Ys I & II
Composed by Yuzo Koshiro, Mieko Ishikawa, Hideya Nagata, and Ryo Yonemitsu
With Wizardry, Dragon Quest, and Final Fantasy becoming innovators of the role playing game genre, it seemed like there wasn't room in the genre for another innovation. Ys: Ancient Ys Vanished would end up pushing the role playing game genre further than what was initially thought possible. The gameplay was drastically different from the aforementioned role playing games, but not to a point where it would be compared to the original Legend of Zelda.
But a major part of what separated Ys from the other role playing games was that its score did not sound like other role playing games. Much of it sounded more upbeat, exciting, and energetic than dramatic and ambient. The first game was originally composed by Yuzo Koshiro and Mieko Ishikawa. Yuzo Koshiro learned how to play the piano at an early age from his Mother, and from a young Joe Hisaishi before becoming self-taught. He was inspired by games like Gradius, Space Harrier, and the Tower of Druaga to get into video game music scoring as a hobby before joining Nihon Falcom. He would be the composer for most of Ys I.
Mieko Ishikawa was not as well known as Yuzo Koshiro, but was still a huge part of Falcom's history. Her first score with them was this game, and she continues to be involved with Falcom with her most recent score being the 2006 Gurumin: A Monstrous Adventure as part of Sound Team jdk. She was also involved with the staff of the later Ys titles, as well as the Legend of Heroes series. She would compose the pieces Fountain of Love, Shining Star, Open Your Heart, Devil's Step, In the Memory, and Fly With Me.
Ys II, Ancient Ys Vanished: The Final Chapter, which picks up immediately after where the previous game ended, adds Hideya Nagata to the composer line-up. Ys II would be the only Falcom game that Nagata would score for. He would later be known for his scores in the games Bosconian, Lemmings, Drakkhen, Motor Toon Grand Prix, and the Fighers Destiny games. His pieces for Ys II were Feel Blue, Ruins of Moondoria, Noble District of Toal, Cavern of Rasteenie, and Palace of Salmon. In Ys II, it would be Ishikawa who would compose the majority of the game. Koshiro's pieces in the game were To Make The End of Battle, Rest in Piece, Protectors, Ice Ridge of Noltia, Moat of Burnedbless, Companile of Lane, Pressure Road, Feena, and Transformation.
The more popular compilation release, simply titled Ys I and II, combines the two Ys games into one, with remastered graphics, fully voiced cut scenes, and a remastered soundtrack done in the Red Book audio format. The entire remastering was handled by Ryo Yonemitsu. Despite only arranging Koshiro, Ishikawa, and Nagata's scores, Yonemitsu's arrangement and conversion to the Red Book audio format would raise the bar for how not just Ys would sound, but would raise the bar for how PC-Engine games would sound in general, as the sound quality offered back then was above and beyond what any other hardware was capable of producing at the time. And when the first two Ys games are brought up, it's normally the Ys I & II arrangements that are brought up, and not the original scores themselves, perhaps due to how much more accessable Ys I & II is than the original games. However, with the release of Ys I & II Chronicles for the PlayStation Portable in 2009, an option was given to allow players to listen to the original versions of the scores, an arrangement of the score done for Windows in 2001, or a brand new arrangement done exclusively for the PSP release.
The Ys games did many things that video games back then couldn't do. The Ys games also had the kind of score that wasn't very common in its type of game back in the day. It would be a trend that Ys would continue to follow to this very day, and would be the kind of music that inspired scores of other role playing games like the Tales of, and Lunar games. It was also one of the first exposures to Yuzo Koshiro's career as a composer. Although he would be more known for his freelance work, his place in the history of Ys helped give the series some of its most iconic pieces.