Ys (series)

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"Ys (video game)" redirects here. For the first game in the series, see Ys I: Ancient Ys Vanished.
Ys
Ys logo.png
Genres Action role-playing game
Developers Nihon Falcom
Publishers Nihon Falcom
Composers Falcom Sound Team jdk
Platforms X1, X1turbo, MSX2, FM-7/77, FM-77AV, NEC PC-9801, X68000, Master System, Sega Mega Drive, Sega Saturn, Famicom, Nintendo DS, PC, PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable, TurboGrafx-CD, IIGS, Mobile phone, SNES, PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 4
Platform of origin NEC PC-8801
First release Ys I: Ancient Ys Vanished
1987
Latest release Ys: Memories of Celceta
2012
Official website Company Website

Ys (イース Īsu?, IPA: [iːsɯ]) /ˈs/ is a series of Japanese role-playing video games, and Nihon Falcom corporation's flagship franchise.[1] It started on the NEC PC-8801 in 1987, created by Masaya Hashimoto (director, programmer, designer) and Tomoyoshi Miyazaki (scenario writer).[2] Ys is the most popular of Falcom's games.

Ys titles have appeared on the X1, X1turbo, MSX2, FM-7/77, FM-77AV, NEC PC-9801, X68000, Master System, Sega Mega Drive, Sega Saturn, Famicom, Super Famicom, Nintendo DS, PC, Apple IIGS, PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable, PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 4, TurboGrafx-CD, Mobile phone, and the Wii's Virtual Console service.

Common elements[edit]

Plot[edit]

The Ys series chronicles the adventures of Adol Christin, a young man with a zest for adventure and an uncanny knack for being in the right place at the right time. Gameplay usually revolves around Adol, though his comrade, Dogi, is a frequent companion in his travels. Thus far, Adol has visited the regions of Esteria, Ys, Celceta, Felghana, Xandria, the Canaan Islands, and Altago.

Gameplay[edit]

In early games, the player uses only the directional pad to fight. The player must run Adol into enemies, hitting them on the side, back or slightly off-center of the front. This was created with accessibility in mind; while other RPGs at the time had either turn-based combat or a manually activated sword, Ys had Adol automatically attack when walking into enemies. While most Ys titles do not use the 'bump attack' system, it has become one of the series' defining features.[3] Falcom staff have compared this style of gameplay to the enjoyment of popping air bubble sheets, in the sense that it took the tedious task of level-grinding and turned it into something similar to a high-score-based arcade game. According to GamesTM and John Szczepaniak (of Retro Gamer and The Escapist), "Repetition of the act was pleasurable as you developed a psychological rhythm and, even in the event of backtracking, progress was always swift since the player never needed to stop moving."[2]

A feature that has been used in nearly every Ys title is the recharging health mechanism, which had previously only been used in the Hydlide series. Recharging health has since become a common mechanism used in many video games today.[3][4]

Ys II introduced magic spells to the series (e.g. shooting fireballs), and the ability to transform into a monster, which allows the player to both scare human non-player characters for unique dialogues, and interact with non-boss monsters.

Ys III: Wanderers from Ys adopted side-scrolling action-adventure gameplay, similar to Falcom's own Dragon Slayer series and Nintendo's Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, with an attack button and a variety of different attacks.

Ys IV: Mask of the Sun returned to the original control scheme.

Ys V: Kefin, the Lost City of Sand, introduced a top-down viewpoint.

Ys VI: The Ark of Napishtim graphically departed from its predecessors, using three-dimensional graphics and hack and slash gameplay.

Darm Tower[edit]

The Darm Tower & The Tower of Rado

A unifying feature of the Ys series is the Darm Tower. In the story, it is an unfinished and deserted tower, built with the intention of touching the sky. The tower houses a small annex, titled "the Tower of Rado," 3/4 of the way up.

According to in-game lore, the normally immortal ancient Ys aged because humans overused the magic power of an ancient artifact, known as the Black Pearl. The result of this misuse was evil magical energy bringing forth millions of cruel demons. The people of Ys fled to the Palace of Solomon and used the Black Pearl to lift the palace into the sky, creating a safe haven. The demons, focused on controlling the Black Pearl for their own intentions, began building the Darm Tower, day and night, attempting to connect to the Palace of Solomon with their construction. As in-game-events transpired, however, the demons' efforts were thwarted.

Games[edit]

Further information: List of Ys media
Ys series fictional chronology

Non-canonical and replaced:

The Ys series has its roots in the Japanese computer system, the NEC PC-8801. Each of the first three games was released on that platform first. Ports of the games to console platforms have usually been handled by various other licensee companies, such as Hudson Soft, Tonkin House and Konami.

The first two games in the series were originally intended as a single game, but the creators Masaya Hashimoto and Tomoyoshi Miyazaki eventually decided to split it into two separate games: Ys I: Ancient Ys Vanished – Omen (1987) and Ys II: Ancient Ys Vanished – The Final Chapter (1988).[2] They were later re-released together in the enhanced remake Ys I & II (1989).[5] It was one of the first video games to use CD-ROM, which was utilized to provide enhanced graphics, animated cutscenes,[6] a Red Book CD-DA soundtrack,[5] and voice acting.[5][6] Its English localization was also one of the first to use voice dubbing. The game received the Game of the Year award from OMNI Magazine in 1990, as well as many other awards.[6] The Sharp X68000 remake of Ys I released in 1991 was notable for its early use of 3D pre-rendering for the boss sprites.[7] An MS-DOS remake called Ys II Special was also released exclusively for the South Korean market in 1994; it was a mash-up of Ys II with the anime Ys II: Castle in the Heavens (1992) along with a large amount of new content.[8][7]

After completing Ys III: Wanderers from Ys (1989), Hashimoto and Miyazaki left Nihon Falcom and founded Quintet.[5] Two versions of the fourth game were released, and Falcom licensed both versions out: the Super Famicom version to Tonkin House (who had handled the Super NES port for Ys III), titled Ys IV: Mask of the Sun; and the PC Engine CD version to Hudson Soft (who had ported all three previous games to that platform), titled Ys IV: The Dawn of Ys. Hudson Soft took certain liberties with the game, and as a result, it is very different from Mask of the Sun. They share the same setting, cast, and much of the basic plot, but the actual structure of the story plays out in a completely different manner, as do the game's levels and enemies. Mask of the Sun is the official continuation of the series, while Falcom have deemed The Dawn of Ys to be essentially an "alternate universe" take on the events in Celceta. A PS2 remake of Mask of the Sun was released in May 2005, further subtitled "A New Theory".

Falcom released Ys V as a Super Famicom exclusive. A standalone title, it gave Adol a jump and manual attack. It was criticized as being too easy; in response to this, Falcom put out Ys V Expert, a harder version of the game. A PS2 remake of Ys V by Taito was released 2006 in Japan.

After this, the series remained dormant for eight years (except for remakes such as Ys Eternal), during which time Falcom abandoned console development altogether, choosing instead to focus on the Microsoft Windows platform. They announced a new game in the series, entitled Ys: The Ark of Napishtim, which was released on 27 September 2003. It was generally well received.

In early 2005, a new title in the series was announced, Ys: The Oath in Felghana, which is a top-to-bottom "re-imagining" of Ys III, greatly expanding its original plot. It was released on 30 June 2005.

A spinoff game called Ys Strategy was released on 16 March 2006 in Japan for the Nintendo DS. Unlike the rest of the series, it is a real-time strategy game instead of an action RPG. It received lackluster reviews and general disdain from fans.

Ys Origin was released in December 2006. It takes place 700 years before the events of the first game, following the separation of Ys from Esteria. The two initial playable characters are Yunica Tovah and Hugo Fact. The two characters' stories play out somewhat differently during character interactions. Adol appears only as a hidden bonus character. Falcom has since released a new version of the game that required a copy's registration serial number sent to Falcom along with shipping charges to get an extra enhancement disc for the game. With this disc the player would be able to play as Adol, along with various other new features.

Ys Seven was released in Japan in 2009 for the PlayStation Portable.

A yet-to-be-titled Ys was announced for the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita platforms at Tokyo Game Show 2014, due for release in 2015.[9]

English releases[edit]

Until 2005, only three Ys games were available in North America: Ys I: Ancient Ys Vanished (Master System), Ys I & II (TurboGrafx CD), and Ys III: Wanderers from Ys (SNES, Genesis, TurboGrafx CD). The original PC-8801, PC-9801, X1 and MSX2 versions, as well as the Famicom ports remain exclusive to Japan. English ports of the Japanese PC game Ys VI: Ark of Napishtim were released by Konami in 2005 and 2006 for the PS2 and PSP, respectively, marking the first English release of the series in 13 years.

At one point, NEC Interchannel proposed bringing DigiCube's Ys Eternal Story to North America, but the idea was rejected by Sony Computer Entertainment America.

The original Windows PC remakes were Ys Eternal and Ys II Eternal. Later, there was a compiled re-release called Ys I & II Complete, which bumped up Ys Eternal's visuals to Ys II Eternal's level (more color depth, primarily) and made the soundtrack sound more cohesive between the two. Once this was out of print, Falcom began selling the two separately again, as Ys I Complete and Ys II Complete. Falcom changed the "Eternal" to "Complete" on all external packaging and advertisements, but not in the actual games themselves. In one of the English patches, the internal bitmaps are edited to reflect the external change for the packages.

In 2002 Nicolas Livaditis, an avid Ys fan and software engineer, spearheaded an English fan translation project for the first PC remake, Ys I Complete. This led to other projects for Ys II Complete, Ys IV: The Dawn of Ys, Ys: The Ark of Napishtim, Ys: The Oath in Felghana and Ys Origin, though not all were completed; the Ys VI project for example, was cancelled to respect Konami's licensing rights. Completed translation patches were made for Ys I & II Complete and Ys IV: The Dawn of Ys. In 2010, Xseed Games purchased the fan-translated script for Ys: The Oath in Felghana from Jeff Nussbaum, the actual translator, an act considered historic and unprecedented, as unlicensed translations are illegal. XSEED went on to purchase three more fan-translated scripts for Ys I, Ys II, and Ys Origin.

Nintendo added Ys Book I & II to the US Virtual Console Service on 25 August 2008, the first release of the Ys series on a 7th Generation home console. Atlus released the games in one package entitled Legacy of Ys: Books I & II on 24 February 2009 on the Nintendo DS.

In May 2010, XSEED Games announced plans to localize the PlayStation Portable games Ys I & II Chronicles, Ys: The Oath in Felghana, and Ys Seven in North America. As of 2011, all games have been released.[10]

In March 2012, XSEED Games announced that they will be starting publishing Japanese PC games through Steam, starting with the PC version of Ys: The Oath in Felghana on 19 March 2012.[10] On 31 May 2012, XSEED Games released an English version of Ys Origin on Steam.[11] Ys I & II were also released via Steam on 14 February 2013 as Ys I & II Chronicles+[12] - XSEED's Steam programmer Sara managed to combine Falcom's PC port of Ys I & II Chronicles with the earlier fan-favorite PC release Ys I & II Complete, effectively mixing all the best features of both versions like selectable soundtracks (PC-88 original, Complete and Chronicles) and art styles from both Chronicles and Complete, alongside the visual flexibility of Complete, such as greater viewing area, togglable screen frame and support for windowed mode.

Ys: Memories of Celceta was released in North America on 26 November 2013 by XSEED Games. The American release also was released as a very limited edition called Silver Anniversary Edition, which features a 3-CD collection of both original and arranged music spanning the history of the franchise, a cloth map of the land of Celceta, a logo-emblazoned compass and Adol's Travel Journal, containing around 120+ pages of adventuring strategies and artwork. Ys: Memories of Celceta was also released in Europe on 21 February 2014, courtesy of NIS America.

MMORPG[edit]

In 2009, Ys Online was released as an open beta for European players. The setting is centuries after Adol Christin's adventures. However, as of January 2013, the homepage for the game has been removed.

Animation[edit]

Main article: Ys (anime)

There are two separate OVA series of Ys, with the first spanning seven episodes and covering the events of the first game, and the second running for four episodes and loosely covering the events of the second game. The first anime expands on the relatively thin storyline of Ys I, including a retelling and expansion of the prologue found in the game's original Japanese manual.

Both series were released on DVD in English by Media Blasters' anime label "AnimeWorks", packaged both separately and in a three-disc box set. The dubbed/audio tracks have changes to some character names ("Dark Fact" becoming "Dark Factor", "Adol" becoming "Adle", and "Lilia" becoming "Lillian", for instance). Pronunciations of various names are inconsistent, sometimes within the same scene.

Included on one of the discs is what appears to be a preview for an anime based around Ys IV. This was created by Falcom as a "pitch" trailer to shop around to various animation studios to see if anyone was interested in producing the series; however, they had no takers, so this trailer is all that exists of the rumored Ys IV anime.

Music[edit]

The Ys series is particularly known for its high-quality soundtracks. The original music of Ys I & II was composed by Yuzo Koshiro, Mieko Ishikawa,[13] and Hideya Nagata, whereas Mieko Ishikawa handled the soundtrack for Ys III (save for the additional compositions introduced in the Sharp X68000 version of the game, which were composed by Masaaki Kawai). The composers' works have been remixed for each subsequent release, for instance, by Japanese musician Ryo Yonemitsu for Hudson Soft's Ys I & II, Ys III: Wanderers from Ys and Ys IV: The Dawn of Ys releases for TurboGrafx-CD.[13][14] The TurboGrafx versions made very early use of Red Book audio in video games.

Consequently, the Ys series is seen in the video game music industry as some of the finest and most influential role-playing video game scores of all time,[2][15] demonstrated by an extensive series of CD releases based on the series' music, with numerous variations on its themes. It has also inspired video game composers outside of Japan, such as Chris Hülsbeck who has cited it as a direct influence.[16]

The later games in the series were composed by the Falcom Sound Team jdk - the collective name of Falcom's sound production staff (not to be confused with the jdk Band, Falcom's in-house band that occasionally performed for both arranged and original works). Ascertaining the identity of the composers and specific track credits (especially since Ys IV) can be difficult, due to the lack of information regarding Falcom's internal composers and composition credits of their games.

  • Ys I: Ancient Ys Vanished: Omen: Yuzo Koshiro, Mieko Ishikawa
  • Ys II: Ancient Ys Vanished: The Final Chapter: Mieko Ishikawa, Yuzo Koshiro, Hideya Nagata
  • Ys III: Wanderers From Ys / The Oath in Felghana: Mieko Ishikawa, Masaaki Kawai
  • Ys IV: Mask of the Sun / The Dawn of Ys: Mieko Ishikawa, Atsushi Shirakawa, Hirofumi Matsuoka, Masaru Nakajima, Naoki Kaneda, Takahiro Tsunashima
  • Ys V: Lost Kefin, Kingdom of Sand: Mieko Ishikawa, Naoki Kaneda, Satoshi Arai, Atsushi Shirakawa, Masaru Nakajima
  • Ys VI: The Ark of Napishtim: Hayato Sonoda, Wataru Ishibashi
  • Ys Origin: Hayato Sonoda, Takahiro Unisuga, Ryo Takeshita
  • Ys Seven: Hayato Sonoda, Takahiro Unisuga, Saki Momiyama, Masanori Osaki
  • Ys: Memories of Celceta: Hayato Sonoda, Takahiro Unisuga, Saki Momiyama, Tomokatsu Hagiuda

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Falcom License Information". Nihon Falcom Corporation. 2004. Retrieved 31 December 2009. 
  2. ^ a b c d Szczepaniak, John (7 July 2011). "Falcom: Legacy of Ys". GamesTM (111): 152–159 [154]. Retrieved 2011-09-08.  (cf. Szczepaniak, John (8 July 2011). "History of Ys interviews". Hardcore Gaming 101. Retrieved 8 September 2011. )
  3. ^ a b Szczepaniak, John (7 July 2011). "Falcom: Legacy of Ys". GamesTM (111): 152–159 [153]. Retrieved 2011-09-07.  (cf. Szczepaniak, John (8 July 2011). "History of Ys interviews". Hardcore Gaming 101. Retrieved 6 September 2011. )
  4. ^ Kalata, Kurt; Greene, Robert. "Hydlide". Hardcore Gaming 101. 
  5. ^ a b c d Szczepaniak, John (7 July 2011). "Falcom: Legacy of Ys". GamesTM (111): 152–159 [155]. Retrieved 2011-09-08.  (cf. Szczepaniak, John (8 July 2011). "History of Ys interviews". Hardcore Gaming 101. Retrieved 8 September 2011. )
  6. ^ a b c Szczepaniak, John (7 July 2011). "Falcom: Legacy of Ys". GamesTM (111): 152–159 [156]. Retrieved 2011-09-08.  (cf. Szczepaniak, John (8 July 2011). "History of Ys interviews". Hardcore Gaming 101. Retrieved 8 September 2011. )
  7. ^ a b Szczepaniak, John (7 July 2011). "Falcom: Legacy of Ys". GamesTM (111): 152–159 [157]. Retrieved 2011-09-09.  (cf. Szczepaniak, John (8 July 2011). "History of Ys interviews". Hardcore Gaming 101. Retrieved 9 September 2011. )
  8. ^ Szczepaniak, John (7 July 2011). "Falcom: Legacy of Ys". GamesTM (111): 152–159 [158]. Retrieved 2011-09-10.  (cf. Szczepaniak, John (8 July 2011). "History of Ys interviews". Hardcore Gaming 101. Retrieved 10 September 2011. )
  9. ^ 2014-09-01, Ys announced for PS4, PS Vita, Gematsu
  10. ^ a b "XSEED/Falcom Interview". RPGamer. 14 May 2010. Retrieved 2010-05-24. 
  11. ^ "XSEED Games/Ys Origin Available on Steam". Xseed Games. 31 May 2012. Retrieved 2012-06-02. 
  12. ^ "Ys Chronicles/Available on Steam". Xseed Games. 14 February 2013. 
  13. ^ a b Kalata, Kurt (27 November 2010). "Ys". Hardcore Gaming 101. Retrieved 3 September 2011. 
  14. ^ Ryan Mattich. "Falcom Classics II". RPGFan. Retrieved 3 September 2011. 
  15. ^ Chris Greening & Don Kotowski (February 2011). "Interview with Yuzo Koshiro". Square Enix Music Online. Retrieved 2011-06-20. 
  16. ^ Sorlie, Audun. "Chris Hülsbeck Remembers Jim Power". Hardcore Gaming 101. Retrieved 3 September 2011. 

External links[edit]