Also available on PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable, Nintendo DS, Wii via Virtual Console, iOS, Android, and Windows
Played via Wii Virtual Console
Holy god. This game, man. Holy shit. I mean...DAMN. Even though they were original released as separate games, I waited until finishing both Ys I and Ys II to write this because they were released in the same package here, and (more importantly) the end of Ys I immediately leads into the beginning of Ys II. If you recall, I played Ys I on Master System about a week or so ago. Everyone told me that the TurboGrafx-CD version is by far the definitive version, but unfortunately, I don't have a TurboGrafx-CD - just a TurgoGrafx-16 and a PC-Engine. Fortunately, however, the incredible Nintendo Wii has it on the Virtual Console service. God bless the Wii.
So, to begin, let's start by comparing Ys I on TGCD vs Master System. First and foremost, it's definitely the same game. Don't expect something like Nintendo Tetris vs Tengen Tetris on NES. Other than the obvious technical boosts, though, it starts with about two or three minutes of prologue that was excluded from the Master System release; Adol arrives on the continent by ship and sets out on his quest out of a desire to help the people of this land he's visiting. Not exactly a gripping, intricate narrative or motivation, but it's at least SOME motivation, something the Master System version lacked. Beyond that, it's the same game with some minor tweaks. The dungeon layouts are SLIGHTLY different - some are mirrored vertically, some horizontally, a few paths here and there are different - but I was able to do everything except the mine straight from memory of the Master System version (that one was mirrored and just confusing in general). Some of the names are slightly changed (Adol is actually called Adol in this one, for example; he had some stupid different name on Master System).
As you can see, the character interactions are enhanced with some GREAT 80s style anime art in addition to the regular character sprites, and since this originally used CD technology, key characters even have voice acting - something truly outstanding when you consider that this game was originally released in 1989. Because Ys I carries over directly into Ys II, the leveling system is drastically different. Whereas in the Master System version of Ys I the level cap was 10, each level took a LOT of exp to reach, and your stat boosts were dramatic, the level cap here is 62, each level is MUCH more attainable, and your stat boost are very incremental because you'll be level over two games (and the second game is probably at least twice as long as the first). For reference, I was level 37 at the end of Ys I and 59 when I got to the final boss of Ys II (though I had to grind to the max level 62 before I was able to beat him). Unfortunately, none of your gold carries over to Ys II (and you need a lot more gold in Ys II than you did in Ys I), and unsurprisingly, none of your items carry over.
After you defeat Dark Fact at the end of Ys I, you're transported magically up to the floating land of Ys for the start of Ys II. The only items that you still have are the six books of Ys, and they're the key to the first part of your quest. You'll travel through a mine complex first that's very similar in purpose to the shrine in Ys I (although infinitely more convoluted) returning each book to its respective priest statue. Then you kill an ass ton of demons, travel through Hoth and then straight into and through Hell before you get to the most obnoxious and oversized dungeon I've ever see in an RPG and one that by itself will easily take up a third of your play time. Seriously, it's a bitch, use a map and/or a walkthrough when you get to Solomon Shrine. I did Ys I without a walkthrough and only used a map for the mine, and I did Ys II without a walk through or map (except for the mine) up until that point, but I had to pull out a walkthrough AND a map for Solomon Shrine because it was SO huge, SO complex, and SO confusing.
Truthfully, the ending of Ys II was underwhelming. The final boss fight was intense although the mid-boss before you get to him was a joke; I literally walked straight through is attacks and just wailed on him with no attempt to dodge and beat him with more than 3/4 of my health left. Darm, the final boss, however, was a bitch. I couldn't get more than half of his health down at level 59, and at level 62 - an hour and between ten and fifteen THOUSAND random enemies later - while he was extremely manageable, I still had to take care to dodge his attacks as much as I could. The ending itself, though, after you defeat Darm, was...okay. It wasn't bad by any means, and it was your general feel-good "thanks for saving all of creation from certain doom" celebration, but after such an incredible game, it felt like a bit of a let down.
Now let's wrap this up talking about where the game REALLY shines - the soundtrack. Ys I & II on TurboGrafx-CD has, without exaggeration or compare, the greatest soundtrack of any game I've ever played. Holy shit, man. The Master System version sounded good (as long as you played with FM Sound), but god DAMN, this music is incredible thanks to the CD audio capabilities. It obviously looks SIGNIFICANTLY better than the Master System visually, but for a 16-bit system using CDs versus an 8-bit system using cartridges, that shouldn't come as a surprise. The music is really where this shines. The music for the area between Rance Village and the shrine/mine dungeon in and the music for the sewers underneath Solomon Shrine (both in Ys II) are among the greatest video game musical compositions I have ever heard, surpassed only by Final Fantasy VII's One-Winged Angel in my opinion.
The TurboGrafx version is DEFINITELY the version of Ys I and Ys II to play. The gameplay and controls are superb; the awkward hit detection I lamented in the Master System version of Ys I is totally fixed. The visuals are incredible, especially the dialogue character models and parallax scrolling. The music is unrivaled. My buddy BoneSnapDeez was right; this game is truly god-tier in every sense of the expression. By all means, play other versions of Ys - it's a bitchin game in general - but do NOT skip the TurboGrafx version. Get an actual TurboGrafx-CD, download it on Wii or Wii U, whatever you need to do (I GUESS you can emulate on a PC if you're a punk-ass bitch), but play this version, man. It's just incredible.
My Rating - 5 Neps
I'm Mr. Deck
And I like to play video games. I like to collect video games. I like to talk about video games, and I like to write about video games. During the day, I teach history at a high school in central North Carolina; during the night, I spend my spare time gaming. Then I write about it.