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Ys I & II Chronicles Review

Ys I & II Chronicles Review

Ys I & II, being the first two games in the long-running Ys series, have had quite a number of releases over the years. It’s hit a number of different platforms, including the PC88, TurboGrafx, PC, Nintendo DS and now the Sony PSP, each with their own tweaks to the game to fit the platform they were released on. XSEED Games and Falcom, who started their partnership last year with the release of Ys Seven, have set out on bringing the definitive version of Ys I & II to the PSP. The question is, how does this port in the long list of existing ports fare?

Being originally released in the 1980s, Ys I & II definitely show their roots in their story presentation. You take on the role of Adol Christin, a red-haired boy who sets off on a journey of excitement and ends up hitting a rough patch of weather while on the sea, washing up in a nearby coastal city where he learns of demon attacks which are driving the country’s citizens into hiding. As you progress through the game, it becomes clear that things aren’t as simple as they seem, with items called the Books of Ys being collected as you progress through your journey. These later become important to unraveling exactly what is causing this country’s plight and showing how to set things right.

Because the original platform for the series, the PC88, didn’t have enough space to release both games together in one game, Ys I and Ys II, while tied to the same story, were released in two separate parts, which is carried over into this PSP port. Both games share the “bump” system for attacking, which forces players to hit the enemy with your body to deal damage while at the same time aiming to their sides to not take damage. At first, this system seems odd and obtuse for a modern handheld RPG release, but once you get used to the mechanic, it makes passing through areas and dungeons much quicker than many other RPGs. Ys II adds various magic spells to the mix, but the same core battle mechanics stay in place in both entries.

Being that this is an older RPG, there are some grinding issues present in this release. Ys I, being merely a prelude to Ys II, only takes about 3-5 hours to complete and only allows for Adol to level up to Level 10. Levels control whether you win or lose in Ys I, and at times you’ll have to grind in the initial dungeons to get through some of the bosses. This issue becomes a bit worse in Ys II, which ups the level cap to 55, but lessens the EXP gained from enemies as you level up. This requires players to, at times, spend time farming enemies in one area of a dungeon, lest they get installed killed by enemies in a later part which Adol can’t touch with gaining more levels and grabbing enough gold to get the best weapons for that period in the game. Some of the latter bosses are particularly unfair in this regard, forcing players to gain 3-5 levels above what the enemies are at just to get through the boss fight with a sliver of life remaining. While this only occurs in a few parts of the game, it’s still an annoyance that could have been fixed with a few slight tweaks by Falcom for this release.

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