Whether you like their games or not, you've to to respect the hell out of Falcom. They have been making the games they want to make in the style they like for more than 30 years, and they do not forget their past. Whether it's continuously propogating and remaking Ys games, patchworking a massive franchise like Dragon Slayer into a ton of sequels, only to spin them off into sub-series like Xanadu, Sorcerian, Lord Monarch, or Legend of freaking Heroes, they just keep their kinds of games coming, and spit out the odd Popful Mail or Tombs and Treasures as side projects. Falcom Classics on Sega Saturn is a celebration of three of their early RPGs, redone with beautiful backgrounds and sprites, orchestrated music, and the option to tweak the mechanics to play in a modernized "Saturn Mode" or retain their original PC-88 mechanics. The games they chose to venerate in this collection are Dragon Slayer, Xanadu (Dragon Slayer II), and Ys Book I.
Dragon Slayer is credited as one of the first Japanese RPGs, and honestly... it's more significant than playable. Even updated for Saturn, the core game here is wandering an overhead maze, collecting power crystals, taking them to your home to level up, and survive long enough to become powerful and slay a dragon. It's easy to die, and a super slow grind, and then it's off to another maze to do the same. It's massively long and tedious, but can get oddly addictive if you get in an old-school zone, just wanting to kill one more dragon... but it's generally speaking a pain in the ass. It did pioneer Falcom's "barrel into your enemies like an idiot and hope for the best" combat, and at least there's no real language barrier, and the Saturn version is merciful enough to allow saving...
Xanadu, though, is imminently more playable, especially tweaked for Saturn. This one is a side-scrolling adventure that looks more like Romancia or Legacy of the Wizard. The shopkeepers even speak English! In Xanadu, touching an enemy opens up an overhead battle screen, and you fight your enemies Ys-style, or you can use the C button to fire a magic attack once you've powered up your INT stat. You explore Metroid-like until you find a castle or dungeon you want to enter. These play out largely like the labyrinths in the Legend of Zelda, and tend to revolve around finding enough keys to make your way to the boss. Level up and get equipment first, though, because those bosses want to fight. The fights play out on a 2D horizontal plane, and were clearly the inspiration for the superior fights in the later Legend of Xanadu games. It's fun once you get a feel for it, and even your items are displayed in English along with your stats and such, making it a breeze to play, even in Japanese.
Ys Book I has been on so many systems and has been re-made so many times that it hardly needs an introduction. It does feature the steepest language barrier of the bunch, but everything having icons helps when figuring out your equipment. The new graphics are nice, and the arrangements of the music are pretty cool. Other than that, it's the same old short and sweet Ys Book I you've known forever... and if you haven't, I'd say you've missed out if you like old-school action RPGs.
The first release (pictured here) also came with a Special CD, which contains some bonus features. These include an Ys Book 1 drama with beautiful art stills to help relate the story, a brief behind the scenes of the voice actors from said drama, a tour of a little Falcom showroom full of stuff you'll just be mad you don't own, and an art gallery slide show. It's neat stuff for a die hard Falcom fan, but completely unnecessary from a gameplay standpoint.
For me, the prettied up Xanadu is the real gem of the bunch, and is probably the most accessible, playable version available. Dragon Slayer is charming, but a slog, and there are plenty of ways to play Ys in English. If you're a Falcom fan, it's a no brainer, but if you're more just curious about some older games, I'd be a little more cautious. It's a must for a Xanadu fan, though!