Also available on Sharp X68000, PC-8801, PC-9801, Genesis, Famicom, Super Nintendo, and PlayStation 2
As I've already reviewed this game on Super Nintendo (read that review here), this will be a fairly short review. I'm mainly going to focus on the major differences that I noticed between the TurboGrafx-CD version and the Super Nintendo version as well as mention a bug or two that I encountered.
The first two things that one will likely notice is that while the TurboGrafx version can't quite match up the visuals in the Super Nintendo version, the music simply blows the SNES out of the water, but given that we're talking cartridge versus compact disc, that's to be expected. That's not to say that the Super Nintendo version has bad music - it's probably my top 5 Super Nintendo soundtracks - but it just can't compete with CD quality audio especially when that audio is some kickin' 1980s synth rock. I'm actually not typically a fan of that particular style of rock music, but it's really well done in this game and works well.
Having the advantage of CD audio gives this version the upper hand with delivering the story as it allows for full voice acting. Granted, the voice acting in this game is TERRIBLE, but it's still a nice touch that most RPGs of the era still lacked. Despite the utter lack of acting talent on the part of the voice actors, the dialogue does give the game and its story a more engaging feel than its text-only counterpart, at least for me. As for the big visual differences, there aren't really MAJOR difference for the most part, but there are a number worth noting. The parallax scrolling is MUCH superior on Super Nintendo as the hardware was more suited to that type of effect. It's not horrible on TurboGrafx, but the backgrounds - especially in town - look as if they stutter along instead of scrolling smoothly. It's not horrendous, but it can be pretty jarring, especially before you get used to it. Otherwise the differences are mainly the relatively minor things one would expect when comparing a game on two pieces of hardware with noticeably different specs. Sprites don't look quite as detailed or sharp, and the colors don't pop quite as much as on Super Nintendo. It's worth mentioning, however, that I played the Super Nintendo version on a Retron 5 with HDMI whereas I played the TurboGrafx version on my PC Engine CD with composite output, so that's a factor to keep in mind.
While there are a couple minor changes I'll note in a bit, the biggest difference in terms of mechanics and gameplay is the difficulty curve - it's MUCH smoother and lacks the brutal spikes that were present in the Super Nintendo version. When playing on SNES, I had to get myself to max level in the second dungeon; on TurboGrafx, I was on the second to last dungeon before I felt a real need to reach max level. With regards to level grinding, the TurboGrafx version lacks the nice little owl exploit on Super Nintendo that allowed for SUPER easy money and exp grinding, although there's a spot in the mountain dungeon that is almost as fast and convenient. The last two things I want to note relate to bugs. The Super Nintendo version had a bug where the (outrageously expensive) fairy necklace did nothing. It's supposed to revive you automatically if you die in battle, and that items works as intended in the TurboGrafx version. Instead, the TurboGrafx version has a bugged time ring which works as intended on Super Nintendo but does nothing except drain your ring power with no actual effect on TurboGrafx; it's supposed to slow enemies. If I had to take one, though, I'd picked having a bugged time ring over a bugged fairy necklace, so I found it to be a fair trade.
Ys III: Wanderers from Ys on TurboGrafx-CD remains a fantastic action RPG. It still doesn't live up to the high standards set by Ys I+II, but it's still a solid experience. Playing on CD on TurboGrafx as opposed to cartridge on Super Nintendo brought about as many advantages as it did disadvantages, but I definitely think that TurboGrafx is the way to play. The difficulty is much more reasonable with a much fairer progression juxtaposing the brutal spikes on Super Nintendo, and while the visuals suffer, the improved audio more than makes up for it. It's definitely MUCH cheaper on Super Nintendo, but if you're able to play it on TurboGrafx, then that's absolutely the version I recommend.
My Rating - 4 Neps
I'm a teacher.
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 high school history; during the night, I spend my spare time gaming. Then I write about it.