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Ys: A Retrospective
By | August 3, 2004

Imagine my surprise and squeaky-voiced, cheerleader-like squeal when I read that Ys was getting another chance at life. Taito is going to release remakes of the first three games (part four will be the SNES game as opposed to the PCE-CD version) for PS2. If that weren't enough, the franchise will finally get a new game when Ys VI: Ark of Napishtim arrives in the U.S. this coming winter for the PS2, courtesy of Konami. Although it was released last year for Japanese PCs, the PS2 version is said to be more of an upgrade than a port, with new areas, graphic models, music, and items.

So why did it take so long for a new game? Thirteen years definitely is a long time to wait. The series hasn't enjoyed much success outside of its native Japan, and this has lead to publishers not wanting to take a chance on this side of the Pacific. In fact, out of a total of five games, only the first three were released stateside, debuting on the ill-fated Turbo Grafx-16 and Sega Master System and eventually coming to Genesis and SNES (Ys III only). Both versions of part four (Dawn of Ys for the Turbo Grafx and Mask of the Sun for SNES) were left to fade into obscurity and over-priced ebay auctions. It seemed that the glory days of Ys had all but disappeared.

Yeah, I know. It sounds pretty pessimistic. It's only because the first three games in the series made such an impression on me that I sound like something great was being neglected. Ys III: Wanderers from Ys was the very first Turbo CD game I ever experienced and it left me in utter awe. I saw it for the first time at a friend's house and the crystal clear intro theme, accompanied by that incredible cinema sequence (hey it was 1991) made a huge impression. I knew right then and there that I needed a Turbo Grafx CD system, regardless of the cost. When I returned to said friend's house the following weekend, he furthered my suffering by receiving me while the intro sequence for Books I & II played in the background. Devious little fellow, he was.

Eventually, I was left so broke after buying the whole setup that I had only those two games to play for quite some time. Did I care? Not at all. Adol Christian was the man of the hour and I had all three of his adventures to keep me occupied for months. CD games were relatively new to consoles and real voice and animated cut scenes were big bonuses. The overall feeling of immersion they granted resonates even today, when such features have become commonplace.

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