Ys I & II Chronicles

The first two games in Nihon Falcom's Ys series would definitely be frontrunners for the Guinness World Record for most ports and/or remakes of a videogame, seeing releases on various kinds of computers in Japan not to mention releases on the Famicom, TurboGrafx-16, Microsoft Windows, Sega Saturn, PlayStation 2, the Nintendo DS, and the Nintendo Wii's Virtual Console. The most recent releases of both games come on the PlayStation Portable in the form of the collection Ys I & II Chronicles, with XSEED Games localizing the compilation as part of their quest to bring Anglophone gamers Falcom's titles. Both games have their flaws, but are otherwise solid titles.

Rather than having hack-and-slash gameplay like most other action RPGs, both games instead follow the footsteps of prior incarnations and instead feature a system where the protagonist, Adol Christin, must ram into enemies to attack them. Charging into enemies when they're directly facing Adol is usually a bad idea, although ramming into them from an angle, from behind, or slightly up, down, left, or right from them when charging face-forward into them, typically yields better results. The first game uses this strategy even in boss fights, although the second game introduces magic, typically necessary to beat most bosses in the sequel. The battle system works nicely, although there are some instances that may drive the player to use a guide, since some bosses are unbeatable without certain equipment that may be difficult to find, and the first game caps Adol's level at ten. It's also odd that Adol loses all his power in between games, what with the lack of data transfer, but the gameplay nonetheless works well.

Both games' control schemes are generally decent, with easy menus, shopping, and an always-convenient save-anywhere feature alongside the PlayStation Portable's sleep mode, although automaps would have been really helpful, given the convoluted nature of most dungeons, and again, playing the game can be somewhat tedious without a guide, given that it's very easy to get lost.

The story is okay, focusing on Adol's quest in the first game to find the six Books of Ys, and in the second game his quest to rid the titular continent of evil. The PlayStation Portable versions slightly deepen the plot in both games, although they nonetheless somewhat suffer from the brevity of most old-school RPGs, but there is an in-game guide chronicling the characters Adol encounters in his quest, and the backstory of the Books of Ys is decent. There are also some twists during the second game's ending, and ultimately, the story is good, but could have definitely been better at times.

As with other games in the franchise, both games feature solid music, with a variety of pieces ranging from the peaceful town tracks to the energetic battle, and occasionally, dungeon, themes, although there is the rare area without music. The graphics also look nice, with well-designed sprites and scenery, although said sprites don't show much emotion, with the character art doing most of the work there.

Finally, the compilation is short, with the first game taking a little under five hours to complete and the second taking somewhat longer, somewhere from five to ten hours, depending upon whether or not the player decides to use a guide to make things easier. Ultimately, Ys I & II Chronicles is a solid compilation for the most part, what with its simple but effective gameplay and solid presentation, although it does have some interface flaws that may drive some players away. Despite these flaws, the PlayStation Portable versions are probably the definitive editions of both games.

The Good:
+Simple but enjoyable combat.
+Great music and graphics.
+Decent story and translation.
+Multiple difficulty levels add replay value.

The Bad:
-No data transfer between the games.
-Very easy to get lost.

The Bottom Line:
Probably the definitive version of both games.

Score Breakdown:
Platform: PlayStation Portable
Game Mechanics: 8/10
Controls: 6/10
Story: 7/10
Music/Sound: 9/10
Graphics: 9/10
Localization: 9/10
Lasting Appeal: 10/10
Difficulty: Adjustable
Playing Time: Less than 20 Hours

Overall: 8.5/10

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