Back in the 90’s I played a game on my beloved Super NES called Ys III: Wanderers from Ys. It had a cool fantasy story, great music and was fun to play. Unfortunately it would be many years before I had the chance to research the Ys series and rediscover it. It wasn’t until a couple months ago, in fact, that I jumped back into the series. I decided to play them from the beginning, starting with Ys I & II Chronicles. I played the PSP version on my PSVita, but there are other editions as well, including Steam (PC). (The PSP/Vita version was just $14.99.) It’s a remake of the first 2 Ys games and includes remakes of Ys I: Ancient Ys Vanished and Ys II: Ancient Ys Vanished – The Final Chapter.
The first thing that stands out as far as the gameplay goes is the combat. Interestingly, there isn’t an attack button. I hadn’t played the original releases, so this was new to me. Instead of using a button to attack, you simply run into enemies. It sounds odd, but it was actually a lot of fun and made the combat super fast-paced. Your character (the red-haired Adol Christin) levels up quickly and there are a bunch of armor and weapons to buy or find, which boost his stats greatly.
The graphics have a nostalgic charm that fans of 16-bit games will love, and the anime style character drawings for dialogue and really nice as well. The music has a well deserved reputation for being really good, too. You can even switch between the default, newly remade music and older versions of the same songs, which was a really nice edition, especially for long time fans of the series.
Another strong point is the story. I won’t get into any details for fear of spoilers, but I really enjoyed the fantasy story and think that other fantasy fans will, too.
The only negative I found personally with the game was that the dungeons are super easy to get lost in and often times look a lot alike as you traverse them. This combined with the top-down view and the fact that some areas are really, really big made many areas confusing, frustrating and tedious. This was easily helped with walkthroughs, but that also made it a bit of a chore at times.
But overall, Ys I & II Chronicles shines, especially for it’s graphics, music, story and charm. If you’re looking for a fun fantasy game with a handheld option, and are a fan of classic action JRPGs you’ll like this one.