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I've taken a few hours of my time researching the Ys series and reading reviews, but there's one really strange thing that I've noticed: not once I have seen anybody explaining WHY they liked Ys in their reviews - only that they just liked it a lot. That's great for them, but it's not very useful information when attempting to make a purchase decision. It's really strange because it's the first time I'm stumbling across that problem when researching a game.

Clearly this series oozes with a ridiculous amount of polish on the presentation side, but whenever I watch gameplay footage, it appears to be extremely shallow and simplistic with obligatory grinding. When I look at Ys 1 and 2, all I see is the protagonist walk into monsters that are slower than him to kill them. When I look at the later games, all I see are basic repetitive hack 'n' slash mechanics along with gigantic area attacks. I'm also not seeing any obvious differences between enemies other than their speed. I've seen some reviews talking about the difficulty, but in all the videos I've watched the only parts that appeared challenging were the bosses.

If I were to compare to other games that I'm familiar with that kinda look like Ys, the games that come to mind are Terranigma and God of War, but I'm just not seeing the same depth in terms of gameplay as in those games in terms of enemy and level design. In fact, the apparent shallowness of the gameplay reminds me a lot of Diablo which I absolutely hated for that very reason. Yes, the cutscenes and soundtrack are amazing, but there's got to be something more to this series to have such a passionate fan base.

Which brings me to my question: if you're a Ys fan, could you explain to me in detail why you like this series from a game design perspective? Even if it turns out that my current impression is true, I would still like to know what's the appeal for you.
This question / problem has been solved by Aurora3500image
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SmashManiac: I've taken a few hours of my time researching the Ys series and reading reviews, but there's one really strange thing that I've noticed: not once I have seen anybody explaining WHY they liked Ys in their reviews - only that they just liked it a lot. That's great for them, but it's not very useful information when attempting to make a purchase decision. It's really strange because it's the first time I'm stumbling across that problem when researching a game.

Clearly this series oozes with a ridiculous amount of polish on the presentation side, but whenever I watch gameplay footage, it appears to be extremely shallow and simplistic with obligatory grinding. When I look at Ys 1 and 2, all I see is the protagonist walk into monsters that are slower than him to kill them. When I look at the later games, all I see are basic repetitive hack 'n' slash mechanics along with gigantic area attacks. I'm also not seeing any obvious differences between enemies other than their speed. I've seen some reviews talking about the difficulty, but in all the videos I've watched the only parts that appeared challenging were the bosses.

If I were to compare to other games that I'm familiar with that kinda look like Ys, the games that come to mind are Terranigma and God of War, but I'm just not seeing the same depth in terms of gameplay as in those games in terms of enemy and level design. In fact, the apparent shallowness of the gameplay reminds me a lot of Diablo which I absolutely hated for that very reason. Yes, the cutscenes and soundtrack are amazing, but there's got to be something more to this series to have such a passionate fan base.

Which brings me to my question: if you're a Ys fan, could you explain to me in detail why you like this series from a game design perspective? Even if it turns out that my current impression is true, I would still like to know what's the appeal for you.
I can't say that I've played long enough to call myself a fan, but I've been curious about these games for over 15 years now, and so far I'd say my purchases were worth it for the soundtrack and art alone. They are so gorgeous and pleasing to the eyes and ears. I'm assuming the story will keep me hooked, it already seems to be of the quality of the best Final Fantasy games (4, 6, and 9) or Chronotrigger.
I love Ys I and II for the gameplay: instead of mindlessly slashing at enemies, you bump into them off center or at an angle. For me, that never gets old XD

Truth be told though, I love these games for the Turbo CD version. Holy CRAP was that game ahead of its time, and I still consider it superior to these ports. The graphics weren't as good as these versions, but everything else was just as good or better. The difficulty was more balanced and less all over the place, and a lot of the songs had their best remixes exclusive to that game. It also had actual voice acting! And it was GOOD! Nay... by 1989's standards, it was MIND BLOWING. They got talent like Alan Oppenheimer, Jim Cummings, and Michael Bell to play major roles, and they did a fantastic job.

As for Ys Origin... Yunica's game is kinda eh, as she plays like a typical action-RPG character except with an axe instead of a sword (and she even gets a sword later), but Hugo's game is a lot of fun since he's a mage and thus doesn't play like your typical swordsman. His story is also a heck of a lot better than Yunica's. Oh, and the final boss battle is jaw dropping. And once again, fantastic soundtrack. Lots of replay value too since there's two more characters you can unlock, and it's fun to see how much better you can do once you know the tower's layout.

I... haven't played Oath in Felghana much yet, but it seems to play very similarly to Ys: Ark of Napishtim which came out about a decade ago on PS2 and PSP, and while not quite as good as the other Ys games available here at gog.com, was still a very solid action-RPG in its own right. More typical gameplay of the genre, but had all the great aesthetics you'd expect from the Ys series.

Above all though, the games are just exceptionally well made. Polished to a fine sheen, and extremely well optimized, to the point that probably anyone who can see this review with their PC can run these games just fine, regardless of when they were made.
Again, I'm mostly seeing praises for the art and audio design. What I'm interested to know about is if there's anything else fun the game has to offer, and I don't want any assumptions. Since the answers to far have not satisfied me I'm leaving the question open.

Also, I'd like some clarifications based on Runico's post:
- How is bumping into enemies at an angle not as mindless as slashing in a typical ARPG? Seems to me to be even more mindless, at least on paper.
- It's the first time I'm seeing someone mention that the difficulty of Ys 1 and 2 is different depending on its iteration. Is it possible to elaborate?
- Does Hugo really play that much different compared to an average mage in an ARPG? All I'm seeing from videos are projectiles and humongous area attacks.
- Is the story really relevant? From the reviews I've read, the story in most Ys games appears to be more of an afterthought than anything else.
It's because the bump system gives the game a rather interesting dynamic you don't see in other action RPGs. In most top-down games you stop to fight, and in Ys I & II, you move to fight.

As far as the story goes, it's pretty basic- Ys I & II actually invented a few of the common JRPG clichés- But it's a story that's told with confidence. It's a fantasy RPG that focuses more on creating fantastical elements than many current fantasy RPGs.
Part of it likely has to do with my general love of JRPGs. Though what attracted me to Ys initially was how you battled demons and the fact that Ys Origin (the 1st game of the series I got on Steam Initially, I bought most of the games again here on gog since they're that good) was advertised as a "Metroidvania" game.

What I've come to love about the series is the gameplay the boss battles especially, seeing as the bosses are difficult even on normal mode. It takes practice to beat them and each one has to be dealt with in a different way.

The Metroidvania aspect of upgrading your equipment is something that is great about the series with how it was advertised. Many games have types of equipment that specialize in a specific stat or element. And the linear upgrade system for swords and armor is appealing since it allows you to feel more powerful with each tier and still struggle with the game on Normal Mode and Higher.

Boss Rushes are a great feature in any game and it appears to be in every Ys game. With the interesting thing being how they decide a level and a set of equipment that's appropriate for each boss at the time you fight them in the story. Preventing grinding from allowing you to beat them like you can in the story. Beating Nightmare on the games and their boss rushes is a long-term goal I've set for the games I've played so far, as I still have to get better at handling Hard mode.

I wish I had discovered this series sooner seeing it is fairly old based on my research of the series and it's evolution. I've only had the games for the PC (Ys Origin, Oath in Felghana, I&II Chronicles+) for a few years. It is interesting to find out how it influenced many JRPG features as well as popularizing video game music (seeing as the soundtrack is awesome even for video game music which in general is very good for most games)
I see you are a fan of Terranigma. In my opinion, Terranigma is one of the best (A?)JRPGs ever made, and I consider it to be way better than the usually overrated Chrono Trigger. You might have come across this info by now, but the developers of Terranigma, Quintet, were founded by Ys veterans, namely Masaya Hashimoto (director/progammer on the Ys series) and Tomoyoshi Miyazaki (scenario writer for the Ys series), so, bearing in mind the last Ys game they worked on was Ys III, and that The Oath in Felghana is a pretty good remake of the latter (I'm not saying whether it's better or worse, let's just agree with the fact it's a pretty darn good remake, ok?), there's a pretty good chance you, as a Terranigma fan, will like at least that title.

I like the Ys series for pretty much the same reason I like Terranigma: they're *action* JRPGs. I was never too fond of turn-based games, but I've always liked the JRPG's aesthetic and production values, so, when I got the chance to play an amazing JRPG that wasn't turn-based, I usually grabbed it.

I'm just starting to play Origin for the first time and from my understanding, it plays nothing like Diablo, so I wouldn't be worried about that, if I were you. The games may seem over-simplistic from game play videos you found, but as soon as you're playing the games per se I highly doubt you'll still think the same way. There's actually a lot of strategy involved in these games, especially against bosses, and I wouldn't say they are "click-fests" akin to the likes of Diablo; there's more memorizing patterns involved, than pure lightning-fast reflexes and trigger finger speed.

As for the story, well, it's the same old JRPG tropes, but let me just say they're passionately written and it shows. The stories may be the same as your run-of-the-mill JRPG, but the characters are indeed unforgettable and that surely makes up for any flaws or shortcomings the story-telling might have. Origin is supposed to have a really great story, but, like I said, I only started playing it, so I'm not exactly entitled to say much on the subject.

I'm not sure if this helped, but, as a long time Terranigma aficionado, I say you can't go wrong with the Ys games GOG has to offer.
Hm for me it is the fast gameplay, yes you have to backtrack a lot with little clues but you do not get bumped into turn based battles like Final Fantasy you just run into the enemies and kill them.
I like that :D
Also the characters are rather lovable and the storyline is kind of catching xD
Thank you very much Aurora3500 for the answer! It's definitely the most exhaustive list of interesting gameplay features I've seen yet, and it gave me a pretty good idea of what I can expect from this series if I ever pick it up. :)

I did not know that the Quintet founders had important roles in the development of the first three Ys games. It made me realize how similar the gameplay of the original Ys III is compared to the action segments of ActRaiser. Thank you groze for sharing this fact!

Ryuu74's argument about moving to attack instead of stopping to attack with the bump system is very interesting too. I've never thought about it that way. I can see how waiting for the end of an attack animation may not be as fun for some people. I'll definitely keep that in mind...
The music is fantastic! Long ago I played Ys Book 1-3 for the TurboGrafx, Ys iV for the PC-Engine, and Ys 1 on the good old Master System. My favorite track was the fight music with Dark Fact.

Random Trivia: Thomas Haden Church ( Lowell on Wings, Ned on Ned and Stacy, Sandman in one of the recent Spiderman movies) did the voice for Goban in Ys Book 1 (TG-CD)
"Why it is your favorit?" I think it is the hardest question.

I start my monologue with the fact: I hate the RPG genre. The Ys series is more than just a RPG. It is an adventure game with a fluid level-up mechanics. I mean, you're not forced to farm for Exp, because you always level-up by the time going on your path. I like this thing.

As for story alongside with the Valis, the Ys series has the best story line from the PC88 era. The characters and the places are authentics, the musics are more than awesome and match with the game's word perfectly, finally the artwork is not that over drawed anime-style thing like in many other JRPGs.

The gameplay is unique. That bump system is hard when "it need to be hard", and when you want to run it let you... if you master it. This goes for the the other titles too. The newer Ys games are standard hack 'n slash games, but with the same dynamism.

Just perfect for my taste. And I not one whing: The title theme of Ys Origin: Genesis Beyond The Beginning is my favorite video game music.
I usually don't like action RPGs at all, but Ys is an exception...

Why?

Well I think it's because the gameplay feels very fluent and fast paced. It feels a lot more like an arcade game rather than an RPG which is something I like. It neither has annoying, overcomplicated puzzles nor extremely frustrating "jump quests", yet is very challenging because of the combat.

It's a series where in every play session you can just jump in, have quick fun and then stop playing again.


Ys isn't actually all that grindy. The leveling system is designed so that if you are underleveled you level up REALLY fast. Grinding basically is just getting your exp modifier to max by revisiting a good map again and again and then just keep killing until you are satisfied. It might sound like tedious grinding but in reality it never takes more than 5 minutes to reach the level you need. It's nothing like grinding in turn based RPGs where a single battle might already take 5 minutes.
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RyaReisender: [...]
It's a series where in every play session you can just jump in, have quick fun and then stop playing again.

Ys isn't actually all that grindy. The leveling system is designed so that if you are underleveled you level up REALLY fast. Grinding basically is just getting your exp modifier to max by revisiting a good map again and again and then just keep killing until you are satisfied. It might sound like tedious grinding but in reality it never takes more than 5 minutes to reach the level you need. It's nothing like grinding in turn based RPGs where a single battle might already take 5 minutes.
Pretty much this. I think people are so fed up of the whole grinding concept -- I know I am, for one --, that whenever they hear about having to "grind" in the Ys games they usually walk away from the games. I never felt like I needed to properly grind in any Ys game, to date. Playing on Very Easy and Easy is basically breezing through the game, you don't even have to kill all the mobs in a single room in order to be able to be at a good enough level so you can beat the bosses, and on Normal and upwards, as long as you kill all the monsters you encounter when you enter a room, you should be good to go. I do think the games are a bit hard, yes, but not as hard as people make them out to be... I guess it's because they're supposed to be JRPGs and most JRPG fans aren't used to games like the Ys series.

Like what RyaReisender said, I honestly think grinding is, indeed, an issue in typical turn-based JRPGs, because turn-based battles tend to be boring and long, whereas in the Ys games you just go through enemies quickly (especially true in the first two games, available for PC as Ys I & II Chronicles+, here on GOG, with the underrated and overlooked bumping attack system) and then engage in awesome and demanding boss battles.

I also agree with the fact these are games you can just pick up, have a little fun with and put aside again, for a bit, so they cater to both the hardcore fan that wants to unlock everything and challenge themselves on all the difficulty settings, and the more casual player that wants to have small sessions of burst fun but don't have the time or the patience to play it all at once. This is particularly true of the extra modes you unlock, with the Boss Rush modes and Arenas you get as you beat the game.

If people tend to dislike action games, I wouldn't recommend the Ys games, since they are not your run-of-the-mill JRPG, far from it, but if you're willing to step out of your comfort zone and try a very polished and different action JRPG, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised by these games, and if you invest some time on them you'll see some of the things people seem to say about them (namely, the brutal difficulty and the endless grinding) are actually misconceptions on their part.
i've beat a couple ys games and the number one reason i would say that i like them is that they are not very long to beat, such that i can get a really good story in a much shorter amount of time than with other games. i should also add that this wouldn't be much if the gameplay didn't rock so much, especially with the music, and picking up another ys game is always fun because of the continuity between games.
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SmashManiac: I've taken a few hours of my time researching the Ys series and reading reviews, but there's one really strange thing that I've noticed: not once I have seen anybody explaining WHY they liked Ys in their reviews - only that they just liked it a lot. That's great for them, but it's not very useful information when attempting to make a purchase decision. It's really strange because it's the first time I'm stumbling across that problem when researching a game.

Clearly this series oozes with a ridiculous amount of polish on the presentation side, but whenever I watch gameplay footage, it appears to be extremely shallow and simplistic with obligatory grinding. When I look at Ys 1 and 2, all I see is the protagonist walk into monsters that are slower than him to kill them. When I look at the later games, all I see are basic repetitive hack 'n' slash mechanics along with gigantic area attacks. I'm also not seeing any obvious differences between enemies other than their speed. I've seen some reviews talking about the difficulty, but in all the videos I've watched the only parts that appeared challenging were the bosses.

If I were to compare to other games that I'm familiar with that kinda look like Ys, the games that come to mind are Terranigma and God of War, but I'm just not seeing the same depth in terms of gameplay as in those games in terms of enemy and level design. In fact, the apparent shallowness of the gameplay reminds me a lot of Diablo which I absolutely hated for that very reason. Yes, the cutscenes and soundtrack are amazing, but there's got to be something more to this series to have such a passionate fan base.

Which brings me to my question: if you're a Ys fan, could you explain to me in detail why you like this series from a game design perspective? Even if it turns out that my current impression is true, I would still like to know what's the appeal for you.
For an Ys game to be good it needs two things:

1) Great music
2) Awesome boss fights

Give me that and I'll play the game even in Inferno difficulty.