One thing that has been given the upgrade is the graphics in the various animated cinema scenes. When this game was first released, the poorly animated cut scenes were part of the appeal of the game. People couldn't believe how good the visuals looked, even if they were basically still images with poor voice acting looped over it. In a lot of ways it's like going back and watching those classic Dick Tracy cartoons. The nostalgia may be cool, but it couldn't look any more outdated than it does when compared to Wall-E. These new cinemas attempt to bring the story up to what we expect from a modern role-playing game, and for the most part these succeed. My only real gripe is that there aren't enough of them. The original game was full of these cinemas, but not so much with Legacy of Ys.
I won't lie to you; part of the appeal for me of the original Ys Book I & II is the obnoxiously horrible voice acting. Released at a time when nobody really understood production values for CD-based games (especially Japanese CD-based games that have to be localized). So, instead of getting talented voice actors to read well-written lines, Ys was notorious for grabbing just about anybody they could find to act out the roles (no matter how bad at acting they were), and then had them read some of the most god-awful dialog you will ever hear in a role-playing game. Some of the lines didn't even make sense. The whole thing felt like it was done over a weekend in some guy's basement.
But as bad as all of that is, it's also endearing. Like the Dick Tracy cartoons of old, the people involved with localizing Ys Book I & II were doing the best they could. How should they know that twenty years later everybody would expect lengthy cinema scenes full of voice acting from real actors? The original voice acting was so bad that it actually improved the otherwise dull storyline. In Legacy of Ys there is no voice acting. When people talk their words are written out. While it would have been nice to hear the same lines performed by real actors, part of me feels that the silent approach is probably the right way to go. It's a shame that the developers didn't flesh out the story a little bit, perhaps giving it a new translation (like so many other recent role-playing remakes).
While it's easy to make fun of the original team for giving us such putrid voice acting, there's no debate over the quality of the game's original soundtrack. Composer Yuzo Koshiro's work is without flaw, it's an epic score that I often go back to just to relax. The music in Legacy of Ys is a remix of the original music, which is, for the most part, just as good as what we heard twenty years ago. The game even comes with a cool soundtrack CD, something the original game could have used. All in all, the music is the real star in Legacy of Ys: Book I & II.
When everything is said and done, Legend of Ys is a good way to experience what many consider to be a classic role-playing game. Sadly the game doesn't hold up as well as it should have, but there is a lot to like about this remake. If you're hoping for something more, then perhaps you are better off waiting for the upcoming PSP remake, which will be helmed by many of the people responsible for making the original series. If you've spent the last twenty years wishing you had played Ys Book I & II, then now is your chance. Everybody else will likely be left wondering why this game was so revered in the first place.
While Legacy of Ys is a solid remake of the 16-bit classics, that doesn't mean it holds up particularly well. The unique gameplay keeps the action fast and exciting, but the cliché story and silly cinemas leave a lot to be desired. On the plus side, it does come with some of the best video game music ever composed!
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