"Adding to Adol's problems is the sad truth that everyone in Redmont (including Dogi) is completely worthless, so he'll have to bail everyone out with little help beyond getting pointed in a given direction and sent off with a hearty, "You can do it, dude!" And then there's Chester. The brother of potential romance option Ellena falls into the category of erstwhile hero/tragic villain/unbelievably idiotic dumbass, as he combines arrogant blustering with possibly the least intelligent plan for revenge imaginable."
Ys III: Wanderers from Ys deserves credit. This game has given me the perfect counterpoint to ANY argument based around the the concept that "change is good". For the most part, the retro Ys games provide a simple, yet addictive, engine. Action is viewed from an overhead perspective and you don't have to worry about such things as swinging a sword. Instead, you strategically run into foes. Assaulting them head-on is bad. Letting them clip you from the side or (*gasp*) behind is worse. However, if you're able to get the drop on them and deliver a blind-side charge, you'll inflict MAJOR damage. It's a fun system that's a nice change of pace from the average overhead-view action-RPG.
Ys III is a bird of a different color, though, and not in a good way. The fact you're playing from a side-scrolling perspective is cool. The fact you manually swing the hero Adol's sword is cool. The fact this game is so flawed that I consider its generic plot to be one of its strong points is definitely not cool.
You start with Adol and his BFF Dogi traveling to Dogi's hometown of Redmont, presumably to explore their budding bromance in a rural setting far, far away from such hassles as saving the world from Dark Fact. Our hero and his sidekick don't have much time for cavorting through the countryside, though, as trouble's afoot in this sleepy village! Monsters are infesting the countryside and the king of nearby Ballactine Castle wants to summon a big, scary, world-conquering demon to cement his hold over his subjects. Adding to Adol's problems is the sad truth that everyone in Redmont (including Dogi) is completely worthless, so he'll have to bail everyone out with little help beyond getting pointed in a given direction and sent off with a hearty, "You can do it, dude!" And then there's Chester. The brother of potential romance option Ellena falls into the category of erstwhile hero/tragic villain/unbelievably idiotic dumbass, as he combines arrogant blustering with possibly the least intelligent plan for revenge imaginable.
And so, in the name of heroic justice, Adol rescues people from a mine, finds magical statues, banters with Ellena, bickers with Chester and fights all sorts of critters, ranging from crawling bugs to ill-tempered dragons. And, of course, saves everyone from the world-conquering demon and all the bad people. All in a day's work. For his part, Dogi rescues Adol and Chester from a cave-in and does a pretty good job of keeping far away from anything resembling danger. I'm guessing the only reason Adol keeps Dogi around is to bail him out in the event he gets trapped in a cave or locked in a cell, as the dude really doesn't seem to be useful in any other way.
I spent the majority of my time with this game pondering things like the relationship between Adol and Dogi and the stupidity of Chester because, quite frankly, the playing of Ys III just wasn't the sort of exciting fun my shoddy attention span requires. It seems like Falcom tried to combine elements of the fast-paced Ys combat engine with the concept of manually tapping a button to swing a sword...and things just didn't work out so well.
When you enter one of the game's handful of dungeons, you'll be swarmed by enemies. Your sword has very little range, so to hit them, you'll have to get close. This will lead to you discovering three great things about fighting in Ys III. First, enemies do not recoil (or react at all) after being hit. This means that if you swing your sword at that knight who's lumbering towards you and don't kill him with your first swing, he'll be able to instantly return the favor. This leads into the second poor aspect of combat — if there's any recovery time after suffering damage, it's so short I didn't notice it. So, now you've hit that knight and he's walked into you. I hope you have the attack button pressed down to issue rapid-fire slashes or you'll constantly take damage due to his presence on top of you. Or maybe I should say "due to his presence kind of near you", as the third flaw is the game's hit detection, which seems to be very erratic. I've registered hits on enemies where it seemed like my sword fell a bit short and I've taken damage from enemies a bit before they actually came into contact with me. Very frustrating.
Fortunately, due to some more shoddy programming, it's easy to make a huge chunk of this game mindlessly easy. Like the other Ys games, you have an experience system here. Unlike those other games, there's no law of diminishing returns associated with it. Take the original Ys, for example. If you got 50 experience points from a monster and then gained a level, killing that creature would only give you 25 points...and then 10 and so on until it was only worth one experience point. This kept the entire game challenging as it was pointless to stick around dungeons harvesting monsters for any real length of time. You constantly had to move on in order to build up Adol.
Ys III is too cool for that. If you fight a monster and get 20 experience points at level three, you'll get 20 experience points at level 15. And, interestingly enough, there's a place or two where monsters CONSTANTLY are swarming onto the screen and diving right onto your sword. So, if you're like me and losing interest in this game after the first dungeon, you'll be glad to know that you only have to make it through about two rooms of the second one to find a great spot to exploit this game. You'll enter a particular screen and an infinite number of birds will divebomb you. Hold down the attack button and hold up on the control pad and watch your experience meter rise. All you have to do is keep an eye on your health (as they'll likely be hitting you, as well). Not only did I max out Adol in an hour (at most), I also gained enough gold to buy all the best weapons and armor in town! I overwhelmed EVERYTHING until reaching Ballactine Castle near the end of the game, which at least mildly amused me.
Sadly, when the most positive thing I can say about playing the game is being mildly amused because of how easy about three different dungeons become after exploiting the game's experience system, things aren't good. There was some potential in Ys III, but the poor combat system drags everything down and things aren't helped by how the game is short and essentially devoid of puzzles or anything more cerebral than "hold down button...watch things die". The sad thing is that I had such a blah time with the game simply because the developers tried to do something different with their series. If it was completely derivative of the first two, I'd have had a perfectly fine time — but because Falcom apparently decided it was time to change the engine, Ys III has to be considered the least essential of Adol's adventures.
Staff review by Rob Hamilton (January 03, 2010)
Rob Hamilton is the official drunken master of review writing for Honestgamers.
If you enjoyed this Ys III: Wanderers From Ys review, you're encouraged to discuss it with the author and with other members of the site's community. If you don't already have an HonestGamers account, you can sign up for one in a snap. Thank you for reading!