"Y? Because this game kicks butt, that's Y!" Gee, why couldn't I think of THAT when I first did this review, how hard was that?! How well...
Ahhhhh, Ys, that was a big, shiny, different standout of a game amongst many either so-so or just plain crappy games that I bought second-hand from a friend's kid when they sold their Sega Master System to me years ago. Heck, until several years after that, I had no idea it was not only technically superior to the fellow eight bit system of the Nintendo NES (which creamed it in sales here in the U. S., although the SMS did way better overseas), but it also had it's share of decent games, since most of the games that I played didn't really move me in the slightest (guess the kid didn't have very good taste!). It's too bad, since I sold it back in the early 90s for my Genesis, and it's going to be difficult to find games for it again once I eventually get the adapter for my Genesis to play the SMS games on it. Oh well...
The graphics weren't bad, it had many intriguing things going on in it's story (which really drew me in at times), level design(s), the music was good overall (but like it or hate it, you can't turn it off!), the controls perfect (not much that can go wrong with the arrow pad and the two buttons) and several original bosses as well. Might as well, since I really hadn't played any role playing games (RPGs) since the days of the TI-994a computer, which a big deal in that realm of gaming back then involved games that included text AND onscreen graphics! Holy heart attack!
The story in Ys involves six missing Y books from an ancient kingdom that you must find in order to defeat evil and win the game. (Ok, so I didn't say that every single element in this fantasy-themed game was earth-shattering, much less holds up as to being original nowadays, but hey, how many games are you going to count on selling if the characters got along and you had to make money by selling rainbow- and Smurf-related merchandise? Yeah, that's what I thought.) As usual, the gaming environment consists of various static scenes where you talk to people upon entering various places and the usual full-blown RPG playfields with the usual small onscreen characters and all; here you either talk to the small characters (if you're in a peaceful town) or kill the menacing ones ("menacing" meaning "small, but they'll kill you if you let them", I mean) to eventually raise your hit points, level of experience, etc., and you get to upgrade weapons and armor as per usual too.
The early tasks of bringing your character up to speed is kind of boring for a bit, as you have to kill thieves in one area, and these running wild dog-things in another (it's been a good 15 years since I last saw the instructions, so I don't know the proper names for much of anything anymore), but then as the story advances, more and more places open up at various times to lead to mazes and more of a story and all. This is where the eight bits of power (heh) comes in handy, as you're granted bigger playfields and more powerful enemies to vanquish and all as you go through your quest.
Like I said earlier, parts of the story can really draw you in; at one point when I went to a person who gives advice that I hadn't seen in a while, there was someone different to greet me at the door, who told me that the person had been murdered. Wow, for a game that didn't even have any digitized actors or anything, it still made me literally gasp out loud; the sad, pixelated look on his face really said it all. However, he did fork over another Ys book, so that helped ease my pain (that I had for a whole couple of seconds; I'm no wimp! ;) [manly puts on Brutality's Screams of Anguish cd]).
I still have some maps of this game to this day (for the other day that I'll eventually get this game again) to get me through a difficult cave sequence, which is one of the few complaints that I have about this game: making maps (just the one for the caves though!) and the first part where you have to slowly build up your strength and all before the game really starts to pick up. That cave is also right outside of town, which I thought was a bad place to have it, as the creatures in there were too damn impossible to kill, but they could kill you with no problem at all (a bit of delusion there, since some of them looked like peaceful, pansy flowers, until...pow! You're pushing up flowers yourself!). However, just talking to the townspeople solved that problem, as one of them said to never enter that cave until you're very strong, and it shouldn't take gamers too long before figuring that out anyway. Another character told me of an object that was lost, and finding it (he described the area that it was lost in) ended with my receiving a nice reward. And a kid would later be a BIG help in hinting that I needed to communicate with a tree (?! What a talent of my character's abilities, being able to talk to trees (with help of an object to be found in the game)! I can’t even speak Spanish in real life!), which that action concluded with another nice reward. So there are ways past these dilemmas.
Well...those things, plus the final tower in the game, which, even though simple, is maddeningly confusing (until you can figure it out) and can have you confused and lost for quite some time, since all the hallways and pillars look exactly the same...ugh, it can get pretty terrible. These things kept the amazing story of this game from getting a 10 from me.
There are people who beat games and never go through them again, and the later Genesis console wasn't known as to having a lot of good RPGs, so I'm just rating this game as is: I'm not hugely into RPGs, and other games of the same time period might make it pale in comparison for all I know. I still found it was cool to go through the game several times even after I beat it; after all, like I said, several of the bosses were pretty original, like the end one not taking huge amounts of damage from your most powerful sword (a hint was given to use something else), plus you battled him on a grid that parts of it would disappear as you chopped him up, and another boss was actually two in one: some kind of orbs would protect them -- bashing into them by accident would deduct health -- and once you did damage to one boss, it was rendered invulnerable to another attack by you, until you damaged the other boss. So that was pretty cool.
Also, a more powerful console doesn't necessarily mean a better sequel, as Ys 3 for the Genesis only seemed average to me (except for the AWESOME music, it was killer!), and a few bosses were ripped off from this Ys! So I was glad I didn't blow $60 on it at THE one store I ever saw it at, as I was lucky to rent it a few years later for only a couple of bucks instead. Heh. $60 for an average game, no thanks!
But I don't consider this one to be average at all. 9/10