(Almost) Super Powered Games: Wanderers from Ys III

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I have fond memories of playing this game during the awesome 16 bit era of gaming. And seeing as how I reviewed Legacy of Ys Books I and II last time for the DS, i can’t think of a more fitting segway into Super Nintendo land. One of my eccentric hobbies is collecting unknown, yet great, video games. Some of these include Ikaruga (Gamecube), Ogre Battle 64 (Nintendo 64), and Demon’s Crest (SNES). This also includes many games for the Atari Lynx. Other examples include Jaleco’s Operation Logic Bomb (SNES), Totally Rad (NES), and Shatterhand (NES).

Simon’s Quest and Wanderers From Ys III were my first taste of what an RPG game played like. Granted, they were action RPGs, but the pacing was definitely slower and lower key than games like Contra or Castlevania 1. It was a great introductory game to get me primed up for “real RPG” games like Breath Of Fire or the SNES Final Fantasy games at the time. But just like in Goldilocks, there will always be something “just right” about the perfect blend of action and RPG elements in games like Ys III or Actraiser 1.

Cover art: Like other anime inspired games of the era, which were rare enough as it is, this game featured cover art that didn’t share the same look or vibe as the game itself (just look at the cover for Breath of Fire for another example). Although the cover is great in it’s own right, it lacks the whimsical anime feel of the actual game. At least Adol wasn’t given a “muscular makeover” like Mr. Belmont in the U.S. version of the Sega Genesis Castlevania Bloodlines when all else was identical.

Before playing Ys III, it is best to keep in mind that the game originally came out for the NEC computer in 1989, was ported to the NEC Turbo-CD, then was ported to the SNES in 91 by Tonkin House and American Sammy. So right off the bat the game seemed a bit dated and archaic compared to games like Zeld-A Link To The Past. As such, the game is almost better suited to be compared to titles like Simon’s Quest and Zelda 2.

Graphics: The graphics, although simple, look crisp and pretty. I admired the paralax scrolling, especially how some of the backgrounds were completely stationary. The enemies are creative, and some of the bosses are menacing (although most of the enemies are very small). The enemies vary between dragons, slugs, and soldiers (among others). There is a border around the screen, which detracts some. There are about 5 different locations in the game including but not limited to a cave, clock tower, and icy mountains.

Gameplay: The gameplay takes some getting used to. Adol moves in odd ways. He jumps in a lightning quick manner, wielding a stubby sword much like the hero in Wizards and Warriors did. To put it simply, the hit detection can be well… “hit or miss.” And starting the game can be very annoying if you don’t understand that you have to immediately level up a few times before you can really make much progress. Trust me, the first little slugs will kick your ass if you don’t!
The game is fairly short. Also, the inventory screen is quite small as far as how many items are available in the game. The game also is limited to a single town. But with that said, the experience is still very worthwhile (if not quite up to the high standards of the first 2 games in the series).

With all that said, and ike the Resident Evil games, or the Aliens Infestation game I recently reviewed for DS, I feel the play control was “intentionally” made tricky as to require levelling up to be a necessary part of the game. If the gameplay was “perfect,” you could go through the game without leveling up right?

The game starts hard and ends hard (with a fairly easy middle). This is because you can only level up 16 times. You start out weak. Also, when you “cap out” at level 16 the end boss is quite challenging. Upon victory, though, you are treated to a great anime-style ending.

Music: Ah, this is what really sets this game apart from most other games that pretty much ever came out. The music is some of the greatest ever composed. Like Ys Books 1 and II (again, listening to the soundtrack as I write this), the music is incredible. Multi-layered tracks of many styles and flavors will pump through your speakers as you drift from one location to the next. And stopping to grind in your favorite leveling-up “hot-spot” is never boring with these tracks to listen to while doing so. And luckily, there is a sound-mode so you can listen without having to play the game. The music, in general, reminds me of the great tunes in other games like Mega Man, Final Fantasy, or even Space Megaforce.

Like Atlus did with Valis IV (SNES), it was cool that Amercian Sammy took a chance bringing such an unkown anime-style game to the U.S.

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