbanski

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Re: RFN RetroActive #26: Ys Book I&II (Official Discussion)
« Reply #33 on: March 10, 2013, 11:46:07 PM »
While the boss fights are a little more involved than regular fights, the issue I have with them is that the additional complexity generally isn't that well done. Most of the time it boils down to running away while the boss is invincible, then briefly charging in during the limited vulnerability periods.


Well yeah, but what else do you do when your primary means of damage is to throw yourself at the enemy, always risking damage to yourself every time? With combat like this, every fight will boil down to dodging the thing that can hurt you until you have the chance to hurt it. Which to me sounds like almost every boss fight in almost every video game ever, so what's the real problem?


The boss fights in this game aren't amazing by any means, but I think to say that they suck is too harsh. Especially when the rest of the fighting in the game is boring at best, and mind-numbingly monotonous at worst. I think the bigger issue is that the combat itself is bad, not the bosses. Take any of these bosses, and put them in a 2D zelda game, and i doubt we'd see anybody complaining.


So, with generally bad level design (with a few exceptions), egregious back-tracking, and enemy variation equal to 1, I do feel that the boss battles were the highlight of the game. They took the most strategy (what little there was) and were a good challenge, while having the least amount of annoyance possible, since you could save right outside with full health. Also, they had the most variation and the most character out of anything in the game. No enemy or NPC is as interesting or memorable as the bosses.


Were they amazing? No, I don't think the combat system doesn't really allow for that. Were they terrible, or the worst part of the game? Not to me. The exact opposite in fact.
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Offline Dropkik

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Re: RFN RetroActive #26: Ys Book I&II (Official Discussion)
« Reply #34 on: March 11, 2013, 09:47:11 AM »
I don't know why this game is called Ys, it should be called RAMMING SPEED: The Game.
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Offline noname2200

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Re: RFN RetroActive #26: Ys Book I&II (Official Discussion)
« Reply #35 on: March 11, 2013, 12:44:04 PM »
While the boss fights are a little more involved than regular fights, the issue I have with them is that the additional complexity generally isn't that well done. Most of the time it boils down to running away while the boss is invincible, then briefly charging in during the limited vulnerability periods.


Well yeah, but what else do you do when your primary means of damage is to throw yourself at the enemy, always risking damage to yourself every time? With combat like this, every fight will boil down to dodging the thing that can hurt you until you have the chance to hurt it. Which to me sounds like almost every boss fight in almost every video game ever, so what's the real problem?

Let's be honest with ourselves: most games have more complex combat systems and boss battles. The boss battles in other Ys games, even in Ys II, are more complex. Consequently, those battles are a bit more involved than the extreme simplicity of the bosses in Ys I. I generally like the boss fights in, say, Ys VI, or Oath in Felghana. I even think the boss fights in Ys II are generally okay. I mostly bear through the boss fights in Ys I.

I think where we differ is that I'm generally okay with the combat system in general. It's fast and simple, but unless you're overlevelled it requires you to pay attention and use your reflexes. It's not the greatest system ever made, but it works for me. Admittedly it does wear out its welcome after a while, but then the game's quite short, and Ys II adds a bit more meat by introducing magic into the mix.

The problem is that, as you say, it doesn't make for fun bosses. Although I'm inclined to think that, with a bit of creativity, they could have improved on those. They could have made the enemies' patterns more complex, or involved environmental factors, or made the objective to dodge the bosses' attacks while attempting to reach certain checkpoints scattered throughout a large room, or something more involved than a single boss in a single-screen empty room.

I like the game, so it's clearly not a deal breaker, but I would say that the boss fights are the game's biggest achilles heel.

Offline Pixelated Pixies

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Re: RFN RetroActive #26: Ys Book I&II (Official Discussion)
« Reply #36 on: March 11, 2013, 01:10:25 PM »
I could be convinced that the boss battles aren't inherently badly designed. The problem with the bosses though seems to be that they aren't conducive to Y's very particular style of combat. If the boss battles had more indicators or feedback to the player I think that would go some way towards resolving the problems that people are having with them. Jokes are often made about the fact that boss battles in video games often have glowing sections on their bodies, or giant eyes, or an exposed underbelly etc. The use of those types of indicators are perhaps a little trite, but at least they feedback information to the player. When games fail to provide that information they can become really frustrating for some people. I think this issue is exacerbated in the case of Y's because there's so little strategy to the combat that it often feels like you have no control over whether or not you win or lose. It can, therefore, feel like the boss battles are to reduced to 'level up to win'.
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Offline Fjurbanski

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Re: RFN RetroActive #26: Ys Book I&II (Official Discussion)
« Reply #37 on: March 11, 2013, 02:26:18 PM »
Quote
The problem is that, as you say, it doesn't make for fun bosses. Although I'm inclined to think that, with a bit of creativity, they could have improved on those. They could have made the enemies' patterns more complex, or involved environmental factors, or made the objective to dodge the bosses' attacks while attempting to reach certain checkpoints scattered throughout a large room, or something more involved than a single boss in a single-screen empty room.


But they DO do that, and for a game from 1990, they do enough to keep me interested. I'll put it in spoiler tags for people who haven't gotten there yet, but...


The very first boss in the game has environmental factors. The boss itself won't hurt you at all, but the fire pillars will. So you dodge the fire pillars and attack the boss whenever he appears.


The two masks is a very interesting boss battle. They both have protective orbs surrounding them, and you can only hurt the orange one. So you attempt to attack the orange one, while at the same time dodging the orbs. And then the masks will switch places. Sure, they're patterns aren't that complex, because they're symmetrical, but let's be honest, I think people would be complaining a lot more if that boss battle were overly complex. Then it really would be very hard.


The last boss in the game is plenty complex and gets even more complex as the fight continues. Every time you hit him part of the arena is taken away, giving you less room to maneuver. And first there's one orb trying to attack you, and later there's two. Once again, if the pattern the boss followed wasn't at least somewhat predictable, the boss would be a lot worse.


Quote
If the boss battles had more indicators or feedback to the player I think that would go some way towards resolving the problems that people are having with them. Jokes are often made about the fact that boss battles in video games often have glowing sections on their bodies, or giant eyes, or an exposed underbelly etc. The use of those types of indicators are perhaps a little trite, but at least they feedback information to the player. When games fail to provide that information they can become really frustrating for some people.


I kind of agree and disagree with this. Yes, the bosses had little indication of where to hit them, but that's because, for most of them, their entire body is where you need to hit them. Its just a matter of when. There are a few exception like the centipede boss, because he is attacking with a part of his body, therefore you must attack the part of his body that is not attacking you. But even then, its pretty obvious that you should not run into the giant pincers trying to bite you, but instead hit his backside But most of the bosses do not attack you with their bodies, but with something external, meaning whenever you do get the chance to attack their bodies you know you can do it without getting hurt. And whenever you land a successful hit, the screen flashes, you here that "hit" sound, and you see their life bar go down. That's a pretty obvious indication that you're hitting them at the right time.


Now, this does take some time and some experimentation, but that's not a bad thing, is it? Besides, at least this game encourages experimentation. Like I mentioned earlier, if you have the heal ring and save right outside the boss door, then you can fight the boss over and over without wasting any time. You don't have to save at a save point and slog all the way back to the boss door. That would discourage experimentation. With the system Ys I has, you can try several different approaches without being harshly punished for it.


So, do the boss fights have some issues? Sure, but I think they do plenty of things both outside of the fights and within the fights themselves to leverage those problems. In the end it makes for boss fights that are no better or worse than boss fights in any other game. And as far as this game is concerned, I find them way more fun then running around poor, maze-like level design, steam-rolling enemies with no thought.

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Offline Pixelated Pixies

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Re: RFN RetroActive #26: Ys Book I&II (Official Discussion)
« Reply #38 on: March 11, 2013, 02:37:37 PM »
@Fjurbanski
 
You make some good points. I can see where you're coming from, but I think we'll have to agree to disagree. I simply find the exploration and levelling up to be the most engaging part of the game (although as I've said in previous posts, even exploration has it's issues given the lack of any map feature). The problems I have with the bosses are alleviated by some of the game's features (Saving anywhere for example) but that doesn't make them any more enjoyable to me.
 
It's definitely a interesting game. I'm constantly conflicted while playing it, lol.
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Offline Fjurbanski

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Re: RFN RetroActive #26: Ys Book I&II (Official Discussion)
« Reply #39 on: March 11, 2013, 02:44:08 PM »
It's definitely a interesting game. I'm constantly conflicted while playing it, lol.


Oh, me too, definitely. I rag on the level design, but there are certain parts that I think are really well done. I like this, I don't like that, etc.
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Offline Pixelated Pixies

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Re: RFN RetroActive #26: Ys Book I&II (Official Discussion)
« Reply #40 on: March 11, 2013, 04:26:34 PM »
The use for the Misty Ice Drops? :confused;
 
I never would have tried that had I not referred to a guide. Some times games expect me to make these leaps of logic that I'm just not capable of making.
 


It can freeze air into ice? Surely it's the water in the air that's frozen into ice? And if it can freeze the water in the air into ice, thus creating a solid platform to walk on, then why can't it freeze the trickling waterfall into ice so that I can just walk up it? Also, if it can freeze air into Ice, then how come it only works in that once specific spot? Why can't I make platforms between all other gaps also? How was I to know that I had to use it in that specific spot?

 
See what I mean? My mind just doesn't seem to speak 'game developer'.
« Last Edit: March 11, 2013, 04:37:16 PM by Pixelated Pixies »
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Offline Fjurbanski

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Re: RFN RetroActive #26: Ys Book I&II (Official Discussion)
« Reply #41 on: March 11, 2013, 05:27:51 PM »
Yeah, that part has a lot of factors to it.


I think the mindset of the devs was that the player would get to part where the bridge is needed first and then realize that they couldn't get across without some kind of item they don't have yet. Because the gap where the bridge goes does have a slightly different design that is only seen in that area. Which is probably to draw the players eye there, making them see that something is off. Then later you'd find the item and say, "ah ha!"


So I get what they were going for, but that's definitely one area where they could do things better. For instance, have more than one area that you cannot cross without the item so that the player actively notices the trend of needing to make bridges. Maybe have giant icicles with water dripping from them over the are where the bridge should go. That's just a couple of ideas.
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Offline noname2200

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Re: RFN RetroActive #26: Ys Book I&II (Official Discussion)
« Reply #42 on: March 11, 2013, 05:49:59 PM »
I can also see where you're coming from, Fjubanski, but at the end of the day I just feel unsatisfied by Ys I's bosses. I don't share many of the other complaints about the game, not even the lack of a map (not that I'd turn my nose up at one, but aside from the caves at the start of II I don't find the areas large or complex enough to get lost for long), but the boss fights always bugged me. The final fight was the only one that I really appreciated; like I said before, it feels "epic" without being lengthy.

Admittedly, the music may play a large role in that. I do love this game's soundtrack...



Offline Pixelated Pixies

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Re: RFN RetroActive #26: Ys Book I&II (Official Discussion)
« Reply #43 on: March 11, 2013, 05:58:29 PM »
I don't share many of the other complaints about the game, not even the lack of a map (not that I'd turn my nose up at one, but aside from the caves at the start of II I don't find the areas large or complex enough to get lost for long

Yeah, since I've got past that first section of the second game (the mines) the two areas after that have been effortless. It seems to be another example of the game being uneven in spots. That first mine area absolutely needs a map. The two areas after that (I can't speak to the remainder of the game) are relatively straight forward and don't need a map. It seems like an odd way to kick off your game.
 
I do love this game's soundtrack

I've had this song in my head for the last week. It's incredible.
 

« Last Edit: March 11, 2013, 06:19:58 PM by Pixelated Pixies »
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Offline Fjurbanski

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Re: RFN RetroActive #26: Ys Book I&II (Official Discussion)
« Reply #44 on: March 11, 2013, 06:03:51 PM »
Book II's level design is certainly better than Book I's, and doesn't need a map system nearly as much.


I don't even think the Mine in Book II was that bad, even though it did have a lot of dead ends. The worst part of that area to me was that if there was a doorway on the side or top of the screen, you could see it. But if there was a doorway on the bottom, depending on where it is, it just blended into the wall and I couldn't see it. So I couldn't find areas simply because there was a door right in front of my face that I couldn't see.


But aside from that, it's manageable without a map.
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Offline Mop it up

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Re: RFN RetroActive #26: Ys Book I&II (Official Discussion)
« Reply #45 on: March 11, 2013, 07:04:36 PM »
GameStop was a no go, I'll have to sit this one out. :(

Offline noname2200

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Re: RFN RetroActive #26: Ys Book I&II (Official Discussion)
« Reply #46 on: March 12, 2013, 01:24:27 PM »
That's too bad: not only would it have been nice to get more voices in this discussion, but the DS (and PC/NES etc.) version is noticeably different than the Turbografx version the majority of us seem to be playing. It would have been interesting to hear how the altered mechanics affected the gameplay.

Offline Rodrigue

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Re: RFN RetroActive #26: Ys Book I&II (Official Discussion)
« Reply #47 on: March 13, 2013, 08:40:54 AM »
If I can I want to get a version of this and finish the first part by next week before listening to the podcast.


Apparently the DS version isn't very good, so is the PSP version on PSN available for purchase on the Vita, and how does it compare to the Steam version, gameplay-wise, graphics-wise and price-wise?

Offline Ibogaine_Effect

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Re: RFN RetroActive #26: Ys Book I&II (Official Discussion)
« Reply #48 on: March 13, 2013, 02:23:21 PM »
First post on the forum, I finished Book I last night on the Wii VC.

It's a really strange game. I'll have more comments/observations later when I have more time, but it's kinda striking how small the adventure is. I don't know to what extent Book I is just a prelude to Book II, but the entire game here consists of two small towns, a tiny field that doesn't even qualify as an overworld, two medium dungeons and one big-ass dungeon. And that one big-ass dungeon is literally half the total play time. I don't think this is necessarily a bad thing, but the pacing/structure of the game is just really really weird, there's never a sense that you're really building or advancing to anything, you just do some odd jobs then go at this tower and that's it.

Darm Tower is really interesting from an art perspective. It's cool the way they try to represent the 3D structure of the tower in 2D backgrounds. It doesn't really work and I'm certain the layout doesn't make any physical sense at all (it doesn't help that you go in doors facing up and out them facing down so there's no way to make any sense of the layout), but they do some neat tricks with the parts outside the tower to convey the 3D structure. It took me a while to figure out what they were trying to show, and it probably would have been helpful if we'd had one of the ending cutscenes showing the outside of the tower BEFORE starting the dungeon just to give some hint of what they were going for. I always think this kind of thing is interesting though, the kinda crazy solutions 2D artists had to come up with to make sensible 3D spaces in their games.

Final quick observation, there's definitely some adventure game logic going on that's not always actually logical. Though I tried to do as much of the game as possible without a guide, there were times when I had to consult one because there are just certain things you have to do in certain orders that don't seem to make much sense. To the game's credit, they do give you some good hints and in retrospect you can kinda sorta see how they tried to suggest the order to you, but often times you have to have a certain random item in a certain place to trigger events and it seems kinda random. Like, how are you supposed to know that a mid-game boss can only be damaged by a certain sword if you don't even know that sword exists yet and you have to completely exit the dungeon to get the sword? That kind of stuff, I'd say I'm just soft now but I consulted guides to beat the original LoZ back in the day too... there's a thin line between overly obtuse game design and outright handholding, this game is on the former side a bit and I'm glad I have the internet to help me out. FYI, if you haven't checked gamefaqs for this game you should at some point, the guy who wrote the guide for this wrote it sorta like a story, telling what Adol does in a third person past tense perspective, it's corny but kinda cool.

Well, that was a longish first post. Like I said, maybe more comments to come, hope these are a good start.

Offline Pixelated Pixies

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Re: RFN RetroActive #26: Ys Book I&II (Official Discussion)
« Reply #49 on: March 13, 2013, 03:09:36 PM »
@Ibogaine_Effect
 
Great post mate. I totally agree about it being interesting how the game designers tried to portray a physical 3D environment, with insides and outsides. It was not completely successful, but it was certainly interesting.
 
I've been really digging these games so far, despite having used a guide on several occasions. I've tried to take a page from Dr Mett's books and have used a guide for those sections where I'm not having fun. Seems to be working so far. I don't, however, like playing a game with the guide open. That kind of kills the enjoyment for me.
 
As I said previously, I'm now in Book II and am enjoying it quite a bit more than the first game. I've come across a demon called 'Keith'... So, yeah...10 out of 10.
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