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So Many Ys Games

Time for the most hastily typed and boring write up of Ys games ever. Had to get it out before the year ended.

For reasons now unknown to me, I played the entire Ys series this year. Ys 8 was on a summer sale and I'd heard great things about it. Turns out, those great things were true. It's easily the best Ys game in terms of feel and gameplay. About the only thing I didn't care for was the end, or rather, the end itself was fine, but I feel that it would have more impact if...

I had decided to stream Ys 8 and during that, ChillGuy said something that I now can't remember at all, but it did inspire me to try Ys 7 again, which I had attempted before, but didn't enjoy. Very glad I did though. While the beginning is kind of a slog and the clunkiness can be a turn off, once I understood how to play within that clunkiness and the bosses started getting better, I was having a really good time with it. I'd say Ys 7 has the best bosses of the party system games. Other than the first few, they're all fairly engaging with a fair amount of things to learn. (I've heard the Ys 9 bosses are really good too, but I have to wait for the translation of that one.)

I was going to stop on Ys 7, but decided to keep going and once I did, I figured I might as well play the entire series. Since I started with 8 and went to 7, I decided to continue like this and play backwards. My start with Ys games actually goes way back to the SNES days when I played the awful game, “Ys 3: Wanderer of Ys”. I didn't think it bad back then and it was at least somewhat different from other side scrolling games at the time, so it did leave a memory at least.

Next up was Ys 6: Ark of Napishtim. This game is kind of bad, but its atmosphere and feel of adventure and discovery it had was pretty neat. It also plays a fairly significant contribution to the overall Ys lore and a big reason I was playing at this point, was for that lore. The gameplay balance may have soured this game, but it still ranks up there because of said lore.

ChillGuy played and streamed Ys 5, which certainly exists. It was neat to see that the sword Adol has and of course losses at the beginning of 8 was obtained near the end of this one. It has a vampire that I believe is written out of the PS2 remake. That's really all I can say about it.

Ys 4: Memories of Celceta was one of my favorites. It was more basic in enemy design than Ys 8 and 7 (all of these used the party system) but the characters and lore were great. It also had spoken Adol lines, which are a rare thing. I was convinced to play the two original releases of Ys 4. 'Mask of the Sun', released on the SNES and 'Dawn of Ys' released on the PC Engine. Mask of the Sun is trash garbage and janky as hell, so let's move onto Dawn of Ys, which was actually really good. I used a fan translation which also translated the voice lines which I hear they attempted to match the tone of the original voices. Those ranged from awful to hilarious. I'm glad the translators did it. Even when it was bad, it was still enjoyable. The story was fairly cheesy so the voices played right along.

The Memories of Celceta remake is by far the best version of 4, like Duren's character being my favorite of the game. Leo is also exceptionally better. Though having seen the stronger tie in and visit to Esteria in the original games, I wish Memories had a short moment like that as well. Time was probably an issue since remaking Esteria in 3D would be quite a task so I say remove Ozma and his village then replace that with a small section of Esteria instead. Just as long as we're not going up Darm Tower again. Maybe we'll bring dynamite to the tower in Ys 10.

On to one of my favorites, Ys 3: The Oath in Felghana. I had played most of the games on Nightmare mode. This one was, by far, the harshest of them all for that setting. Every boss aside from maybe one was an event. There were two bosses I was getting... irate at on stream and I believe I even said I just wasn't enjoying it, but the reality is I was enjoying trying to figure out what I needed to do. The anger was really at myself for making a mistake I knew I shouldn't have made, but in the moment, the game needed to be blamed.

Ys 1 and 2 Chronicles is next. I'm not a fan of bump combat (despite playing 5 games with it during this whole Ys adventure) but the Chronicles remakes manage to bring it to its best form. Ys 2 is more like a light weight bullet hell since most bosses require the fireball spell anyway. It's hard to dislike Ys 1 and 2 because of the overall mysterious vibe to it. The entire thing (I think of them both as one game) feels like trying to uncover lost secrets. With the Chronicles remake, all the npcs are named and unique and it feels like a lost community isolated from the world.

Then there's Ys Origin.

After that, I played the PC-88 version of Ys 1 and a bit after that, played 'Mask of the Sun' and 'Dawn of Ys.' Seeing where Ys started was pretty cool. It didn't age well at all, but I can see for the time how it gave a good impression. The music, even then, was really good.

If I had to rank the Ys games:
Ys 8: Lacrimosa of Dana
Ys 3: Oath in Felghana
Ys 4: Memories of Celceta
Ys 7
Ys 1&2: Chronicles
Ys 6: Ark of Napishtim
Ys: Origin

Origin IS better than Ys 6, but at that point I was playing for lore. Ark just carries more weight for the series.

Ys can't be separated from its music so I'm obligated to list a top 5 or ChillGuy will come after me.
  1. Valestein Castle (Ys 3) – Yeah, it's a classic pick, but people pick it for a reason. It's fucking awesome.
  2. To Make the End of Battle (Ys 2) – It's another classic pick, but again, there's a reason. Knowing the history behind this track and how it inspired a lot of early video game composers is also pretty rad.
  3. Primeval Breaker (Ys 7) – This opening isn't as icon as the Ys 2 opening, but it feels so right for Ys 7.
  4. Ruins of Amnesia (Ys 6) – With an honorable mention for “Ernst” in this same OST.
  5. Walking the Path of Legend (Ys 4: Dawn of Ys) – The OST for the original Ys 4 games were really good and this track just felt so quintessentially Ys. Another honorable mention is “A Great Ordeal” in both this game and 'Mask of the Sun.'
  6. The Ancient City Surfaces (Ys 4: Dawn of Ys) – It doesn't get any more metal than this. (I lied, it's Ys, it's impossible to list only 5) Listen to this.
  7. Be Careful (Ys 3) – Really fond of this being a first dungeon theme. Sets up the game well.
  8. Yesterday in Etania (Ys 8) – Not sure what to say about this one. It was always used well.


Alice said...

Ys is one of my favorite series ever. I would personally rank Felghana below Celceta, 7, and 8 though. It's a great game and more cohesive than Wanders From Ys was (which I still enjoyed personally, lol) but it and Ark of Napishtim both had issues with being a bit too clunky and grindy since they were the first entries into the modern era of the series.

ZephyrBurst said...

I can agree with that about Felghana's clunkiness. It's not quite the level of jank that Ark was at the very least. I just really liked the boss design, ice dragon aside. During my stream I complained about the robot boss in the castle the most, but the ice dragon I had a few qualms with like his icicles being near invisible. Translucent bluish spikes on a bright light-blue background did not mix well for me, and my monitor has insanely good contrast.

I sometimes want to rank Celceta much lower because boss/gameplay wise, it's suuuper basic feeling compared to 7 and 8, but I enjoyed the overall plot and characters which elevated it way up there. Felghana was just a gem with the bosses for me that it shot way up as a very memorable and enjoyable experience, despite the jank.

Alice said...

Ark of Napishtim was absolutely the jankier of the two. In Felghana I had more trouble with the very first boss than any of the others except Galbalan on nigtmare/inferno of all things. Both had some issues though where if you tend not to ever grind in rpgs, like I do, then you easily end up in situations where you have to stop and grind because you're unable to deal any damage at all to enemies. (This can be a big problem for me in games. I tend to get stuck in Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow on hard mode, for example, because I reach Death in the level 9-14 range when you should be like level 30.) I believe they fixed this issue starting with Origin.

The gameplay might've been more basic than 7/8 but I thought Celceta's plot and characters were a lot more compelling than any of the other Ys games, thought 7 and 8 both had good plots and gameplay themselves. (Lacrimosa of Dana had a really bad pc port though, NISA should never be allowed anywhere near the Ys franchise again.)

Herbethe said...

Ys is my favorite Falcom franchise. I recommend that you play The Legend of Heroes franchise;the music, story and gameplay are very good. You can start with Trails in the Sky FC or Trails of Cold Steel.

ZephyrBurst said...

I've thought about it and watched bits of streams here and there. It hasn't drawn me in though. Too many other things to play right now.

Anonymous said...

Ys is my number one Falcom establishment. I suggest that you play The Legend of Heroes franchise;the music, story and ongoing interaction are generally excellent. You can begin with Trails in the Sky FC or Trails of Cold Steel.death lab

Anonymous said...

wow. really surprised to see someone put Origin at the bottom. I mostly agree otherwise