PSLS  •  News  •  PSP / PlayStation Portable  •  Reviews

PSP Review – Ys I & II Chronicles

Ys I & II Chronicles is the latest PSP title from the Ys series, yet it’s not new at all. Instead of a new installment, it’s a remake of the Ys I & II Complete remake which appeared on the PC in 2001, meaning this has updated graphics from the original released back in 1989. The game itself was localized and published by XSEED games here in North America. Both titles are included on one UMD, so you are able to switch between games at a moments notice. There have been many titles that have been remastered or re-released on the Sony handheld — how do Ys I & II hold up on Sony’s portable device?

Ys I

Upon the opening of Ys I, players are greeted with the traditional introduction screen, then comes the choice they must make, choosing either the Chronicles game mode or the Complete game mode. The Complete game mode is of the game that was originally released on the PC back in 2001 — it features upgraded visuals and other things from the original 1989 game. But the Chronicles game mode is even further upgraded and has been optimized for the PSP.

You take on the role of Adol, who wakes up in Barbado Port, where your journey begins in the Ys series. Adol will meet many interesting characters willing to offer their help in saving the land of Esteria, where the first game takes place.

The story is nothing spectacular — it is your traditional RPG story: you, the main character, must save the land from some evil entity. Essentially Adol must find the Books of Ys, and these books will give him the knowledge to defeat enemies, which in turn will save the land. Along his journey to gather the books, you will encounter many enemies along the way. The reason for the large amounts of monsters is because of the stormwall that has appeared around Esteria. This has not only hurt the economy and trading of towns, but caused people to remain within the towns and not travel because of the monsters.

The game features a very simple approach with a buttonless attack control scheme. Simply approaching your enemy initiates an attack upon your enemy. Though there is little explanation on which approach is best for this fighting style, other than talking to various townspeople, it is obvious going directly at an enemy straightforward isn’t the best idea. In fact you will find yourself circling around your enemies quickly in attempts to flank them to land a better attack.

There are several things to equip to your character that will not only boost your stats, but also change  the way the game plays. For example, there is a mask known as the “Mask of Eyes” that grants the player the ability to find secrets easier in the dungeons/areas you are exploring. But there is a sacrifice that must be made when wearing this mask, and that would be all color fades from the world so it becomes black and white, this also results in enemies not being seen. So you will be venturing around the map attacking invisible characters, and they will be in turn attacking you back, but you can’t see them. This adds an element of strategy based on what equipment you’re using at the time, and is a clever addition to a mostly traditional RPG.

The map and environment of the game is pretty big for a handheld title. You will find yourself wandering around, running into numerous enemies while attempting to figure out what to do. This is honestly the one downfall of the game at times, you will have no clue as to where you are supposed to be heading. The dungeons themselves feature huge maze-like layouts that are both challenging and fun at the same time. Between the little direction on objectives and confusing layout, it will lead to a lot of “where do I go?” moments. But for those that have been playing games for a long time, this may not be a downfall, but actually a plus. It will be a trip down memory lane of how games used to be unforgiving and required gamers to think and explore. It all honestly depends on how you like to play your videogames.

Some of the additions/changes made to the game include graphical enhancements, as well as musical upgrades to the sound. For those that are worried they will be missing out on some of the older music from the original soundtrack, it is all accessible to be used in game via the sound settings. While this isn’t a huge deal, it is nice to see that all iterations of the soundtracks are included within the game. Graphically, the game has a retro, sprite-based look to it. It looks absolutely fantastic on the PSP’s vivid screen. New cutscenes have also been added which show the characters in a new light.

Ys I shows how a retro game should be redone on a handheld. It offers fantastic pick up and play ability, as well as the ability to allow for long gaming sessions without becoming bored. Simply put, if you are a fan of RPGs, give this one a look.

Ys II Review

Ys II literally picks up right where the end of Ys I left off. So for those of you that have yet to play Ys I, consider this your warning for potential spoilers that may be contained in this review. For those that have Ys I, or have completed it in the past, feel free to continue without worry.

You resume the role of Adol Christin. When he awakens, he doesn’t even realize where he is, but he knows he must continue his journey to rid the world of Esteria of evil.

The overall game – gameplay, graphics, story and all – plays much like Ys I. If you’ve played the first game, which you should do before moving on to Ys II, you’ll know what to expect. Probably the biggest addition to Ys II would be Adol’s ability to use magic. These spells will definitely come in handy in his journey and help him defeat the countless enemies that you are sure to encounter along the way.

Ys II shows that you can still keep the well-known formula of traditional RPGs, add a couple things to it, and have an experience that is well worth your time. RPG fans, this is a must own for you. Once again the only thing holding back Ys II from perfection is the lack of direction at times, but it is by no means game breaking.

Essentially the only big difference between Ys I and Ys II is that Adol can now use magic in the sequel. But the saying “when it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” applies here. There isn’t much they could have added to this game to make it any better. Just as in the first title, the only downfall would be the lack of direction offered within the game, but as mentioned in the first part of the review, it all depends on what type of videogames you enjoy.

This bundle of Ys I & II Chronicles shows why it is great to bring some of the older games to a new platform with a complete upgrade for gamers that never originally experienced the titles. The combination of original gameplay, tied in with fantastic retro feel and original soundtrack makes this a must pick up for PSP owners.

PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score

+ Fantastic remastering of the two original titles.

+ Traditional RPG, with a unique twist on controls.

– At times there is little to no direction on where to go.

8 out of 10