<<< Prior Page    

    Next Page >>>

Page 1:
Ys Book I & II

Page 2:
Ys III

Page 3:
Ys IV

Page 4:
Ys V

Page 5:
Ys VI
Ys: The Oath in Felghana

Page 6:
Ys Origin
Ys Seven

Page 7:
Spinoffs
Anime/Soundtracks

Back to the Index

By Kurt Kalata, last updated 11/27/10

In the world of action-RPGs, Falcom's Ys series is the sad underdog. Despite the fact that the Japanese practically have a annual holiday for it, Ys has remained unfortunately obscure outside of its homeland. Maybe this due to the burden of being saddled with a slightly unpronounceable name - it sounds like "ease". Note that the title is not "Y's" and there is no apostrophe, despite what some early marketing material may have indicated. Its full title - Ancient Ys Vanished Omens - is a grammatical quandary of tremendous proportions. Or maybe it's because they never really appeared on mainstream systems in America - the original games were released on the Master System and Turbografx-16 CD, hardly places for them to truly show gamers what they're all about - fast paced action and adventure in faraway lands, damsels in distress, and some of the best music in the history of all video gaming.

Ys Eternal

Adol Christin

The star of Ys is Adol Christin, red haired swordsman extraordinaire. With nothing but his fiery mane, mad sword skills and extreme wanderlust, Adol travels the world, uncovering ancient civilizations, aiding villagers in need, and generally being an all-around nice guy. Like so many Japanese RPGs, Adol almost never speaks directly, and in the games where he does, he's not voiced. While the art style has changed over the years, the basic character design hasn't.



Ys III (MSX)
Ys III (TG16)
Ys IV (TG16)

Ys actually refers to a floating island in the sky, long removed from the soil to seal away some terrible evil. The first two games focus on the civilization and story of the flying continent, although later games send Adol off to other lands, only occasionally returning to its myth and lore. The land of Eresia - where all of the Ys games take place - is even slightly based off Europe. It's amusing to note that Esteria, where the first game takes place, is in France. There was actually a lost ancient city by the name of Ys, built near Brittany. While not floating in the sky, it was built below sea level, but surrounded by dams. As the story goes, the devil opened the gates and flooded the city, as punishment for being too decadent. Other games take place in various analogues to real places - Ys V takes place in Afroca, which is naturally Africa, and features the city of Xandria, which is Alexandria. Ys VI takes place in the Great Vortex of Canaan, which is essentially the Bermuda Triangle, with a bit of the Atlantis myth sprinkled in. Ys VII takes place in the equivalent of Carthage. All throughout the series, Adol runs in with the somewhat evil Romun Empire, which is an extremely transparent allusion to the Romans.

Even though all of the games take place in different regions, with a largely different cast of characters, there's lot of continuity like this spread throughout the game world. For example, Dogi, an extremely minor character in the original Ys (he busts you out of a prison) ends up becoming one of the primary characters in Ys III, and pops in throughout the series, eventually becoming a main character in Ys Seven. In Ys II, you find the Celceta Flower to cure Lilia - you actually visit the country of Celceta in Ys IV.

Of course, traditional adventure games would be nothing a fair amount of damsels. Since Adol is a man's man, he has no time for this romance foolishness, and shirks them off in favor of adventure. But chicks dig do-gooders (in this fantasy universe, anyway) and Ys has no shortage of women pawing for Adol's attention. The Ys girls are much like Bond girls, discarded and unremembered in each passing installment (with the exception of Lilia, who makes it through a couple sequels) but it's amusing recurring elements nonetheless.

From a gameplay perspective, Ys differentiates itself from practically all other action RPGs with its combat system - or, it could be said, the apparent lack thereof. Adol is far too badass to rely on an attack button. Instead, you kill bad guys simply by ramming into them. This might seem stupid at first, but there's a bit of technique to it. You can't just blaze into bad guys head-on, as this will cause you to be quite dead. Instead, you have to hit them off-angle. This can be somewhat difficult to do, because in most of the early versions, you can only walk in the four directions and cannot move diagonally.

Certain games in the series are pickier on this aspect than others - the early PC games often require you to aim precisely unless you want to take damage, while the 16-bit titles tend to be more lenient. Nevertheless, much of your success depends entirely on your strength level. So you spend a majority of the time running around the landscape, plowing through bad guys like an invincible roving wall of destruction and collecting their luscious experience points. Since attacking enemies properly can be a bit difficult at first, the games grant you a bit of leeway by letting your health regenerate in outdoor areas, as long as you stand still. However, once you enter a dungeon, you're pretty much on your own, relying only on what small amount of healing supplies you can bring.

It may all sound overly simplistic, considering much of what you do is roam the landscape, ramming into every enemy you see, but that's really part of the fun. Ys doesn't bog itself down with puzzles or aimless wandering. For the most part, they're straight, no-nonsense adventures that are usually fairly short (by RPG standards) but still full of the same sense of wonder and adventure that have made the Zelda games so consistently popular.

While the graphics seem simplistic - and they are, in the older games - back in the day, the character artwork whenever you entered shops was simply amazing. The TG-16 version was one of the first games released on the CD platform, and was a fine platform to show off some impressive anime-style cutscenes. Another major trademark of the series - the action taking place in a decorated window frame - was ditched for later games. While it added an interesting feel, the actual playing field ended up feeling rather cramped.

Ys began its lineage on Japanese home computers such as the PC88 and MSX, although they're received ports to almost every major console. Ys III departed from the series by shifting to the third person view, but both Ys IVs (there are two entirely separate games) brought the classic overhead view back into play. Ys V drastically changed the formula by actually giving Adol an attack (and jump) button, while Ys VI brought the series into 3D, sort of. For a series that's over two decades old, it's come a long way.

Ys III Artwork

Ys V Artwork

Ys Title Screen

Ys (MSX)

Ys (Turbografx-16)

Ys Eternal

Ancient Ys Vanished Omens (イース) - MSX2 / PC88 / PC98 / X1 Turbo / FM77 / PC DOS / Apple II GS / Famicom / Sega Master System / X68000 / Turbografx 16 CD / Saturn / Windows / Playstation 2 / Nintendo DS / PSP (1987)


Ys I MSX Cover

Ys Eternal Artwork

Ys II Eternal Artwork

The original Ys game begins with Adol in the country of Esteria, there to uncover the mystery of the vanished land. With the help of a mysterious fortune teller, Adol begins to learn of six priests and two goddesses who ruled the land of Ys. Apparently by uniting the books left by the priests, one can unlock the secrets of the floating continent. Not only that, but a number of unfortunate things are happening, what with all the monsters running around and the cryptic shortage of silver artifacts. Naturally, it's up to Adol to investigate. Along the way, you'll run into the descendants of the priests, discover the goddess, and find just why there's a gigantic crater in the middle of Esteria.

Characters

Feena:

An apparent amnesiac who you find locked underneath a shrine. As it turns out, she is actually one of the two goddesses of Ys.

Reah:

At first, Reah (also known as Lair in some translation) just seems to be a poet who's a little too lazy to look for her lost harmonica. She is also, rather unexpectedly, a goddess of Ys.

Sara

The fortune teller who first gets you started on your journey. She disappears halfway through the game - in the Turbografx version, she is merely kidnapped. Her fate is much worse in other versions.

The Bad Guy:

Dark Fact

Also going under several names, depending on the translation (alternate names include "Dark Dukt" and "Dulk Fukt"), he is one of the descendants of the priests of Ys - and also a bad guy, if the horns didn't give it away.

The first Ys game is incredibly short. There's only a tiny overworld, two towns and three dungeons. The biggest flaw is the sheer amount of backtracking you have to do - sure, it's not a huge world, but you'll spend a lot of time running back and forth between towns. And the final dungeon - a 25 floor behemoth of a building, called Darm Tower - is so huge that it takes up nearly half the play time of the entire game. Which, all in all, is really only about four or five hours. As a whole, it really just feels like a prelude to the real game - Ys II: The Final Chapter (which, of course, pretty far from being final.)

Ys I & II are so closely intertwined that they're often bundled together as a single game. They use the same basic gameplay systems, after all, and the ending of Ys I, where Adol is teleported to the floating continent, is essentially the intro to Ys II.

MP3s

First Steps Towards War - PC88
First Steps Towards War - TG16 CD
First Steps Towards War - Saturn
First Steps Towards War - Ys Eternal Complete PC
Holders of Power TG16 CD
Palace of Destruction TG16 CD

Ys II: The Final Chapter (イースII) - MSX2 / PC88 / PC98 / X1 Turbo / FM77 / Famicom / Turbografx 16 CD / Saturn / Windows 98 / Playstation 2 / DOS (Korean) / Nintendo DS / PSP (1988)

Ys II actually begins with Adol defeating the evil Dark Fact, finding all six books, and being transported to the floating continent of Ys, where civilization still lives and prospers. Adol begins his journey through the ancient land, uncovering more of the mysteries of the six priests, and discovering (and eventually defeating) the evil that had been contained in there. Naturally, his adventure lead him to save young girls in distress, investigate kidnapped children and save sacrificial maidens.

Characters

>

Lilia

Lilia finds Adol lying in the field after he's catapulted through the sky. Although she is quite kind, she is also tragically unaware that she has a terrible illness that will kill her any day. After Adol repays his debt by finding the cure, Lilia develops a hilariously overbearing crush that's powerful enough to bleed into the later games. She is not a goddess of Ys, although she is extremely inconvenient, in that all she really does is get kidnapped.

>

Maria

Maria is kidnapped to make a sacrifice by some evil monsters, and her lousy fianc?e isn't man enough to save her. Well, Adol is.

>

Darm

While his henchman Dalles does most of the dirty work through the game, the true enemy is Darm (or Dahm, depending on the translation), with that incredible mask. (This pic is from the TG16 version, not the Eternal version, like all of the others.)

While extremely similar on the surface, Ys II is much more fleshed out than its predecessor. It's much longer, for starters, sending Adol through ancient shrines, snowy mountains and volcanoes. But the biggest addition are the magic spells. With the flame spell, Adol can actually attack from a distance, making the whole battle system feel less arbitrary. The boss battles have been fleshed out considerably as well, making them less frustrating. But far and away the coolest is the Transform spell, which turns Adol into a happy little red haired demon. Not only are you invincible to monsters, but you can actually converse with them, discovering clues and their true feelings about being a bad guy in a video game. You even use it as a fair bit of trickery, invading enemy compounds, while all of the guards chatter about some intruder. Admittedly, some of the mazes are somewhat irritating - the first maze, taking place in a gigantic series of interconnected rooms, is a bit annoying. But otherwise, it's an excellent evolution of everything the first game was.

MP3s

Palace of Solomon - TG16 CD
Ruins of Moondoria - TG16 CD
To Make The End of Battle - TG16 CD

Both Ys titles originally came out on several Japanese computer systems, including the PC88, PC98, FM77AV and MSX2. The first game also came out in America for the PC and Apple IIgs courtesy of Kyodai, although the DOS version has features music from terrible internal speaker. Naturally, these are a little primitive, featuring slow moving gameplay and lots of time spent bashing bad guys before you level up. Still, some of the character portraits are reasonably impressive for their time. The PC88 versions in particular have some excellent music, mostly due to the advanced FM sound chip. The music for the original versions was composed by Mieko Ishikawa and Yuzo Koshiro.

Ys first hit the consoles for the Famicom in 1988, with Ys II hitting 1989. Some of the maps have been drastically redesigned in both games and there's some extra music as well, and Ys II speeds up the gameplay quite a bit. Ys I also has an additional boss in Darm Tower, as well as a second form for the final boss.

The Sega Master System game was the first to come out in America, under the title Ys: The Vanished Omens, although the gameplay speed more matches the computer versions. Some of the dungeon maps have had their layout mirrored, and there's some weird translations in the English version, as our hero Adol is known as Aron.

Shopkeeper Graphics

PC 88
MSX
Famicom
Sega Master

TG16
X68000
Saturn
Windows

The 16-bit generation of Ys games began with their port to the Turbografx-16 CD, published by Hudson and developed by Alfa Systems. This was translated into English and released in America as one of the system's flagship titles. The first two Ys games are combined into one big adventure, with stats carrying over from one game to the next, as well as a few additional scenes (like Adol getting off the ship at the beginning of the game) and more anime style artwork. While the overhead graphics are still generally unimpressive and the scrolling is a little choppy, the CD music really makes the game shine. Despite all of the future remakes of the first two Ys games, the Turbografx version still contains the best arrangements you'll hear of these songs. Many of these were taken or rearranged from the Ys Perfect Collection CDs, which was done by Ryo Yonemitsu. There's also a fair bit of voice acting, which is competently done compared to the other English games that came out for the system. The gameplay speed has also been ramped up quite a bit, which jump kicks the game's otherwise slow speed. To compensate for the juiced up pace, the hit detection is less fussy when it comes to combat. Until the Eternal versions came out, this was widely considered the definitive version of Ys, and can still be found to download on the Wii Virtual Console.

The first Ys came out on the Sharp X68000 computer in 1991 and, much like the Famicom ports, takes a lot of liberty with the maps, redesigning many of them. Some of these decisions are a little weird, as the field is almost entirely gone, reduced to a tiny forest path from the first town to the second. This is one of the only versions to have realistically proportioned character graphics, although the artwork for the shopkeepers is just hideously bad. Still, the high res graphics are quite nice looking.

A few years down the line, JVC released two "Classics" packages for the Saturn. The first package, released in 1997, contains a remake of Ys, as well as Xanadu and Dragon Slayer. The graphics obviously look a lot more detailed, but they're all a bit drab compared to the bright palette of the Turbografx games, despite some nice new character portraits. The music, despite being redbook, also pales greatly in comparison, with very MIDI-esque arrangements. There's no voice acting or even much of an intro. But while the presentation screams "budget title", the gameplay has at least been suitably beefed up. While it takes a long item to level up (like the old computer versions), Adol can finally run, as well as move diagonally. These small gameplay enhancements almost, almost make it better than the Turbografx version. As a bonus, certain version of the Falcom Classics bundle comes with an additional CD. You'll find a CD drama here, as well as a video of one of the voice actresses taking a tour of the Falcom store in Japan (and losing terribly at a game of Ys.)

A second Falcom Classics package was released in 1998, featuring a remake of Ys II, as well as an older Falcom game called Asteka II: The Temple of the Sun. It seems like JVC put a bit more effort into this one - there's some voices, as well as an anime intro, and even scenes from the original Ys game with voiceovers, as if JVC were making an apology. Otherwise, the enhancements are pretty much the same: more detailed graphics but less vibrant, and mediocre arrangements of the music. The second CD included with the limited edition simply has some music selections from Ys II and Asteka, since they aren't redbook on the game CD.

While the Saturn versions are passable, they never quite lived up to their potential. Later in 1998. Falcom brought to the original Ys game back to the computer, this time for Windows 98. Under the name Ys Eternal, this isn't just yet another port, it's practically a whole remake. All of the graphics have been redone in glorious high-res, with lots of nifty little added effects - you can see little sword swishes when Adol attacks, and enemies don't just blink and disappear when they die - they splatter and fall apart in a cloud of blood and dismembered limbs. The new character artwork is all spectacularly gorgeous as well. But the real appeal is just how expanded the game is. Instead of beginning the game in the town of Minea, Adol is washed on shore in the entirely new town of Barbado. There's a lot of extra characters (and a few minor subquests), and while it feels a little tacked on, it's nice to see the original game expanded. The overworld is now much, much larger as well, with a lot more to see and do. There are a couple of minor additions too, like having to guide Feena out of the shrine, and plenty of Easter eggs. Alas, in spite of the expansions, it's still quite a short game. And unfortunately, there's no voice acting here either. For the music, there are several new MIDI renditions, some of which are extended quite a bit. They're far better than the Saturn version, but still not quite as good as the Turbografx or Perfect Collection CDs.

Not stopping there, Falcom went ahead and made Ys II Eternal in 2000 with the same enhancements, and even more detailed graphics. Since Ys II is a much longer game to begin with, the expansions aren't nearly as noticeable as they are in the original. However, the battle system has changed drastically. You no longer need to worry about hitting your enemies straight on - ram into them and you're guaranteed to hurt them. Instead, enemies will blink every couple seconds and take a swipe at you - all you have to do is avoid those attacks. The bosses have also been redone to look absolutely amazing.

In 2001, Falcom bundled both Eternal games, enhanced the graphics on the first title to make them match the brilliance of the second, and released them together under the name Ys Complete, this time with a fully animated intro. While the plans to release this package in America fell through, a fan translated patch exists that puts 90% of these games in English, as well as enabling play on non-Japanese Windows systems.

Perhaps feeling that console gamers were neglected, Digicube brought the remakes to the PS2 under the title Ys I & II Eternal Story. For the most part, it's a pretty straight port of the Windows version, with the graphics coming through remarkably well on a television screen. There's an additional mode that rebalances the level up system, although it doesn't combine the games a la the Turbografx-16 version. There's also a bonus "Dream World" where you can meet two additional characters named Misha and Jeanne. It's really just a fancy front end for an artwork gallery and a sound test, although there are a few minor subquests that unlock stuff in this mode. A few minor changes have been made to the weapon system, however. Normally, whenever you get a new piece of equipment, the old one becomes entirely useless. Not so here - each weapon has its own unique attribute. For instance, the Short Sword can be used to stun powerful enemies before you finish them off with a more powerful weapon. Switching between your weapons is as easy as pressing the shoulder triggers. It's not a gigantic addition, but it adds a tiny bit of depth to the combat. Other than that, voice acting has been added once again, although the MIDI arrangements as the music are still there, and instrumentation isn't quite as good as the PC version. The only other real problem is the annoying amount of load time - it feels like a PSOne game with all of the waiting you'll have to do. NEC Interchannel was going to bring this to America, although Sony rejected it. The company went on to publish just two games - Culdcept for the PS2 and Tube Slider for the Gamecube - before closing up their American division.

In turn, these Eternal ports were used for the basis of Nintendo DS versions of the first two games, released separately by Interchannel in Japan in 2008, and bundled together on the same card by Atlus in America in 2009. While all of the sprites are 2D, the background graphics are 3D...and very bad 3D at that. It's quite pixellated, but at least it moves quickly. The problem is that the screen is zoomed in so far that it's hard to see the surrounding areas, and the map on the lower screen isn't as useful as it should be. Also, the battle mechanics have changed a bit too. In order to attack, to have to hit the "sword" button right before you collide - the angle of attack doesn't really matter so much as your timing. It's not bad, but it takes a bit of getting used to. You can also play with the classic "bump" mechanic, but only if you're using the stylus controls, which controls terribly. The music isn't quite up to par with the PC release, but it's actually slightly better than the PS2 game. There's a new stage added to Ys I - Vageux-Vardette, the crater where used to reside, which you visit in order to search for Sarah after exploring the temple. It's short, but has a new boss. Otherwise, there's not much new content - the rest of the artwork and movies are straight from Ys Eternal, although it's missing the extra characters from the PS2 port. They're both a bit janky, but not terrible, and it's the first time Ys I & II have seen official releases in English since the Turbografx-16 CD days, even if the translations done by Atlus aren't quite consistent with previous releases (the Palace of Solomon is known as the Palace of Salmon, Dr. Flair is Dr. Fleah, etc.)

Falcom went and outdid themselves in 2009 by releasing Ys I & II Chronicles for the PSP. This is yet another port of Ys Complete, although it's much better than the DS version, especially since it's not only entirely 2D, but includes both games. The interface is redone so the map takes up the whole screen, and there's an option to play with brand new character artwork, but otherwise, these are pretty much the same as the PC version. (It doesn't include the extra area or boss from the DS version.) The coolest option is the ability to play with three soundtracks: the original FM synth PC88 music, the version from the original 1998 Eternal release, and a brand new set of arrangements done by Yukihiro Jindo, who did a similar revamp on Ys: Oath in Felghana. They're fantastic renditions and proudly stand up next to the Turbografx-16 versions in quality. A PC version of Ys Chronicles was released on the PC, but it's a shameful port that just takes the PSP game, cramped resolution and all, and sticks it on the computer.

There are also several Ys games for mobile phones. A 2D version was created and released in America, while a 3D version was also released in Japan. Most interesting is "Ys Gaiden", where you play parts of the game as Dogi and presumably burst through a lot of walls.

In 1994, Korean company Mantra brought Ys II to DOS, renaming it Ys II Special in the process. But it was more than just a mere port, as Mantra drastically redesigned and expanded the game into something completely new and unique. In fact, it's far more fleshed out than even Falcom's own remake Ys II Eternal. The artwork was done by manwha artist Lee Myungjin.

Naturally, all of the text is in Korean, so good luck trying to figure out what's going on. Apparently the plot vaguely follows the Ys II anime, so you need to save Lilia from getting sacrificed at the beginning instead of finding her some medicine. All of the maps have been completely redone, with much longer dungeons and bigger field segments. There's actually an area to explore in between the village and the ruins at the beginning of the game. With all of the extra maps, there's a bunch of new songs, and they're just as excellent as the tunes Falcom composed - it's too bad they never got rearranged or used in any other version. The graphics are entirely new, although they closely resemble the PC Engine version of Ys IV. Some of the mechanics have changed slightly though. There's now a sword button, although you can still ram into enemies if your level is high enough. You can only regain health or save the game by staying at an inn, but will send you back to the beginning of an area if you get killed, so it's not totally unforgiving.

It's an excellent game, and quite possibly the best version of Ys II, except for one major problem - the bugs. Early versions of DOSBox had problems, although more recent versions run it just fine. A CD version was planned to add voices and redbook music, although it never came to fruition.

MP3s

Field

Download

Ys II Special


Ys (MSX)


Ys (SMS)


Ys (Famicom)


Ys (Famicom)


Ys II (Famicom)


Ys (Turbografx-16)


Ys (Turbografx-16)


Ys II (Turbografx-16


Ys II (Turbografx-16)


Ys (X68000)


Ys (X68000)


Ys (Saturn)


Ys (Saturn)


Ys II (Saturn)


Ys II (Saturn)


Ys Eternal (Windows)


Ys II Eternal (Windows)


Ys II Eternal (Windows)


Ys II Eternal (Windows)


Ys Eternal Story (PS2)


Ys I (DS)


Ys I Chronicle (PSP)

Ys - Screenshot Comparisons

MSX
PC88
PC DOS

Sega Master System

Famicom

Turbografx-16 CD

X68000

Saturn

Windows 98
DS

PSP

Artwork Comparisons - Feena

Turbografx 16 CD

Saturn
Windows
PSP

Ys II Screenshot Comparisons

MSX
PC88
Turbografx-16 CD

Famicom

Saturn

Windows 98
DS

PSP

Ys II Special Screenshots

"

<<< Prior Page    

    Next Page >>>

Page 1:
Ys Book I & II

Page 2:
Ys III

Page 3:
Ys IV

Page 4:
Ys V

Page 5:
Ys VI
Ys: The Oath in Felghana

Page 6:
Ys Origin
Ys Seven

Page 7:
Spinoffs
Anime/Soundtracks


Back to the Index