When Ys III was released in 1991, it was both ahead of its time and dated all at once. On one hand, it was one of the very first generation of console games to use compact discs as a storage medium. Because of this, Ys III had an excellent Redbook audio soundtrack. While SNES and Genesis owners were listening to less-than-cutting edge MIDIs pumped out by their respective sound chips, Ys III boasted CD-quality sound. On the other hand, although the TurboGrafx-16 was the first home console to offer a CD add-on (preceding even the Sega CD), the machine simply wasn't as graphically capable as the Genesis or Super Nintendo. The graphical quality pales in comparison to other games released on the competing platforms in the same time frame, such as Phantasy Star III and Final Fantasy IV.

A rickety drawbridge outside of Tigre Mine

   As far as the (minimal) story goes, you play the role of Adol, a young adventurer and the returning hero of Ys Book I and II. The game begins when Adol and his friend and fellow free-spirit, Dogi, arrive in a quiet mining town. From then on you are sent on one quest after another in attempt to stop an evil king, aided by mysterious magician, from reviving Demanicus, an ancient demon who once terrorized the land. The king's goal is to gain control of the entire world, which happens to consist of a castle and one village. Unfortunately, Ys III is about as linear as they get. The goals laid out throughout the course of the game are revealed in a pre-defined succession of sprite-based cut scenes, complete with voice overs. Sadly, the voice acting is absolutely terrible, even giving Resident Evil a run for its money. Another downside to the severe linearity is that there are absolutely no side quests or hidden bonuses to be found, placing a severe limitation on the replay value.

Adol is quite the nature lover

   The gameplay is highly reminiscent of Link's Adventure, ironic as, like Link's Adventure, Ys III is the only side scrolling member of an otherwise entirely top-down family. Take away the vast overworld of Link's Adventure, and add slightly smoother control, and you get the general idea of what Ys III plays like. As negative as that may sound, the gameplay is one of the areas where Ys III really shines. Somehow, despite the never-ending stream of uninspired foes, hacking the little baddies to pieces is always a real joy. The bosses, although no more inspired than their generic underlings, are the best part of the game. They put your old school pattern-memorizing skills to the test, and often you'll find yourself completely at a loss to identify their weaknesses, forcing you to rely on your healing herbs and go at them kamikaze style. And they are hard -- scratch that, they're tough as nails. If you don't bother to time-out and level up every so often, you're going to get whomped, plain and simple.

Being transported to the final confrontation with Demanicus

   Graphically, Ys III was dated even for its time. The game looks only slightly better than some of the last generation of NES games. As a result, you end up interacting with palette-swapped characters and monsters, giving you a major feeling of deja vu. There a few moments where you're going to get some nice eye candy, such as the stairway leading to the final battle, but don't expect a veritable optical feast by any measure.

Oddly enough, there is no continuation until Ys V, as IV is a prequel.

   If there's one thing that Ys III is known for, and that has aged better than the rest of the title, it's the soundtrack. Taking advantage of the CD format, Ys III has one of the most eclectic and instantly likeable set of musical scores in any game up to this day. Orchestral, techno, rock -- Ys III has it all. More importantly, it's all very well done. The only song on the entire track that disappoints is the tinny and rather boring village theme. For some reason, despite being one of the tracks you'll hear the most, it's the only song in the entire game that isn't Redbook audio.

   All said, Ys III may not be a looker, and it's certainly lacking in depth, but it's still one of the better available games for the Turbo-CD. It may not be the high water mark set by some of the classics of the 16-bit era, but there's still much fun to be had. Gamers looking for a good challenge and a great soundtrack could certainly do worse.

Retrospective by Drew Cosner, GIA.
Revised by Arpad Korossy, GIA.
Ys III: Wanderers from Ys
Developer Falcom
Publisher Hudson
Genre Action RPG
Medium CD (1)
Platform Turbo Duo
Released 1991
Walkthrough / Area maps
68 screen shots
Box art