#439 Grandia II

Posted: 28th March 2020 by Jeroen in Games
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856th played so far

Genre: Role-Playing
Platform: Dreamcast/Playstation 2/PC
Year of Release: 2000
Developer: Game Arts
Publisher: Game Arts/Enix/Ubisoft

Every once in a while, I end up with a chance to sink a decent amount of time in a bigger game, and I’d been saving Grandia II for one of those games. It came from the JRPG boom of this era and looked really interesting, but I couldn’t just rush through it.

Despite being a sequel, I know nothing about the original, so I’m going in completely blind – other than what I know of RPGs, but I hope we’ll see something original there too.

Our Thoughts

It’s hard to remember what the Playstation 2 and Dreamcast were really capable of back in 2000 – you can tell that there’s a lot more they can do compared to the previous generation. In particular, Grandia II features quite large, open areas you travel through, without the loading screens you might have gotten before. I can’t say that the graphics are amazing – they’re still a bit dated – but it’s nothing bad here really. It’s a proper 3D world as well, with a rotating camera, and pretty much every area has interactive elements. At first it might seem like you’re just climbing stairs, but as I got further I got to do puzzles both to open new paths and to defeat enemies in ways that didn’t need me to battle them. One dungeon requires you to play with water levels, and while other games have done it similar, the way it all comes together feels quite impressive for a game of its age.

The battle system adds to this game’s ambitious feelings. While it uses an ATB set up, the game adds movement and positioning to it. You don’t get much control over it, but there’s a strategic element to who you target. Most of the time, though, it seems to come down to you not being able to reach your target if the AI can’t path you there quickly enough. Still, the battles feel dynamic and work well here.

Moves and such are bought with skill coins, and magic with magic coins, something that works as a pretty easy to follow system. What’s neat about the magic is that you can equip different magic configurations – vaguely like Final Fantasy VI‘s espers. Since (so far) the game features fairly frequent character switching, this is actually pretty useful to make sure you always have the magic you need.

The story isn’t quite as engaging so far – standard help the church maiden fair that, I’m sure, will turn out to have some evil religion involved. You pair up early on with a demon, which seemed quite neat, but I’m curious if there’s an unexpected twist here later… rather than the expected one I had so far.

Final Thoughts

While Grandia II has plenty of resemblance to its contemporaries, the positioning system and experience feels unique enough to me. The story may not have wowed me as much (so far), but the production has, and that’s what really becomes promising for this series.