Ys II Eternal (PC) review
"In an age of bad graphics and niche systems came a game known as Ys. The name, near-impossible as it is to pronounce to those who first see it (It sounds like east, without the t) sparks one of three emotions to those that hear of it: Sheer love, for the game's brilliant gameplay and Adol's silent charm; Pure hatred, at the game's difficulty level and 'simple' push-to-attack mechanics; or that intense feeling of confusion at the fact that this is the first time they've ever heard of this ..."
In an age of bad graphics and niche systems came a game known as Ys. The name, near-impossible as it is to pronounce to those who first see it (It sounds like east, without the t) sparks one of three emotions to those that hear of it: Sheer love, for the game's brilliant gameplay and Adol's silent charm; Pure hatred, at the game's difficulty level and 'simple' push-to-attack mechanics; or that intense feeling of confusion at the fact that this is the first time they've ever heard of this game they keep referring to as Whys. Be it because of releases on systems unpopular in the United States or because very few games were actually released here, Ys has never caught on too well in America. It does, however, receive an almost cult-following in Japan, and rightfully so. The Ys series, in all its simplicity, is one of the best series of games to ever be created. Nearly ten years after the release of the original Ys, developer Falcom released a remake of the original Ys, branding it Ys Eternal. A followup for the second game, labeled Ys II Eternal was soon to follow, and it's with a heavy heart that I have but one thing to say of it...
This game is completely breathtaking.
As soon as the fast-paced, mind-warping anime intro is over, veterans of the series will soon realize this isn't the same Ys II that they played on a Turbografx-16 years ago. No, this is a completely different beast, and yet it still rings familiar. The storyline takes place right after the end of the original: everyone's favourite hero, the red-haired, unspeaking swordsman Adol Christin set out to find the land of Ys, and over the course of his journey, defeated a mighty evil atop the 25 story Darm Tower and reuinted the 6 Books of Ys, sending him to a great floating continent high above the clouds which he soon finds out was indeed the Ys he was searching for. This Ys, however, is a stark contrast from the utopian paradise he heard stories of as a child. Demons roam the land and only a hero with the 6 Books of Ys can build the power to stop these malevolent miscreations before all is lost. Throughout his journey, Adol will find himself calling upon new powers such as magics of light and fire, mysterious mirrors that dispel illusions, and even leaves that filter poisonous gases. He'll be relying on the heavy stone shoes as he slowly hikes up frozen slopes in the Ice Ridge of Noltia. During many of the game's varied and difficult boss battles, his Fire spell will be the only thing between him and a painful death at the cold, steely claws of the greatly detailed abnormalities he will inevitably face.
The bosses aren't the only things large and detailed to the point of utter gorgeousness. Little touches throughout the game, such as slain monsters collapsing in a pile of blood and dismembered parts and Adol's breath being visible in the aforementioned Ice Ridge of Noltia add a new depth to the early Ys games that were previously unheard of. The 2d areas are very large and detailed as well, as houses have stocked shelves, unkempt kitchens and other added details that overall makes the game feel more "whole."
And of course, no Ys review would be complete without mentioning the simple, yet powerful battle system. Enemies in Ys are taken down not with a press of an attack button and the slash of a sword, ala Zelda or Seiken Densetsu. Rather, they're defeated by simply ramming into foes just a little off-center until they explode in that gratifying pile of parts. Granted, there's more to it than that. Attacks from the side as well as to the back will deal more damage than a head on-collision, and will be safer to Adol's health as well. With some timing and a little practice, you'll soon be controlling Adol like a tank, plowing through any hapless monster that decides to get in the way, relieving the poor soul of any experience points and gold it might be carrying. There are a number of great gameplay additions as well, such as using the transform spell to transform into a monster called a Loo and trick monsters into thinking you're one of them, giving you access to their compound and helpful information. There are even multiple difficulty levels and a Time Attack mode, making the game suitable for new recruits to the Ys series and experts alike.
It just goes to show how much care Falcom put into this behemoth. While the storyline may not be terribly long and there may be laughable bits of Engrish spread throughout the otherwise fully-Japanese game, Ys II Eternal proves to be a powerhouse that can, has, and will continue to stand the test of time over and over again. This most recent remake, featuring updated music that can only be described as the consistent pinnacle of video game music, enhanced graphics, new items, and a tweaked battle system only proves that Ys II Eternal is a game that deserves to be in every gamer's collection.
Community review by espiga (April 25, 2005)
Espiga likes big butts, and cannot lie.
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