|| Grandia - Review
By: Stewart Bishop
| Battle System
| Replay Value
| Time to Complete
To say that this game is a masterpiece can do it no justice. Grandia is
phenomenal, an incredible RPG that will be remembered
as a work of sheer brilliance. The most interesting piece of
information, however, is that Squaresoft had absolutely nothing
to do with this game's creation. If you are one of the more wizened folk
who can see beyond pretty graphics, this will be one
of the most memorable experiences in your entire RPGaming career. While
it is sad that there are very few who have played or
even heard of Grandia, I have made it my personal goal to expose the
entire RPG community to this beauty.
Let us begin with the battle system. The ATB (Active Time Bar) has been
replaced by a single bar, with each of the battle's
participants represented by an icon. When a player's icon is near the
end of this bar, a command may be selected. After
inputting a command, the character's icon will slowly creep forward and
when it reaches the end, the attack is performed.
During this period of time, if the character is attacked, the icon stops
while he or she recovers, and a powerful hit can
cancel the move altogether; quite impressive, to say the least. At last
there is actual strategy in a non-tactical RPG. The
speed that the icon moves after the command is selected depends on the
power of the move and the level of the performer. What
this creates is very sophisticated fight scenes, especially for the
beginning of the game. An enemy that can eliminate a
character with a single hit must be defeated by playing "keep-away," as
in all of his moves must be canceled by a critical hit
by one character while the other character focuses on delivering lethal
|Trippin' around Downtown
The skills system is also a bit different. The elements water, wind,
fire and earth each have their own corresponding levels,
which can be raised by using spells of their respective types. Higher
levels of magic mean more powerful magical attacks that
can be cast. Note that certain spells can only be obtained by 'training'
your magic to certain levels, which holds very true
for combination magic such as ice. Similarly, the weapons also have
their own levels. Personal skills that characters have
(special attacks) can be obtained by raising weapon or magic (or even a
combination of both) to certain levels, so it is very
important that you switch weapon types often. Also, magic is split into
three varying levels of power, each with its own set
of MP. Learn to use your weaker spells on random battles and stronger
spells in boss fights. Speaking of random battles, they
are quite similar to that of Chrono Trigger and Super Mario RPG. You can
actually see your opponents on the terrain, and can
decide to engage in a fight with them or try to elude them to prevent
the battle. If Justin runs into the opponent, your team
is given the initiative, while if a group member aside from Justin
touches them; the enemy is given the initiative. So you
should be certain that you can outrun the opponents before you decide to
|That'll leave a mark...
Grandia's music is incredible. Ranging from highly upbeat songs to
scores of tragic happenings, it is all there. Interestingly
enough, the battle music changes from time to time. The battle themes
are different in the two different discs, and also
differ if you or your opponent had the initiative. This is also true for
the fanfare music. If you received a 'quick kill'
victory, which I believe is obtained by killing your opponents quickly
while remaining unscathed, you hear one type of fanfare
music, while if you receive a 'normal kill' victory; you hear another
type of fanfare music.
Speech is also present, but isn't a predominant portion of the game. It
is mainly used for important plot-setting events and
during the introduction of a new character, but the voice acting is
great. My only gripes are Milda, Guido and Liˇte, who have
terribly annoying accents. The other sounds are excellent; from "Yeah!
We won!" to the lightning bolts scraping against the
ground, you won't ever get bored of them.
Grandia's plot is incredible. You WILL become attached to these
characters. Justin is by far one of the best heroes that I
have ever encountered, in any RPG. He is wild and mischievous, but he
has a heart of snow and an incredible amount of courage.
Each of these characters are like real people; they have actual quirks
and feelings, unlike certain eighth installations of a
Final Fantasy series...ahem. There were moments that absolutely touched
my heart, or when I stared in awe and admiration of
Justin's bravery. With no embarrassment at all, I proudly say that I
cried when this game was over. I wanted, no, needed more.
If I were to point out Grandia's best aspect, it would be the incredible
characters and their development.
The graphics are similar to Xenogears. Towns and dungeons are placed in
a fully 3D, rotating environment that just cries out,
"Explore me!" The special effects for the spells and skills, however,
are very high-caliber. I was quite impressed by Dragon
Cut, H&E Cut and World's End. Though not nearly as good as the more
CG-esque attacks present in many modern RPGs, these are
still quite good.
|Lots of green!
Playing this a second time around was still a great experience for
myself, as well as other friends that have played it before.
I think of Grandia as a storybook; Not only is it linear, but 'reading'
it a second time right after you finish will not be all
too enthralling. After a while, however, picking the game back up and
playing it over again may bring back many fond memories
and make the experience much more enjoyable. Since there is nothing you
can really do when you reach the end, however, the
score is painfully dragged down.
Despite this, Grandia has burrowed a little niche in my heart and rests
there cozily along with the other four of my top five
favorite RPGs. It has truly earned a right to be there and should be in
yours as well. Do yourself a favor and play Grandia:
the most heartwarming tale that has ever embraced the RPG industry.