Legacy of Ys: Books I & II Hands-On

The legendary story of Ys returns after almost 20 years.

Once upon a time there was a system called the TurboGrafx-CD, which gave you the ability to play Ys: Books I & II, a well-respected series of action role-playing games from the developer Falcom. If you are old enough to remember Ys, then here's your chance to relive some of those fond memories with an updated version. However, if you weren't born when the original games came out, here's your opportunity to take a step back in time and play an RPG before the days of flashy cutscenes and lengthy dialogue, with a few perks thrown in. Ys was an important piece of action RPG history that many of us missed out on, and if you haven't played last year's release on the Virtual Console, Atlus has brought over Books I & II with a brand new script.

Run or slash through enemies to level.

Legacy of Ys: Books I & II was remade in Japan in early 2008 and now comes to the Nintendo DS in one cartridge with updated graphics, new localization, touch-screen controls, and multiplayer. The story of Books I & II follows Adol Christin, a young man who has a tendency to get himself knocked out and then wake up in some strange new place. In Book I, he is in search of the legendary land of Ys, once a powerful country with incredible wealth, knowledge, and prosperity. Ys was lost to history, and no one alive knows what happened to this nation. So, Adol decides to set out and see the world and find out what he can about the magical land. His adventure flows into Book II, so it's like one big game split into two digestible pieces.

Similar to action-based games like Zelda (except you gain experience points per kill), Legacy of Ys was originally even simpler than mashing a button to swing your sword. You would run into enemies to hurt them, and as long as you didn't run into them head-on, you'd be fine. This version allows you to equip weapons and actually use them, if you find charging recklessly into enemies a bit unorthodox. There are also different difficulty settings, which will determine how much health the enemies have. Your health also regenerates as you stand still; however, that doesn't always work in dungeons, so you need to watch your health closely because it's incredibly easy to get that game-over screen if you're not paying attention. There are no obnoxious sounds to let you know you're about two hit points away from starting over. The story unfolds as you talk to the locals, and the way everything is presented, as well as the music, brings back excellent memories of gaming in the early '90s.

Stylus controls are available, but you can only use one or the other. Both D pad and stylus options work well depending on what you're used to and can be changed at any time. There is a time attack mode as well as a multiplayer feature that lets you play with three of your friends.

Talk to the locals for information on what to do next.

The visuals may be on the simple side, especially when it comes to the grassy overworld and similar-looking cities. But there is an incredible amount of detail in some of the backgrounds as well as the character portraits when you engage in conversation. The soundtrack stands out the most, and considering how old this game is, the original music holds up very well with the newly arranged material. Lively tunes and enchanting melodies help keep you focused as you explore mazelike dungeons and visit neighboring towns.

Legacy of Ys: Books I & II is essentially two games in one, and Atlus has also announced that it will be bundling a bonus soundtrack CD if you preorder at participating retailers. Ys is surprisingly easy to get into, and since you can save at any time, you never have to worry about putting it down before a save point. Delve into the history of Ys when the game is released on February 10, 2009.

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Discussion

35 comments
Jhraxlin
Jhraxlin

Hmm, I'm skeptical because I could just get the game for the Wii for a much cheaper price, what is it? 500 wii points? Since I'm already considering getting world of goo sliding this in is easy. I'll wait for them to come up with a review.

velocityu
velocityu

Y's on the SMS is still one of my all time favorites! Therefore I want to play this game but I also am not sure if i will like all the updates. I always wanted to play Y's 1and2 on the Turbographx 16 cd but it was too expensive. I don't have a Wii but I am considering it to download that version over the DS version. Has anyone played the one on the Wii?

RawhideSphinx
RawhideSphinx

the SMS version took me 3 years to complete.

RawhideSphinx
RawhideSphinx

final boss on the SMS was so hard, of course I was only 7 but dannnnnng.

Nanu-
Nanu-

A great series but i have to find out if is worth getting it

SmartGhost
SmartGhost

This is a great series cant wait

PesmergaYuber
PesmergaYuber

I've never played these games and I love RPG's. Definately makes me want to give it a try!

LuLuClassiC
LuLuClassiC

Oh man, looks neat, but honestly YS I & II Eternal made for PC back in 1998 is the definitive one that people should remember YS on. True classic :)

NeoXPG
NeoXPG

@Skullcandy, I had this for Sega Master System too. Was good but wasn't as good as the NEC version, which I also still have... One thing about the Sega MS version was that you only got Book I, Book II was never made for it and you had to either get it on PC or have the TG16 version so if you only played the SMS version this is still worth a buy as Book II was great too. I pre-ordered this too as Ys is one of my favorite games. Now if only they would remake Ys IV, (they can skip III as it was not that good and was more platform and side scrolling then RPG) then that would be incredible.

ktseymour
ktseymour

@Everdayblues, If I remember right.. it took me about 40hrs to beat it when it was released on the turbo 16. Don't expect much from this old school RPG though, as these older games were more about story than game mechanics. I can't tell you how happy I was when I'd seen it was on the VC for the Wii, so unless you're really into portables or remakes, I'd go for the Wii version...It's cheaper to.

evrdayblues
evrdayblues

Looks awesome. Quick question: How long are the games? Are we looking at two thirty hour games?

Zanza47
Zanza47

Pre-ordered this. I'm getting a soundtrack cd as a bonus. I'm a happy camper.

Norgavue
Norgavue

I think that remakes are good to see on portables like the Ds and Psp. Never really had the opportunity to play this game and the many other rpgs that weren't on a SNes or Genesis. It's a good thing that we can go back years later and get chances to rediscover the good old days of gaming again. Will be looking for this.

DefHalan
DefHalan

isnt this also on wii VC and is there going to b so much more in the ds version to justify the $20 give or take differance

jsrco
jsrco

If you don't like remakes, you don't have to play them. But I really find it sad that I can play remakes or older games from these generations and get more play time, better game play, and more money value than a lot of blockbuster titles from this current generation.

darthvader57
darthvader57

I still have this game for the turbo grafx 16 Cd player and and back when I used to play it there were no games that used full animation the way this game did. The story line and cut scenes were what made this game so great. Few people had a TBGFX16 CD player so I dont know how popular it was. I saved nickels and dimes for many months and graphed out my progress on paper to track my progress towards buying the cd player. Anyway, little worried about a DS port but a good game.

Lazay727
Lazay727

I am gonna try it. I really enjoy epic adventures that span out. I dont usually like old rpgs but i'm gonna be optimistic.

canx12
canx12

iis this game good i didnt read it ? :D

tootergray34
tootergray34

and what's up with all these remakes...I wish companies would get a little...I dunno...creative and make something new....like world of goo?

tootergray34
tootergray34

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

KathR
KathR

Loved Ys: Ark of Naptism, cannot wait to get Books I & II.. Already got it on preorder.. :D

Skullcandy
Skullcandy

I used to own Y's for the Sega Master System. I think it might have been the first color RPG I ever played, followed shortly after by Phantasy Star. Not sure I'd want to purchase this without a major graphical overhaul seeing as I've played through it once already, but I can recommend it to anyone who wasn't able to enjoy it back in the day.

Zacek
Zacek

I want this game! I heard many good comments about the originals, back in the days.

brushforhire
brushforhire

I am excited for this release. I bought the Ys game for PSP, not sure how it compares but sounds similar.

yoyoman10
yoyoman10

havent played a Ys game before, but i have been hearing alot of good things about this so i might pick it up. it has been awhile since i heard of an RPG haveing a good soundtrack.

Hillsy_
Hillsy_

Agree, Listen to the soundtrack on the PC Engine CD-Rom Duo, they are all good. Well Ys I - IV..

CenterOpposite
CenterOpposite

@ gilbrod: Yes, I heard that the soundtracks to Ys I and II are some of the best ever for a video game. I never played the original versions, so I'll pick this one up and check out what I've missed.

HavQ-san
HavQ-san

I need this so bad. The originals were awesome, this will probably be heaven for us Ys fans.

gilbrod
gilbrod

I remember playing Ys 1 on the Sega Master System. Then on the Virtual Console. Ys had one of the best sound tracks...ever!

megamanxza
megamanxza

awesome game of the year worth playing

Cheddarchet
Cheddarchet

I'm looking forward to this, never played a Ys game before.