|a game by||Game Arts|
|Platforms:||Dreamcast, PC, Playstation 2|
|Editor Rating:||7/10, based on 1 review, 4 reviews are shown|
|User Rating:||9.5/10 - 4 votes|
|Rate this game:|
|See also:||RPGs, JRPG Games|
In case you haven’t noticed, the Japanese have a thing for abbreviations. Instead of Pocket Monsters you have Pokemon, instead of plastic models, plamo. Brad Pitt is Brapi and if you have a Lolita complex it’s a lolicom (don’t ask how I know that last one). All this seems like a great idea to me, plus I’m kinda hoping it explains why they call me 'A-hole’ whenever I’m in Japan.
In any case, it makes me wonder why Japanese game developers are so bloody long-winded when it comes to RPGs. Going on an epic adventure across vast continents, talking to hundreds of unique NPCs, saving the world from destruction and ultimately resolving your inner turmoil and learning how to truly love someone is all very well, but when it involves sitting through hours upon days of corny dialogue and mind-numbingly repetitious battles something’s got to give. It’s especially irksome when the RPG in question has as much technical elegance, graphical polish and genuine humour as old-school console role-player Grandia II.
Days Of Our Lives
Don’t get me wrong though. I love quirky Japanese RPGs, and one of the things that has always fascinated me about them is how their corny, predictable and overblown character almost becomes a draw card once you’re engrossed in their enchantingly worlds. Otherwise cold and impassive gamers suddenly become absorbed in the shallow romantic interactions and tensions of party members; game characters take on the nature of dear friends, eyes swell with tears during overly emotional scenes.
The brilliant but largely unrelated predecessor to Grandia II was one such game; unfortunately Grandia II cannot maintain the same level of fascination. While the story of Ryudo and Elena’s quest to find the Divine Sword and prevent the coming of the Day Of Darkness reads well enough, it’s ultimately both weak and needlessly linear, with a distinct lack of mini-games and side quests to break the tempo. The miraculous thing is that the game still comes off as a very enjoyable example of the genre, thanks in no small part to a refined and innovative combat system.
Expertly combining real-time and turn-based elements, Grandia Il's battles are simple yet subtly strategic, with a refreshing degree of movement and plenty of pyrotechnic excess. Some shameless repetition of monsters tends to douse the flames somewhat, as does a general lack of difficulty, but fighting still remains one of the game's high points. The power-up curve is also hugely effective, and those susceptible to the allure of level-ups and unlockable special moves will be back in therapy in no time.
Fans of Japanese cuteness will also find plenty to like in Grandia 2’s nicely chunky characters and superb 3D graphics, though the conversion from Dreamcast is far from perfect. Minor graphical glitches abound, especially in the more eye-popping magic effects; shadows have a tendency to go haywire, and for some reason the once-beautiful CG cutscenes look like they’re being live-streamed from a dodgy porn site.
Overall, it’s a tricky one to score. Games of this type on the PC occupy a smaller niche than the most anal flight sim, but at the same time the competition is practically nonexistent. In essence then, Grandia II is a slightly shoddy port of a very good Dreamcast RPG on a platform ill-suited to its esoteric charms. Final Fantasy fans take note.
Download Grandia 2
The world needs a hero and like it or not, ours is a Geohound (sword for hire/vagabond) named Ryudo. A self-centered, do-anything-for-money, don't-make-me-mad-or-I'll-eviscerate-you, jerk. Ryudo accepts the not so glorious job of escorting prissy songstress Elena to a religious ceremony at the Tower of Garmia. As in all good RPGs, the proverbial crap hits the fan and what starts out as a escort job turns into a full-blown battle between good and evil. Or should I say, between Grandis and Valmar.
Faster than you can say "mana egg," Ryudo and Elena are racing to the Pope on the other side of the continent so he can straighten out the mess that is the impending doom. As the game progresses, you will meet up with the usual cast of characters: Mareg the man/beast, Roan the boy with a mysterious past, Tio the android that looks like a girl and finally, Millenia the third person in the inevitable love triangle that always seems to occur in recent RPGs. This time, however, it's not what you think.
At last, Dear Lord in Heaven, at last. A big-time RPG hits the Dreamcast and hits it hard. Grandia II, the epic role- playing game is here! With a bevy of playable characters, a mission that's worthy of only major league heroes, and some of the coolest hand-drawn animation I've ever seen. Do I sound excited? You betcha. Does the game deliver? Well, read on.
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
The battle system in Grandia II is truly unique -- part real-time, part turn-based. When combat initiates, a time gauge pops up in the bottom right of the screen. Little symbols for all the characters in the party on the bottom, monsters on the top. All the symbols slide to the right until they reach the action line. You then select what you want the character to do (attack, evade, cast magic). The more difficult the command, the faster the last part of the gauge is completed. Once the symbol reaches the end of the gauge, the character performs the previously selected command. If it's an attack, count on slapping the opponent back down the gauge if you attack effectively. Likewise, when a monster throws you in the air 25 feet, don't plan on getting right up and continuing. I know I am probably not doing the battle system justice with my description, but I think you get the idea.
This game is pretty advanced as far as bulking up characters is concerned. Gone is the simple outfitting of the best armor and weapons; not only do you want to do that, but each character needs to learn skills, read various books of learning, as well as carry and power up mana eggs, all while maintaining proper health and equipment. After each battle you are rewarded with special coins, magic coins, and gold coins. You use the special and magic coins to bulk up the acquired skills and mana eggs. It can all get a little overwhelming at times.
As the storyline unfolds, Valmar attempts to regain his power and your party will face bosses that are parts of him -- for example, one boss is the Eyes of Valmar while another is the Claws. The bosses look good and when certain special attacks are selected by either your party or the bad guys, the screen changes to hand-drawn animation showing the attack. It looks cool and doesn't get old. There really is nothing like getting squished by the Claws.
Whether you are traveling through the dungeons or the rest of the world, the look and controls are the same, with a three-quarter view from above. However, if you pull the triggers on the control pad, the screen rotates around. It's really pretty cool.
Graphics & Audio
UbiSoft and Game Arts helped develop this game and they did so with flair. Graphics are superb both in battle and while walking around the towns and forests. Hand-drawn animations, a couple of computer-generated cut-scenes and high polygon count in a cool looking 3D world make this game a keeper. Audio was also excellent. The voice-acting throughout the game and the cool sound effects during battle meshed very well.
Do you like RPGs? Get this game. Even with the recent Dreamcast news, I would be tempted to buy a system just to play the first A-list RPG on the next generation consoles. Intriguing plot, flowing storyline, nasty bad guys, and a reluctant hero in a cool 3D world all add up to a top-notch experience. The game is rated T (Teen 13+), so pretty much anyone can play and enjoy this game. Consider this another jewel in the crown of quality Dreamcast titles.
What's the deal?
If you played the first Grandia on the PlayStation, chances are you're already hot for this Dreamcast sequel without us having to say a word. The idea of more awesome, intricately designed 3D dungeons, unique real-time/turn-based battles, memorable characters and another huge, twisting story line is enough to have any RPG--as Hsu and Chan say--lover stocking up on the canned goods. The only problem critics and gamers both found in the first game was with the localization--Sony's typically stiff RPG dialogue and some clunky voice acting. That's a mistake Ubi Soft isn't planning on repeating for part II: They've hired the director responsible for some of the best voice work ever in any video game--Metal Gear Solid--and are working hard to keep the text as close to the Japanese as possible, but also smooth and natural-sounding in English.
From what we've seen of the import, Grandia M's gameplay looks mostly like the first game (even though the world and characters are entirely unconnected with the last title). The one new feature developer Game Arts is touting this time around is the combination of real-time graphics and prerendered CG: As seen before briefly in games like Final Fantasy VIII, Grandia II makes use of the technology for awesome spell effects and other sequences that look way better than the DC hardware would normally be able to handle.
So why is it a must-get game?
Let's face it, Evolution just ain't cuttin' the mustard--the Dreamcast needs a truly great RPG, bad. And who better to deliver it than the two men responsible for the mega-hit Lunar RPGs, the voice director for the ultra-super-hit Metal Gear Solid, and character designer (who made the too-cute Grandia squirrel mascot) behind the super-kala-frickin-foober-doober-uber-pika-pooper-hit Pokemon?
There hasn't been any new information released on Game Arts/ESP's Grandia II for the Dreamcast, but lots of gorgeous new pictures have been surfacing so we thought you might like to take a look. Word has it the game will be shown off at the upcoming Spring Tokyo Game Show in playable form, so hopefully we'll have more concrete details then. Until then, drool at these...