[Video Game Meta Review]: Ys Series (Ys I & II Chronicles + The Ark of Napishtim)



Developer – Nihon Falcom Corporation

Publisher – XSEED Games, Konami

Platforms – PSP, PC

 After having finished Ys: The Oath in Felghana (review here) I felt compelled to find out more about the Ys series, so over the past few weeks I’ve been working my way through all of its other installments. The games focus on the adventures of Adol Christin as he washes up on the various beaches of the world and proceeds to eliminate whatever threatens the local populace. Whether it be monsters or brigands, Adol valiantly defends those in need, completely oblivious to each and every love interest he comes across.

While there is a chronological order to the games (Origin, I, II, Celcetta, Felghana, V, Napishtim, Seven), I’ve found that following it really isn’t necessary. Beyond the few returning characters and references you won’t miss out on much. From what I’ve gathered, Felghana is probably the best introduction to the series despite coming fifth chronologically. Unfortunately, in my experience, if you do start there then the other games just won’t live up to your expectations. Still, I couldn’t say that they’re not worth playing, so I’ve decided to compile a series of miniature reviews of the ones I’ve played to help you decide whether it’s worth picking the others up.

 Ys I & II Chronicles (PC)

Ys Chronicles

 Ys I & II Chronicles is the 2009 remake of the original 1987 and 1988 Ys games. As in many of Adol’s other adventures the lands involved have suddenly been set upon by monsters and it’s up to Adol to take care of their source. While the dark will behind the events taking place in both Esteria (Ys I) and the floating province of Ys (Ys II) have been dealt with previously in the distant past, they must now be faced without the power of the realm’s Goddesses. Can Adol match the feats of the divine beings that saved Esteria and Ys once before? Well…yeah. He’s Adol Christin. While minimal and not particularly imaginative the story is well told as it is in every Ys game I’ve played to date. However, if you’re after an epic tale that will draw you in and forge connections between you and the characters involved, this is most certainly not the place to find it.

 The first combat style presented by the Ys series is known as the Bump System. In short, you fight by repeatedly ramming yourself into enemies from various angles. What this means is that fighting enemies takes the same form as running around normally, which is something that I didn’t find particularly entertaining. Though Ys II adds in some magic I found it to be of more value as a puzzle-solving mechanism than as a combat tool. On the subject of puzzles, both of these games feature what I like to call “Old-Style JRPG Progression”, where many of the actions you have to perform in order to proceed aren’t immediately obvious. In fact, they’re so obscure that you would have to talk to every NPC and scour every wall in every area to discover them normally. It’s not nearly as pronounced at it is in other games but it is there and it is not a good thing.

Ys Chronicles1

 Ys I & II Chronicles is a remake of a very old game and it shows in its gameplay and story. The art, while pleasant in a nostalgic sort of way, is not enough to make up for other deficits. If you love old games, or the Ys series in general, then by all means grab it during a steam sale. If you don’t love either of those things, then don’t bother.

 Score: 5/10 – Average


Ys: The Ark of Napishtim (PSP)

Ys Napishtim

 Washing up on yet another beach, Adol finds himself stranded on the Canaan Islands, located inside the weather vortex that threw him from his ship. A guest of the Rehda tribe, a people with furry ears and tails and a grudge against outsiders like himself, he discovers strange powers at work with links to the Islands’ history. If he can settle things between the Rehda and the other castaways that had washed up before him, Adol may just be able to save the Islands, and the world, from destruction at the hands of the Ark of Napishtim.

 I think Awesomecurry said it best when he told me that The Ark Of Napishtim is a lesser version of The Oath In Felghana. It uses the same combat system with fewer features, for one, and also lacks the voice acting I enjoyed so much. Beyond that, however, it also suffers from some pretty major lag issues, unintuitive boss mechanics and a bad case of “make the player run back and forth repeatedly for no real reason” syndrome. Though the plot as a whole is probably on the more interesting side for the Ys series and matches the storytelling quality I’ve come to expect, it still isn’t something that will draw you in and get you wanting more.

Ys Napishtim1

 The story may have been enjoyable, and the gameplay may have been tolerable, but overall The Ark of Napishtim simply wasn’t that entertaining. If you want more Adol Christin then play it. If you want to see what this Ys series is all about, play The Oath in Felghana instead.

 Score: 7/10 – Enjoyable

Ys Old

You can’t deny that the Ys series has come a long way.

About Silvachief

I'm a Gamer that dabbles in a little bit of everything. I'm big on Video Games, Visual Novels, Anime, Books and TV Series, but there's more to me than just those!
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5 Responses to [Video Game Meta Review]: Ys Series (Ys I & II Chronicles + The Ark of Napishtim)

  1. I finished Seven, Celceta, I&II in that order and have played a bit of Felghana. I got Origin on Steam apart of a Japanese bundle sale, but haven’t played it yet. While it has only been two years since I gotten into the series, I do like the concept and seeing how the titles changed over time. Sort of went from a Legend Zelda-equese style (a comparison you probably hear lot, but valid) to more Action-RPGish looking at Seven and Celceta. I might get to Origin by the end of this year – however, want to get a game controller, if it supports it.

    • Silvachief says:

      So far i’ve played Felghana, I, II, Ark of Napishtim and half of Seven. I got a little sick of Seven when it pulled the “Let’s revisit all of the dungeons!” thing. It wasn’t a bad game though. Origin is next up for me too, though Celceta is still on the cards once I can get my hands on it. I prefer the Felghana/Napishtim formula over I/II and Seven (with platforming elements vs straight combat), though I see what you mean about the changes the series has gone through.
      If I didn’t find Seven as good as Felghana, do you think I would like Celcetta?

      • Yeah, I didn’t care of that much either (especially since my 1st playthrough was on Nightmare mode and didn’t realize I couldn’t go back and grind after a certain point for the Wind Boss), but it was alright in terms of story. As for Celceta, since it basically adopts a refined version of Seven’s combat – if you liked that then it will be no problem. However, as far as the story is concerned, its mixed bag – since I found it bland and really didn’t have much purpose or allure the previous games did. I did like how it uncovered Adol’s past memories (they told in little vignette scenes ever time you find a blue orb on the map), so if never played a Y’s game or familiar with Adol, it sort of helps in that regard – yet finding these memories aren’t required and more for your own benefit and a trophy – only a few actually are germane and required for the story.

        Other than that, It was still a lot of fun, but only for some of the new mechanics and combat elements than the story itself – although, I still suggest checking it out since it is really getting cheap ($20-29 bucks). It is compatible with PlaystationTV, if your not planning on getting a Vita – so that is another plus.

  2. Kai says:

    Yea, I tried playing Y’s I once, couldn’t stand the gameplay, lol. The worst part is that it takes a lot of “bumping” just to level up.

    • Silvachief says:

      I usually find that grinding makes me hate games but it Ys’ case the fighting was effortless enough that it didn’t matter too much for me. I can’t exactly say it was fun though XD

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