Renewed releases from old titles tend to work from the power of nostalgia, hoping that longtime fans of the game are not disappointed somewhere during the game. So when it comes to the visuals, there can’t be too much change that takes away from the gameplay experience. The Ys series has over 20 years of loyal fanbase to build upon, and these remakes have done their job in bringing back that magic, at least aesthetically.
As before, Ys I & II Chronicles is as difficult as it had always been. As far as JRPGs go, perhaps only games like Grandia II can top it (with the cheesy enemies like the Devils that cast the Ba-Boom! spell which throws sick damage at your party). However, while Chronicles does have a pretty good turn-based combat system that does make use of some tactics, this means that there is a lot of grinding involved though and the filler content in between significant sequences is quite obvious.
The games follow the story of Adol Cristin, the red-headed protagonist with a thirst for adventure and a penchant for being in the right place at the right time. It just seems like things happen whenever he’s around. The first game starts off with Adol getting washed ashore on an island, which is quite a way to start the story. From there, you’ll have to do a lot of exploration, so much that you’ll be doing quite a bit of backtracking. Perhaps that’s another thing about the Ys series, which is that the level designs are so complicated that most would give up out of frustration.
If you are new to this series and JRPGs in general, this can be either a good introduction to the genre that can lead to better titles like Suikoden II and Final Fantasy VII or just not be finished as the old design may seem too linear and repetitive as a whole. If you’re into a good story though, then this should hold you over for a period of time. Ys fans will most likely play it regardless, while new players will need some convincing.
Another strong point of Chronicles is the music, which has always been one of the Ys series defining factors. As for the visuals, it retains most of what made the game known to JRPG fans, although it mostly looks generic in modern times. They are improved a bit though for HD, looking more detailed and crisp with polish and remastering. Other than that, it retains most of its flavor and atmosphere.
As a port, there is no doubt that it is very faithful to the original games. Ys I & II Chronicles Plus is a good example of an updated port that stays true to its source material. However, with that said, this game is part of a genre that has been under fire from gamers and critics alike for its overly linear gameplay and now-cliched storylines. This really depends on the individual’s taste and preference in gaming.
Nowadays, the old school JRPG is more fitting for mobile platforms. There is the first Ys I & II Chronicles for the Sony PlayStation Portable and Legacy of Ys: Books I & II for the Nintendo DS, so you might want to check those out. If you want to try out Chronicles Plus though, it’s available on Steam right now.
Tested in PC. Final Score: 6/10