Grandia - Reader Re-Retroview  

An Overly-Epic Adventure
by Jeremy, the Duke of Otterland

30-60 Hours


Rating definitions 

   Justin is a young boy who dreams one day of going on a grand adventure like his father, and loves to embark on pretend-quests in his hometown. One day, however, after a scavenger hunt, he decides to actually go on a lengthy quest, bringing along his friend Sue to try and find the End of the World, discovering the secrets of the Angelou Civilization and ultimately having to save the world from an ancient evil known as Gaia. Grandia, developed by Game Arts, features a solid battle system, although the Playstation version's other aspects suffer gravely from sloppy porting from the Saturn version as well as a lackluster localization.

   The developers, though, actually did a nice job with the battle system in spite of a rather poorly-implemented on-screen encounter system. Regardless of the party's levels, enemies will constantly charge at them, able to take the party by surprise or vice versa; if enemies are glowing red when the player faces and touches them, the fight will begin normally. In battle, all characters and enemies appear on the field, with icons on the IP gauge indicating everyone. When a character's icon is close to the end of the gauge, the player can input one of many commands, such as two kinds of normal attacks, a combo attack that hits an enemy twice or a critical attack that can cancel an enemy's command as it's performing its action. Each character also has special skills, such as physical skills executed with SP and magic executed with three different levels of MP. Characters can gain one of four magical elements with Mana Eggs, rarely found in dungeons. Characters are also sufficient with various kinds of weapons, whose levels, alongside elemental magic levels, increase with repeat usage, unlocking more powerful skills. It's a solid battle system overall, with most fights being well-paced, and few flaws aside from the mentioned encounter system issues.

   Interaction, though, suffers from many annoying features. Among the most significant is the irritating limit placed on each character's inventory space, constantly forcing players to discard items in order to obtain new ones in dungeons. Granted, there are stashing places where players can dump excess items, although since the game does limit the number of items each character can take into battle, a sack where the player could put excess items yet still carry around would've been nice. Also irritating is the absolutely convoluted dungeon design, which easily sucks the fun out of scouring every corner for items, and automaps would've certainly been welcome. Worse, the game occasionally freezes, depriving the player of precious progress. There are some minor redeeming features, such as save points that fully heal your party and easy shopping, but nonetheless, there's no excuse for the abysmal quality of the interface.

It burns! It burns! Even Justin can't stand the sound of his own voice.

   Grandia's battle system certainly shows signs of creativity in spite of deriving some aspects, such as the active-time element of combat from the Final Fantasy series and weapon and magic level-building from Secret of Mana. The story, though, is very much unoriginal, featuring overused elements such as an ancient civilization, a grand adventure, spirited youths, an ancient evil trying to destroy the world, and the like.

   As one could ascertain from the above description, the story leaves a lot to desire. The way in which the story begins will almost immediately send warning bells ringing within the player's mind, and thereon, the plot goes nowhere, with little, if any, meaningful attempt at character development, and only the stereotypical backstory of the ancient civilization trying to fill in the blanks. The voicework, moreover, doesn't make the characters any more likeable, making melodramatic events which should have been dignified. Add a rather mediocre translation, stir, and you've got yourself a terrible story.

   The voicework, which is horribly miscast and inconsistent with a few characters (go here and listen for yourself), easily results in below-average aurals. The soundtrack, bearing composer Noriyuki Iwadare's mostly hit-or-miss work, doesn't very much redeem the aurals, with a few nice orchestrated pieces, such as the main theme and its few remixes throughout the game, being pleasant, although there are also many lousy tracks that unfortunately show up more often, many of which, at best, are nothing more than noise masquerading as music. There are even some audio glitches with the battle music. All in all, the aurals are more likely to scare people away from the game than keep them playing.

No one can withstand its power "Spell label go smash!"

   Visually, Grandia doesn't fare any better. While the 3-D graphics are fairly colorful and do admittedly show some appeal, looks can deceive, as slowdown constantly plagues the visuals, as do occasionally lackluster scenery and sprite texturing and line breaks in the floors of many dungeons. In battle, moreover, the scenery appears washed-out, making the characters and enemies, some of which are actually nicely-designed, sometimes seem disconnected from their environs. Battle animations, though, are reasonably flashy and believable. Still, while the graphics don't so much suffer visually, they suffer far more technically, as occasional freezes further demonstrate.

   Grandia, finally, is about thirty to sixty hours long, though there really isn't much replay value after that to prevent the game from gathering dust on the player's shelves.

   Grandia, in the end, demonstrates a rather poor example of an RPG port, with aspects such as its graphics and music consequently suffering, although the battle system does partially redeem it. It's not a bad game, just a mediocre title made worse by the aforementioned porting issues as well as lousy voicework and a terrible story. While the battle system would remain solid throughout the series, many of the first title's flaws, lamentably, would haunt most of the franchise's installments, making one wonder if Game Arts will ever create a Grandia game worthy of calling a masterpiece.

Review Archives

© 1998-2017 RPGamer All Rights Reserved
Privacy Policy