Where and when did you first play this game?
Ys Books I & II was the first, and really one of the few games I owned for the Turbografx-16 CD-ROM system. The game was a huge success in Japan on the PC Engine, the Japanese version of the TG-16. The CD game for TG-16 is actually two separate games, combined into one CD. The game was ported over to the United States in 1990 for the TG-16.
The original Ys I: Ancient Ys Vanished was released in Japan in 1987, and Ys II: Ancient Ys Vanished – The Final Chapter was released in Japan in 1988. The second game takes on new features like magic and specific scenarios which need to be resolved quickly. (I call them timed events). Overall the two games are similar, but Book I is shorter and less involved than Book II which throws in some additional features. When you combined the two games together you make gaming gold, and I always think of them as really one complete game.
How many times have you played this game? Have you replay the game since you first played it?
I played Ys Books I & II a several times when I was younger, mainly because was the ONLY CD game I had to play at the time until I got Ys III. I still have the original Ys Books I & II CD. The music is so good I copied it to my iTunes so I could listen to it at any time.
At one point, the power supply for my TG-16 went out on me and I couldn’t play the TG-CD any longer. It must have been about 10 years later when I found a program called Magic Engine for Windows that allows you play TG-CD games and HuCard ROM images. I purchased the software, which worked amazingly good in demo mode, so I could play Ys Books I & II again. It was amazing and I got chills when the title animation / intro came up on screen with the big, triumphant music (now available below on YouTube). Thank you Magic Engine!
In addition to playing the original Ys Books I & II on CD. The game creators re-imagined the game and released them in Japan in 1998 for Ys I and 2000 for Ys II, but I didn’t find out about them until 2001 or 2002. I purchased the games from Japan via import and played them on my PC. The game dialog was in Japanese text, which was frustrating since I couldn’t understand the storyline, but since I’d already played the games on TG-CD it was fine. I didn’t think Ys could have been more impressive, but these new versions took the first two games to the next level! The music was still the bomb, but the graphics were better and the cut scenes had been greatly improved.
What is it about this game that you loved?
After having played the Legend of Zelda, I became a huge fan of the adventure genre game. Ys had many of the same qualities as Zelda. The exploration was fairly limited in the first book of the game, but even more so in the second book because it started becoming more straight-path as you explore different sections of the world.
The first part of the game doesn’t contain any of the standard trappings of the adventure genre. You play Adol, a brave, red-haired warrior, who is looking for adventure. The game includes the plains, the abandoned shrine, the silver mines, and Darm Tower (a 30 story tall tower where much of the game play takes place), all of which are located on the world below. There is a huge canyon where, legend has it, used to exist a huge shrine where two beautiful Goddesses used to rule with the power of the six wise Priests. About 1/2 the game takes place outside or in the shrine/mines and the second half is located in Darm Tower. At the end of the first book, you are magically transported to the world of Ys floating high in the sky above after defeating Dark Fact, an evil descentant of one of Six Priests.
The second portion of the game starts with Adol waking up in a small town, now on the floating world above. The game includes a series of ruins outside a small town, more mines (which I call the book return), and then you start into the icy section and fire/lava section. There are several towns along the way before you encounter the Solomon Shrine, a huge multi-level shrine with a few different huge wings, the water canals underneath the shrine, (my favorite in book 2), and finally the evil magical section. The two games are distinct but are really so similar in their design and game play, they feel like one complete game.
The music is so impressive I have it in iTunes so I can listen to it at any point. Fans of the game have completed a whole english translation of the game and layered the original TG-16 CD music into the game. I can’t even begin to overstate how the music for the game gets my retro gaming juices flowing. There are whole musical CDs and musical concerts in Japan dedicated to the Ys music from both these games and later games.
What is the best (or worst) moment in this game? Or what about this game made it memorable?
There is a very specific, special memory I’ll talk about shortly, but I loved so many things about this game. The music was clearly one of the most important components, but there was some really good depth in the storyline. The second part of the game builds on the first part so well, you wouldn’t even know they weren’t the same game. Another portion was the cut scenes in the game play. You would get these full face images superimposed on the game play and the mouth would animate with full voice acting.
In the first book of the game, there’s a great few placed to explore, but really the height of the excitement is in Darm Tower where you interact with the major players from earlier in the game. The thing I remember the most is the Rado Annex. When you go outside the tower and come across the ramp to the annex, you can see the towns you visited earlier in the game in the background below. It’s pretty impressive.
In Book II, there was a very intense moment in the second game where you’re racing to the top of a bell tower to save a little girl from being sacrificed by the evil Dalles. The tension in the moment grows because by the fifth bell the little girl will die and as you continue to scale the tower, the bells continue to ring out, one, two, three, four.
When you arrive at the top of the bell tower, you are confronted by Dalles and he rings the final, fifth bell, killing the girl. It’s a huge step forward in the game play. There wasn’t a huge moment of tension like this moment provides previously in the game. These events are pretty standard these days in video games; it’s a race against the clock, but this is the first time I ever remember something like this happening.
Also, as you’re going up the bell tower level by level, you can see out little windows along the wall. In the lower levels, you see clouds, but as you advance up the tower, the view out the windows continue to change a little by little. When you reach the top, you can you see mountains and Darm Tower from the first book, signifying the floating land you’re on is descending from the sky.
Magic was a new part of the second game, especially fireball weapons. There are a couple objects you can pick up which allow you use fire to kill enemies at a distance. The first was the Hawk Idol, which helps direct your fireballs, but the second is the Eagle Idol. I love the Eagle Idol because Eagle fireball hones in on enemies with pinpoint precision and slaughters them in hot blood. It’s so sweet for killing bad guys!
Another big moment in the second game is the canals underneath the Solomon Shrine is a huge palace within the game and there are so many corridors, rooms, and multiple levels of the shrine, it’s easy to get lost. One of the areas you come across is a series of canals. At first the canals are filled with water so you can only access certain areas. When you first gain access to the canals you’re cursed to look like a little yellow demon. As you explore, you discover a group of people hiding out. They are afraid of you as a demon and won’t give you entry. Finally, you are able to lift the curse, changing back to Adol. When you finally gain entry, Dalles learns of these people hiding out, because of you. Dalles speaks to you and curses the people, turning them to stone. (Opps!) Again, this was another tense moment, adding to the storyline.
As the game progresses you can lift the curse, but you also gain the ability to transform into a demon so you can move around and talk with the monsters just like towns people. This allows you to get information about the bad guys and advances the storyline.
Later in the game, you turn off the water and the canal gets drained. The animation and sound effects are nice and by draining the canals you finally gain access the rest of the canals. The final portion of the game is a fight between you and Darm, who is a big pushover.
Is there a special story about this game? Maybe an event in your life or some thing memorable you associate with this game?
I begged my dad for the TG-CD system because, while I had the Turbografx-16, I didn’t have the CD system. The TG-CD was an additional $400 for the add-on and $50-60 for the CD game.
My dad did get me the CD add-on for Christmas that year, and it was wrapped and placed in the back of the Christmas tree. Mom was out one afternoon. I had a friend over with me at the house and I really, really, really wanted to play it so I got the box out from behind the tree. We proceeded to unwrap the box, set up the system, and play the beginning of the game.
It was fuckin’ awesome! I remember the music coming up and the title screen coming up! Awesome, Awesome! The cut screens were so impressive; I was completely blown away with the theatrics of the game!. So, we started to put the system back in the box, so Mom and no one would guess what I had done.
In that process we ripped the wrapping paper really badly in the back. I started to sweat bullets! I wasn’t sure what the hell to do because I didn’t want to get in to trouble for opening my gift early, but there wasn’t enough remaining wrapping paper. We tried to patch up the wrapping paper with tape the best we could do, put the box back in place and play nice until Christmas day. Whooa! When it came to open the system on Christmas day, I grabbed the box from the back, and ripped the paper so you couldn’t tell. No one ever suspected. 🙂