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Grandia
Earlier installments:
· Grandia
· Grandia: Parallel Trippers
· Grandia II
· Grandia Xtreme
· Grandia III
Last seen in: 2006
Publisher: Game Arts








Grandia

Grandia

Through the rose-tinted glasses of Sam Marchello... When most people think of the Grandia series, nine times out of ten they are praising the first two games while not acknowledging the third entry and its bizzaro-world spinoff Xtreme. Game Arts is one of the few companies that constantly write Bildungsroman RPGs, with exceptionally young protagonists seeking a world of adventure, and yearning for something more. Alex from Lunar and Justin from Grandia were like the Disney princesses of RPGs &mdash always longing for something grand in scope, and stopping at nothing to get it. Both Lunar and Grandia are known to people as very light-hearted games which focus on very simplistic, though engaging, stories.

Grandia in particular is a game I played obsessively as a child. I adored the fast-paced combat system, but equally enjoyed the game's quirky humor and its cast of characters. The game was raveled in mystery, as Justin desired to become the greatest adventurer in the world, and to dispel the ambiguities of an ancient civilization. What I loved about the game's characters and story was the romanticism that it played on. Every character in Grandia dreams big, and does not fear the unknown of the world. The game is all about discovery and finding one's true self in the process, which I've always believed is a great message for an RPG to have. Spying on three sexy generals, however, I cannot condone, but boy did that scene make me laugh.

Grandia deserves a new entry in the same vein of the first two games that isn't playing off a gimmick such as the game's amazing combat system. While I did not play Xtreme, I recently had the opportunity to play Grandia III, and found myself falling asleep every time I picked up the controller. While the game has many of the Grandia tropes, the characters lacked the humor of the previous titles, and gave birth to some awkward dialog and bland dilemmas. While I was able to connect to Yuri's dream of flight, I didn't find myself wanting to go on an adventure with him. It just felt cheesy and uninviting, and Grandia to me is all a about an invitation to a world of discovery. It's not a bad game by any means, but Grandia III lacked the connecting qualities that made me love the original even though it's full of romantic idealism.

Viewed from Mike Moehnke's jaundiced perspective... Grandia games can be faulted for a lot of things, and indeed I've seen the original game's use of seemingly every cliché in the RPG storybook cited as a reason to resist its appeal. One thing they cannot be faulted for is having traditional combat. It is a rare thing indeed to avidly seek out battles, not for the sake of grinding, but because they are a whole lot of fun. The dungeons are also a lot of fun to explore, with nice scenery, lots of opportunities to avoid the enemies if one cares to, and interesting means of interacting with inanimate objects to progress and open shortcuts. Grandia's combat stays pretty similar between the four main installments, with the means by which characters equip/improve skills and magic being the main changes, but something so immediately enjoyable didn't need to be reinvented, and Game Arts made the right decision not to do so.

The original Grandia didn't have to rely exclusively on its combat, excellent though that aspect is. The immense variety of locations Justin and Feena explore showed off what the Saturn could do (though of course Sega declined to localize it, leaving Sony to work its localizing genius upon the PS1 port), Noriyuki Iwadare composed some fine music, the story was entertaining (if not exactly original), and the game managed to remain captivating throughout its considerable length. Grandia II introduced a different flavor of characters, with a rather good Ubi Soft localization, and more-or-less replicated the first game's virtues while displaying what the Dreamcast could do (and then being given an oft-insulted PS2 port). Grandia Xtreme showed that playing through dungeons multiple times against the same enemies gets old even with awesome combat, and Grandia III attempted to return the series to glory, and despite being a definite improvement over Xtreme didn't quite reach the heights of the olden days.

Grandia III was the last sign of a new game, though. Game Arts hasn't forgotten the series, as Grandia's recent appearance on PSN makes clear, but developing a new game has so far not happened. The odds aren't too bad in the case of this series, however, since it became one of Game Arts' premiere series, and the company hasn't forgotten that Grandia holds a soft spot in the hearts of many fans.

Can a new game happen?

Series Highlights

Likely so

Grandia, Grandia II

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