Review by Genjuro Kibagami
"The Oddball of Ys"
After the astounding Ys Book I & II was released, Hudson Soft put their eyes on translating the Turbo CD version (Hudson developed this version, but Falcom did the original PC release) of the sequel Ys III: Wanderers From Ys. Unfortunately Ys III is the illegitimate child of the series and often thought of as probably the worst (along with Ys V on SNES). Personally I don’t like the risky changes Hudson had ported over of Falcom’s classic, but Ys III is still an enjoyable action-RPG romp.
After saving the civilization of Ys in the last game, Adol adventures out into the world with his chum Dogi. Contrary to what some may say, Dogi is in fact a reoccurring character. You may remember him from Ys Book I & II as Colin. Apparently Hudson had changed the name in the first game for whatever reason and then changed it to the original Japanese name for the third game. Why they did this I don’t know. Perhaps Hudson wanted to ensue confusion! Anyway, Adol and Dogi are visiting a town when they meet a fortune teller. The fortune teller tells Dogi that his hometown is in danger from a force named Demonicus. With fear for his family and neighbors, Dogi and Adol quickly travel to the land of Kenai in order to save the day.
Ys III’s plot simply isn’t as interesting as the first two games. Adol’s last adventure was about looking for a lost civilization, but now it’s just kill some evil demon and save the town. You see, the first game also had many plot twists involving the whereabouts of Ys and how it disappeared, but we won’t find any delicious tidbits of information in this one. No, in fact Ys III is more of “Go here and get this item” so that Adol may unlock the path to the evil demon. The new characters and villains are also not as cool. There’s the old mayor that’s too afraid to do anything, a young lady love interest, an evil brother out for revenge, weirdo’s with magical powers, and kings looking for a little too much power. If you ask me they just aren’t as exciting as the original cast. With this in mind, we’ll now begin our adventure with Adol.
One of the first things any Ys fan will notice is that Ys III is a side scroller rather than an overhead action-RPG. One must wonder why Falcom would take their amazing fast gameplay engine that rivals The Legend of Zelda, chuck it out the window, and start anew. But before we pass judgment on the new gameplay system, we’re going to need some equipment. Yes, it seems Adol has ONCE AGAIN lost all his equipment before this adventure. Either Adol’s short height makes him an easy target for bullies or he is the most forgetful adventurer to ever be born! This guy loses his equipment in ever game! So we’ll just take the money we’re given to buy a sword, armor, and shield, and then on to the mines to fight monsters!
So Adol goes in there all cocky saying “I saved Ys! I’m the man!”. He runs up to a puny little caterpillar-like bug and slashes it once. Still alive. Slashes it again. Still alive. Slashes it a third time and then it bites the dust. CRUD! It looks like Adol is back to level one (perhaps not enough exercise lately?). The actual fighting system is disappointing. Now we must slash our sword at enemies like an action game, jump, and even duck to execute a sort poking motion with his sword. The controls for your blade and actions are responsive and tight. However Adol’s jumps are a little difficult to pull off. For example in the mines, there’s this one part where Adol must jump from one wooden platform to the other, and it took me about 15 tries before I could actually do it. Luckily there aren’t that many instances in the game that require leaping as tricky as that. Of course, Adol will still have his MP.
Unlike the last installment of Ys, Adol has all 255 magic points from the start of his adventure. However he has ditched his magic wands and gone back to the power of rings. Unlike the rings from the original Ys, this magical jewelry will continually suck away at your MP until you’ve lost all your MP or remove your ring. There are five different rings in this title: power, defense, time, healing, and invulnerability. The power and defense rings double your respected stats. The time ring slows down all enemies while the healing ring replenishes your lost health. The invulnerability ring negates all attacks while it’s equipped. But since each ring will utilize different amounts of MP, there is some strategy involved on which you should use. For example the power ring doesn’t require much MP so you can pack a more powerful punch for a long time, but the invulnerability ring sucks away much of your MP so you’ll only be invincible for a short time. Which would you rather have? Both have their pros and cons! I liked the ring system because almost every ring is useful (the time ring blows). Unfortunately the enemy AI is WAY too easy.
Many of the enemies can be destroyed with little to no effort. Even at lower levels, tons of Adol’s foes are fought by simply running into them while swinging your sword through the air. The rather simplistic AI leaves no challenge for the gamer and can sometimes be quite boring. Even bosses are a piece of cake because the basic strategy for them is to run into them and slash away. True you may die from this strategy, but that’s only if your level is too low. Ys III’s bosses are only hard if you’re at way too low of a level, and the game can be very picky about it too. If you get your ass handed to you at level eight, you could indeed cream the boss at level nine. In fact, the Ys series is one of the few action-RPG series that almost always forces you to max your character out if you want to beat the game like in this title where you must be maxed out before going to the Castle. On the plus side, it doesn’t take much experience to level up. Even with these flaws, Ys III is still great. However yet another flaw with this title is the lack of interesting dungeons.
Ys Book I & II features excellent dungeons that where large and maze-like. Ys III’s dungeons are a joke. All of them are fundamentally one path straight lines that may sometimes go on one screen tangents that lead to much needed equipment. If Falcom wanted to keep something true to the series with the new side scroller attempt, they should of at least made huge dungeons instead of these petite places. The one and only town in Ys III may help you out in these dungeons.
In town, Adol can purchase a handful of goods to aid him on his quest. The armor shop has several excellent swords, armors, and shields, but it seems almost worthless to buy them. Usually right after you acquire enough cash to buy the stuff, you’ll find better equipment. You might as well just save up your gold until you can afford the best weaponry at the shop. This way you’ll pack an extra punch at the Castle, where you obtain the best equipment in the game. The item shop however is the lifesaver of the game. Here you may recharge your MP and buy healing items that may be used during battle. Luckily unlike Ys Book I & II, herbs may be used during boss fights. THANK YOU FALCOM! It’s about time! However graphically, Hudson could have done better.
The sprites are decent for the console. They’re full of many drab colors that just don’t bring the title to life enough. The actual sprites are too small meaning some people may have trouble seeing the action flesh out. But probably the worst part is the backgrounds. Although they’re very detailed with many lush and vibrant colors, they have horrid parallax scrolling. When I first say the backgrounds move, I was immediately distracted and got killed by a pesky fly monster. I uttered “Ugh! That didn’t happen in the Super Nintendo version!” In spite of the awful in-game graphics, Hudson implemented a couple of anime scenes in the beginning and end of Ys III. But still I’d say excluding the 8-bit NES version, this is the worst looking port of Ys III I’ve played. Luckily the sound easily makes the other versions of Ys seem like cow dung.
Hudson made good use of the space on the CD-ROM. First of all almost all the music in this title is direct CD audio. The tracks are marvelous heavy rock songs. You’ll be easily pumped up by the awesome tunes of Ys III while slashing away at the vile beasts of Kenai. In fact, Ys III arguably has the best soundtrack of the Ys series. It’s funny, one of the worst games gets the best music. The sound effects are top-notch with audible slashes and spells noises. There are also many wonderful voice-overs to bring the story to life. Each character’s voice fits each character well and doesn’t get annoying one bit.
Ys III isn’t the best in the series. It’s side scroller gameplay just isn’t as fun as the overhead style. I think Falcom and Hudson knew this because the Turbo CD release of Ys IV: Dawn of Ys and SNES release of Ys IV: Mask of the Sun both went back to the original style of gameplay. To make matters worse, this version of Ys III is too easy and looks awful, but luckily the music really grabs you and pulls you into the game. Despite it’s flaws, Ys III is still a very fun game.
Author’s Note: I have only played the Japanese version of this game. Some of the proper names may be incorrect and my opinion on voice acting is for the Japanese actors. Sorry for any confusion.
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 07/31/03, Updated 07/31/03
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