Ys III: Wanderers From Ys is the third entry in Nihon Falcom's Ys franchise, a long-running series of action RPGs.
Wanderers From Ys, like its predecessors, was originally published in Japan on the NEC PC-8801 and PC-9801 computers on July 21, 1989. The title was soon released on other Japanese home computers, like the MSX and Sharp X68000, and later saw ports created for the Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis and TurboGrafx-CD. While the original PC version was never localized into English, all of the console ports were eventually published in North America. Years later, Ys III was remade for Windows-based computers as Ys: The Oath in Felghana in 2005 which followed the same basic story while featuring the new gameplay systems and graphics engine introduced by Ys VI: Ark of Napishtim.
Taking place nearly three years after the events in Ys II, Adol and his companion, Dogi, have been wandering the land. On their journey, the two hear rumors regarding Dogi's hometown, Redmont, that prompted them to venture there. Dogi's hometown, located in the land of Felghana, had been experiencing crop failure as well as vicious nighttime attacks. Not afraid of the danger, Adol and Dogi set forth on their new adventure.
Ys III features several new additions to the Ys series, while also retaining several components. The most important change comes in the form of it's gameplay. No longer played from a top-down perspective, Ys III is played from a side-scrolling perspective not unlike another Falcom-developed title, Sorcerian. With a change in perspective also comes a change in game mechanics. Players now have direct control over Adol's ability to attack, either with ducking, forward, or overhead sword attacks, which is a major departure from the previous game. In Ys I & II, players had to come in contact with enemies in order to damage them, as the majority of attacks were done automatically. Only in Ys II did players have a controllable attack in the form of a fireball. Another major change is the ability to jump. Since Ys III is also a platformer, the game has been given vertical depth, and as such, Adol needs the ability to jump to attack certain enemies and overcome obstacles. Yet another change to the gameplay system is the omission of magic points. Replaced by consumable rings, players can accrue a stock of them by defeating enemies, and subsequently use them to power the different permanent rings that Adol finds over the course of his adventure. Also of note, is that Ys III does not feature as much back-tracking as it's predecessors, and is much shorter in length because of it.
As for the components that Ys III kept, the first would be the wearable rings. Found at various points in the game, Adol can obtain five different rings - power, shield, time, heal, and protection - that have the same properties as they did in the previous games. Adol must also buy or find the different swords, shields, and armors throughout the game, with five items per category just like the previous games. In addition to Adol's equipment, he must also find an array of items, keys, and objects to aid him in his journey and to open up new paths. Ys III also has an experience point system like the previous games, however, depending on the version played, the game will either feature diminishing experience points (TGCD) or not (SNES). Ys III also allows players to save at any time they wish, except during boss fights.
The original Ys was born from a prototype created by programmer Masaya Hashimoto that showed that full-screen 8-color scrolling was possible on the PC-88 . Similarly, Ys III began with Hashimoto's desire to achieve a side-scrolling parallax effect on the computer. Hashimoto experimented with this effect on Ys II but decided to take this technical challenge head on in his next game. The title was planned to be a side-scrolling action title directly inspired by The Adventure of Link and was initially completely unrelated to Ys. However, when development first began around the middle of 1988, the game used a sprite of Adol as a place-holder graphic for the main character. Because of this, the game eventually evolved into a spin-off to the Ys franchise tentatively called "Adol's Great Adventure." Hashimoto and map designer Seigo Oketani did not want "Ys" to be in the game's title since the continent of Ys was not featured in the story but the game's name was later changed to "Wanderers from Ys."
During the development of Wanderers, Hashimoto's relationship with Falcom's president had deteriorated greatly. In fact, before development had even started, Hashimoto and scenario writer Tomoyoshi Miyazaki intended to leave Falcom after Wanderers was finished. However, around February and March of 1989, almost the entire development team left the company. More than half of Wanderers had been completed by this point so the remaining staff at Falcom put the final touches on the game and it was released as "Ys III: Wanderers from Ys" on July 21, 1989. In initial advertisements and magazine articles, the game had only gone by the name "Wanderers from Ys." The team did not intend for the game to be a numbered installment but, once the team left, the title was changed to "Ys III" for marketing purposes.
Masaya Hashimoto and Tomoyoshi Miyazaki would end up founding Quintet in April 1989 and many former Ys developers would help them create various action RPGs for the Super Nintendo. After all these departures, Falcom would team up with other developers to make the fourth entry in the Ys series before returning to making Ys games themselves with Ys V in 1995. Additionally, starting with Ys III, the company went through a short period where they stopped including staff credits in their games up until the release of titles like Brandish in 1991.
Ys III is often considered to be the black sheep of the Ys franchise by some fans due to its change in gameplay. Back in the day, Electronic Gaming Monthly awarded the game scores of 7,8,7,8 saying, "...misses the high mark of the original. There is little or no challenge here and the whole quest is too straightforward for an adventure game".
- Ys I & II: The Development and Completion of Ys III, and One Speculation by Hiromasa Iwasaki (Colorful Pieces of Game, 2019).