Ys I & II Chronicles PSP Review
Publisher – XSEED Games – Developer – Nihon Falcom – Genre – Action RPG – Players – 1 – Age Rating – 12+ – Other console/handheld formats – N/A
As the name suggests, Ys I & II Chronicles features the first two games in the Ys series, two games of which are directly related to one another on a narrative level. It allows you to experience the beginnings of a long enduring series, albeit with upgraded visuals and higher quality sound.
Ys introduced series hero the armour clad and red headed youth Adol Christin, a character very much in line with Zelda’s link in the way that he never has much to say for himself. The story is minimalistic in its delivery, with few real surprises along the way and little to no character development to speak of, though every line of dialogue is well written enough to make the otherwise banal storylines into something more engaging.
The music has long been considered as a series highlight, and this version brings with it excellent modern renditions of each of the pieces featured in both games. Fans will appreciate the chance to have the original versions of the pieces accompanying their journey to better emulate their memories, though it’s just a pity that such luxuries don’t extend to the visuals also, though the new style is nicely drawn and characterful enough.
The battle system conversely is unlike anything else. There’s no melee attack button and attacking is simply triggered by, of all things, bumping into your enemies. There’s a level of skill required to attack from the right angle so that you’re able to minimize the damage to Adol, particularly as you’re not able to sustain much damage before Adol kicks the proverbial bucket.
Ys II’s largest addition in a mechanical sense was the introduction of magic allowing you to attack from a distance, providing you have the MP to do so, which grants an additional layer to the fighting, whilst the world is more generous in scope, but otherwise the two games are much the same as one another.
Of importance to progression is your level and equipment and, as with many vintage RPG’s, grinding is required throughout. The first game has a mere level cap of 10 and many will reach this peak long before they step foot in the final dungeon, though bosses largely require skill to overcome, even once you have upgraded to the best equipment possible at that point and attained a sufficient enough level.
The bosses often require deft dodges from lasers and such, often making it feel more like an old school style shooter than your typical RPG. Sadly the occasional boss is cheap in their design, with one notorious instance being the original games’s Vagullion, a bane of many Ys players over the years. Such are the split seconds that you have the opportunity to inflict damage upon him, victory over him feels more luck based above anything else.
Both games have you exploring dungeon environments, seeking out chests and levelling up, all in the traditional RPG fashion that so many find compulsive. Sadly, there’s no map to aid you in your dungeon exploits, made all the worse when you consider that the layout of them can be complicated and labyrinth in nature.
As RPG’s, the two games are slender compared to most others in the genre, with merely around 15 to 20 hours required to complete both games, even with completing all of the sidequests (most commonly of the fetch variety) on offer, though on the good side their compact size means that they never suffer from the padding that all too often blights the typically epic genre.
For long term fans, Ys I & II Chronicles will serve as a welcome update of the two featured games, and such people will relish revisiting them in spruced up form, whilst others could find a pleasant history lesson covering the earliest period of the series, provided that they’re able to accept its simplicity and archaic ways and if so, like others before them did so many years ago and in the intervening time since, they may well find a place in their heart for the series.