Version tested: Wii
Ys Book I and II
- Platform: TurboGrafx 16
- Wii Points: 800
- In Real Money: GBP 6 / EUR 8 (approx)
Sorry to disappoint everyone excitedly thinking that they somehow produced a Your Sinclair role-playing game, because this is actually a compilation of the first two entries in another long-running Japanese RPG series that never really found its feet in the west. It's pronounced "Eez", by the way.
The version on offer here come courtesy of the US TurboDuo, the CD-based TurboGrafx spin-off. This means we get crystal clear audio narration, a noodling rock soundtrack and a poopload of content. Two games, in fact, with completion of Ys Book I leading you fairly seamlessly into its sequel.
Comparisons with Zelda are inevitable, given the top-down viewpoint and glaring gameplay similarities, and it's no surprise that Ys doesn't quite match up to its inspiration. It is, however, a compelling RPG in its own right with a few smart ideas to call its own. Combat, for instance, is simply a question of bumping into enemies. Whoever is strongest deals the most damage, and you can improve your chances by attacking from the side or behind. It's about as basic as RPG battles get, in other words, but there's a sweet simplicity about it that will certainly entice those who are put off by dense combat options.
Exploration is similarly accessible. Unlike so many of its peers, Ys doesn't force you to sit through a long-winded intro in which your hero must make his way to the castle to be told by the king to go to the nearby cave and start the adventure. You're free to roam from the start, and even just wandering around the first small village uncovers plenty of side-quests.
For anyone who likes the scope of early JRPGs but can't be arsed with all the peripheral clutter, Ys is the ideal download. It's fast-paced, cleverly structured and it lets you get on with actually playing the thing. And let's not forget, you get two games for the price of one.
DoReMi Fantasy: Milon's DokiDoki Adventure
- Platform: SNES
- Wii Points: 900
- In Real Money: GBP 6.30 / EUR 9 (approx)
Eurogamer reviewers are trained by Shaolin monks to give us the mental stamina required to avoid cynicism. This is true, and I've got Five Fingers of Death for anyone who doesn't believe me. Even so, after over a year of covering the new Virtual Console releases, I'd be lying if I pretended that I don't stifle a bit of a kneejerk reaction whenever another cute platform game skips merrily my way on a Friday morning.
So it was with the mouthful that is DoReMi Fantasy: Milon's DokiDoki Adventure, a Japan-only platformer that actually won me over with its sumptuous production values and honed gameplay. There's nothing original here, but it takes the best bits from other games and turns them into something that's impossible to dislike.
Milon is a perky little chap, resplendent in his Noddy hat, who travels the world blowing bubbles. These bubbles trap monsters, and can then be safely shunted off-screen or into other monsters, and they can also open up the many secret areas and alternate routes hidden throughout the game.
As well as bubbles, Milon benefits from a pleasing variety of power-ups, and in the first few levels alone he even gets to ride a log flume and a cable car. There's always something new around the corner and everything is presented in a nice chunky solid cartoon style which calls to mind Kirby rather than the usual Mario knock-offs.
If DoReMi has one unavoidable flaw it's that it has no ideas of its own, and its entertainment value is based on how well it provides more of the same rather than anything unique to this adventure. Still, it's a joy to play and definitely worth your time.