The Granstream Saga
More role playing games. When the PSX first hit the streets, the public outcry was for more role playing games (RPG). Slowly but surely, RPGs started showing up and since Sony released the incredibly popular Final Fantasy 7, more and more RPGs have been released. Just about everyone is looking for a piece of the RPG pie and now you can include THQ to the mix with The Granstream Saga.
It turns out that the world of Granstream is sinking and you are the only hope to save the continents. It is up to you to battle your way through mysterious dungeons, labyrinths, caves and many other dangerous locales in search of the wise men who can help you learn the lifting spells to keep the continents from crashing into the water. The Granstream Saga is the first RPG on the PlayStation to use a real time combat system and 3D environments throughout. All in all, this adds up to one pretty decent game.
Before I start my review, I think I need to do some self reflecting. Every time a RPG is released, I find myself sort of cringing. I always start my reviews by saying that I am not a fan of RPGs and end up saying ...but I really enjoyed this one. After playing The Granstream Saga for a few hours, it finally came to me. I am a fan of RPGs! I had just convinced myself that I did not like them but 20 hours later you had to pry the controller from my hands to get me to stop playing. Now, there are some types of RPGs that I am still not a fan of but I think I have just made a big step by admitting that I do actually enjoy them.
Now that I have got that off my chest, let's take a look at the game at hand. I normally don't spend a lot of time setting up a game and in the intro I briefly described your situation. I am going to use this paragraph to explain the story in a little more detail because it really helps set up the game and will help you understand why some of the things are the way they are. So if you don't care about the story, feel free to skip the rest of this paragraph. Okay, since you are still here, let's get to it. You play as Eon, a young orphan with magical powers. 100 years before, the world of Granstream was at war. There were two sides divided among the Imperial Wizardry (evil) and the Allied Spirit Army (good). The war raged but both sides were evenly matched and it appeared that there would be no winner in the distant future. Out of desperation, the Imperial Wizardry used a weapon that was banned by both sides and the result was catastrophic. The weapon hit the core of the planet and by a small miscalculation, i t started a chain reaction that shifted the planet from its axis, causing all of the polar ice caps to melt. The melting ice started to cover the planet with water and it was obvious that the world would soon be completely immersed. You still with me? Ok, good. It turns out that four wise men were watching from above. They had foreseen the catastrophe and used the magic of four orbs to raise four continents into the air. These four continents and their inhabitants were the only things to survive. Eventually, the wise men began to grow old so they selected a descendent to carry on the task of keeping the continents in the air. After a time, the wise men started to disappear and the continents slowly sank back towards the water. That is where your adventure begins.
Whew! That is a long story but the thing is, it is only the beginning. Like any good RPG, the storyline must be expansive yet still manageable. I think they did a great job with keeping the storyline in check but not over or under doing it. The story does a great job of defining your ultimate goals and it also gives you short term goals to shoot for. For example, the ultimate goal is to save all four of the continents but your immediate goal is to save the continent you are currently on. Once saved, you will then have access to reach the next continent and attempt to save it.
As far as actual gameplay goes, this game follows the standard RPG format of walking through towns and talking with people to gather information and supplies. You have different shops where you can purchase items with gems that you find or places you can go to save your game, etc. My only real complaint with this game lies in this area. The box boasts 40-60 hours of gameplay. I think this number is a little deceiving because a majority of that time is spend reading conversations. Now, I don't have a problem with reading text every now and then but this game had way too much reading in it. It did have some animation sequences that kept me from reading but they were few and far between. All I have to say is you had better keep those reading glasses handy.
The other part of the gameplay consists of the free roaming battle elements. You will usually find yourself in a cave or dungeon or some similar predicament that you have to explore. In your exploration, you will encounter a number of enemies and the game will switch to your fighting screen. Now, unlike every other RPG on the PlayStation, this game uses a real time fighting engine. What does this mean? It means that you no longer have to take turns. You are armed with a weapon (sword of some type) and a shield. You can attack as freely and often as you like. The best part about it is that the enemy can do the same so you must watch and strike when the enemy is vulnerable and be prepared to use your shield at all times. As you progress through the game, you will acquire new weapons, armor and shields. Also, you will learn secret attacks that inflict more damage. These attacks are usually in the form of some button combinations (right-down-left-attack). I thought this alone made the game stand out from the others and I really enjoyed it. The more I thought about it, the more I started to dislike turn based combat. I hope that all future RPGs will follow the lead of The Granstream Saga and use real-time combat.
Another big part of RPGs is progression and character development. This game uses these things as well. As you make discoveries or perform certain actions, your level will increase. As your level increases, you become more skilled. Also, you will find tons of objects that will help you. You will find herbs that regain some of your life, gems that are used to purchase items and lots of other things. Basically, you will find that exploration is a big part of the game and most of the time it is essential to your escape.
One thing that I also liked about this game was that the puzzles were frequent yet not incredibly mind bending. I only found myself stuck a couple of times and when I figured out the solution, it was usually because I just overlooked something and not because it was too difficult. This may make the hardcore RPG fans a bit unhappy but for the most part you should find it satisfying. As an example of the puzzles you will encounter, on the second continent you will encounter a star that changes colors in the middle of a room. Depending on the color of the star when you touch it, you will be teleported to another area of the dungeon. It is up to you to figure out what color takes you to the location you need to go. Nothing too difficult but you will have to think for a minute or two.
This game did a great job with the graphics. Everything was done in 3D including the towns and fight sequences. This really gives you the feeling of the world and the different continents. Most of the enemies looked cool but they did get a little repetitious after awhile. The coolest enemies were the Imperial Soldiers. They were dressed in armor but really looked like giant transformers. On the downside, you pay a price for the soldiers being that large and detailed because a lot of times during the combat scenes with the soldiers, the game would slow way down and almost stutter. Ouch!
All in all, since I am a newfound RPGer, this game was pretty fun. I spent quite a few hours in from of the TV but unfortunately a majority of those hours were reading the text. I really liked the real time 3D combat sequences and the overall story really kept my interest level. The sub-plots were also interesting but never got over involving. If you want to check out a decent RPG, this might be worth it for you.
Download The Granstream Saga
Published in japan by Sony, The Granstream Saga is one of the more interesting RPGs headed our way this year, courtesy of T*HQ.
Set in the future, the game stars a boy named Lune who gets tangled in a huge quest that involves his father, a magic scepter, two beautiful girls and the devil (sounds like an episode of Melrose Place, no?).
Granstream is a top-down RPG with a lush, fully polygonal world. Everything moves along smoothly and the animation in most parts is very nice. Lune can move in eight directions, and the camera can be rotated in eight directions as well, allowing you to search behind crates, stairways and so on. The game makes use of some dramatic camera angles, as well (when certain events are happening), but the core of the gameplay takes place from the standard top-down view.
Like so many other RPGs these days, Granstream's most unique aspect is its battle system. All battles take place in real time, with you controlling your character's every movement. When you enter battle (which, by the way, is not random all enemies are at specific points in the game and can be seen on screen), your scepter produces your weapon and armor, and you go to work. You can move around your enemy freely, and you can dash forward and back, or side to side to evade attacks. Depending on your weapon, you can unleash special combos that cause multiple hits of damage. You can use magic spells, too, but most of them are not attack related.
Granstream's only possible downside is its extreme linearity, but that's not necessarily a bad thing (generally, linear RPGs have stronger stories and more structured play). We'll let you know more when we receive an english version of the game.
Just a few weeks after T-HQ showed off the Japanese version of The Granstream Saga to us, we received a near-complete U.S. version. Talk about quick turnaround! All of the voices are already in (and sounding surprisingly decent), and it seems like all that's left now is a big clean-up job on the "Japanglish" text.
Now that we've played a bit into the English version of Granstream, we can tell you a little more about the story and some of the play elements in the game. The hero, whose name is now Eon (or at least it is in this version, anyway), is on a quest to find the descendants of four wise men who are the world's only hope at saving four floating continents from plummeting to a watery grave below. The magic power that keeps these continents floating is running out, and without the magic orbs of Wind, Water, Fire and Earth, and some help from the four descendants, it won't be replenished.
Like any other RPG, items in Granstream are found in chests and purchased in shops. Leveling up, however, is more of a set process. You don't gain experience from battles (which, as we mentioned last month, take place on the spot in real time), but rather you'll raise levels at set points in the game or by finding special life-increasing items hidden in chests. This, along with the interactive battles makes The Granstream Saga seem a bit more like an action/RPG than a traditional one.
As you can see by the pics here, The Granstream Saga has gorgeous 3D graphics. However, this does come with a price--battles are always one-on-one, and as far as we can tell, your party will never visually increase to more than one person, which is all because of potential hardware limitations with the PS. Still, if you're looking for an RPG with a (potentially) very cool story, lasting gameplay reminiscent of the old Ys games, and a cool, innovative battle system, then The Granstream Saga will be just what the doctor ordered. Watch for it this june.
- MANUFACTURER - SCEI/Shade
- THEME - RPG
- NUMBER OF PLAYERS - 1
One of the most enjoyable new role-playing games of the year, The Cranstream Saga will spellbind gamers with its intriguing story line, evil enemies, and frantic fighting action. If you like your RPGs packed with impending doom, devilish foes, and heart-stopping heroics, you'll scream over Granstream--it's just the fright you need to jump-start your summer.
When Disaster Strikes
You play as a magically gifted orphan caught in the ongoing battle between good and evil. The fiendish imperial army, commanded by the demonic Mah Oh, is slowly submerging the four continents of your homeland under water--and only you possess the sword-wielding skills and enchanted scepter to stop them. Along your journey, you solve puzzles, explore labyrinths, and slay a slew of sorcerers, beasts, and armor-clad warriors. Instead of traditional turn-based fighting, you're free to move around and attack in real-time, 60-frames-per-second, one-on-one warfare, using your weapon (sword, dagger, or axe), casting spells, and blocking with your shield. , Character control is amazingly fluid: During fights, you're able to dash and to dodge opponents while positioning yourself to inflict deadly damage.
You can also rotate the camera a full 360 degrees to uncover hidden areas. Item menus are simple to use, and traveling between level maps is a breeze. The only feature missing is a map mode to help you navigate some of the more confusing caverns and mazes.
The Saga Continues
Cranstream's graphics shine with smooth-looking polygonal characters, cool anime cut scenes, and fantastic spells. The environments are dark and creepy, and over 60 different types of enemies keep the game visually fresh throughout.
Soundwise, the eerie dungeon music fits Cranstream's mood perfectly and draws you into the scary atmosphere of the game. Other audio highlights include clashing weapons and voice-overs during most of the cut scenes.
Guts and Glory
The Cranstream Saga seamlessly blends classic RPG elements (puzzle solving, spells, saving mankind) with those of the action/fighter genre, making it a must-buy for gamers seeking a fun, challenging adventure. If you've got the guts to stand f up to evil, step into ( Saga...the sinking world is waiting.
- Stock up on herbs and potions at the town Apothecary before heading into battle. Forgetting to purchase these items can cost you your life later.
- Inspect every jar and box in each level to uncover hidden power-ups.