Wanderers From Ys
System: Super NES Publisher: American Sammy Developer: Nihon Falcom
Genre: Adventure Type: Sidescrolling Adventure Circa: 1992

Wanderers From Ys is the third installment in the Ys adventure/RPG series, and the only one that was ever released on the Super NES in North America. Before I begin this review, let me make it clear that I have never played any of the other Ys games, so I will NOT be comparing it to them! I also have never played any of the other home versions of Ys 3, only the Super NES version, so I won't be comparing it to those either. This review is based on my experiences with one of my very first Super NES games.
Ys 3 is a very early Super NES game, and it shows in the graphics department. However, that's not to say they are entirely bad. The opening sequence, which looks like an early attempt at an anime-style FMV, was impressive in its day. The actual game graphics aren't quite as stunning. Everything is very tiny, except for a few bosses which are somewhat larger. However, there's something about the graphics of this game that I've always liked. Everything is small, but the enemies and backgrounds are very well-detailed. There are many different backdrops in each area. The scenery ranges from mountains, waterfalls, caves, snowfields, temples, jungles, forests, castles, and even a clock tower. The bosses all look very nice, and the animation on some of them is very good. They have a very "anime" look and feel to them.
SOUND: 8.5/10
Ys 3 has, arguably, one of the best soundtracks I've ever heard. The music is all done very well, but it's a lot more "upbeat" than the music of most other adventure games. Don't expect too many Final Fantasy-like symphonies, most of Ys 3's soundtrack is closer to rock! There are times when the music changes to fit the mood, ie, sad, creepy, threatening, etc. The sound effects are impressive, too. I especially love the spell effects and explosions. The only sound effect I don't like is the noise of the sword when it hits an enemy. It sounds more like something chopping wood than a sword clanging. But everything else is great! The only downside of the music is that some of the compositions aren't done as well as others. You also may not be expecting a hard-driving rock soundtrack in an epic adventure game like this.
CONTROL: 8.5/10
Ys 3 has very good play control, although it will take some getting used to. The first thing you'll notice is the incredibly speed at which Adol moves around and swings his weapon. This game actually has one of the funniest features I think I've ever seen in an adventure game - the "supersonic sword"! Hold down the attack button and hold Up on the control pad, and you'll see what I mean! Adol swings his sword so fast it becomes a blur! Moving around and swinging the sword is as easy and simple as it can get. You can even duck down and crawl around in this game, and swing your sword while ducked down, too! There's only a few minor flaws with the play control that I can think of. The first is that when you jump and swing your sword, Adol has a tendency to point the sword straight down instead of take a swipe at the enemy. Also, it is often unclear just how close you need to be to an enemy to damage it, without taking damage, yourself. But these are very minor flaws. I think Ys 3 has much better control than most side-scrolling adventure games I've played.
Compared to today's extremely complicated RPG storylines, Ys 3 may not seem like much. But back when I first played it, this game had one of the most detailed storylines I had ever seen. The characters in this game actually have personalities and talk with one another, which is something that was not seen in most adventure or RPG games that came before it. Adol is no "mute hero". There are several different characters, some friends, some foes, and some in-between. As you complete areas, the story is revealed, little by little, with many twists and turns, and eventually, leading up to a dramatic conclusion. It all begins when Adol and Dogi visit a fortuneteller for fun, and she unexpectedly predicts something awful will happen in Dogi's hometown. They return to his hometown to find out that the place has had a run of bad luck lately. Adol sets out to right the many wrongs. Dogi's childhood friend, Ellena, eventually informs them that her brother Chester is trying to awaken an ancient evil being. For some reason, Dogi does very little about any of this, and Adol does all the work. But it's still a nice story, and the opening and ending sequences are done with nice anime cut-scenes!
I have somewhat mixed feelings about this game's challenge. It can be very hard at first. One memory that will always stay with me was getting through the long intro, and when I finally got to where I could fight something, I got killed immediately by a big bee! The challenge level of this game depends almost entirely on how high you build your level. If you don't build it high enough, some bosses will be near-impossible to beat. But once it's at the right level, the bosses go down rather quickly and easily. The "supersonic sword" makes building levels fast and easy. But Ys 3 still has its tough spots. I died quite a few times when I first played it, and the final boss is still quite a challenge for me. Some areas can be difficult to get through because they are like mazes. But overall, this game isn't really that tough. It can be beaten in about 4-5 hours.
FUN: 8/10
I really enjoyed this game, despite it being somewhat short and simplistic. It should be noted that Ys 3 is fairly linear game. There are a few areas where you can venture from the main path to find an item, weapon, or piece of armor, but most of it is straight-forward. There are also only a few major areas in the game, although some of them are large and complex, and some you visit more than once. Building up your levels takes out some of the challenge. There is a good variety of enemies and the boss fights are fun.

While Ys 3 may not be as complex as today's RPG and adventure games, there is still a lot here to like! It has an interesting story, okay graphics, excellent sound and control, and some decent challenges. You might enjoy this game if you are a fan of sidescrolling adventure games. In fact, it kind of plays like a watered-down Zelda 2 or Battle of Olympus.
OVERALL SCORE (not an average): 8.5/10



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