Reviews Archive

Ys III: Wanderers From Ys

    TG-CD Mega Drive SNES
    ys turbografx sprite ys genesis sprite ys snes sprite
    ys on turbografx cd ys on genesis ys on snes
    ys forest level on pc-engine ys forest level on megadrive ys forest level on snes
    ys castle on turbografx ys castle on genesis ys castle on snes

TG-CD - The graphics whilst small are still very well done. The main characters of the game are all very well drawn and excellently detailed, and many of the environments have loads of nice little touches and elements to them (especially the houses in the town, which are full to the brim with furniture, and tools).

A few sections do look a little barren though (some of the caves have pure black backgrounds for instance), and as opposed to the excellent character sprites, the enemy sprites here often appear to be lacking in detail, and are often quite small and wimpy looking.

One area where the game really does shine is in its excellent background animations and effects, featuring big moving waterfalls, bubbling lava, and clouds sweeping across the sky (more on this later).

Mega Drive - This version is in higher resolution than the other two versions. Most of the detail and background effects found in the TG-CD version are still here fully intact, a few sections (such as the caves) have more background detail than in the TG-CD version, and other small details can often be seen (such as bells next to people's doors).

I feel that the main characters aren't drawn quite as well as those found in the TG-CD version, but are still very close in quality, the monster sprites here however are all far superior, much better drawn, and are often bigger.

SNES - Firstly, this version has the biggest screen area (the other two versions have a black border to the left and right whilst the SNES version's graphics horizontally go all the way to the edge) but the developers haven't seemed to capitalize on this feature as instead of more viewable area the graphics have just been horizontally stretched to fit.

This has the least amount of detail of the three versions and many sections have missing elements, such as furniture, shelves, fences, animated candles and fireplaces and the reflective artwork for windows (for a more in depth example check the Weapon smith's house example here). You also find that in this version many of the textures seem to be of lower quality, using small repeating patterns instead of the more detailed work found in the other two versions.

Lastly, most of the big background effects have been downgraded (more on this in the animation section).

  Winner Is: Mega Drive

TG-CD - A very good use of colour, and easily the most consistent out of the three versions, everything looks vibrant and most of the colour choices are very good and give a cartoony appearance to the graphics.

Mega Drive - Its a little inconsistent but certainly not bad. Most of the sections look nearly as good as those in the TG-16 version, but some such as the town street have strange and ill-fitting colour choices, and in a few areas the colour use can occasionally appear a little grainy in comparison.

On the upside most of the sprites in this version actually contain more colours than the ones found in the other versions.

SNES - Similarly to the Mega Drive version this is also very inconsistent.

Firstly looking at the sprites of the characters and monsters I found that here they virtually always contain the least amount of colours out of the three versions, and in this specific area the SNES is certainly the worst.

Looking at the overall colour use for the levels we get a mixed picture. Some sections such as the lead up to Tigray Quarry/Mine, and the town street look very good with a much better blending of colours, but at the same time the whole game has a slightly washed out, and murky look about it. Check the picture of Ilvern Ruins (second main picture down) and you'll see that the background looks greyer and more drab (it also gets worse when you enter the ruins), also, for another example re-check the aforementioned picture of the Weapon smith's house again, this time making special note to look at the colours, including the gold and silver of the weapons, both of which look quite bad here.

  Winner Is: TG-CD

TG-CD - The main character sprite is adequately animated, but all the other sprites including those of the monsters are very, very bad, in fact possibly the worst I've ever seen for this era, they judder along in a very obvious manner.

On the other hand though the backgrounds are full of animations, and these are all extremely good, with big animated waterfalls, bubbling lava, and nice little touches such as fireplaces and burning candles, they look impressive and really help to save the overall graphics.

Mega Drive - All the main sprites for characters and monsters are adequately animated, they're certainly pretty average looking for the Mega Drive but they still do the job to the minimum level required.

The excellent background animations seen on the TG-CD are all pretty much intact and look as good as ever, some (such as the lava and some of the waterfalls) look slightly better, whilst others (such as ruins which has the small element of the flying birds removed) look slightly worse.

SNES - This version's sprite animation is better than the TG-CD but worse than the Mega Drive's. Its much smoother than on TG-CD, but compared to the Mega Drive is not as well timed, or well drawn.

Most importantly the background animation, which was often so well done in the other versions looks utterly awful, rushed and extremely crude. to see the animation differences in more detail go here

  Winner Is: Mega Drive

TG-CD - This version of Ys contains some of the worst scrolling I've seen for its era, the main screen movement is often below average for the time, but manages to get the job done.

The parallax on the other hand is utterly atrocious and stutters along in a most unnatural manner.

Mega Drive - Smooth scrolling which includes some very well done parallax, the parallax usually contains more layers than both the other versions.

SNES - The scrolling is nice and smooth, and the parallax whilst not on par with the Mega Drive version is still good.

  Winner Is: Mega Drive

TG-CD - Excellent CD quality audio and excellent composition. I would go as far as to say that this is one of the most memorable soundtracks in video game history.

Mega Drive - Surprisingly the Mega Drive's music is nearly up to the quality of the TG-CD's. You can really tell that a lot of time was spent trying to get the absolute best possible sound out of the Mega Drive's sound chip and in the end the only thing holding the Mega Drive version back is that its sound chip can't compare with the quality of CD audio.

SNES - The SNES does pretty well in this area and also does a nice job of converting the CD tracks, but I do feel it comes off very slightly the weakest in this area out of the three games.

  Winner Is: TG-CD
  Sound FX

TG-CD - The sound effects of Ys III are pretty downplayed for the most part, and definitely take a back seat to the music. The main sound effects are adequate, though not that easy to hear over the music, but where this version really wins out is in its included voice acting for the major scenes, a feature that the other two versions lack.

Mega Drive - Adequate Sound effects.

SNES - Adequate sound effects.

  Winner Is: TG-CD

Unlike the other games of the Ys series, Ys III is basically a platforming adventure game. Most of the game has you fighting monsters with a sword through (relatively) linear side scrolling environments whilst searching for items. There's a main town where you can buy equipment, and you gain experience and level up when killing monsters.

TG-CD - This is probably the most accessible and fun of the three versions due to its much more forgiving leveling up. However one of the effects of this easier leveling up is that the game, which is already quite short in length becomes a bit on the easy side, and you can often just hold down the fire button and run through sections without really doing much.

Mega Drive - This version is harder than the TG-CD version, mainly due to its steeper leveling up, though after a few levels have been reached its experience point system starts to fall more in line with that of the the TG-CD's. Whilst the very start of this version is difficult, as a whole experience it manages to be challenging, without being too frustrating.

SNES - Gameplay wise this is the hardest and sloppiest of the three versions.

The worst aspect here is the bosses, which move much more erratically here than in the other versions, making it difficult to find any useable tactics other than leveling up and using attrition (In the other two versions you can usually work out tactics to defeat the bosses).

This version also often has problems with slow down.

Winner Is: Mega Drive

TG-CD - This section is an easy landslide win for the TG-CD, it has a very nice preliminary FMV with full voice acting about the history of the story, then goes into another section about the travels of the main character ("Three years have passed") and then has yet another voiced FMV setting the scene of the game.

Mega Drive - This misses the preliminary intro from the TG-CD version, but does contain the second "three years have passed" section, as well as the main intro which is now completely different as its been entirely re-made.

The new intro is not as impressive as the original TG-CD's FMV as its a little bit bare-bones, featuring simple scrolling text with pictures positioned to the side, but everything in the new intro is professionally drawn so it still looks fairly nice.

SNES - The SNES is missing the preliminary intro, and the "three years have passed" intro, and its main intro is easily the worst of the three versions as the artwork is very badly drawn, with the images sliding around the screen like a school kid's power point presentation.

Winner Is: TG-CD

Mega Drive - In this version Adol's hair looks more light brown in-game than his famous red (though at the map screen its does go back to being red).

SNES - This version has the most save slots, whilst the Mega Drive version has the least at three.

This version's equipment and items screens are separated whilst in the other versions are combined.

Some of the names of places are different here.


The SNES version is knocked out of the running immediately as its gameplay is worse, its graphics downgraded, its music is slightly the weakest, and as a whole generally feels like a rushed port.

Between the TG-CD and Mega Drive versions its extremely difficult for me to make a judgement. In these comparisons I usually tend to go for the most consistent version (which in this case is probably the Mega Drive version, as it does everything at least adequately well with the exception of its colour choices in a few screens, whilst the TG-CD does very badly in some aspects (for instance its scrolling and animation are both very much below par). However, where it comes to this specific game I feel that one of the major reasons why people like YS III is because of its high quality music and presentation, these are its stand-out features, the reasons why many people actually play the game in the first place. So after some careful consideration I feel that I have to give this one to the TG-CD version, with its voice acting, most consistent colour use, and awe-inspiring music.

  Overall Winner Is: TG-CD
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