The General Story:
Ys revolves around a young, red-haired swordsman, named Adol Christin, who travels the world in search for adventure. A seemingly evil magician, Dark Fact, wants to rule the world. Adol's quest is to locate the six books of Ys to unlock the mystery behind the vanished land of Ys and stop Dark Fact.
[SHOW EXTENDED INFO]
Along the way, he rescues a young girl, Feena, trapped in the Shrine of Solomon. She has no recollection of her own past or how long she's been held prisoner within the shrine. On a separate quest, he succeeds in finding Lair's lost silver harmonica, which upon playing causes Feena to regain her lost memories-- both Feena & Lair are the Goddesses of Ys.
[A BRIEF HISTORY]
They tell Adol of the Black Pearl, an object of great power they had given to humankind in the past, but humans were unable to wield its power without it consuming their souls and creating a massive vortex of darkness from which demonic monsters had sprung. It is this power that influences Dark Fact and gives him his dark purpose.
The Goddesses instruct Adol to seek out the remaining books of Ys by first locating the descendants of the original priests of each tome and finally confront Dark Fact within the Tower of Darm. Once Dark Fact is locked in battle with Adol at the top of the tower, the two goddesses discover the Black Pearl and seemingly sacrifice themselves to destroy it. At that moment, Adol deals the final blow to Dark Fact. All Dark Fact can do is thank Adol for setting him free. Apparently, Dark Fact's ambitions let him be controlled by the Black Pearl. He tells Adol that this is not the end for him: that Adol's mission has only just begun. As Dark Fact dies, the six books of Ys activate and whisk Adol high into the air toward the floating land of Ys. The first game and OVA end here and is continued in both the game and second OVA: Ys II.
[HOW I GOT INTO IT]
Ys is a classic Action RPG series by Nihon Falcom, originally released in 1987 for the PC-88 computer system. Since its original debut, it has seen many releases on multiple platforms, some of which include: PS88, X1, PC98, MSX2, X68K, FC, SMS, SS, and Windows. The newest renditions of the games have seen releases for the PS2, PSP, and most recently PSVita.
Although the series has had multiple releases of the same game on different platforms as well as multiple remakes with tweaked chronology including conflicting ages for Adol, here is standard a list of titles in canonical order:
Ys I: Ancient Ys Vanished - Omen
Ys II: Ancient Ys Vanished - The Final Chapter
----- Remake: Ys I & II
Ys IV: Mask of the Sun (SNES)
Ys IV: The Dawn of Ys (PC Engine CD)
----- Remake: Foliage Ocean in Celceta (PSVita)
Ys III: Wanderers from Ys (SNES)
----- Remake: The Oath in Felghana
Ys V: Lost Kefin, Kingdom of Sand
Ys VI: The Ark of Napishtim (PS2)
Growing up with an older brother who was obsessed with games, it was impossible for me not to be influenced by them in some way. Although I was not a skillful, hardcore gamer like him, I immediately took after games based heavily on story, hence my love for RPGs. One of the first RPGs I played was the Ys series on the Sega Master System. My brother had just about every gaming system there was, but this was one that he actually borrowed from a friend. I have very little memory of actually playing through the game (I was probably 10 or 11) but there are aspects of it that I remember here and there. Over the years, I have been able to play many of the games in the series.
Sometime in college when I learned that there was an anime OVA based on the games, I was extremely excited to find it. But given its immensely obscure status, I couldn't find it anywhere. I ended up buying the VHS release of Ys II: Heaven's Sanctuary before I even saw the first OVA. Likewise, my first cel acquisition came with a set of LaserDiscs of the anime (i & II as well as a special IV disc with video of a never-completed anime OVA for that game). Although I didn't have a LD player, I desperately wanted those cels...!!! I still have the LaserDiscs somewhere in my mom's basement. lol
The story of Ys is one of the most basic stories of all time. Young swordsman has to save the world from an evil sorcerer. There's nothing unique about the series really, at all, any more; but for me the sheer feeling of nostalgia I get from it is HUGE. It brings back the time when my family had just moved into a new house far away from the place I grew up, so I still have many of those images in my head when I think of playing this game for the first time in my brother's room in the basement. I love the character of Adol-- just a young guy with a heart of gold who goes traveling around the world, not only for adventure but also to meet new people and help those in need. Of course, being the main character in a long-running action RPG series, he's seen his fair share of tragedy, pain, and loss. And yet he keeps going. There is a gorgeous piece of artwork done for Ys Seven that is the first I've ever seen that actually shows many of his battle scars. Just click on the image below to see it full sized:
I also think that Adol is the paramount character for helping me create the main character in my own novel series and my love of red-haired swordsmen. lol