Ys Strategy
by QuantumCrayons

When I was a tad younger than I am right now, I had never heard of the Ys series, and, as such, was entirely innocent when it came to buying my first title. For those of you who are in a similar position, Ys is a set of JRPGs, originally released on the NEC PC- 8801. But, after that, it was released on stuff like the MSX, SNES and Genesis. In fact, Ys games have been released on nearly every platform known to man, including mobile phones. And, with seven Ys titles proper, and a prequel to boot, you'd expect this game to be, shall we say, refined? No such luck.

'Ys Strategy' is a strategy game, as the title would suggest. However, being from a long a line of RPGs, it's gonna have some kind of story behind the gameplay. So, all you fans of JRPGs out there who just love a nice little storyline, you're not in luck. This storyline is huge. Massive. When I sat down to play this game, I expected some backstory, possibly similar in detail to Command & Conquer, or Stronghold. No such luck, however, as I am bombarded by information on crystals, countries, wars and four chaps who don't seem very nice, not to spoil the plot. Being an open minded chap, I let this go, as every game deserves its chance to have a little thing to proudly display behind it, as it wanders off into obscurity, we can still remember it for its story, if nought else. And, may I add, the story is good, if nothing else redeems it.

So, with the original plot done, we start. Or, so we think. As soon as we start a new mission, there's more plot after the screen which says 'Prologue'. All right, fair enough. Setting the scene. Fine. So, eventually, we start with a training mission. Now, as if the game hadn't already taken a long time to start, we are now faced with a grueling training sequence, in which we are told how to play the game. This, however, is necessary, having never played this particular one before, what with all the different materials and classes. And, after this, there's more plot, a new mission, more plot etc. The cycle continues for, from what I can see, the entire game. So, those who love a humungous storyline, this game is for you. Maybe.

So, we start playing. How're the controls? Not the worst I've seen, but the exact reason why strategy games should not yet be removed from PCs. Whilst not as bad as the old Red Alert for PS1, which was hellish to use, what with the boxes and all, the touch screen is inaccurate, to say the least. When tapping, it doesn't register, then it decides you're tapping two squares below. Then, when you at last select the correct unit, it won't send it to the correct place. Trees and buildings block selections as well, making acquiring all units a very lofty task. The same as above goes for buildings too.

Combat is one of the more confusing I've seen. There are three normal units, Pikemen, Archers and Swordsmen. These are all good against one, and bad against another, like Rock/Paper/Scissors. Then, you have Heroes, which are good against all normal units. Then, you have the Magic units, for want of a better word who follow the above pattern again. I can't go into much more details, as I am still greatly confused about how these work, even after reading the instruction book several times. So, you've been kept away from gameplay, and now you can't properly play. Wonderful..

The biggest you're ever gonna have as an army. For anyone who's ever played a strategy game, you'll know that resources are important. Resources are the items collected across the map what fuel your units, and allow you to create more and build new buildings etc. There're two problems about this. One, the resources are so sparse, it's difficult to manage them enough to get great use of your units. Second, they are collected so slowly, due to both the collection speed of the units, and the fact that the units walk at an amazing mild pace. This means that much of the game will be spent waiting around for that last bit of wood to be delivered so that you can release the beasts. That, or you've released them and they're gaily sauntering to their target.

So, in conclusion, Ys Strategy is a pretty below average game, if looked at from the perspective of the Ys series. It doesn't hold true to its RPG roots, incorporating none of its original gameplay. However, it does have a redeeming story, which should allow the game to be enjoyed by some Ys fans, and JRPG fans alike. However, if you're purely looking for a playable RTS for your DS, avoid this one. The RTS controls are fiddly and don't always work, and the story removes from a smooth and carefree strategy game experience.

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