Ys I & II (イースI・II Īsu Wan Tsū ) is a Japanese action role-playing video game compilation consisting of enhanced remakes of the first two Ys games, released for the PC Engine CD by Nihon Falcom and Hudson Soft in 1989. It was released as Ys Book I & II in North America in 1990, and was a pack-in title for the TurboDuo in 1992.
It was the second role-playing game released on the CD-ROM format, six months after Tengai Makyō: Ziria. Ys I & II was also the first action RPG released on CD-ROM, and the first CD-ROM based RPG released in North America. The game was critically acclaimed upon release for being one of the first games to effectively demonstrate the potential of the CD-ROM format, including a lengthy adventure, animated cut scenes, Red Book video game music, and voiced dialogues.
Ys I & II consists of enhanced remakes of the first two games released in the Ys series, Ys I: Ancient Ys Vanished and Ys II: Ancient Ys Vanished – The Final Chapter. It was one of the first video games to use CD-ROM, which was utilized to provide enhanced graphics, animated cut scenes, a Red Book CD audio soundtrack, and voice acting. The game's English localization was also one of the first to use voice dubbing.
In both games the player controls a red-haired swordsman named Adol Christin. In the first game he must seek out the six Books of Ys. These books contain the history of the ancient, vanished land of Ys, and will give him the knowledge he needs to defeat the evil forces currently sweeping the land of Esteria.
In Ys II Adol is transported to the floating civilization of Ys, and begins a quest to unravel the secrets of the land, and finally rid it and Esteria of evil. All English translations of Ys II were part of a compilation; no standalone version has been localized.
Sample of title theme "Feena" (1989), composed by Yuzo Koshiro as a chiptune for Ys I (1987) and arranged by Ryo Yonemitsu as CD audio for Ys I & II (1989).
"First Step Towards War"
Sample of field theme "First Step Towards War" (1989), composed by Koshiro for Ys I and arranged by Yonemitsu.
"Stay With Me Forever"
Sample of ending theme "Stay With Me Forever" (1989), composed by Mieko Ishikawa for Ys II (1988) and arranged by Yonemitsu.
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The game's early Red Book audio soundtrack was composed by Yuzo Koshiro and Mieko Ishikawa and arranged by Ryo Yonemitsu. As one of the first CD soundtracks in a video game, the music and audio have been critically acclaimed since its 1989 release.
In 1990, TurboPlay magazine stated that it gets the reviewer's "vote for having the greatest sound and music track ever recorded for a video game." In Computer Gaming World, reviewer Roe R. Adams (who worked on the Wizardry series) praised the "lush" background music, and speech "heard in real voice, not digitized!" The December 1990 issue of GamePro stated that the music "to this game is definitely high budget" with "43 stunning tracks." In Electronic Gaming Monthly, Ed Semrad praised it for having "a true CD soundtrack" and "spoken intermissions" with "perfect" voice acting, while Steve Harris praised it for having "the most amazing sound track that explodes from the CD like a major motion picture." Electronic Gaming Monthly gave the game awards for Best BGM and Best Sound. In the August 1991 issue of Dragon, Roe R. Adams praised how the "voices can actually be heard" as well as the music.
In recent years, the soundtrack has been praised as having some of the best video game music ever composed, by GamesTM, Kurt Kalata of Gamasutra and Hardcore Gaming 101, Leigh Alexander of Gamasutra, RPGFan, Atlus, RPGamer and GameZone.
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The game was widely acclaimed by critics upon release. In Japan, Famitsu's panel of four reviewers gave the game scores of 9, 9, 9, and 8, out of 10, adding up to an overall score of 35 out of 40. This made it one of their two highest-rated games of 1989, along with Makai Toushi Sa·Ga (The Final Fantasy Legend). It was also one of only seven games to have received a score of at least 35/40 or more from Famitsu up until 1989.
Among North American critics, it has an average aggregate score of 91% from Defunct Games based on six reviews from the early 1990s. Issue 2 (August/September 1990) of TurboPlay magazine praised the game in its review, stating that the introduction sequence is "mind-blowing," that "everything, from the graphics to the gameplay, is incredible." Issue 5 (February/March 1991) of TurboPlay later gave it a score of 9 out of 10. The November 1990 issue of VideoGames & Computer Entertainment also gave it a score of 9 out of 10, with the reviewer describing it as "one of the most detailed, involved games I have ever played," concluding that it "is the first game worthy of being put on CD. No one can ever claim that CD-ROM games are just a gimmick ever again." The December 1990 issue of GamePro gave the game a full score of 5 out 5, stating that it has "it all – great graphics, engaging RPG gameplay, and a brain-draining quest." Computer Gaming World reviewed the game in its December 1990 issue, where reviewer Roe R. Adams (who worked on the Wizardry series) stated that the "hottest advance in gaming this year has been the debut of programs on CD-ROM disks from Japan" and that "Ys is the first CD-ROM available here to actually show off the new capabilities of the technology." He praised the enhanced graphics and the "spectacular" anime cutscenes. He also praised the plot, including the "suspense" and "sense of urgency" during the climax, and the gameplay, including the various mini-quests and the enemy AI that "actually pursue the player, homing in on him and attacking." His only criticism against the game was the unusual "bump-and-grind" combat system.
In the 1991 Video Game Buyer's Guide issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly, Ed Semrad gave it a rare score of 10 out of 10, stating that the "perfect game finally happened." He concluded that, combining the soundtrack with "two, not just one, full blown RPG's, each with lengthy" graphics and voiced intermissions, "you get the ultimate in this genre." The lowest score for the game at the time was 8 out of 10 from another Electronic Gaming Monthly reviewer, Steve Harris, who praised it as "an outstanding game adventure" while criticizing the game as "slow for me" but nevertheless concluding that "the quality is obvious." The panel of four Electronic Gaming Monthly reviewers gave the game scores of 10, 9, 8, and 8, adding up to 35 out of 40 overall. The magazine's 1999 Video Game Buyer's Guide issue described the game as still "one (well, two actually) of the best RPGs around." The game was reviewed in issue 172 (August 1991) of RPG magazine Dragon in "The Role of Computers" column, where the reviewers gave the game 5 out of 5 stars. The review praised many aspects of the game, including "important characters whose voices can actually be heard," the cinematic sequences being "well done" and "extremely satisfying to watch," and the animation being "the best we've seen" in a TurboGrafx game, concluding that it is "a great adventure game that offers long play value, music, cinematic sequences, and role-playing action."
The game has also been well received in retrospective reviews. RPGFan reviewed the game in 2001 and gave it a 92% score. It described it as "the first RPG on the first video game console CD-ROM" and stated that its "release heralded the evolution of the standard role-playing game," promising "a much larger, more colorful world, populated with lifelike characters who communicated with voice instead of text." It praised various aspects of the game, including the responsive controls, the graphics as having "stood the test of time," the soundtrack as an "audio masterpiece" (giving the sound a 100% score), the "vocal performances" and "dubbing" as surpassing "most gaming dubs produced today," the "fantastical world," and the "story of tragedy, hope and life." IGN reviewed the Wii's Virtual Console release of the TurboGrafx-16 game in 2008 and gave it a score of 8.5 out of 10. The reviewer Lucas M. Thomas described the "incredibly simplistic gameplay design choice" of "ramming" into enemies as "interestingly addictive" and found that it "streamlines the entire experience, which benefits the progression of the game's plot." He also praised the soundtrack as "one of the best to be heard" on the Virtual Console and concluded that it is "hard to argue against the value of getting two games' worth of content combined together into one double-length adventure."
In 1990, Ys I & II received the Game of the Year award from OMNI Magazine, as well as many other prizes. Electronic Gaming Monthly, in its 1991 Video Game Buyer's Guide issue, gave it awards for Best RPG Video Game, Best Game of the Year (TurboGrafx‑16), Best BGM, and Best Sound.
Electronic Gaming Monthly later listed it among the best games of all time, ranking it at number 38 in their 1997 list, and later at number 153 in their 2006 list with 1UP. GameSpot also included it in their list of the greatest games of all time. The game also received the number 100 spot on IGN's "Top 100 RPGs of All Time" feature in 2012.
Ys Eternal, an enhanced remake of Ys I & II, was released in Japan for the PC platform's Windows operating system in 1997. It featured updated graphics and complete animation sequences, compared to the animated stills of the original. This remake was well received, with RPGFan awarding it a perfect score of 100%, including 100% in all the categories of gameplay, graphics, story, control and sound/music. The reviewer Travis Lallman stated that "Ys Eternal, as well as the Ys series, in general, are the best RPG's ever made." He said the "Ys series completely destroys the competition," including the Final Fantasy series, concluding that "Ys is the best game ever made."
Ys I & II: Eternal Story was released on PlayStation 2 on August 7, 2003. Based on Ys I & II Complete, it also added new characters and items alongside the previous game's improvements. Eternal Story was also a Japan-only release.
Legacy of Ys: Books I & II was released on Nintendo DS in the United States on February 24, 2009. The remake includes 3D graphics, updated sound, and multiplayer for up to 4 people. Each copy of the first printing of the game also includes a bonus soundtrack CD.
StageSelect.com awarded the Nintendo DS remake an 8 out of 10 and considers it a nostalgic addition to anyone's collection.
Ys I & II Chronicles was released on PSP on July 16, 2009. It is also based on Ys I & II Complete. XSEED Games localized and published the game in North America, where it was released on February 22, 2011. It was also released in Europe (only on PlayStation Network) on February 23, 2011. When starting a new game, the player can choose between two different game modes, which will display character portraits from the 2001 Windows release, or entirely new portraits created for this release. The soundtrack can be changed at any time during the game, between that of the PC88 release, the 2001 Windows release, or an entirely re-arranged instrumental soundtrack created for the PSP edition.
Ys I & II Chronicles was released in Japan for Windows PC on December 24, 2009. It is also based on Ys I & II Complete. An improved version dubbed Ys I & II Chronicles Plus was released in North America and Europe on February 14, 2013 through Steam.
- Ys I & II at GameFAQs
- "One WiiWare Game and Two Virtual Console Games Added to Wii Shop Channel". Nintendo of America. 2008-08-25. http://www.nintendo.com/whatsnew/detail/TRMLGNn1idOEIX4p62FML5LivmFUEDAa. Retrieved 2008-08-25.
- Szczepaniak, John (7 July 2011). "Falcom: Legacy of Ys". GamesTM (111): 152–159 . http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/35/yshistory05.jpg/. Retrieved 2011-09-08. (cf. Szczepaniak, John (July 8, 2011). History of Ys interviews. Hardcore Gaming 101. Retrieved on 8 September 2011)
- Szczepaniak, John (7 July 2011). "Falcom: Legacy of Ys". GamesTM (111): 152–159 . http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/35/yshistory04.jpg/. Retrieved 2011-09-08. (cf. Szczepaniak, John (July 8, 2011). History of Ys interviews. Hardcore Gaming 101. Retrieved on 8 September 2011)
- "Y's – Book 1 & 2". TurboPlay (2): 7. August–September 1990. http://archives.tg-16.com/archive-one/TP-02-07.jpg. Retrieved 3 February 2012.
- Adams, Roe R. (December 1990). "Lands and Legends: TurboGrafx 16's Ys & II". Computer Gaming World (77): 93–4.
- Lesser, Hartley, Patricia, and Kirk (August 1991). "The Role of Computers". Dragon (172): 55–64 .
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- Kalata, Kurt (2010-11-27). Ys. Hardcore Gaming 101. Retrieved on 3 September 2011
- Dabi, Gideon (2009-08-27). Game Music Mishegoss: An Interview with Gamasutra’s Leigh Alexander. Original Sound Version. Retrieved on 26 March 2012
- Mattich, Ryan. Falcom Classics II. RPGFan. Retrieved on 3 September 2011
- Legacy of Ys: Books I & II. Atlus. Retrieved on 26 March 2012
- Goldman, Tom (2008-12-31). Rock Out With Legacy of Ys Pre-Order Soundtrack. RPGamer. Retrieved on 26 March 2012
- Legacy Of Ys: Books I & II Soundtrack CD – Free Pre-Order Bonus. GameZone (December 30, 2008). Retrieved on 26 March 2012
- "1999 Video Game Buyer's Guide". Electronic Gaming Monthly: 139. 1999.
- Famitsu Hall of Fame. Geimin. Retrieved on 7 February 2012
- Thomas, Lucas M. (August 25, 2008). Ys Book I & II Review. IGN. Retrieved on 10 February 2012
- Harris, Stephen (2001-08-15). Ys Books I & II. RPGFan. Retrieved on 10 February 2012
- EGM Top 100. Electronic Gaming Monthly (November 1997). Retrieved on 2011-06-01
- The Greatest 200 Videogames of Their Time. Electronic Gaming Monthly (February 6, 2006). Archived from the original on 2013-08-01 Retrieved on November 19, 2013
- The Greatest Games of All Time, GameSpot, 2006
- Ys I & II Complete. RPGamer. Retrieved on 2009-02-05
- Stone, Courtney. Ys I & II Resurrected for PlayStation 2. RPGamer. Retrieved on 2009-02-06
- Ys I & II: Eternal Story. RPGamer. Retrieved on 2009-02-05
- Sines, Shawn. Legacy of Ys: Books I & II Coming to the U.S.. IGN. Retrieved on 2009-01-06
- Hatfield, Daemon. Ys Delayed, Adds Bonus CD. IGN. Retrieved on 2009-03-03
- Legacy of Ys: Books I & II Review. StageSelect.com.
- Ys I & II Chronicles Release Information for PSP – GameFAQs
- Falcom Reveals Ys Chronicles, Ys Seven – PSP News. Psxextreme.com. Retrieved on 2011-10-13
- XSEED Games. Xseed Games (2011-01-25). Retrieved on 2011-02-10
- Falcom Game Catalog
- Ys I & II at MobyGames
- Ys I & II at GameFAQs
- Official Legacy of Ys Books: I & II site (English)
- Ys I & II Strategy Guide (TurboGrafx-CD) at TurboPlay Magazine Archives