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Legacy of Ys: Books I & II

Score: 96%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Atlus
Developer: Interchannel
Media: Cartridge/1
Players: 1 - 2
Genre: RPG/ Real-Time Strategy

Graphics & Sound:

Originally Ys debuted way back in 1987 in Japan on the MSX (yes, I had never heard of it either). The various releases of Ys have been ported to various systems and been compiled several times throughout the years. This alone should tell you that it's a wonderful RPG that is here to stay.

Graphically, there has been a lot added to The Legacy of Ys: Books I & II over the years. The basic characters, backgrounds, monster, and the rest of the in-game stuff have stayed mostly the same. To add to the game, there are now beautiful cut-scenes and intros. These new scenes are on par with any of the recent DS games that you've seen. You might think that this would be distracting going from a beautiful intro to sprite characters, but on the small DS screen, all RPGs end up doing that, even the ones written today.

Now you know music is good when they release a CD of it. There are almost 50 releases of CDs from the various Ys games. More than 10 of those are from Books I & II. So you can guess that you're going to enjoy the background music throughout these games. The sound effects are quite good too. This is one of the few games that I recommend playing with the sound on, just because it's so pleasant.


Legacy of Ys: Books I & II is the story of a search for knowledge. Legends say that years ago, there was a very wise and powerful civilization known as Ys. But like all things, it was destined to fall eventually. Rumor has it that there is a book that holds the record of the Ys civilization. For those who can find it, untold powers await.

A 16 year old boy named Adol decides to go on a quest to see the world and maybe find out what happened to Ys. On the way, he ends up in a storm that strands him on the island of Esteria. The storms are preventing anyone from leaving the island. While he's there, of course, people are going to end up needing his help. You'll need to run around talking to everyone you find. Sometimes they will give you very valuable information. Sometimes it is useless knowledge, but you never know until you talk to them.

You will end up visiting a lot of different villages, places, and people. Luckily you don't have to find a specific place to save. You can save your game just about anywhere. Some of these towns will have additional place to visit, though. You'll especially want to keep an eye on the shops. There you can buy new weapons, armor, and shields, and various other items. You can equip these by pressing (Start) and selecting the correct screen. You scroll through those screens with different controls based on how you have your controls set.

Eventually you will get to the end of Book I, and can continue the story in Book II. But if you want to start right into Book II, you can do that too. There is no need to beat Book I before playing Book II.


I'm not going to lie to you, Legacy of Ys: Books I & II is a difficult game. It's an old school RPG that didn't make itself easier just because people expect easier games nowadays. Luckily, if you have to have it easier, they give you four different difficulty levels. By default, the game highlights Normal for you to select. I'm going to assume that this is the level the original game was meant to play on. If you just can't deal with Normal (which definitely seemed harder than most games I've played on Normal lately), you can choose Easy or Very Easy. To me, Easy seemed more like what I'm used to as Normal on other games. If that's not easy enough for you, then there is even a Very Easy selection. It is listed as "For those who just want to enjoy the story."

As with every RPG I've ever played, you can make the game easier for yourself if you run around and level the character up more. Actually in Legacy of Ys: Books I & II, I would recommend leveling up more than you think you might need to at times. When I got to the first boss in Book I, I was only level 5. I did barely any damage to him. I had to go level up several levels just to be able to beat him. So if you're using a FAQ to get you through without searching everywhere, or like me and lucky enough to find the right way quickly, you might want to make sure you kill everything that you can. Given that you can save anywhere except inside the boss battle though, you can save right before you go in and then go level up some if you're decimated.

Game Mechanics:

Legacy of Ys: Books I & II has a really wonderful feature that I never expected to see in an older game that was ported. You can choose to use either the stylus or the button controls. Not only can you choose one or the other, you can switch between them on the fly just by pressing (Select) and selecting Change Controls. Personally, I found it nice to switch between them at different places. In some spots, you need the finer controls of the D-pad. I say finer because they are slower so you can get more pinpoint controls. Of course, you will have to press the (Y) button to attack and the (A) button to use magic (in Book II only, there is no magic in Book I). Using the stylus, you can move much faster and you don't have to press a button to attack. You simply run into the character that you want to attack. Sometimes this is preferable, but sometimes you would rather have more control. That's why switching on the fly is so nice! The rest of the controls are quite easy to use too. You can pick them all up very quickly, even switching back and forth on the controls.

I have loved playing Legacy of Ys: Books I & II. I forgot how difficult the older games were, which made it a lot more challenging, but more fun at the same time. Given that you get two complete games for the price of one in Legacy of Ys: Books I & II, you can't go wrong here. I highly recommend buying it today!

-Cyn, GameVortex Communications
AKA Sara Earl

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