So this is a kind of project I’ve had rolling around in my brain for a while and I think this year I’m going to take a stab at it.
I’m gonna play the Ys series! Why? Well, I like Falcom a lot! I love the Trails series. I like the vibes their games have, they always keep this intimate feel even though they have narratives with high stakes. Their worlds and characters always feel like they’re made with immense care. And Ys is just a pillar of the medium! It has been around for such a long time and I find the way it has distinctly evolved over the years to be fascinating as it also tracks Falcom’s progression as a developer. Ys IX also came out in the US literally yesterday and it’s the latest game in the Ys timeline so I’d like to fill in some gaps before playing it.
My Ys history, before this current push, is this: almost none. I played Memories of Celceta(which is a remake of Ys IV, the only canon version of IV according to Falcom because the other versions were outsourced back in the day) on the Vita back when it came out and it wasn’t really anything special. It had the Falcom “feel” in spots but it also felt a bit of a formality since they hadn’t made their own version of IV before. Then I played like 75% of Ys VIII when it came out but I fell off of it when they announced they were going to do a complete re-localization of it to fix their now famously bad first script. I decided to wait but got pulled to other things.
So first step here is….the beginning! I just completed Ys 1 and had a great time with it. With the help of this HG101 article(http://www.hardcoregaming101.net/ys-book-i-ii/) on the first two games I decided to go for the PSP version: Ys 1 & 2 Chronicles. This version is based on the Eternal versions that were originally released on the PC in the late 90’s/early 00. They have entirely new graphics(which look really great), new content, new character art, new musical arrangements. I picked the PSP version because I could play it nice and comfy on my Vita and it had more bonus stuff like another set of updated character art and a few different soundtracks you could pick from(TG16, PC-88, and the new arrangements I think). I decided to play with the Eternal version art instead of the Chronicles art because wow it’s just so charming!!!
The PSP version also changed the UI, getting rid of the fancy border that seems to be on most of the early games in the series:
I think the PSP version is absolutely gorgeous. The pixels are plentiful and extremely detailed and it runs very smooth.
The gameplay uses the “bump” system that they utilized for a bit. In Ys 1 you just run into enemies to attack them, but you need to do it off-center of the enemy or they damage you. This is actually super fun!!! I cackled to myself a bunch just imagining Adol full on sprinting around this world, running into skeletons and making them explode. Then just sprint to the next spot with guitar music ripping in the background. Oh yeah the soundtrack owns but if you’re familiar with any Falcom game ever made then you know that’s just the standard for them. The bump system makes some of the bosses feel super fiddly, ESPECIALLY THE FINAL BOSS, but in normal play it’s always mad goofy and fun.
Structurally it’s also neat as you’re just dropped into the world after getting ship wrecked in a store which is also known as: The Ys Special. You just kinda run around and do shit. You talk to people, get clues where you need to go next, explore the world, exploit the broken level up system. It’s not a long game, I think I spent 6 hours with it? And like half of that is just the final dungeon. It’s not especially heavy on story but what is there is dripping in spoooooooky mysteries and ancient prophecies. Just good clean fun. Really loved seeing the beginning of Adol and Dogi. And just the creation of the stuff Ys is made of: fast movement, fast combat, shredding guitars, ancient civilizations, exploring, big trees, shipwrecks, curses. All of it was here!
My next one is finally finishing Ys VIII which I’ve been replaying on the Switch. I’ll save most of my thoughts for when I finish it but in short: it absolutely shreds. It’s meaty as hell. Story, movement, exploration, music. It’s all just a big steak to dig into. Maybe too big sometimes!!! The thing that makes it such a joy to me moment to moment is that the movement just feels soooooooooo good. The locomotion of your character running is just this unbelievably well tuned feeling. Every second you’re moving a character around it just fun as hell.
After finishing VIII I have a road map of sorts in mind. Next up will be Oath in Felghana which is the remake of Ys III. This will be the first game in the second phase of Ys that I’ll be playing. After that I’m planning on going: Seven, II, Origins, and then I’ll see how I feel. Might wanna just jump into IX or may check out one of the others.
I posted this in here since it’s what I’m currently playing but also am open to just making an Ys thread to capture my playthroughs as well as opening it up to other IC friendos who may want to play along with their own version preferences and thoughts!