After i played Ys Book 1 & 2 and was extremely impressed i could not wait to take on the sequel Ys III: Wanderers From Ys. Prior to actually playing the game i read that they take away the top-down Zelda 1-ish perspective in favor for the side scrolling action perspective like in Zelda 2: Adventure of Link. I had also heard that like Adventure of Link, Ys III was supposed to be the “black sheep” of the series. Well…. As a person who actually liked Adventure of Link i dove into Ys III with no prejudgment feelings about the new theme of the game and finished it to find out if it really is a “black sheep”.
Adol returns as the protagonist of this game but this time he leaves Ys for other adventures. He has met another like-minded adventurer by the name of Dogi and they decide to return to Dogi’s homeland Felghana since they had heard strange rumors about the land going through some tough times and monsters appearing. They go to Felghana to find the rumors to be true and Dogi meets a childhood friend Elena who worries that her brother who is also Dogi’s friend is somehow involved with the recent disturbances and the king recently turned doucebag. All this has something to do with a legendary beast that had been sealed away by a legendary hero hundreds of years prior to the events of the game. Seems like the evil jerks plan to revive this legendary beast for their ow selfish purpose which we have learned through many movies and fantasies is never a good idea.
Yes, the gameplay has turned into side-scrolling. That by itself is not a problem for me at all. I mean even though the “bump” system in Ys Book 1 & 2 worked worked well and the boss fights were awesome it is not something i would lose my mind over getting changed. This time you walk, jump and slash. Pretty simple… Well, you can also crawl, make an upwards slash, downwards slash and a jumping downwards slash as in you kill by landing on the enemies with your sword pointing down.
This system is simple but fun. Normal enemies usually don’t take more than one hit but they can do some serious damage to you if you get caught off guard. What we have here are the bugs and birds and golems, pretty standard action-platforming enemies but they keep you engaged and are pretty fun. In the absolute start of the game you might have to grind for like 3-5min to be able to survive but thankfully enemies respawn quickly and only take on hit so that does not take a lot of time.
Like in Ys Book 1 & 2 the boss fights are great and they are probably the most fun to be had in Ys III. They are diverse, challenging and takes some thinking before you can kill them. If they are too difficult for you you might be underleveled but like i said grinding just a bit in this game does not take much time.
One big change is that now instead of having an open world like in Ys 1 & 2 Adol now fast travels through a map followed by a small section with no enemies. I do not hate this but i definitely prefer the open world method. The map has 6 destinations which is a bit of a disappointment since it makes the game a bit short, and a lot shorter than Book 1 & 2 but that might be understandable given that Ys book 1 & 2 was a 2 game compilation and Ys III is a stand-alone title ad they were all originally made for the NEC PC-88.
Visually the game does not improve in any way really. To be honest the sprites look average and the game scrolls weird like it runs in like 20fps. The game’s cutscenes are cut way back from the previous title and the english voice-overs are terrible. They even confuse the legendary hero in the opening cutscene with Adol calling the legendary hero “Adol” which is just stupid. I played the game in Japanese thankfully (since i a fluent in Japanese) and everything there just sounds a lot more natural.
In Ys book 1 & 2 (and even Ys IV) they made splash arts of characters to show in game animations of them while talking which looked amazing and you can see that in my previous review of Ys Book 1 & 2 but Wanderers from Ys totally skips that so you have to watch the average sprites stay still and lifeless with bad voice acting (in the English version at least). This is a shame since i felt this really made you able to make connections to the characters in Ys 1 & 2. This sequence here in this longplay can show you what i mean:
As opposed to this in Ys Book 1 & 2 (some spoilers if you watch more than 40 seconds of this):
Anyway, i just feel that it is a shame because it seems like Ys III just got less time for production and probably less money too.
One point where the game does not fail me is the music. Oh my freaking god the music department didn’t hold anything back for this one. I know i said in the Ys book 1 & 2 review that they were throwing quality stuff at you one after another. Well… In Ys III they do it better at a faster rate with even more quality tracks. If i were to give the game a +0,5 for every tune that i like in the game the game would score like 13. It is THAT good!
This is just mind blowing stuff. The quality and quantity if great songs made for this game puts it in a league among the best OSTs of all time like Final Fantasy VII, Mega Man 2 and other legendary OSTs. The Soundtrack in Ys III: Wanderers from Ys catapult the game from a good game to an awesome game. I imagine that with an avarage soundtrack i mind have found this game boring. Maybe the OST is giving me the illusion that Ys III is a good game, although i do not wholly believe that it is definitely a part of it. I cannot count on 1 hand the games i would give 10 for music but Ys III manages to do that which is really really special. The Ys III OST has retired the also amazing Ys Book 1 & 2 OST to the shelf at least for the time being.
Overall, Ys III is a good action-rpg that still could have become better with more production value and some time. The gameplay is good so the game is short and sweet, you won’t get bored of it and may go back to it later because of that. I was most disappointed with the downgraded visuals, bad scrolling, bad voice acting(English version) and lack of cutscenes as that made the overall story and presentation not satisfying enough and it was exactly that which made Ys 1 & 2 special. The music however catapults this game to a whole other level as it is just mind blowing and among the best ever.
So is it the “black sheep” of the series? Maybe, it is different than the others and can be pretty goofy at times but it is too good to be called a “black sheep”. In fact it is a very good game. If you are playing through the Ys series make sure you do not skip this one. If not for the gameplay or story then do it for the tunes and just that will make playing the game worth it.
Lasting appeal 8
Is it fun? 8,5
Overall 8,5 a very good game
Ys III: Wanderers from Ys is available on the TurbografxCD/PC Engine which is the version i recommend if you are playing the original game. SNES and Sega Mega version also exist and are good supposedly but they cannot compare with the cutscenes and quality sound of the Turbo CD. A PS2 remake was made for the Japanese market which mostly just overhauls the graphics in the game, but then came out a very critically acclaimed full re-imagining of the game Ys III: The Oath in Felghana on the PSP that turns the game into what the Ys series is today similar to Ys 7 and VI. That game is also available on Steam with some other Ys games.
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