Ys I & II Chronicles
Reviewed by Didi Cardoso
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2011-03-27 PSP Action/RPG T (Teen) Falcom / XSEED Games

After playing Ys Seven and Ys: The Oath in Felghana, I was looking forward to get my hands on this new and improved version of Ys I & II as well. However, I guess I was expecting something else judging by the previous two releases.

As always, Ys I & II Chronicles follows the story of Adol Christin, who is washed ashore in Esteria. As this is the beginning of Adol's adventures and Dogi isn't with him yet (although you will meet him later on), Adol will have no one else to rely on but himself.

Esteria is surrounded by massive storms, which has isolated the island from the outside world. Adol is taken in by a villager and nursed back to health, and later on discovers that monsters have begun appearing everywhere. After speaking with a fortune teller, Adol is given his quest: to find the six lost books of Ys.

At first glance, Ys I & II Chronicles looked like Oath in Felghana, but soon enough I found out that the similarities ended on the look of the game. You still roam around, talk to people and kill monsters, but there is no map, no quest log, no help whatsoever. If you come across a quest (which many times comes from just a regular conversation and not exactly a specific request), you need to remember it and memorize who wants what and from where.

There is a sort of journal that gets information as Adol talks to people or kills monsters, but most times it doesn't tell you what you need to know. You will see a page with a character's name, picture and a little information about them, but rarely it will say something about what they expect you to do.

Knowing my fantastic sense of direction that causes me to get lost in my own kitchen if given the chance, I had a really hard time without a map. Simply "remembering" which way to go or how many screens to "zone" to before making a certain turn when everything is just about green with some trees resulted in several minutes of roaming around in circles before finding where I was supposed to be at. I can't even begin to explain how this frustrates me! Here I am in the middle of a dark dungeon and hooray! I found an item that a villager had mentioned! Finding my way back out was the pits, and then remembering in which of the villages I had to go back to was another trial and error process.

With this out of the way, let's talk about combat. Or the lack of a combat system, really. To attack something, you simply walk into it. There is no actual attack button, no combos, nothing, just bump into whatever several times and hope it dies quickly enough. Needless to say, attacking from the front isn't effective, which lead me to indefinitely run circles around my target, while trying to bump into enemies from the sides or their back.

This caused me to be stuck in a loop of "I can't hit you, and you can't hit me either", moments which would be well accompanied by the crazy Benny Hill chase tune as background music.

Boss fights were another major obstacle for me. Seeing as you can only bump into them to attack, and heaven forbid you do it head on, it was a huge strategic concern for me. Most times I'd be cowering in a corner just observing the attack patterns and whatever other obstacles the room would contain.

The first boss took me quite a while and made me feel powerless. The second had me going around in circles (me and the circles, I don't know, maybe something about the infinity of it all?) many times while I'd hit the thing once or twice per rotation. The third one made me feel just downright slow and stupid for even attempting it. And I'll stop there.

Add to this the fact that you can only carry ONE healing potion at any given time and that any items are quite difficult to get to, I'm sure you get the idea how challenging this game is. But it's not challenging in a fun way, which is a shame. Strangely enough, I kept on going, as if driven by some sort of sadomasochistic stupor just because I wanted to see more of the story and find out more about the roots of Ys. Also, I secretly hoped it would get better.

And technically, it did get better, considering that the mechanics from these first titles were abandoned. Perhaps it would have been a better move to have released the trilogy in chronological order (Ys I & II, followed by Oath in Felghana and lastly, Ys Seven), instead of backwards, so that we would see how each title became better than the one before, and end up on a good note.

While it is interesting to see where Adol's saga began, having a fantastic soundtrack (packaged with the game on a CD, at that) and improved visuals weren't enough to make this an epic adventure.

Special thanks to Kyla Keefe and XSEED Games for providing a copy of this title.