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 Post subject: Re: R-90-2's Review node.
PostPosted: Mon Jan 7, '13, 5:21 pm 
Bragatyr wrote:I really need to try out La Mulana and Ys I and II some time. I've come this close to downloading Ys a bazillion times. Thanks for the reviews on these two.


Yeah- keep in mind that the Ys I & II I reviewed here isn't the one that' on virtual console- that's the Turbo CD release, which is still worth playing, if only because it has a pretty killer soundtrack and some of the stars of '80s voice acting attached to it (Michael Bell, Jim Cummings, Alan Oppenheimer).


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 Post subject: Re: R-90-2's Review node.
PostPosted: Mon Jan 7, '13, 7:24 pm 
------------
Ys IV: Mask of the Sun
Developer: Tonkinhouse, published by Falcom
Release date: 1993 (JP, Later fan-translated into EN by Aeon Genesis.)
Platform: SNES
Genre: Action RPG.
------------

(Why am I doing Ys IV before Ys III? Because it takes place earlier in the Ys timeline)

Ys IV: Mask of the Sun is one of the two games to carry the number 4 slot in the game's release history. The other one, Ys IV: Dawn of Ys, was released for the Turbo CD. Nether of them have seen an official English release. There was some dispute as to which version of Ys IV was considered canon in terms of the greater Ys storyline, but later releases ensured that Mask of the Sun was the official version of Adol's adventures in Celceta. Following the poorly received experiment that was Ys III: Wanderers from Ys, Falcom went back to more traditional Ys mechanics. Overall, Ys IV is the game that's probably the second most important (behind Ys I & II) to really fleshing out the Ys world, and as such it's a shame that Ys III failed so completely in the US, as it meant that no more Ys games would be localized until Ys VI: The Ark of Napishtim.

Here's how it goes. After the conclusion of his adventures in Esteria, Adol Christin has spent the past two years living on the island. not merely because he's he hero, but because he has been having a hard time coming to terms with the fact that he lives in a world where legends are far more real than he imagined. As he is trying to figure out what to do with himself, he comes across a message in a bottle on the beach. Though it is an a foreign language, he does take it to a friend who can read it, and it turns out to be a call for help from the country of Celceta on the mainland. When he arrives, the situation is desperate, as the Romun Empire is about to invade the country, and they have sent three of their top officers, Gadis, Vammy, and Guruda to oversee things. However, those three have plans of their own, using the Empire's presence as cover for the fact that they have made common cause with Eldeel, the last member of an ancient race that was once worshiped as gods across the world, who would like nothing more than to reclaim the power and glory his kind held in the past.

The gameplay of Ys IV is more or less exactly the same as Ys I & II, with the exception of the magic system. Adol can use magic right from the start, but it comes from the various swords that he picks up throughout the game. While the combat system remains largely the same, most magic isn't nearly as useful as the abilities that Adol picked up in Ys II, and the healing magic is the only sort that remains universally useful. There's also the problem that the inevitably necessary grinding is noticeably more onerous in Ys IV than it is in other Ys games due to the lower rewards from bosses and story events, meaning that, as a whole, the core gameplay of Ys I & II isn't applied quite as well in Ys IV as it was in the prior games. This is quite unfortunate.

One of the things that I have liked about the Ys series is the fact that there some very good reasons for Adol to leave his equipment behind at the end of each, but it does mean that Adol once again starts with no things. As for other aspects of the difficulty, the monsters seem to be quicker to react and reposition themselves than in Ys I & II. The bosses remain difficult, to the point where this game actually has some of the hardest bosses in the entire Ys series, and it isn't always for good reason. The hitboxes on a couple of the bosses are a bit strange, and there's one form of the second-to-last boss that you can't actually hit without taking some damage yourself. While the boss in question is still quite beatable, it's still something that never ought to have left beta in the first place.

The dungeon design is rather mixed. While there isn't really anything offensive, and there are some very nice places to go with the game, there are very few standouts throughout the game. There are no points of no return, unlike in Ys I, even despite some of the changes you will wreak on the landscape- meaning that there is no equipment or items that are forever out of reach based on your progress in the game. There is one tier of equipment that most people won't get, however, as the game makes it appear that there is never equipment to get in that particular town, and thus the player would feel no need to go back there later in the game to retrieve said equipment.

The story progression is actually fairly good. this is the first game in the Ys series to really take the time to characterize its main villain, whereas the main villains of the previous games tended to only pop up just before you actually fought them. The game does not disappoint in that regard, and does manage to hit the very hard target of making Eldeel a genuinely tragic villain. He isn't a villain who slays multitudes of NPCs on a whim, and he comes across as someone who doesn't hate his current life, but cannot ignore his pride at being the last of the godly peoples and feels obligated to try to revive the glories of the days when they ruled the world. Adol does have some lines in this game, as this was before Falcom made the decision to make Adol a completely silent protagonist starting in Ys V. Adol comes across as the sort of heroic sort one might expect, so there is no dissonance.

While Ys IV doesn't take advantage of the SNES's Mode 7 capabilites, the spriting is at least competent, and some of the boss transformations are quite well-animated. The soundtrack continues to impress. Even though the version of the soundtrack from Dawn of Ys had the advantage of being CD audio, the basic compositions are solid enough that there are very few tracks that fall short even as heard on the SNES's sound hardware.

Ys IV is a game with a good sountrack and great story let down by the fact that its implementation of the game mechanics from previous games is only so-so, combined with bosses that should have gotten another round of quality testing. While long fans of the series could probably bull through it, it's not a game I recommend without reservations.
-----------------

Intro (contains a little bit of Ys I & II spoilers):


May eventually put screens here later.


Last edited by R-90-2 on Mon Jan 7, '13, 7:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: R-90-2's Review node.
PostPosted: Mon Jan 7, '13, 10:42 pm 
Thanks again for all those reviews : that's really impressive ! Very long texts, you're amazing ! As a big fan of Ys, I need to read all you have written about this fantastic video game serie !!!!!! :fiery:


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 Post subject: Re: R-90-2's Review node.
PostPosted: Mon Jan 7, '13, 10:47 pm 
myau56 wrote:Thanks again for all those reviews : that's really impressive ! Very long texts, you're amazing ! As a big fan of Ys, I need to read all you have written about this fantastic video game serie !!!!!! :fiery:


Well, you're in luck- my next three reviews are all Ys games. :)


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 Post subject: Re: R-90-2's Review node.
PostPosted: Mon Jan 7, '13, 11:25 pm 
R-90-2 wrote:
myau56 wrote:Thanks again for all those reviews : that's really impressive ! Very long texts, you're amazing ! As a big fan of Ys, I need to read all you have written about this fantastic video game serie !!!!!! :fiery:


Well, you're in luck- my next three reviews are all Ys games. :)


Not enough. Should be your next 8 reviews :p


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 Post subject: Re: R-90-2's Review node.
PostPosted: Mon Jan 7, '13, 11:39 pm 
tilinelson2 wrote:
Not enough. Should be your next 8 reviews :p



Fine, but the remaining five will all be of various versions of Ys I & II. :)


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 Post subject: Re: R-90-2's Review node.
PostPosted: Tue Jan 8, '13, 12:24 pm 
For YS fans like us, it's 8 minimum ! :lol: Thanks again ! And good luck for the other reviews to come ;)


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 Post subject: Re: R-90-2's Review node.
PostPosted: Tue Jan 8, '13, 10:21 pm 
------------
Ys: The Oath in Felghana
Developer: Nihon Falcom Corporation
Release date: PC 2005, PSP 2010 (JP) PSP 2010, PC (Steam) 2012 (NA)
Platform: PC, PSP
Genre: Action RPG.
------------

Ys: The Oath in Felghana is actually a remake of Ys III: Wanderers from Ys, perhaps one of Falcom's most well-known failed experiments. Falcom attempted to turn Ys into a side-scrolling action game, much in the same way that Zelda II attempted the same thing. However, while other parts of the game were executed well, the actual mechanics of play were not. While the flaws did not make the game unplayable, things like dodgy hit detection and a magic system that was best used as little as possible due to its costs did not endear it to the player base. It's failure in the US meant that no more Ys games would be localized until Ys VI: The Ark of Napishtim. However, because Ys VI was such a huge success in Japan, Falcom decided to revisit Ys III and refine the Napishtim engine at the same time, resulting in the remake that is Ys: The Oath in Felghana.

So, the story does remain largely unchanged. Adol has been traveling the continent for the past year with his trusted companion, Dogi, taking the odd adventure here and there. As they were traveling, however, they come across a caravan on their travels, and decide to consult the fortune teller. As she works her magic, she warns of a great danger approaching Dogi's homeland of Felghana, and only can put a single word to it- "Galbalan". with this warning on hand, Adol and Dogi return to Felghana and Dogi's hometown of Redmont, where they find that the people are being heavily oppressed by Count McGuire, the Romun governor of Felghana, monsters are infesting the mine that supplies the town's livelihood, and that Dogi's best friend is not only out of town, but has been missing for months. Most of all, McGuire's men appear to be searching for a set of ancient statues, meaning that once again Adol has to delve into the near-forgotten history of the world to triumph.

Ys: The Oath in Felghana is the second Ys game to use the Napishtim engine. Falcom finally decided in Ys V that all Ys games from then on should have an attack button. The Napishtim Engine is what brought Ys into true 3D, so the game uses polygons for the level layouts and the larger bosses, but sprites for the NPCs, Adol, and the smaller and human-sized bosses throughout the game. Adol attacks in combos, like any modern Action RPG protagonist, and actually has a fair number of moves. Perhaps the most interesting part is that scoring hits slightly increases the amount of experience that Adol gets from destroying enemies, until enemies provide almost double the amount of experience. However, this is only on a temporary basis, but the timer is replenished by scoring more hits. While the magic system in Wanderers was based mainly around timed stat boosts or the like, an entirely new system has been implemented in Oath, where Adol acquires three kinds of magic throughout the game. First is fire, which allows Adol to shoot fireballs and light torches, wind, which allows Adol a whirlwind attack and can greatly extend the length of his jumps if he uses it in midair, and earth, which gives Adol and invincible charging attack and allows him to bust down weakened walls (full-strength walls still require Dogi). These magics can be upgraded through finding appropriate gems throughout the game, and while you can't use the magics at will, Adol's MP pool regenerates fairly quickly. Also new to the series is the boost meter- when filled, Adol can boost, doubling his defense and attack speed. Though it normally is only charged by hitting things, it charges on its own as Adol loses health, and speeds up the charge rate the lower Adol's health gets. It also has the usual array of experience (and exp scaling), levels, and equipment tiers. However, Felghana is the first game where Adol can't carry healing items, which are mainly retrieved as instant-use drops from enemies or pots.

While the game itself has a fairly open overworld, one can't tackle the dungeons in any order the player cares to, so the game has a fairly linear progression overall, save for the points where the player backtracks to access areas and treasure as Adol gains new abilities throughout the game. However, none of the dungeons are especially dull, and all of them do have their own character to them. The longer dungeons even have at least a couple of different sub-areas within them, each with their own sort of character. One cannot expect to encounter the same type of monster across dungeons, however, so each dungeon does present a fresh set of monster-created problems to deal with. As usual, however, the game is not especially long, but it does have additional modes, such as Boss Rush.

The difficulty does remain challenging, but like all Napishtim Engine games, there is a difficulty select which affects enemy stats and HP. Thankfully, the difficulty levels do work as advertised. Normal is about as difficult as one expects from earlier Ys games, and everything above or below is adjusted based on that. The boss difficulty is initially high, but many of them are based on learning their patterns. However, this does not mean that bosses are incapable of unleashing nasty surprises, and the lack of healing items does make many of the boss fights fairly unforgiving, considering the hurt that so many of them can dish out. Whenever Adol enters a new area after the first dungeon, he is in some very immediate danger until he gains some levels and/or new equipment.

(Also, for those who have played Wanderers, you actually get to fight Chester this time around.)

The story of the game has been altered. Not to anything unrecognizable by those who have played through Wanderers, as many of the changes and expansions to the story were made to tie the game more solidly into the greater Ys story and setting. McGuire was made into a Romun noble, the story has been connected to the greater mythology of the Ys setting through tying it in with Ark of Napishtim, and a one-off boss in the original has been given a far larger role in the game. As the story was one of the things praised about the original Wanderers, the rest of it has been left generally intact, but with far more dialogue and characterization along the way, but not so much as to overwhelm the player with text.

The art and graphics direction is fine enough- the spriting is done to a fairly high standard, as the sprites were constructed the same way they are in Diablo- rendering 3D models and using the animations as sprites. Adol's sprite also changes whenever he equips an entire full tier of equipment. The hit detection is spot-on, a welcome departure from Wanderers, and the camera angles are such that is easy to see where you are in relation to the background and enemies. Of special note is the music- for all of the flaws of Wanderers, the soundtrack was already quite good, and the remixes of the already good old Wanderers tracks have truly given this game a superior soundtrack from the ground up.

Oath in Felghana is a superb remake to a game that really needed the help, and stands on its own as a fine entry to the Ys series. all of the flaws of the original has been smoothed over, leaving behind a fine action-RPG experience.

--------
Intro:



Screenies:

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Last edited by R-90-2 on Tue Jan 8, '13, 10:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: R-90-2's Review node.
PostPosted: Wed Jan 9, '13, 6:56 am 
I played this one not long ago myself. It was really fun. I had played the original back in the day and enjoyed it as well, but this one is definitely an improvement. It used the Napishtim engine very well. If there was one thing I didn't like, it was the lack of healing items. However, I have to admit that with on demand healing, the bosses would not have been nearly as challenging.


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 Post subject: Re: R-90-2's Review node.
PostPosted: Wed Jan 9, '13, 5:17 pm 
------------
Ys VI: The Ark of Napishtim
Developer: Nihon Falcom Corporation (Published in US by Konami)
Release date: PC 2003 (JP) PS2 2005 (NA, JP, EU), PSP 2006 (NA, JP, EU)
Platform: PC, PS2, PSP
Genre: Action RPG.
------------

After the debacle that was Ys V, Falcom refrained from making any truly new Ys games for seven years, instead choosing to do a full updated remake of Ys I & II for then-modern computer systems. After that, however, Falcom went right back into trying to make an Ys game with more modern design sensibilities. To this end they devised a full 3D game engine for the series, the so-called Napishtim Engine, because of the fact that it made its initial debut in Ys VI: The Ark of Napishtim, the first game to actually use it. The game more than made up for the deficiencies of its predecessor, and was a runaway success, bringing Ys back into the limelight and paving the way for the Napishtim Engine followups, Ys: Oath in Felghana, and Ys Origin. the game would be ported to PS2 and PSP, and became the first Ys game to be localized in other regions since the Turbo CD release of Ys I & II.

As it goes- Adol has reunited with Dogi after the former's adventures in Xandria, a city-state located in the north of the continent of Afroca. After the two spend some time travelling the continent of Europa, they are eventually met by the pirate Terra (whom Adol met in Xandria) and her father, the latter of which offers Adol and Dogi a unique opportunity- to travel beyond the great Western ocean and see what's there. It comes at an opportune time, as Adol and Dogi are on the lam from the Romun Empire, and so the pair join up with the pirate crew to evade Romn's pursuit. However, once they reach the great whirlpool guarding the islands at the end of the ocean, they find that a Romun fleet is already there. As hey try to break through the whirlpool and fight off the Romuns, Adol is flung overboard and washes up on the Canaan islands, where he is discovered by a pair of natives, Olha and her younger sister Isha, the latter of which senses a shadow of doom hanging over Adol. So, Adol must find his friends, find out why the Romuns are there, and unravel the mystery of the Canaan islands.

The gameplay in this game is basically the beginnings of what would be seen in later Napishtim engine games, such as the 3D movement, Adol actually having sword combos, and so on. However, while previous Ys games generally depended on Adol acquiring new equipment throughout the whole game, the play in Ark of Napishtim is dependent on the use of three elemental swords, each with their own differing combos, special moves, and magic attacks which can be unleashed when the sword is fully charged. The swords are upgraded through the use of Emelas, a separate acquisition from enemies in addition to gold and experience. Unfortunately, the drops in Emelas are fairly small, and the only reliable way to get decent-to-large amounts is to do the Trials of Alma, a set of optional dungeons that are unlocked over the course of the game. Armor is acquired the usual way. This is also an Ys game that does let you still stock up on carried healing items, as they had not yet been done away with.

The environment design does do its best to get across the fact that the Canaan Islands are a somewhat more exotic locale than places Adol has visited on the Europa continent. There are far more monstrous plants in the jungle than have ever shown up in other Ys games, a couple of which even count as bosses in their own right. There is generally little backtracking involved. While the dungeon design is definitely varies and distinct, some of the design choices verge on the aggravating. The ruins of memory are notorious for having drops combined with enemy placement that can easily set back your progress, and the Limewater cave is also known to be particularly difficult to navigate due to the limited visibility and twisting passages combined with the batch of items that must be found in order to progress to the end. Unlike most other Ys games, however, there is a point of no return before the last two or three boss fights.

The difficulty of this game is roughly consistent with the rest of the Napishtim engine games. while many of the bosses do hit hard and furious, the presence of accessible healing items mitigates this and does keep most boss battles from being overly aggravating. Once again, there are no gimmie bosses in Ys. However, some of the fights are still rather annoying, but most of the "proper" bosses are good fights. However, they do tend to stick more to fixed patterns than bosses in later NE-based Ys games, so there's not much in the way of surprises as you whittle bosses down. This game also makes a fair amount of use of status ailments from normal enemies, so Ys VI requires fare more item management than prior entries in the series.

The story progression for Ys VI is rather interesting, as the story treats Adol like the legendary adventurer that he has become at this point. The first boss fight involves Adol using a normal sword to defeat a monster that can't be beaten with normal swords. Villains express frustration over how Adol so quickly does away with ancient monsters that took a great deal of trouble to find and summon. And best of all, there's one boss who is so badly torn up by his fight with Adol that when he tries to take on a more powerful form, his body can't handle it and he dies in the attempt. Even though Adol is in a part of the world where no one has heard of him, it doesn't take people long to see that he's no ordinary redhead after his arrival on the far side of the world. The actual plot builds more on the setting mythology, and even provides the first links that tied Ys III into the underlying mythology of the Ys world.

The spriting used in the original release of Ys VI is on par with that used in later NE-based games, but the ports to other systems made all of the character models polygon-based. these models are of decent quality, and do have the benefit of allowing Adol's appearance to change every time he gets himself a piece of new armor. Unfortunately, Konami also decided to replace the drawn opening and endings with CG versions, that make a fair number of characters look rather off-model. The soundtrack is slightly behind the superb standard set by Ys I & II. This isn't to say that any of the pieces are bad, but rather that not all of the pieces are good. This does not stop there from being some truly excellent pieces throughout the game, of course.

Ark of Napishtim is a game that certainly has its flaws, but the good tends to outweigh the bad. It is a fine return to form for Ys, and is a game that is worth trying, at least.

(By the way. If the names of locations in the Ys setting sound rather similar to things you may have heard of, that's because the Ys world is, in its geographic composition, about 99% identical to Earth. So Adol's home country of Gallia is France, Esteria is based off of St. Anne island, the Canaan islands are in the not-Caribbean, and so on. I also like that Adol's various adventures take place in somewhat small geographc areas. Even though we have had seven adventures with him, we've still only seen a tiny part of the whole Ys world.)
-------------
Original Intro:



Screenies:

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Last edited by R-90-2 on Wed Jan 9, '13, 5:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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