Ys Chronicles 1 wears its retro heart on its puffy sleeves. Which isn't a surprise, since it's an RPG from the Master System era.
And it works surprisingly well on touchscreens. There are no buttons - just a floating stick you use to poke your floppy haired protagonist around chunky pixel-art worlds, whomping bad guys when you stumble into them.
There are some niggles here and there, like the way you'll bump into villagers accidentally and end up having to have a conversation with them, but there's still an awful lot here to enjoy.
The game follows the standard JRPG story formula. There's a lone hero destined for greatness, some magical prophecies, a big tree, and plenty of dialogue that doesn't really make any sense.
You wake up on an island shrouded in a storm wall, and from there go about setting things right in the world. Mainly by stabbing goblins in the head.
The only control you have is a floating joystick. You use this to navigate the world. When you come across an enemy bumping into them attacks them. You need to aim for flanking attacks, as a head on smash often results in you taking some damage.
There are swords and armour to buy, and a lot of the game is about grinding to up your level and earning enough coins to get some new gear. That can be a bit annoying, but the combat is swift enough that it never takes long to get to where you need to be.
Grammatical errors and spelling mistakes litter the text, and quite often it's difficult to figure out what someone's trying to say. You need to pay attention as well, because if you forget where you're supposed to be going you'll need to go ask the person who sent you there in the first place.Ys-y does it
Ys doesn't feel like your standard old-school JRPG, and it's all the better for that. It might not be as complex as some on the App Store, but it feels like a mobile game from the get-go. It even has a reasonably forgiving save system.
It's by no means perfect, but there's a bounce to the play that makes it pretty hard to put down.
It looks good, it swaggers around a lot of the time, and while you'll get annoyed by the repetition after a while, levelling up and nabbing the next sword is a pretty pleasant way to waste your time.