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Retro Game Club

Jul 9, 2020

Series background

  • Series started in 1987.
  • Action RPG - meaning an action game where you gain XP to earn levels and there's a story.
  • Loosely set in the time period of Roman conquest (100-150 BC)
  • Sometimes compared to Zelda but Falcom had already been working on other action RPGs by then. 
  • Falcom is primarily a PC developer, console ports are by many different companies
    • US localization is all over the place
    • Except for I&II the games are independent stories but there are fan service references to previous characters and events. However, the different localizations mean sometimes these are easy to miss because people and places have different names depending on who did the translation.   


Common elements across the games

  • Same lead character and sidekick (except for Ys Origin)
  • High quality soundtracks
    • Every soundtrack ever is on Spotify or can be bought from all of the various music sites 
  • Rings that enhance your powers
  • More levelling solves all boss fights


  • They literally give you places to grind (basement in ys II)


  • Typically not cutting edge in terms of technology, developer has never been interested in that
    • Hudson's PC Engine CD ports are the big exception 
  • Starting in the 2000s - trippy otherworldly final dungeons


Ys Book I & II

  • Original bump mechanic
  • Introduces the main character and sidekick
  • First chapter revolves around final a set of lost books with the secrets of the world
  • Half the game is one massive dungeon
  • Second chapter is confronting the evil the books described.
  • The second chapter is a typical JRPG format
    • Go to a new town, solve their problems, go to the next town
  • Imagine if like every time Nintendo released a new console they did a remake of Legend of Zelda
  • Likely incomplete list of remakes: Master System (Sega), Famicom, TG16CD (Hudson), Sega Saturn (Falcom Classics), PS2 (Konami, Japan only), DS, PSP (Xseed), PC (Eternal & Chronicles), Android, iOS (dotemu)


Ys III - Wanderers Of Ys

  • Switched to side scrolling format
  • One main city - some future games also use the central city hub idea
  • Probably the hardest in the series
  • For many US gamers this is only Ys game they knew of until Y 6 or 8 - meaning people who only have popular consoles
  • Debatable which port is best
  • Has parallax scrolling, which people say is “not possible” on TG16.


Ys IV - Dawn Of Ys

  • Return to bump mechanic
  • Falcom designed the story and soundtrack but didn't develop it (they were working on LoH 3 around this time which unintentionally would change the course of their company)
  • Super Famicom - Tonkin House 
  • PC Engine CD - Hudson - which also has New Game+ for the first time in the series (and the last time for a while)
  • No US release but high quality fan translations
  • PS2 port by Taito
  • If you liked I&II this is worth importing 
  • My favorite of the 8/16-bit games


Ys V: Lost Kefin, Kingdom of Sand

  • First attempt to change the attack style - it didn’t work out
  • Visually resembles a Square game on SNES
  • No US release but there are fan translations 
  • PS2 port by Taito
  • Regular and expert editions
  • Only game in the series I didn’t finish because the controls are pretty bad, will probably try again
  • Really good symphonic soundtrack album


Ys VI: The Ark of Napishtim

  • Drastically improved combat compared to Ys V and subsequent games seem to be based off this engine
  • PSP and PS2 releases in the US (ported by Konami)
  • “VI” was dropped from the title in the US, probably because it had been over 10 years since Ys III was released in the US
  • Shipwreck
  • Major addition- weapon upgrade system


Ys: Oath in Felghana

  • Beginning of the Toshiro Kondo era at Falcom - lowly script editor on this game then director then producer on the rest
    • Second/current CEO of Falcom, originally hired because they liked his LoH 3 fan site
  • Remake of Ys III in the Ys VI engine with more story
  • Limited New Game+ feature (what you carry over depends on the difficulty + number of time you completed it)
  • Even retro gamers will probably enjoy this more than the original version
  • Not a  bad place to start if you want to play through the series but not go all the way back to the original games


Ys Seven

  • PSP and PC
  • Evolution of Ys VI engine and upgrade system
  • Major addition - multiple playable characters with different attack types (slash vs stab vs crush)
  • Special attacks and extra skills
  • Main characters lose all their awesome gear when they are arrested at the beginning - I believe this is re-used in Ys IX
  • Story wise - kind of a downer
  • No New Game+
  • In terms of the series timeline, this is the last game (until IX)


Ys Origin

  • Least story of any game in the series
  • In terms of engine, kind of a step back - closer to Ys VI
  • Short term stat boosts encourages you to not pause combat 
  • 2 different main characters with slightly different stories, unlock 3rd
  • Most accessible for people who just want an action game with some leveling without a lot of story
  • Limited Run games physical releases on PS4 and Vita


Ys: Memories of Celceta

  • Remake of Ys IV but by Falcom this time
  • Vita, PC and remake on PS4
  • Similar to Ys Seven with some elements that reappear in Ys 8
  • New additions - map completion, more emphasis on optional side quests
  • Most complex weapon upgrade system, Ys 8 returned to a simpler one
  • Upgrade system is a little overpowered, playing it again I forgot how easy the game is if you upgrade weapons
  • Ret-cons a connection to Ys VI
  • First signs of design influence with Trails series - Final dungeon is stylistically the same as the Trails in the Sky 3rd and Cold Steel II
  • Actual New Game+ mode


Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana

  • “Trails of Ys”
    • Same character notebook & event system from Trails of Cold Steel
    • A couple minor characters copied from Trails in the Sky/Trails of Cold Steel
    • Mishy Mascot from Trails series makes an appearance
    • Fishing
  • Return to Nintendo consoles (albeit by company doing the US port)
  • shipwreck again
  • Story revolves around finding survivors and building a town
  • Dual lead characters in different times
  • Probably the most accessible to new players
  • Maybe my overall favorite in the series, although I could do without fishing 
  • If you like Ys VIII you will probably like Tokyo Xanadu - although it is heavier in the story and character event aspects - roughly the same fighting engine (note: it was ported by Aksys and has the worst translation since the 1980s)


Ys IX: Monstrum Nox

  • Coming to PS4 and Switch in 2021
  • Trying to avoid looking at it too much - seems similar to Ys 8 but with new character abilities
  • Switch port again