Features Side By Side

Side by Side: Ys III (Genesis, SNES, TG-16)

When you think of the Sega Genesis, you think of Sonic, Streets of Rage and, of course, Flicky. You don’t generally associate the Ys series with Sega consoles, but rather the TurboGrafx-CD or its Japanese counterpart, the PC Engine. Ys (pronounced “ease” with an S sound instead of a Z sound) is a series of top-down action RPGs designed by Falcom, who, like GameArts, rarely make new games any more and instead just rehash their old ones. But Ys III is not a top-down action RPG. It is the one game in the series which dared break the mold and went for a side-scrolling design. Fans in Japan stopped their deafening cheers when the game was released and a collective “Wait… what?” was heard. Here we will compare the mighty Sega Genesis Video Entertainment System version which was released by Renovation in the states to the versions of the same game for the TurboGrafx-16 CD-ROM Entertainment Supersystem which was released by NEC and the Super Nintendo Entertainment System courtesy of American Sammy in the first Side-by-Side threesome ever! It is even possible that you may have even heard of these other two game systems at one time or another.

The Differences

Presentation: All three version keep the side scrolling aspect and all feature the same layouts of the maps and the treasures, etc. What is interesting is that the SNES version changes the names of some of the locations and bosses for some reason unbeknownst to me. All three have manga-style introductions. Neither the SNES nor the Genesis version of the opening are very impressive, with the Genesis resorting mostly to slowly scrolling text over an image. The TurboGrafx-16 CD version, of course, has a slightly animated intro which has awesome graphics full of color. In fact, there are two intros, one before the title screen and one after. Unfortunately this version also has absolutely horrible voice acting. The opening narrator sounds like he has a throat swollen with frog AIDS. The script in the opening narration also leads you to believe that the blonde “hero” depicted by the graphics is Adol when it is, in fact, some random schmuck who saved the land or some such nonsense long ago. The text in the TurboGrafx-16 CD version is also the easiest to read due to its font choice. This seems to be a trend in TurboGrafx-16 CD games. The SNES font is the most difficult of the three to read. All three versions have their silly typos, but the SNES seems to have the most of them. I am going to have to give the TurboGrafx-16 CD version the edge due to its CD-ness.

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Edge: TurboGrafx-16 CD-ROM Entertainment Supersystem

Graphics: There are some fairly interesting differences in the graphics between these three versions. The Genesis version can be slightly darker than the other two in many scenes and the SNES version uses the lowest horizontal resolution of the three. Both the TurboGrafx-CD and SNES versions seem a bit more colorful than the Genesis version, but the Genesis version has more detail, especially in a lot of the regular enemies. The bosses mostly look the same in each version. The Genesis version uses some odd color choices in places that are questionable, mainly Adol’s hair and the life bar seeming more brown than red. They all frame the action area into a small box as is typical with the Ys series, but the Genesis version uses the smallest box by a slight amount when all three are viewed on a real TV screen (do not use these emulator captures to judge the playable area).

The Genesis also has a completely useless “INT MODE” in the options which interlaces the game screen, but it makes everything look more blocky and jittery for absolutely no reason whatsoever. Much appreciation, Renovation! The scrolling in the SNES and Genesis versions are pretty much identical (with the Genesis having an extra layer over the SNES a couple of screens), but in the TurboGrafx-CD version it is another story altogether. Unlike the Sega Genesis, the TurboGrafx-CD does not have Blast Processing™ (which has been proven real by scientists on the Sega payroll), so it cannot scroll more than one layer of its background in a way where it overlaps itself horizontally. But there was no way that the developers of this version were going to miss out on multi-layered parallax scrolling. So they decided to fake it by animating part of the background to simulate the effect. As a result, the scrolling usually clocks in around 30 frames per second or less for the primary layer. But the further back the other layers, the more choppily they tend to scroll. It doesn’t break the game or anything, but it definitely looks sloppy until you become accustomed to it. Just when you get used to the scrolling, you get back to the town or into a cave where the scrolling pops back to sixty frames per second… at least for the main layer. JUST PICK A FRAMERATE!

The final maze before the last boss features a moving spotlight that just scrolls back and forth in the SNES an TurboGrafx-CD versions (very choppily in the latter), but the spotlight in the Genesis version actually rotates as it swings, making you have to wait for it to swing to the right angle sometimes. Regardless, picking a winner in this category is tough. One one hand, you have the Genesis and the SNES which scroll more smoothly than the TurboGrafx-CD. On the other hand you have the Genesis version which is darker with some odd colors here and there, but more detailed in many places. On the third hand you have the nice looking visuals that are the result of being a CD game on the Turbo. Overall I’d say that the SNES version is the least pleasing visually, but only by a hair.

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Edge: Draw – TurboGrafx-16 CD-ROM Ent. Supersystem and Sega Genesis Video Entertainment System

Loser: Super Nintendo Entertainment System (by a hair)

Sound/Music: The Turbo CD will be the clear cut winner here, obviously. But how do the Genesis and SNES versions stack up? Quite well, actually. Both cartridge versions feature excellent music, with the music in the Genesis version ported over by Noriyuki Iwadare of Grandia, Lunar, and Steel Empire fame. The music is mostly a toss up between the SNES and the Genesis version. Both have their strengths and weaknesses in different scenes, such as the kazoo instrument the Genesis uses in the Tigre Mines or general MIDI-sounding instruments the SNES uses for some scenes, but at least the Genesis version has a sound test. The sound effects are all pretty much standard fare on all systems, simple system-generated noises and the like. The SNES does have some muffled “clash” effects for the sword hits. The TurboGrafx CD version pipes a lot of the voices through the ADPCM chip giving them a slightly muffled or grainy quality. However the cartridge versions have no voice whatsoever as they simply don’t have the GIGABIT POWER of CD-ROM. No matter which version you listen to the music is fantastic, but the CD music approaches godliness. I am disappointed that NEC did not use the same high quality voice acting that was present in Ys Book 1&2, however.

Castle Theme: Ys3-Genesis Castle (MP3, 1.08 megs)SNES Castle (MP3, 1.09 megs)TG-16 CD Castle (MP3, 1.18 megs)

Mountain Theme: Genesis Mountains (MP3, 1.42 megs)SNES Mountains (MP3, 1.28 megs)TG-16 CD Mountains (MP3, 1.44 megs)

Edge: TurboGrafx-16 CD-ROM Entertainment Supersystem

Loser: Draw – Sega Genesis Video Entertainment System and Super Nintendo Entertainment System

Gameplay: All three have nearly identical gameplay. However it should be noted that both the Genesis and the SNES ports are based on a slightly updated version of the game whereas the TurboGrafx-CD version is based on the original. The most notable change is seen on the final boss fight. The final boss on the Genesis and especially the SNES are MUCH more difficult to defeat due to them making the boss much stronger and needing additional steps in order to win. The background is also far more distracting during this fight than it is on the TurboGrafx-CD due to more jerky crap flying around. It is a true pain in my anus. The item menu is the simplest on the TurboGrafx and Genesis versions while the SNES separates it into two screens, but that doesn’t really affect too much. If you beat any one version of Ys 3, you can use your memory of that to play through any of the others.

Overall the SNES version is by far the most difficult with the TurboGrafx-CD version being the easiest. The Genesis is the most balanced, but the last boss fight is still pretty tough. It seems to me like not much effort was put into the SNES port as it seems more sloppy than the other two. You can have a life bar with 255 hit points on it, you get just one HP knocked off and your bar shows a ton of red. It does not truly represent your health.

All three allow you to save your game, but the Turbo-CD version also allows an insanely long and complicated password which can be cool if you like spending twenty or thirty minutes writing down and inputting such things. The Genesis version only allows you to level up to twelve whereas the others let you raise your level sky-high to sixteen. Still, I think I enjoy playing the TurboGrafx-CD version the most because I really, really hate what they did to the final boss in the other two versions. The Genesis version is a great playthrough as well for the most part and the SNES is the least enjoyable because of the sloppiness and the difficulty.

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Edge: TurboGrafx-16 CD-ROM Entertainment Supersystem

Other: All three seem to have a similar translation from Japanese. The TurboGrafx-CD version has five save slots, whereas the SNES has a whopping fifteen, and Genesis version only has three. The TurboGrafx-CD version has lots of loading times, but they are fairly short and unobtrusive except that the awesome music stops playing as it loads. The Genesis has a nice plastic box, the SNES has a cheap-o cardboard box and the TurboGrafx-CD has both, actually. It appeals to both hippies and those who value quality all in one package! None of the versions feature online “capture the flag” frag-fests. Only the TurboGrafx-CD version lets you transport your save file (via the billion-character password). The TurboGrafx-CD version also allows you to e-mail your save file across the entire world with that same password feature. Nobody knows which version Raul Julia preferred.

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Edge: N/A (unless Raul gets back to us, somehow).

Final Assessment:

The TurboGrafx-16 CD-ROM Entertainment Supersystem version wins, but its competition is worthy. No matter which version you choose, you’re in for a good time. But if you have more than one system, you’re going to have to make a choice. If you have both a Genesis and a SNES, get the Genesis version. If you have a TurboGrafx-CD or Turbo Duo, just get that version. If you only have a SNES, well… yeah. All versions of this game are fairly uncommon. The Turbo version can command a fairly hefty, though not insane price on places like eBay. The Genesis version will cost noticeably more than Madden ’93 which you can find at any local thrift shop. I’m really not sure what the SNES version goes for as I’ve never seen it in the wild. Ys games just aren’t that popular here in the states, unfortunately. Help change that… Demand more Ys games here in the states, Europe and everywhere that is not Japan!

One Comment

  1. Thank you for this! This is exactly the kind of thing I was looking for.

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