Grandia (PS3/PSP) Review

Here's a game I have some history with. About ten years ago, I bought a used copy of this game at a local Gamestop to play on my PSX I had at the time. And I loved it.... right up until I was on Disc 2. Something about that disc just did not work. It was always crashing and freezing, and the day it froze when I was literally two attacks from beating what I thought was the last boss of the game, I took the disc out and never played again. I learned a valuable lesson that day about used games... never buy used games on CD. People suck at taking care of their discs.

So when this game got added to PSN, I knew I had to get it. I remembered loving this game back in the day, but I really wanted to see how it ended. Was it worth it? Why don't you read on....

Story:You are Justin, a young boy who dreams of growing up to become an adventurer, just like the father he lost and looks up to. As a token of this, he carries with him the spirit stone, a cherished artifact his father left behind. As the game begins, no one knows if the stone is real or not, but Justin is playing adventurer with the other kids on a treasure hunt to decide who gets to marry Sue, a young girl in the town. Finishing the game lends to a night home and a trip to the museum dedicated to an ancient civilization the next day, and the treat of being allowed to go check out the ruins being excavated nearby by a military force known as the Garlyle Forces! Excited, Justin heads out!

From here, the events inside those ruins will lead Justin and Sue on a globe-hopping adventure the likes of which he could never dream of. Leading them is the promise of discovering exactly what the Angelou Civilization is as well as even the spirit stone Justin holds so dear! But he is not alone in seeking this knowledge, and others involved will make this a very dangerous journey indeed... with some very potentially dire consequences for both Justin and the world itself!

This is one of those classic RPG stories that will carry many many MANY tropes of the genre, but will carry them exceptionally well, from having to discover your hero is the chosen one and the only one who could take on the quest about to unfold, right down to a final clash between good and evil (personified in Justin vs the main antagonist who's identity is revealed as the game goes on as part of the story) for the fate of everyone and everything you ever saw within the game. It's all here! And it's handled rather well... It may not be the best story I have ever seen, but it is a damn good one!

Graphics: True to PSX games that insist on mixing 3D with sprites AND zooming in and out, the years have not been kind to the look of Grandia. It is bright, colorful, and creative as hell, but the 3D elements are simplistic, while the sprites (especially in battle) can look outright ugly due to the way the camera distances itself, be it way to "count the pixels on the screen" close or out far enough that it's obvious this was the early days for rendering distance from bitmaps for the PSX. Sadly, this does take away from some really cool character artwork in the game, and even more so, boss battles tend to not zoom, so as if the developers decided halfway through the process that either they wanted this feature (explaining why it's so distorting if they had a relatively short time to add it), or wanted to cut it from bosses to show them off. I'm not sure which, but the effect can be annoying.

Sound: Remember the good old days of RPGs when the music was almost always brilliant and made up the most audio you remembered from your game? Grandia is definitely from that era. The main theme will stick with you long after you put down the controller for the last time, and just about every song fits it's role perfectly, while still being different enough to hold it's own against the other classic RPGs.

However, it's just as blatantly obvious how this game comes from a day when game companies could bring spoken English to their games, but didn't care so much about the voice acting when importing a game. There are a lot of parts in this game where characters speak by text bubble, and many other parts that are voice acted so badly you will wish they were all text bubbles. Be ready to cringe from time to time.

Gameplay: When you first hit start, you will find yourself in a classic style RPG town. Despite being 3D rendered, this part of the game is exactly what every other RPG has offered... ever. This is not a bad thing, since the genre of Console RPG had at least 15 years to evolve before we got this game, so I would hope towns are pretty much where they should be. However this game will stand out a lot more once you reach combat.

Combat will take you into an arena where your characters and the enemies will run around in their attempts to kill each other. Turns are decided by a time-line on which all the characters have an icon that slides. When one of your characters reaches the action point, you get to tell them what to do. A basic attack will instantly make your character run to the target and lash out a couple timers, while a strong attack will go for one major hit with a higher change of cancelling whatever move the enemy was going to do. Also in the instant category are when you use an item or defend yourself (by running away or hunkering down to take less damage).

However, you pick special abilities, the speed at which the spell or technique goes off can vary greatly and will be displayed by the icon scrolling down the rest of the time line at various speeds. You can increase that speed by using the abilities. This will increase a meter that goes from 1-5 stars, and the more stars, the faster it will happen. Controlling this timing is crucial to succeeding in combat and makes for a system with a little extra depth compared to everything else offered at the time, and completing a very solid game experience.

If there is any one issue with the gameplay it's inventory. You are stuck with 12 items per character, each keeping their own inventory. This tends to at best over-complicate things a little since item use requires you to know who has what so you can plan accordingly. At worst, it is one of the most annoying reasons you might have to lose items when 4 inventories filling up sneak up on you by surprise.

Bugs: No bugs to speak of, which felt exceptionally great for me considering my first encounter with this game.

Overall: This is a classic RPG game. If you are a fan of console RPG games, you really should check this game out. Really, it's that simple. For the price of DLC for many games, you are getting a classic RPG from the golden age of the console RPG genre. Wrap your hands around the controller and have fun.

Source: Playstation Store

1 comment:

  1. You should take a look at Grandia xTreme if it ever comes out on a format you can play. It was a PS2 game, and one that I am looking forward heavily to should I ever get the time to rip my library and try out an emulator. I would hope it is released on a PSN storefront, but doubtful.

    It takes the Grandia Universe and puts it into an almost aRPG environment, or at least a battle heavy world, but there is still a storyline and plenty of fun. It will be the one game I put on any portable PS2 emulator whenever they show up.