Earlier installments:
· Growlanser
· Growlanser II
· Growlanser III
· Growlanser IV
· Growlanser V
· Growlanser VI
· Growlanser: Generations
Last seen in: 2008 (NA) / 2009 (Japan)
Publisher: Atlus



Sometime in early December of 2004, I was out shopping for a Christmas gift for my mother. My dad and I were wandering around our local mall, and after hours of shopping, we had managed to complete our main mission. Walking past EB Games, my father took me inside and asked me what game I wanted as a reward. At the time, I had completed every RPG that I owned and was looking for a new one to wet my whistle. Staring at me on the shelf was the last copy of Growlanser Generations, with a sticker on the box saying that there were two games in the box for the price of one. My dad said to me, "What about this one? This should keep you busy." I took his suggestion, and I'm glad I did.

Growlanser Generations was the last project completed by the now-defunct Working Designs. Inside the box, gamers were given two great TRPGs, Growlanser II: The Sense of Justice and Growlanser III: The Dual Darkness. Unlike most tactical RPGs, the Growlanser was not confined to the standard grids, but rather characters could move freely around the map and unleash deadly attacks. The games sported a great challenge, which I enjoyed profusely.

Of the two games in the package, Growlanser II: The Sense of Justice was my favourite. Story in most TRPGs are usually not the highlight, but in Growlanser II's case, it was the other major draw outside of the game's stellar combat. For those who aren't familiar, Growlanser II's narrative takes place in the middle of the original Growlanser's story, and instead of playing as Carmaine Fallsmyer, knight of Rolandia, gamers are introduced to Wein Cruz, a knight of the kingdom of Burnstein. Both kingdoms are at war, and instead of looking at Rolandia's perspective, playing as Wein, gamers see the other viewpoint of how the war is taking its toll on the Kingdom of Burnstein. While this may sound like a typical TRPG plot, as the game progresses, it becomes anything but, with one of the best plot twists seen in an RPG. Who knew peace could be so deadly?

Growlanser III: The Dual Darkness, while a solid entry to the series, did not have the same impact on me that The Sense of Justice did. It lacked staying power, and the gameplay changes made the game feel far more unbalanced than challenging. Instead of having eight members on screen during combat, players were reduced to four, and powerful spells could only be performed if they were done cooperatively. These two changes alone made the game feel a lot more unbalanced, and on many occasions I felt stuck and unable to progress. I remember stopping halfway through, then six months later, I finally was able to advance and complete the game. At some point, I want to go back and reevaluate my opinion on it, but at this moment I don't have the time.

There is one more Growlanser title that came to North America, this time thanks to Atlus USA, which was Growlanser V: Heritage of War. Heritage of War's gameplay is a lot closer to that of Dual Darkness, but the choices made throughout the game are far more important to the game's plot. Truthfully, I played Growlanser V with the intention of trying to date all the women, because the plot didn't matter that much to me. The characters were fun and charming, for sure, but the plot was so ridiculous, that even trying to make sense of it would be an essay all its own.

Considering how badly Growlanser V tanked in North America, it's unclear whether or not Atlus USA will localize another entry of the series. Growlanser VI was the last entry to be released on the PlayStation 2, was left adrift in Japan, and since then we have not heard of a new main-title entry to the series. I personally would love to see Growlanser make the jump to PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360, and I would love for it to return to the traditional gameplay of Growlanser II, where there's tons of action on the screen. However, considering Growlanser V's jump to 3D (and goodness, how ugly it was), I don't think we'll see a Growlanser title going back to its sprite-based roots anytime soon. As for a new entry, I think it's possible considering how the stories have constantly carried over one another, but it doesn't seem like Career Soft has been that active as of late... &mdash Sam "Nyx" Marchello

Can a new game happen?

Series Highlights

Ports, yes. Main-entry, tough call.

Growlanser II: The Sense of Justice

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