For a mere 420 Yen ($3.62 USD), Japanese Vodafone/SoftBank subscribers can download Ys I ~Complete~. The game, a small (972 KB) version of the massive Ys I ~Complete~ on JP Windows, is something I would definitely describe as a “fans only” release.
For those who are unfamiliar with the franchise, Ys I ~Complete~ introduces Adol Christin, a red-haired swordsman in a disturbed land, Esteria. Seeking adventure, Adol sails through the Barrier of the Tempest. Washing up on the shore, the hero takes time to recover from the accident. Eventually, Adol travels to the Town of Minea and encounters Sarah, a fortune teller. Sarah believes that Adol is the hero destined to save Esteria. She gives him her crystal and tells him to seek out Jevah of the Zeptik Village. From here, Adol becomes consumed in the tale of the Ys Books, the six priests that guarded them, and the two goddesses that rule over the land. The story, an absolute classic, remains unchanged in this version.
Due to size limitations, however, some corners have been cut; entire sections of the gameplay, mostly ones which were added in the Eternal and Complete Games, are missing. The player can no longer save Luther Gemma in the field; the mission has been entirely removed. The player /can/ save Feena, of course, but the “guide her back to the entrance” segment has been removed, as well. You merely “teleport” back to Zeptik Village upon discovering her in the shrine. Lado Tower? After entering with the Evil Ring, Adol is whisked away into a conversation with Lair, then deposited back outside. Even worse, the overworld has been largely removed. Minea Plains is the only overworld area; the mountainous area connecting the Shrine and the Bandits’ Stronghold is missing. How does one travel to these locations, then? By selecting them from a menu, of course. Towns have been reduced to a mere menu, and selecting “Leave Town” in Zeptik Village presents the player with several destinations: “West Fields,” “Shrine,” or “Bandits’ Stronghold.” This was rather disheartening.
Due to limitations in the control scheme (arrow keys, or the 2-4-6-8 keys are used for movement) and screen size, boss battles are much easier. They’ve basically become a “charge straight into the boss, and hope he dies first” encounter. And more often than not, they do; the difficulty level is quite low. Unlike the aforementioned corner-cutting, however, this is an understandable restriction of the medium, and overall, the “fun factor” of the battles has been retained.
Graphically, Ys I ~Complete~ is hit-or-miss. I was fairly impressed by the solid resemblance of the bosses to their full-version counterparts. I was fairly unimpressed by the graphical corner-cutting in Darm Tower, in particular, the outside segments. Adol now runs around the tower against a black background, which is simply sad. It would have taken relatively few extra resources to add a proper background, like every other version of the game. But alas, there is none to be found, and that section of the tower sticks out like a sore thumb as a result. There are also no anime portraits in this particular port; I’m aware, however, that the version of the game released for DoCoMo and AU mobile phones is more enhanced and features such portraits, but alas, Vodafone/SoftBank users aren’t as fortunate.
Finally, the most important section of an Ys installment – the music. Taito’s Ys I ~Complete~ offers exactly what I had anticipated: MIDI renditions of classic tunes. Some of these MIDIs are better than others; First Step Towards Wars is decent, as is Holders of Power. Palace of Destruction, on the other hand, almost makes my ears bleed. More often than not, however, I don’t use sound in the first place; it’s a mobile game, after all, for those long rides on the train and monotonous meetings in the office.
Like I mentioned earlier, Taito’s Ys I ~Complete~ for Vodafone/SoftBank is a “fans only” novelty. The sheer number of corners cut, the menu-based exploration of the overworld, and the “meh” conversion of the gorgeous graphics and audio presentation are all disappointing. This is par-for-the-course with Taito’s Ys remakes, however, and is somewhat expected. Good for a “quick hit” of Nihon Falcom’s legendary franchise, but otherwise, move along.