Falcom Classics II - Staff Retroview  

Blast From the Past
by Mike Moehnke

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Less than 20 Hours
+ Excellent rendition of Ys II
- Asteka II is unintelligible without Japanese knowledge
+ Ys music is great to hear
- Quite short
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   One year after the first Falcom Classics, the company gave its longtime fans another Saturn showcase with Falcom Classics II. This compilation serves mainly as an excellent method by which to play Ys II, on which Falcom invested a bit more effort than it did with the original Ys on the first compilation. Despite the myriad versions of Ys II in existence, it is held by some that this version could be placed at the top.

   Ys II begins after Adol defeated Dark Fact at the end of the first game, with him having all six books of Ys and using them to transport up to a floating continent. There he is met by a young lady named Lilia, who cheerfully introduces Adol to the floating land of Ys and then stands aside so that adventuring may begin. The rest of the story features kidnapping, an evil sorcerer named Dales, petrification, more kidnapping, goddesses, and a fun ability Adol gains to transform himself into a monster to converse with all the opponents he would normally be slaying. The story is both in Japanese and superfluous when the point of the game is combat, this being an action-RPG.

   Combat is by-and-large the same as it was in Ys I. Adol runs around colliding with enemies in an overhead fashion, inflicting damage upon them if the player manages to collide at an off-angle while he will probably take a hit if the connection is in the center of the adversary. Lacking any attack button whatsoever, Ys combat takes getting used to for players accustomed to other action RPG series, but quickly becomes second nature. This rendition of Ys II features the ability to hold B and run, which is incredibly useful for speeding up an already fast-paced game. New to Ys II is Adol's quick acquisition of magic rods. Most of them have specific purposes; one brightens certain passages, one acts as a teleporter, one transforms Adol into the aforementioned monster. The most commonly used rod is the Fire Rod, which despite its name is not elemental in nature: instead it spits a projectile. This simple means of attack transforms the entire experience, as it means Adol no longer has to collide with enemies to defeat them. This is very helpful considering that enemies are much better at hitting Adol if he is not attacking from the correct angle. All but the last bosses must be fought with the projectile attack, as taking them at point-blank range will result in a dead Adol.

   In most other respects Ys II is similar to its predecessor. Adol will accrue money and experience as he runs around slaying enemies, with sufficient experience granting a level-up. As there are a total of 30 levels in Ys II, each level has a smaller effect upon Adol's combat prowess than in I, but this is not a game in which player skill will win the day. If Adol has not reached a sufficient level he cannot damage bosses at all. Enemies also yield lower experience as Adol reaches higher levels, and this makes grinding more time consuming. Adol's hit points still regenerate if he stands still in an outdoor area, but at a much slower pace than in Ys I. Adol's magic points do not regenerate, but they are used at such a slow rate that one is unlikely to run out: as an example it requires around 10 shots with the Fire Rod to use one magic point.

   Adol equips easily: a press of Y and the menu pops up for the player to fiddle around with. The statistic changes of various equipment are visible, though new equipment always grants better attributes than old. Items are easy to switch between and use, though their effects are in Japanese. Aside from the fact that shops reverse the usual menu practice ('no' is on top, 'yes' is on the bottom) there are no other interaction points to mention.

   Visuals are not dazzling, but the Saturn is a 2D powerhouse and it shows with the nice use of color and lack of any slowdown once the game loads. A nice touch is that Adol looks different with each piece of equipment. Falcom's Ys music is acclaimed, and the tunes here make it clear why. Rocking music accompanies Adol's adventures and the tracks do not grow old. Sound effects are annoying enough to drive the overall sound score down, however. There is a fair amount of voice acting in Ys II here, and with Dales voiced by Norio Wakamoto, a quality villain performance is assured. Lilia is voiced by Kasumi from Ranma 1/2, and the rest of the performances are at the very least adequate.

   On balance, thanks mostly to the projectile attacks, Ys II is easier than its predecessor. The ability to save at any time is also quite handy in reducing difficulty caused by aggravation. Ys II is longer than I, but not by much: the game can be completed within five to six hours by a first-time player. The swift completion time coupled with the entertaining combat makes replaying easy for those who enjoy the game, though there is no optional content to present a more conventional replay incentive.

   Falcom Classics II contains two games instead of the three in its predecessor. This collection only contains one RPG however; its second title is Asteka II: The Temple of the Sun, an adventure title from 1987 that originated on Japanese PCs and saw an NES release as Tombs & Treasures. Ys II proves to be a very entertaining title, and ought to satiate any action-RPG craving (at least for its fairly brief play time). Asteka II might be entertaining to one with a great knowledge of Japanese or one who is happy following the instructions of a FAQ at every step - and I do mean every step. Falcom Classics II is fairly inexpensive on eBay, and for the first game it contains if not the second can be deemed worth investigating by any RPGamer with an import-enabled Saturn.

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