(TG-16 / TurboGrafx-16)

Ys Book I & II (TG-16 / TurboGrafx-16)

Game Review

Ys Book I & II Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Damien McFerran

Ys Book I & II chronicles the first adventures of Adol Christin, a young, red-haired swordsman on a quest to unlock the secrets of an ancient kingdom.

Even the most hardened TG16 fan will admit that the machine wasn’t exactly a massive success when it was released in the States. It struggled against the Genesis and SNES despite having some great games, meaning that sadly many of the best titles to be produced for the PC Engine hardware (the Japanese version of the TG16) never saw the light of day in the US.

Thankfully, some gems did make it through, and Y’s Book 1&2 is one of them. One of the few TG16 RPGs to be localized for the American market (bringing these games to the West was expensive thanks to the reams of dialogue, both written and spoken), Ys regularly wins the ‘best game ever’ award whenever any NEC fan lists their top TG16 games.

Falcom’s Ys series had been very popular in Japan previous to the release of this compilation, but it struggled to attain any degree of recognition in the West (although the Master System installment is well worth checking out). Thanks to the introduction of CD technology (and the fact that it was a ‘pack-in’ title with the shiny new TurboDuo console) this TG16 update of the first two Ys games captured the hearts and minds of American gamers weaned on RPGs such as Zelda and Phantasy Star.

The seemingly limitless storage space of the medium resulted in crystal-clear music, high quality speech and lush anime-style cut scenes. The actual in-game visuals were nothing special, but it was the entire package that counted. Ys was epic from the moment you inserted the CD.

Charting the adventures of flame-hair warrior Adol Christin, the two games included in this package see this brave fellow take on evil forces that threaten the peaceful land of Esteria. To do this he must first locate the six Books of Ys. Once this is done Ys Part 1 comes to a close and the story is continued in the second game, where Adol finds himself transported to the magical floating land of Ys where he discovers even more evil-type monsters to tackle. He ultimately takes on the malevolent (but stupidly named) Dark Fact in order to bring peace to the kingdom.

In terms of gameplay, Ys is actually not that advanced. Combat is simply a case of walking into enemies (there’s no button pressing required) so while it’s technically an ‘action RPG’ due to the lack of turn-based battles, it doesn’t quite have the same degree of control as something like Zelda or Story of Thor. When attacking an enemy, damage is calculated on how powerful your character is and the resilience of the foe. Attacking an enemy straight on will result in Adol taking the most punishment, but approaching from various angles lessens the damage. While it’s certainly not the most advanced system you’ll find in an RPG from this era (and it’s sadly one of the reasons that many people dismiss the Ys games), it does possess some tactical depth. The second game introduces magical attacks that further boost the offensive options available to the player.


Ys is a difficult game to rate, because when it’s judged in parts – such as graphics, combat, depth and so on – it’s comfortably bettered by practically every RPG released since. However, when everything is pulled together Ys becomes an epic proposition that will have a profound impact on anyone who gives it the time of day. Everything clicks together perfectly and it’s a testament to quality of the game that it remains appealing even today.

TG16 fanatics will know this all too well, of course. It’s heartening to think that the Virtual Console is giving this wonderful piece of software a new lease of life. Download this now, I beseech you!

From the web

Game Trailer

Subscribe to Nintendo Life on YouTube

User Comments (7)



Kawaiipikachu said:

This is a great game.
It may be simple but still worth every point it's that good.
I never regreted it at all I certaily loved it.



StarBoy91 said:

Good review, Damo, this game does deserve a 9. I downloaded this game the day it came out on the VC, and I had a blast with it. Ys I was short and easy, and Ys II is longer and harder. Even so, I liked the rock soundtrack and the voice acting and the anime' cutscenes. A superb two-part RPG from beginning to end. The gameplay, ridiculous though it may be, was quite absorbing.
Now, I hope Ys 3, 4 (both SFC and Turbo Duo) and 5 make it to the VC. Ys 3 for the Super NES is my favorite Ys game of all time, so far!
As for Ys Book I & II, highly recommended to all RPG fans!



JDesensitized said:

10/10 for me. I just want to know what's taking Ys III so long to come out.

Also, we won't be getting IV (both versions) and V since they were never translated.



IAmChristinaAguilera said:

Okay, got a chance to try this one out, and it looks like I'll probably pick it up after I finally finish Secret of Mana and FFIV:AY. If anyone out there is a Legacy of the Wizard or ActRaiser fan, the original soundtrack was by Yuzo Koshiro, and sounds a bit like both soundtracks (maybe more like LOTW if I had to choose, and I LOVED that game's soundtrack). Koshiro wasn't in charge of the conversion/recording of the CD soundtrack, but I think it suits his compositions pretty well. It winds up at least SONICALLY seeming like a next-generation sequel to Legacy (though the gameplay is pretty different, but similarly tightly-playing), if that's what you're looking for.

As for the gameplay, this is kind of like an ideal RPG for people that play older RPGs in emulators. The on-map fighting isn't all that different from emulator-fast-forwarding through battles, hitting A on "Fight" over and over to speed up the grinding process, and you can literally save anywhere, to the extent that saves are more like emulator savestates, with all of the positives and negatives that entails. If you save right before getting killed, you will get killed over and over again, and really not have any other recourse, so I'd definitely recommend not being shy about using more than one of those 5 save slots at a time. The game even reloads the music at the exact point of the track where you saved. If you like the speedy gameplay, there's a speed menu where you can set the whole game to the faster of the two settings, making gameplay even zippier, but you'll be less likely to be able to get fight maneuvering together past the tougher enemies that way, but this can be switched on the fly during gameplay.

So if you like Legacy of the Wizard's music and sped-up Final Fantasy/Dragon Quest/etc., well, here's your game(s).



XCWarrior said:

Going to pick this up finally thanks to the Nintendo World Report Retro Active thing they do. This is the game they are playing and going to talk about soon, if anyone cares.

Leave A Comment

Hold on there, you need to login to post a comment...