Legacy of Ys: Books I & II - Reader Review  

Yet Another Remake
by KnightTrain

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Very Easy
Less than 20 Hours
+ Charming story
+ Fast pace battle system
+ Perfect for very casual RPGamers
- Nothing new to offer
- Poor interaction
- Challenge has no meaning here
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   Many games that come out these days seem to be a remake of an older game. For better or for worse, this allows veteran gamers to replay their favorite games of the past, while at the same time new gamers are given an opportunity to find out what they have been missing. Legacy of Ys: Books I and II is such a game. First released in Japan in 1987, both Ys I and Ys II have been remade a number of times with only a few being released overseas. This time, the JRPG publishing powerhouse Atlus has decided to release Falcom's two classic games once again on none other than the Nintendo DS as Legacy of Ys: Books I & II. While a promising title, the game itself ends up being very simple in just about every aspect. However, it does bring a lot of charm, and those who are looking for an uncomplicated, straightforward game might find Legacy of Ys quite enjoyable. The story begins with Adol Christin being found washed up on the shore of a land called Esteria. While it's unclear what his actual motives are, it seems that his goal is to explore this land and uncover the mystery of the lost civilization of Ys which once made its home there. Along the way he meets many people who not only help him achieve his goal, they may also have a strong connection with the ancient utopia that suddenly disappeared 700 years ago. Book I ends after Adol completes the first stage of his Journey with Book II starting right where the first left off, both books together telling one complete story. The story has a very interesting premise. It's a little clichˇ to be sure, but engaging nonetheless. The method that it is told, though, is very shallow (being a remake of a 20+ year-old game, it's probably to be expected). NPC dialogue is very limited. Only a few NPCs will give the player substantial information about the nature of his quest and what it is Adol is looking for. It is also disappointing that Adol is a stereotypical silent protagonist, never speaking a word yet blindly heading into any sort of danger because someone he just met asked him nicely. It's very "old school" that way. Yet despite these flaws, it's not completely unenjoyable. There are still a few favorable moments, the localization is without blemish, and the ending presents itself fairly well.

   Legacy of Ys has a action-based battle system similar to the Zelda series with it's own twist. Upon the sighting of a baddy the player must ram into the enemy to cause damage. Players will wield the stylus and guide Adol across the touch-screen to face a variety of different foes. When coming into contact with a foe Adol will swing his sword wildly until you kill the monster or back off. Seems easy, but there's a catch: facing an enemy head-to-head is a bad idea that will get you killed faster than a slap in the face; the enemy will cause more damage to Adol than he will to it. The trick is to ram at the enemy from behind or at an angle. This all probably sounds very easy, and frankly it is. It is easy to get into the habit of just running around flying through enemies without a care in the world. The problem with this is when the player becomes a little too careless and happens upon a newer monster thinking it surely can't be any stronger than the hordes of weaklings the next room over. Frustration will only ensue when that newer monster swiftly turns around and pummels Adol to death in less than 2 seconds, leaving the player agitatedly wondering when he/she last saved. That being said, remembering to save often is the key to an easy play-through. If the player keeps this in mind, then the battle system can be fun, intuitive, and fast paced. Those who are turned of by this style of play need not worry. There is an option to turn off stylus gameplay and opt for the traditional use of the control pad and buttons. Playing this way, players won't have to worry so much about facing an enemy head on as long as he/she attacks so enemies won't be able to strike first. Part way through Ys Book II, Adol gains the ability to use magic which greatly reduces the difficulty of an already effortless battle system.

Crashin Crashin' Thrashin' Swordsman

   Although the game is very easy for the most part there are a few bugs and other such hinderances that detract from the overall gameplay. In some areas it is nearly impossible to use the stylus to guide Adol to the next room. When you can't move him far enough, players will be forced to change control style to "normal" and move Adol the rest of the way via the control pad. There is another annoying bug that causes the player to have to completely restart the DS hardware when someone Adol is escorting to safety dies. Additionally, Players are unable to access the inventory during boss battles. This is a problem if you do not have the correct magic equipped. Restarting or letting yourself die are the only obtions. Last but not least, there are a few known places (one where this reviewer mistakingly ran into) in which players can save themselves into wall, so to speak. Being able to save absolutely anywhere (except during boss fights), there are points in the game where this is not a good idea. The only solution will be to restart the game completely, causing undue amounts of frustration. Where other games give players such messages like, "there's no turning back from this point, are you sure you want to continue", this is a game that definitely was missing it. This really detracts from the game's overall experience if the player is unfortunate enough to run into this problem. Aside from bugs and design flaws, the game is really easy to navigate through. Certain NPCs will give clues to the player giving them hints as to how to progress. However, there are a few points where the direction isn't clear; NPCs clues are sometimes a little vague. Players might have to resort to trial and error during certain points.

   Apparently, Atlus thought the music of Ys was good enough that they decided to release an original soundtrack to go along with the purchase of the game. This was a really neat addition, as almost every track was remastered and added on to making each piece sound really good on any music player. This is not a review of the soundtrack, though. The sound present in the actual game is what matters most. That being said, the music is still quite enjoyable. What really stands out is that each area of the game has its own theme, and some tunes are actually pretty good. Most every song is upbeat and fun to listen to, adding an overalll light-hearted feel the game.

   When the game was first released, it was highly original. Today, though, it doesn't bring anything new to the table. The only thing different about this title is players are able to make use of the stylus to play through most of the game. Besides that, the game is a very simple example of how games used to be like, but now with prettier graphics.

Does it not seem like a lot of games start like this? Does it not seem like a lot of games start like this?

   On the visual side of things, Legacy of Ys does not make full use of the DS's graphical capabilities. The entire game is presented in 2D, and everything looks a little grainy. On the plus side, it's not too over the top, its very colorful, and the character artwork is well drawn. At the very start of both books, players are treated with a short anime FMV, but that is about the extent of the graphics. While good, there is nothing really special about how the game looks.

   Aside from a few minor hiccups in gameplay, Legacy of Ys: Books I & II is extremely easy and extremely short. A complete play-through of both games would take between 15 to 20 hours. If the player already knows what to do and where to go, Both games might be completed in less than 10 hours. The only real challenge provided is figuring out how to defeat certain bosses. Once the strategy is known everything is a cakewalk. Normal enemies will never hinder the player any more than what 3 to 5 minutes of grinding can't fix. Leveling is very easy, causing little to no down time. It may even be one of the easiest RPGs on the DS to date. Overall, this is a perfect game for casual players because of how short and simple it is. And though it doesn't excel on any aspect it is still a relatively decent game. For those looking for a straightforward story, fun music, and intuitive gameplay might take a liking to this game despite its mediocre qualities. Very serious gamers, however, might find that the $40 price tag is not worth the purchase for something with little to offer.

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