Legacy of Ys Books 1 & 2 (DS)

By Steven Marsh

Published on Friday, March 27, 2009

Graphics: 7.00
Sound: 7.00
Gameplay: 6.00
Replays: 5.00
Gamelength: 8.50

Atlus has brought not only one, but two long-awaited action RPGs to the shores of the USA for the first time in history with the release of “Legacy of Ys Books 1 & 2”.

For many years, the “Ys” series has been all over Japan. It’s nowhere near as popular as other big titles, but it has a cult following that doesn’t want to die down. In the USA, however, the following is much smaller and for good reason, at that. You see, we’ve only really ever had access to an odd version of the third game and the sixth game here in the USA until now. There are English patches available for the games that we’ve never received, including the PC remakes of the first and second games that these two titles are based on. It pleases me that Atlus is making an effort to localize more of this series, but I’m disappointed with how this first venture into local territories has turned out. As disappointed as I may be, it is with great honor that I sit down and write a review for the full-fledged American release of “Legend of Ys: Books 1 & 2” for the Nintendo DS.

As usual, the series is a bit behind the current technology in terms of graphics. The DS can surely pump out much better visuals than this, but regardless of that, the game doesn’t look terrible; it’s mediocre. Textures range from decent to bad, while character and enemy sprites generally look pretty good. The framerate is solid, but isn’t very high nonetheless. Animations tend to be flaky at best, with weird quirks at times that can only best be described as “unfinished”.

This series has always been known for it’s cheesy soundtrack and average sound effects. This game remains true to the series on this front and of those, the most noteworthy is the soundtrack, which consists of seemingly intentional oldschool electronic rock with tons of low-grade guitar sounds, generic low-grade drum beats and other random instruments that seem as though they’re coming out of an old Casio keyboard at times. The game still sounds okay, though and the music tracks are still catchy, even if very oldschool.

The “Ys” series is a very simplistic one and follows the basic design of a classic action RPG. Utilizing very simple dialogue and a very cliche story as an excuse to run around and kill enemies is basically the extent of how things work in the world of “Ys”. After the opening scenes, you’ll shortly find yourself roaming around outside with constantly respawning enemies. This would be awesome if Atlus had stuck to the original control scheme, but instead they opted for touchscreen controls and a bad d-pad control setup. With the touchscreen controls, the game is essentially the same thing as it always has been, except it’s a whole lot more boring. You merely have to touch the screen and Adol, the main character of the series, simply runs to the selected destination. The controls don’t change for combat, either. As with the original versions, you simply must run into enemies and Adol will automatically attack them until they die. That’s fine and I’m certainly a fan of the series, but why couldn’t Atlus add an option to use the d-pad for this instead of the weird “point and click” style controls? The only d-pad control scheme that was added involves an actual attack button, which could have been an awesome feature, but Atlus had to go and mess it up. In order to do damage to an enemy with the d-pad setup, you have to be so close to them that it’s more likely you’ll die than come out of the fight as the victor. If the game had been modified to add a little bit of range to Adol’s attacks like, you know, every other action RPG in the history of gaming as we know it, the d-pad control scheme could have worked wonderfully. I guess we can’t have everything, though, right? Oh well. At the end of the day, it’s still a fun set of games to play. Much like the rest of the series and other games of the genre, killing enemies nets you a certain amount of experience points. When you’ve obtained enough experience points, you’ll gain a level, which adds more hit points, damage and other various attributes. That’s the basic concept of leveling up in the “Ys” series and as simple as it is, it’s still an addictive aspect because of how simplistic the series is to play. You’ll also collect gold, which can be used to buy a very small selection of items, but most of what you’ll actually use is found and looted in the game’s many dungeons. New equipment more or less just adds more damage or reduces the damage you take, so it’s all rather barebones, but that’s part of what makes this series so fun. Running through the various dungeons, killing bosses and ultimately finishing the stories of both included titles should take a combined total of 20-30 hours, depending on how much you grind. The question is, do you really think it’s worth it? At this point, I’m not so sure…

Overall, had Atlus improved the d-pad layout or at least added the option to use the d-pad instead of the stylus to ram enemies, this game could have been absolutely fantastic. Maybe next time?

Pros:
-Dungeons, music, characters, etc. are all true to the original games.
-Comes with a nifty game soundtrack.
-Includes two full games that were never released in the USA previously.

Cons:
-Graphics could use a serious tuneup.
-Both control schemes really hurt the overall experience.
-Low quality music.
-A bit too pricey, given how the games turned out.

Bottom Line:
If you’re begging for more “Ys” and you absolutely need your fix, this may be worth the money, but others may want to skip this one.

Overall Rating: 6.50

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