What's New

Gameboy Advance
Nintendo DS
Master System
Sega CD
PlayStation 2
PlayStation 3
Xbox 360

Online Services:
Virtual Console
Xbox Live Arcade
PlayStation Network

Online Sequels

Site submissions:

Ys Book I & II

Reviewed by: Rob StrangmanMedia: CD
Released by: NECStatus: out of print
Platform: TurboGrafx-16Number of games: 2
Year released: 1989Players: 1

Games included:

The Ys series is truly legendary. It's also quite the cult series, known mostly to its hardcore fans and not many others. I was first introduced to the series in 1990, when my younger brother bought a copy of Ys: The Vanished Omen for the Sega Master System, but it didn't really make an impact on me until I bought a TurboDuo in 1994. Ys Book I & II was one of the included games, and frankly, I don't think I've ever enjoyed an action RPG more. Not even the Zelda games captured my attention the way Ys Book I & II did. You assume the role of Adol Christin, wandering swordsman. You arrive one day in the country of Esteria, only to find yourself suddenly thrust headlong into an adventure that centers on the mystery of the lost land of Ys.
Ys: Adol battles the first boss.

Ys Book I & II was not just a simple port of two existing games. Rather, they were enhanced to take advantage of the power of NEC's CD system. The graphics are crisp and clear, the voice acting done by some of the most famous names in voiceover history, and the music. Oh, the music. Truly one of the most memorable things about this edition of Ys and Ys II, the music of Ys Book I & II is so good, it's almost worth owning the game just to hear it. And where would the game be without the controls? It's responsive and calling up menus is a snap. However, if you're used to action RPGs like the original The Legend of Zelda, you might be surprised to find that you can't swing your sword. Rather, you collide with the enemies to damage them. It may seem odd at first, but you get used to it very quickly. Ys II added a few long range magic attacks which come in very handy.
Ys: Adol meets Feena, who is not what she appears to be.

Unlike your normal compilations that let you select each game from a menu, you can't access Ys II from the beginning. You have to play through and conquer Ys to get there. Normally I'd say this was a problem. However, since the two stories are so closely connected and the games are such fun, not being able to select Ys II from the beginning isn't a problem at all. Even better, when you finish Ys, you're treated to a cinema display that bridges the two games, which is accompanied by one of my favorite pieces of music from any of the Ys games. And unlike some games which are happy to give you a black screen with the words CONGRATULATIONS THE END when you finally complete them, this gives you an ending worthy of a great novel or film.
Ys II: Adol and... I have totally forgotten who that guy is.

Ys Book I & II was one of the first games to really showcase the power of NEC's CD-ROM unit, and was one of the first games to give us a glimpse at what the future held in store for us. It still holds up today, and is a compilation worthy of owning. If you're a TurboGrafx-16 owning action RPG fan, you should already have this. If not, go hunt it down right now.
Ys II: Adol exploring a cave while trying to stay one step ahead of those squiggly things.

Worth the purchase: If you like action RPGs at all or are an Ys fan, absolutely. Hell, it's worth it for the soundtrack alone.

Diversity: You get the first two Ys games. Released at a time when there were only two, you really couldn't get more diverse.

Playability: You might be a little off-put by the inability to swing your sword, but you'll get over that quickly. Plays perfectly otherwise.

Hidden gems: N/A

Screenshots courtesy of and Hardcore Gaming 101.