Ys: Ancient Ys Vanished ~ Omen (イースI 失われし古代王国 序章 Īsu 1: Ushinawareshi Kodai Ōkoku Jokyoku ) is an action role-playing game developed by Nihon Falcom Corporation in 1987. The name is commonly misspelt "Y's" due to an error on the packaging of the English release of the Master System port. This is the first installment of the Ys series.
Initially developed for the PC-8801 by Masaya Hashimoto (director, programmer, designer) and Tomoyoshi Miyazaki (scenario writer), the game was soon ported to the Sharp X1|X1, PC-9801, FM-7/FM-77, FM-7AV and MSX2 Japanese computer systems. Ys saw many subsequent releases, such as English-language versions for the Sega Master System, MS-DOS, Apple IIGS, and TurboGrafx-16, and enhanced remakes for the Sega Saturn and Microsoft Windows systems.
It is frequently rereleased alongside the immediate sequel, Ys II; they are even treated as a single game, referred to as Ancient Ys Vanished. Some of these releases: Ys Book I & II for the PC Engine CD; Ys I & II Eternal (Story)/Complete/Chronicle for Windows PCs, PlayStation 2, and PlayStation Portable; and Legacy of Ys: Book I & II for the Nintendo DS.
The hero of Ys is an adventurous young swordsman named Adol Christin. As the story begins, he has just arrived at the Town of Minea, in the land of Esteria. The backstory to his arrival in Minea is explained in the manual. He is called upon by Sara, a fortuneteller, who tells him of a great evil that is sweeping the land.
Adol is informed that he must seek out the six Books of Ys. These books contain the history of the ancient land of Ys, and will give him the knowledge he needs to defeat the evil forces. Sara gives Adol a crystal for identification and instructs him to find her aunt in Zepik Village, who holds the key to retrieving one of the Books. With that, his quest begins.
The player controls Adol on a game field viewed from a top-down perspective. As he travels on the main field and explores dungeons, he will encounter numerous roaming enemies, which he must battle in order to progress.
Combat in Ys is rather different from other RPGs at the time, which either had turn-based battles or a manually-activated sword. Ys instead features a battle system where Adol automatically attacks when walking into enemies off-center. When the protagonist moves toward his enemy, damage is sustained on both sides. Attacking straight on causes the attacker the most damage to himself, but clipping the edge of the defender yields a successful differential. This combat system was created with accessibility in mind. This 'bump attack' system has become one of the series' defining features. Falcom staff have compared this style of gameplay to the enjoyment of popping air bubble sheets, in the sense that it took the tedious task of level-grinding and turned it into something similar to a high-score-based arcade game.
Another feature that has been used in nearly every Ys title since the original is the recharging health mechanic, which had previously only been used in the Hydlide series.
Aside from graphical differences, the game layout remains essentially the same across the many ports of Ys; however, there are some versions where the details were changed. The Sega Master System version, for example, saw some of the game's dungeon areas flipped horizontally (including some other minor differences).
The most distinctive of the early ports was the Family Computer edition, which was published by Victor Musical Industries. This version was a vast departure from the original, featuring entirely new layouts for the towns, field, and dungeons, replacement of a number of the original musical tracks, and a new final battle sequence.
The version developed for the MSX contained a handful of new musical tracks which replaced part of the original game's soundtrack. Some of these tracks, along with a number of unused tracks first composed for the original, were later incorporated into the soundtracks of certain later releases such as Ys Eternal and Ys Complete.
PC Engine version
The versions developed for the PC Engine CD-ROM, released as Ys I & II in 1989, and Sega Saturn included additional cutscenes, such as an opening detailing Adol's arrival in the town of Minea.
Sharp X68000 version
The Sharp X68000 enhanced remake released in 1991 was notable for its early use of 3D pre-rendering for the boss sprites. However, this ended up creating what is considered "a bizarre contrast" with the game's mostly 2D graphics.
Ys Eternal, Ys Complete, Ys Chronicles
The Microsoft Windows-based remakes, Ys Eternal and its various updates, Ys Complete and Ys Chronicles, is a full-fledged remake in every area. It introduced an entirely different look and feel, such as the ability to run and attack in eight directions instead of the original's four. It greatly expanded the setting with dialogue, cutscenes, and even additional gameplay areas. Complete features a different soundtrack from Eternal made to match the soundtrack of Ys II Eternal, while the much later Chronicle update features new soundtracks for both games.
Nintendo DS version of Ys Complete
The Nintendo DS received a conversion and revamp of Ys Complete called Legacy of Ys: Books I & II, which was released in late March of 2008 in Japan and late February of 2009 in North America. Interchannel helped develop the game. Atlus published and localized the game for its western release. The first bunch of copies released came in a cardboard box containing the game's DS game case as well as a special bonus CD that contained higher-quality versions of 30 music pieces from the game's newly-arranged soundtrack-- 13 pieces from Ys I, 16 from Ys II, and one from both (being Open Your Heart). The opening cutscenes from the Ys Eternal version are used. The game received a near-perfect translation with very little errors (the most infamous being Solomon translated as "Salmon"). The gameplay was tweaked considerably, allowing access for many crowds. Both games are available to play right from the start. Artwork from the Complete version is used. The game's world is in 3D with characters, bosses, and attack effects being 2D sprites. Difficulty settings Very Easy, Easy, Normal, and Nightmare are included for both games as well as a Music Player mode (where you can listen to the MIDI-based OST of the game) and Time Attack mode (where you try to beat every boss as fast as possible), the latter two being unlocked upon completion of their respective games (beating Ys I will not unlock Time Attack and Music Player for Ys II and vice versa). Controls were revamped as well, being three different options:
- Normal - use the D-Pad to move, Start to open the menus, L and R to navigate the various menus, Select to change controls or end the game, B to run, R to auto-run, Y to attack, A to attack (Ys I)/use Magic (Ys II), and X to use an item. The Bump System only works if Adol is unarmed.
- Stylus, Right-Handed - Use the Stylus on the touch screen to move-- put the stylus farther away from Adol to run. A to use Magic (Ys II), Start to open the menus, Left and Right on the D-Pad to navigate the various menus, Select to change controls or end the game, and Up on the D-Pad to use an item. The Bump System is used.
- Stylus, Left-Handed - Use the Stylus on the touch screen to move-- put the stylus farther away from Adol to run. The D-Pad to use Magic (Ys II), Start to open the Menus, A and Y to navigate the various menus, Select to change controls or end the game, and X to use an item. The Bump System is used.
Ys I received a new dungeon exclusive to this version-- Vageaux Vardette, the mazelike crater forest that Ys used to lay upon. The boss of this dungeon is Petrorex. Vageaux Vardette is explored immediately after the Shrine of Solomon is completed-- Adol can find a new set of equipment here, consisting of the Defender (a sword), Mithril Mail (armor), and the Ruby Shield.
Ys II received a new, exclusive multiplayer mode that 2-4 people can take part in, each requiring their own copy of the game. Little information exists on this mode.
Reception was mostly positive, with most complaints being about either the "3D graphics looking bland", the "slight drop in difficulty", or the "mediocre music". Most people who have bought it consider it to be "a must-have for any DS owner".
Composed by Yuzo Koshiro along with Mieko Ishikawa, the soundtrack is notable for its rich melodies in an age when video game music was beginning to progress from monotonous bleeps. This soundtrack is considered to have some of the best video game music ever composed, and it is considered one of the finest and most influential role-playing video game scores of all time.
Several soundtrack albums dedicated to the music of Ys have been released by Falcom. These include:
- Music from Ys (1987): Contains the soundtrack to the original PC-8801 edition, along with a number of unused tracks and the replacement tracks used in the MSX edition, many of which were later incorporated into the Ys Eternal soundtrack. Also included are five arranged tracks from Ryo Yonemitsu, who arranged the soundtrack to the TurboGrafx-16 version of Ys I & II (1989).
- Perfect Collection Ys (1990): A two-disc release, the first disc of which is a new arrangement of the Ys soundtrack by Ryo Yonemitsu. The second disc contains assorted arrangements of tracks from both Ys and Ys II.
- Music from Ys Renewal (1995): The complete Ys soundtrack, including the bonus tracks, reproduced on upgraded synthesizer equipment.
- Ys MIDI Collection: Contains MIDI arrangements of pieces from Ys I, II, and III. Feena, First Step Towards Wars, Palace of Destruction, and The Last Moment of the Dark were arranged from Ys I.
- Ys Standard MIDI Files: Contains Standard MIDI arrangements of pieces from Ys I, II, III, and IV. Feena, Tower of the Shadow of Death, The Morning Grow, and See You Again were arranged from Ys I.
- Ys & Ys II Eternal Original Sound Track (2001): A two-disc release consisting of the soundtracks to Ys Eternal (not Complete) and Ys II Eternal