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Grandia - Retroview

The Spirited Youth Adventure

By: Red Raven


Review Breakdown
   Battle System 9
   Interface 5
   Music/Sound 6
   Originality 6
   Plot 5
   Localization 5
   Replay Value 5
   Visuals 5
   Difficulty Medium
   Time to Complete

50 Hours

 
Overall
6
Criteria

Title Screen
 

   Sometimes while playing the latest science fiction RPG, one's mind might venture forth in the depths of memory to a time when the entire RPG genre was still quite young. Note that in this time, the games were simpler, not necessarily in charm or gameplay, but in the area of character motivation. Heroes that inhabited this era went on their quests not for the safety of mankind, but for the adventure itself. That era has long since past, but to the certain enjoyment of many members that celebrat that era, all of the games have not.

   In effect, Grandia is a paradigm shift away from current games. Not only is the hero of the adventure quite young (by current RPG standards), but also the motivation for his journey is a simple one: the adventure itself. One has to accept this manner of plot, if one ever hopes to enjoy it as it is, instead of judging it to other games', admittedly, more "involved" storylines. If this can be accomplished, then Grandia will become an entertaining experience in youthful ambitions.

   One other thing that makes Grandia worth playing is its ingenious battle system. The system is probably best described as a mix between the systems featured in Lunar, Chrono Trigger, and Xenogears. Battles take place when the player touches an enemy, and the battle's beginning is determined in the manner of which the player touched the enemy. For example, if the player walked up to the enemy while it was facing away, then the player has the advantage (first strike). The opposite is true also, so caution is always needed when trying to avoid encounters. Once combat has started, a meter appears at the bottom of the screen and icons that represent each battle participant scroll along this meter till it reaches the "action" portion. The action pauses to allow the player to input a command, then once that character's icon reaches the very end of the bar, he or she attacks.


The spell effects aren't horrible...
The spell effects aren't horrible...  

   Characters have to run over to their target before they can attack, leaving precious seconds to the enemies for their own action plans. Attacks will cause the target's icon to stop for a few moments, while continued attacks or one very powerful one will knock it all the way to the very beginning of the meter. All of this happens in such a fast-paced and exciting manner, it feels as if all of the battles take place in real-time, but more importantly, it makes the battles fun, even at the end stages of the game.

   The rest of the game is just as excellent. The entertaining plot is complemented very nicely by some outstanding music, both normal and of the battle variety. One will experience sweeping scores when one would expect to have them, and all the dungeons have appropriately ambient melodies. One implement that was extra nice was the variety of battle music; it changed depending on whether you were surprised or had the first attack.

   The visuals of Grandia resembled Xenogears, in that the characters were sprites upon three-dimensional worlds. While it also suffers Xenogears' pixilation at close-up levels, it is nothing that subtracts from the playing experience. There are a few anime sequences thrown about during the game, and most of them are of good, if not superb, quality. While the dungeons might become tedious to look at after a while (from both a texture, and a "being lost", point of view), they again, are nothing that should take too much away from the otherwise fun gameplay.

   If you are a RPGamer that wants a gripping story, fantastic visuals, and all of the regular things we come to expect from our genre, then Grandia is not for you. This kind of game would possibly be beneath you. For the rest of us that can enjoy a game for what it is, a fun experience in fantasy, then this game is more than adequate to achieve that end. It brings us gamers back to our gaming roots much in the same way that FF9 brought Final Fantasy back to its own roots. The roots of adventure, the roots of imagination, and the roots of simple fun.


A boy and his friends versus...all this. Guess who wins.
A boy and his friends versus...all this. Guess who wins.  



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