Ah, the power of Ys. I remember getting this game for Christmas back in the prime of the SNES. When I unwrapped the present and saw this game, I was a bit disappointed. This was not the game I had wanted, and I had never even heard of the series before. As soon as I plugged the game in, though, all my sorrows over not getting Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest went away. I embarked on a journey that would soon become one of my favorite games of all time.
At the very beginning of the game the adventurers Adol and Dogi enter some nameless city. As they walk around and admire the city they come across a crowd of people surrounding a fortune teller. Dogi walks up to this fortune teller in order to have his future read. As soon as the seer sees that Dogi is from the village of Redmont, though, the fortune teller’s crystal ball shatters! The seer stutters out the word “Galbalan”.
After this dire omen the two adventurers decide to travel to Dogi’s hometown to see if anything is amiss. Soon after their arrival, Adol gets caught up in the struggle against the machinations of an ancient evil.
I’m the first person to admit that this story is very basic. However, it drives the game forward nicely, so there’s not much to complain about. The only real complaint is the fact that the cast of characters is somewhat weak. They have almost no depth. Even the main character, Adol, is no exception. Nothing is mentioned about his heroics in the first two games of the series. This story would have been much stronger if there had only been more effort put into character development.
In any action RPG it is best to keep things simple. Thankfully, Ys III is one of the least complex games I’ve ever played. Give Adol a sword, shield, and armor and you’ll be good to go. There is no magic in this game, but there is a selection of magic rings to choose from. These rings do various things, such as increasing your defense, slowing down time, and making your attack more powerful. These rings are powered by ring energy, which goes up one point for every enemy you kill. Like nearly every RPG known to man, you get stronger as you gain experience. However, there is a limit to how strong you can get. You can’t gain any levels past level 16. This isn’t really a problem, though. You don’t need to get any stronger than that, I promise!
One thing that I feel is pretty cheap about this game is monster placement. They just tend to appear without warning. One second there isn’t anything there, and then an axe-wielding hellspawn comes running towards you. You have very little time to react. Also, blind falls are pretty common on this game. Nine times out of ten there’s gonna be a monster waiting at the bottom for you to land on. Cheap, Falcom, very cheap.
This game’s controls aren’t necessarily bad, but they’re…strange. Attacking isn’t a problem. You only have a few attack options: a forward slash, a jumping slash, a crouching slash, an upwards stab, and a midair downward stab. You can perform most of these with ease except for the jumping downward stab. The reason for this will become clear shortly.
One flaw that will become evident rather quickly is Adol’s blinding speed of movement. You may be saying, “How could quick movement possibly be a bad thing in an action RPG?” If we were talking about almost any other game then I’d agree with that. But Adol moves WAY too fast. Since monsters just tend to appear without warning, you’ll more than likely plow into a monster before you possibly react. There are many areas where this will kill you faster than anything else.
And then there is jumping, the cause of the majority of the grief I have had with this game through the years. Pinpoint jumping is next to impossible. Adol has somewhere around a ten foot vertical leap. Couple that with speed that rivals The Flash and you have a very tricky situation. This is best illustrated by looking at the downward stab. To perform this maneuver all you have to do is jump and hold down the attack button. Nothing to it, right? Wrong! Most of the time you either fly way over the enemy’s head or come up too short. Fortunately there aren’t any platformer-like areas where precision jumping is necessary.
We go from the worst factor to the best! As far as sound effects go, this game is pretty basic. You’ve got your sword slash sound and your jumping sound. That’s about it. Honestly, the music will draw your attention from the lack of sound effects.
As far as I am concerned, Falcom is the single greatest company in regards to video game music. No other company comes close. This soundtrack is no exception. Falcom is known for their fast paced, hard rock tunes and this game is chock full of them. There are a few slower songs during the sad moments, but the majority of the tunes unabashedly rock!
Perhaps I should say “the majority of the songs try to unabashedly rock”. Lets face it, it’s hard to rock out with low quality synth. The compositions are excellent, but they are hampered by the synth. Maybe I’ve been spoiled by the Turbo Duo version, but I don’t think that the sound quality is all that great. Even with the poor quality, I bow down once again to the genius that is Falcom music!
There’s not a whole lot to say about the in-game graphics. They aren’t pretty, but they get the job done. The opening and closing cinema scenes are a whole different story! My jaw literally dropped the first time I saw the opening. It was very vivid and colorful and did an excellent job of getting you involved in the story. The ending scenes were also well done. That ending was one of the most satisfying endings I’ve seen, and the graphics made it that much better.
I’ve played this game about a dozen times on three different systems. While it does have some control issues, I come back to it time and again. The game is fun, plain and simple. This game really is the black sheep of the Ys series, but it will always remain, in my eyes, as one of the best games on the SNES and as one of my personal favorites.