Name: Legacy of Ys: Books I & II
Genre: Action RPG
Platform: Nintendo DS
The Nintendo DS has no shortage of role-playing games, between the Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest remakes and new titles being designed specifically for the handheld. Despite the crowded genre, Atlus is trying to add another game to your RPG playlist with Legacy of Ys: Books I & II. The decades-old role-playing games have been put together on one cartridge with some shiny new features, which should seem like a perfect fit to any fan of the genre. However, despite the fresh coat of paint, there’s no hiding how antiquated these games are, which limits the appeal of this remake.
Legacy of Ys: Books I & II contains two separate RPGs, both of which star hero Adol. In Book I, Adol wakes up in a small town to find that mysterious, evil things are happening throughout the land, and he is the only one who can stop them. While I won’t say much about the narrative of Book II so I don’t spoil anything, it does pick up where the first one leaves off, so I would recommend playing them in order. The plotlines of both games are passable and intriguing at times, but they’re also very paint-by-numbers. I’m sure it didn’t seem this way in 1988, but playing through the games now, I couldn’t help but feel that I had seen the same story, or at least one similar to it, many times before.
I expected traditional turn-based combat from Legacy of Ys, but was surprised to find straightforward real-time fighting instead. Adol attacks enemies with the press of a button, collecting gold and gaining experience as he does. Again, there’s nothing new there, and it can get a bit repetitive after a while. This is also partially because I found it very easy to get lost while exploring the world; with no large-scale map, you will find yourself wandering in circles or in the wrong direction repeatedly. This isn’t always an issue, but it happens enough to make going from town to town a chore at times.
In an attempt to modernize the Ys series, Atlus has added a new set of stylus-only controls to both games. You can choose left- or right-handed controls, which is good for lefties like me. However, after using the touch screen for a portion of the first game, I decided I would rather use standard controls, meaning the D-pad and face buttons. Thankfully, Atlus added the option to change the control scheme at any point. You can also save at any time, not just at designated points, which should be mandatory for any handheld RPG. These tiny tweaks go a long way to make the entire experience smoother.
The graphics, while outdated, are still adequate, and while it’s not the nicest-looking DS game I’ve ever seen, I appreciated the detail used for monsters and characters. Using profiles for conversations isn’t exactly a unique fixture for older RPGs, but it does allow for more vibrant renditions of important characters, which in turn helps the player become more immersed in the game. Backgrounds and environments, on the other hand, are easy to overlook, with just a few simple colors serving as grass and dirt. Considering that you’ll spend a lot of time wandering aimlessly, it would have been nice to see more distinct features outside of towns and dungeons.
Overall, Legacy of Ys: Books I & II is a great value and will offer many hours of gameplay, but its appeal is limited. Even though I'm a huge fan of RPGs, I found my attention wandering, and with so many other stellar role-playing games on the DS, it would be easy for this one to get lost in the shuffle. If you enjoy older role-playing games, however, or are a fan of the series, then this is a great title for you, especially since it comes with the game’s pleasant soundtrack. Legacy of Ys: Books I & II doesn’t quite stand the test of time as well as some games of the same era, but it’s far from being obsolete.