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 Post subject: Re: R-90-2's Review node.
PostPosted: Wed Jan 9, '13, 9:44 pm 
WARNING! This review may contain a bit of possible spoilage for Ys I and II.
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Ys Origin
Developer: Falcom
Release date: 2006 (JP) 2012 (Steam NA/EU)
Platform: PC
Genre: Action RPG.
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Ys Origin serves as a prequel to Ys 1 & 2, the first game in Falcom's long running action RPG series. It is the third game to use the Napishtim engine, the game engine developed by Falcom to bring its games into the 3D realm (the other two games to use it are Ys: The Ark of Napshtim and Ys: The Oath in Felghana). While many of the games in the series have gone unlocalized for a very long while, XSeed games managed to secure localization rights from Falcom and have been steadily localizing the series' most recent offerings for the PC and PSP. Ys Origin itself was released at the end of May of last year, two months after they released Ys: Oath in Felghana for the same. As a prequel to the first game in the series, it had a whole lot of questions to answer, and a great deal to live up to.

So, the game takes place about 700 years before Ys 1. The country of Ys is in peril- a horde of monsters has burst forth from the earth itself, bringing with them untold disasters, such as spontaneous volcanoes and other eruptions of lava. To protect the people of Ys, the six priests gathered its people into the lands surrounding their most sacred place, Solomon Shrine, and raised that part of the land into the sky. While this was accomplished, it was a great cost, as the lives of two of Ys's bravest captains of knights, Saul Tovah and Toal Fact, were lost in the battle to protect the people as they fled to the shrine. However, that was not the end of the problems of Ys, as the monsters built a huge tower from which to try to launch further attacks on Ys, and what's worse is that the twin goddesses that watch over the land of Ys, suddenly vanished. Knowing that they only place they could have gone is to the tower, the six priests assemble a team of knights and wizards to go down there and recover the wayward deities. Joining them are Yunica Tovah, daughter of Saul and close friend to the twin goddesses, and Hugo Fact, a rather sour wizard looking for the power to escape the shadow of his heroic brother. While the tower is filled with monsters, there is another threat- there is another powerful group looking for the goddesses as well, and they are no friends of the land of Ys.

The gameplay is based on the refined version of the Napishtim Engine that was used in Oath in Felghana. However, this game does have three different playable characters, with Yunica and Hugo playable at the start and a third character unlocked once one of those two has been completed. There are some similarities across characters, such as how each has a boost meter and three separate special skills based around a recharging MP meter, but that's where things change. the actual effects of the special skill vary wildly by character, and even the basic forms of attack can differ. Yunica is a bashy melee type, whereas Hugo fires a series of magic bolts. The effects of activating boost also depend on character- while Yunica gets an attack speed boost, Hugo's spread of magic bolts gets wider, meaning he can catch more enemies. Each chracter also has their own weaknesses. Hugo has a ranged normal attack, but his attacks don't interrupt any enemies, unlike Yunica, who can interrupt many enemies with her melee strikes. The third character has to go without any ranged attacks at all for 90% of the game, and the one he gets can only be used fairly rarely. Armor and upgrades are all acquired as there are no normal shops in the game, as the entire game takes place inside the Tower- you gain spirit points from destroying monsters, and you exchange them at save points to upgrade your character's capabilities, such as MP regen, enhancing armor, or increasing drop rates. Like in Oath in Felghana there are no standby healing items, but standing on the balconies of the tower does allow the character to regen HP, just like Adol could in Ys I.

It's rather difficult to talk about the dungeon design as opposed to the rest of the game, because the whole game technically takes place entirely inside a dungeon, The Tower. However, there are six distinct areas inside the tower itself, each having their own character and unique puzzles. In fact, the solutions each character have for some of the puzzles differ, sometimes wildly- they even get different items towards solving some of the obstacles preventing further ascent up the Tower itself. There is however, usually very little reason to backtrack to earlier areas of the game, except to upgrade your character's weapon once you have acquired the materials to do so. Also, a couple of the puzzles are easily solved if you've played through Ys I, as there are some things about the Tower that didn't change much in 700 years.

The difficulty is different, but equal to other Napishtim Engine games. This game actually has some of the more difficult normal enemies to be found in the series, especially as there are a couple later on that can stack multiple temporary status ailments. While the bosses in previous NE games tended to rely on flattening Adol with single, powerful attacks, the ones in Origin tend to deluge the player with hordes of attacks to grind the character down, so while a single mistake may not cost you the fight, they can, and will add up. The boss fights are also generally more involved, with even the early bosses on each route able to pull some pretty nasty surprises. Also, each character has at least one boss fight entirely exclusive to their route. The game also features very many, for lack of a better word, modern "remixes" of bosses from Ys I & II, and there are only three bosses from those games that don't put in an appearance in Ys Origin.

Ys Origin has it's own approach to story progression. While all of the characters will pass through the same areas and fight mostly the same bosses, and the basic plot is the same, the character you choose does have a fairly strong effect on the themes of the story of Ys Origin, and it also affect which characters live and which die over the course of the game. Even though there's only one character which has the true story of what happened 700 years prior to Ys I, it is still worth it to play through all three of them, and it's not a huge burden to do so- each individual playthrough is not especially long, usually at around 7-10 hours per character. The game also has boss rush and survival modes, the latter of which is used to unlock alternate versions of the three characters for use in the main game, as well as a certain quiet redhead for survival and Boss Rush.

The game has the same graphics philosophy as Oath in Felghana, and they are handled with the same degree of quality as this game's Napishtim Engine predecessor. The redo of the Ys I & II bosses are almost universally good translations into the 3D environments the game uses. Of special note is the game's soundtrack, as it is excellent from top to bottom- the only game in the Ys series that might have a better soundtrack are the latest iterations of Ys I & II, such as Complete and Chronicles. It contains a couple of especially good remixes of tracks from Ys I & II, but there are actually very few remixes of tracks from previous Ys games.

I would rate Ys Origin something worth giving a shot generally, but I would actually call this game essential for fans of the series, especially after one has completed Ys I & II.

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Intro.


Screenies:

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 Post subject: Re: R-90-2's Review node.
PostPosted: Wed Jan 9, '13, 10:00 pm 
Excellent review as always ! It's really impressive : how much time did you spend approximately to write such a massive text ? Great job ! And still YS so that's marvelous !!! :clap:


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 Post subject: Re: R-90-2's Review node.
PostPosted: Wed Jan 9, '13, 10:09 pm 
myau56 wrote:Excellent review as always ! It's really impressive : how much time did you spend approximately to write such a massive text ? Great job ! And still YS so that's marvelous !!! :clap:


It never usually takes more than a very few hours, because I work from a set review formula for the most part. Also, most of the ones at the beginning were reviews I had already written for a now-defunct forum.


Last edited by R-90-2 on Wed Jan 9, '13, 10:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: R-90-2's Review node.
PostPosted: Wed Jan 9, '13, 10:32 pm 
Only a very few hours ?? That's impressive too !
Even with the set review formula !
And even if most of the reviews come from a now-defunct forum, that is great to share it with us, phans ! :hyper:


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 Post subject: Re: R-90-2's Review node.
PostPosted: Wed Jan 9, '13, 11:44 pm 
R-90-2 wrote:
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. :)


What about Ys III, the other two Ys 4, Ys V and Ys 7? You need more Ys in your life :p


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 Post subject: Re: R-90-2's Review node.
PostPosted: Wed Jan 9, '13, 11:54 pm 
tilinelson2 wrote:
What about Ys III, the other two Ys 4, Ys V and Ys 7? You need more Ys in your life :p


I could review Wanderers, but as for the others, I'd have to beat Dawn of Ys first, Ys V I won't play untranslated because there's not much worthwhile about Ys V except the story, and Celceta No Jukai and Ys Seven are for systems I don't have. Oh, and Ys Strategy is too terrible for me to play through, translated or no.


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 Post subject: Re: R-90-2's Review node.
PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, '13, 12:01 am 
But anyway- dredging up old review.

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The Guardian Legend
Developer: Compile Software
Release date: 1988
Platform: NES
Shmup/Action RPG
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While Compile was mainly known for its large library of top-down shooters across multiple platforms, such as Zanac, the Aleste series, and MUSHA, it wasn't totally unknown for them to take the occasional foray into top-down action RPGs, such as Golvellius for the Sega Master system. Perhaps the better known one would be The Guardian Legend, released in 1988 for the NES. Hybridizing genres was fairly new in gaming at that point, and this game still stands up as one of the better examples of how to do it right.

The story is rather rudimentary, but that's largely to be expected for an NES game- there were only a few standouts in that regard during that era of console gaming. Essentially, there's a huge worldship, Naju, hurtling ceaselessly towards Earth, and if the impact didn't wreck the planet, its cargo of vicious mutants and haywire military hardware would. In order to combat this threat, Earth sends out the Guardian, a sophisticated transforming android girl to enter the worldship and find a way to stop it before it strikes Earth. While the player does come across log entries by one of the Naju scientists, these serve little more purpose than to give the player hints on how to progress, rather than as a story delivery system as such things would later be used in games such as Marathon or System Shock.

The gameplay is what one might normally expect from a sci-fi action RPG. Eight-directional movement and shooting, life meter, and so on. Unlike the original Legend of Zelda, there's a map available to the player at all times, though it only shows the shape of the area and the outlines of the rooms- there's no indicators of how the rooms connect, and things like power ups and boss rooms aren't marked, but corridor entrances are. The game world is divided into a hub area as well as the ten different sub-areas that make up the interior of the worldship itself. There are also no 'utility' items in the game, except for the keys that you win from certain bosses that open up new areas of Naju- What you do get is a staggering array of special weapons, each with three levels of power (including lightsabers of the single and double-bladed varieties), as well as the usual attack and defense up items, life extenders, and also items that increase your max 'chips'. Chips serve three purposes in this game. they act as money for buying things from the Blue Landers (Compile's mascot, really), ammo for your special weapons, and at certain thresholds, having enough chips will actually widen your basic shot. Also, it's best not to equip special weapons unless you're sure you'll use one, as having one equipped will actually reduce the number of basic shots you can have on screen from four to three, or even two for some of the bigger guns. Curiously enough the game also keeps track of score, and at certain point markers you will also get a free life extension.

The game shifts easily between its two separate modes. You even start off the game in a shooting section to get you used to it, though it is fairly standard fare on that count. You can use anything in shooting mode that you can in exploration mode, and no modifiers are made to how you take damage between modes- you sue the same life bar for both. And note how I said the Guardian is a transforming android? Yeah, she doesn't pilot a fighter craft, she is the fighter craft. Once in the main game, you enter the shooting stages through certain rooms on the overworld map. About half of these are optional, but well worth doing for the extra power-ups, but the mandatory ones require a trick to open, that is revealed in one of the computer rooms located somewhere on the map. After finishing those, however, there's a six-boss rush that you need to complete in order to actually finish, so, there's just a heads up.

There are two complaints I have about the game on the play end. the first is that there's not so much a difficulty curve as a difficulty roller-coaster or stock chart. The intro stage isn't exactly a gimme, and some bosses and stages are much tougher than others, with some bosses even requiring counter-intuitive strategies to beat without receiving an extraordinary amount of pain. The second is that the game saves progress with a password system. Not too bad nowadays, in the age of emulators, but I wish I didn't have to rely on states for a game that was made two years after Legend of Zelda or Dragon Warrior.

The graphics are done well, and even hold up against some of the titles produced later in the lifespan of the NES. While it does occasionally brush up against the sprite limits of the NES, especially against some of the more trigger-happy bosses, there are very few glitches. Enemies and sprites are quite distinct, and the environments are colored so that there are no instances of the dreaded 'blending', where the colors of the environments mask the enemy attacks. Special mention goes to the Guardian herself, however, as she is well animated, has facing sprites for all eight directions of her overworld movement, and has a smooth transformation sequence from walking to fighter mode for the shooting stages. the music on the other hand is definitely hit or miss. While it does have some quite good tracks- this is Compile after all- there are just as many forgettable ones to go along with it.

All in all, it's a game worth checking out, for at least a few reasons. For those who like top-down adventure games, for those who like well-designed shmups with a bit more meat on them, and for those who just like to call back to those magical days when a cute anime girl was allowed to carry an action game on their own.

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 Post subject: Re: R-90-2's Review node.
PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, '13, 12:44 pm 
Apparently, Ys Strategy is a very bad game : is that true ? Did someone have tested it ? :)


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 Post subject: Re: R-90-2's Review node.
PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, '13, 1:40 pm 
myau56 wrote:Apparently, Ys Strategy is a very bad game : is that true ? Did someone have tested it ? :)


Imagine an RTS that gets wrong pretty much anything you can get wrong about an RTS. The controls are bad, but it doesn't matter because your hero units are stupidly overpowered.

Being an Ys-related game, it still has really good music, though.


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 Post subject: Re: R-90-2's Review node.
PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, '13, 9:11 pm 
Basicaly, I don't like RTS : I prefer tactical RPG (I prefer the turn after turn battle ! Much more strategic for me ;) )
So I don't really want to try the game at all ! Stupidely overpowered ? So I presume that the game is very easy ? But if you don't want to play it... ^^
But if the music is good (as in any YS game !), I'll try to listen to it and try to find the OST :)


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