Welcome to a very special review for the 199th and 200th game. On June 29th 2011, one of the founders of the wonderful developing company known as Game Arts passed away at the age of 45. This wonderful man is named Takeshi Miyaji. He is a man who was behind many classic games like Grandia and Lunar Silver Star Story. These are two of my favorite games of all time and in my top 10 favorite RPGs of all time. These last two reviews will be a tribute to not only Game Arts, but to Mr. Takeshi Miyaji and the hard working people behind these two games. Let’s start with the wonderful and much loved, Grandia for the PS1. The classic RPG was originally released on the Sega Saturn in Japan and was brought here to America for the Playstation 1, and is now downloadable on the Playstation Network store. It is a wonderfully lighthearted RPG that stands the test of time. This results in Grandia being one of the most memorable and one of the best RPGs of all time. Let us begin my 199th review of Game Art’s classic, Grandia.
The story of the game starts off with a young boy named Justin who lives in a town called Parm. He lives there with his mom and his young friend Sue. He dreams of becoming an adventurer, and travel the world finding new places and people. He ultimately wants to follow in his father’s footsteps and find out what’s on the other side of a giant wall named the End of the World. After doing a few adventures outside of Parm, he sets off across the ocean to see what the world has to offer him. Along the journey, many companions join him. Childhood friend Sue, Feena, a famous adventurer of New Parm, Gadwin, a powerful knight from Dight, and many others that are very memorable, join him on his quest. The story as a whole focuses on Justin, Feena, and Sue, but the thing that makes the story great is how light-hearted it is. It’s more family friendly, like Castle in the Sky or Porco Rosso’s stories are. It gets dark near the end, but it’s an overall great story since it doesn’t fall back on stereotypes, like brooding young men with giant swords, or females with abused pasts, and of course melodramatic storylines. It’s a cheerful tale, even if some of the jokes and the voice acting are bad at times.
The gameplay is a typical Japanese style RPG, but with some fine-tuning. The whole world is viewed from an isometric-style camera, something I mentioned before in my Xenogears review, which was popular with games during that time like Final Fantasy Tactics and Wild Arms 2. Enemies are visible on the overworld and dungeon areas, and will run at you if they see you, or are close enough. The good thing about this, though, is that you also have a run button so you can escape the enemies if you don’t want to get into battles while getting to an area. This takes care of the issue of slow walking and random encounters that make for long hours of grinding. However, I’d recommend getting into a few fights so you can level up and not get wailed on by the boss and tougher enemies down the road. Battles are turn-based, but all actions are done on a timer on the bottom part of the screen where icons for each character and enemy are on the bar on the screen. If your icon reaches a certain part of the bar, you can then select your action, like attacking more than once, doing a single strong strike, using special attacks, using magic attacks, using an item, or defending yourself. You can move your character around the screen, which is a good idea, due to some of the stronger attacks having a large amount of range and area that can hurt multiple enemies or your party. The unique thing about the magic and combat system is that the more you use your magic and a certain weapon, they grow stronger. It’s like the magic system in Secret of Mana or Secret of Evermore. You can also learn special moves depending on what magic you have and what weapon you are using. Even though some characters are better as one kind of character than another, it still gives you a good amount of freedom as to how you want to build your party. The only drawback is that you learn magic by finding Mana eggs. There are not a lot of them and you can only use each egg once, so make sure you put the right spells on the right person. Outside of battle, if you see an enemy and he doesn’t notice you, you can get him from behind and get an advantage in the battle. If the enemies get you from behind however, they will get the advantage. It’s like the systems used in games like Blue Dragon and Earthbound.
The graphics are brightly colored and look nice. If you liked the graphical style of games, again like Xenogears, Wild Arms 2, and the Breath of Fire games on the PS1, then I think you would like them here. They might not age well in some areas, but I still think they have a charming way of making me look over some of the aged spots. The voice acting is hit-and-miss. Sometimes it’s good, but sometimes it’s so bad that it’s good. Though it does have that Xenogears problem where the voice acting isn’t used a lot, there is much more voice acting in Grandia than Xenogears. The music is amazing. It gives you that feeling of adventure over the horizon. It makes you feel like you should take every day to the limit and live it! This is, of course, thanks to the composer for this game, Noriyuki Iwadare. He is famous for doing the music for the entire Grandia series, the Lunar series (not including the DS game), Megaman X7, Growlanser, Radiata Story, Y’s 3, and he worked on two games in the Phoenix Wright franchise. It’s a great soundtrack with a lot of lighthearted themes. Even if some of the songs in the soundtrack can get annoying at times, due to a couple of them being short, the soundtrack for the most part is very calming atmospheric music, with simple beats and drums in some areas. I just love this soundtrack.
Even though I want to give this game a perfect 10, there are some minor faults. I wish there was a program inside the monsters that would make them back away from you if you were stronger than them, like in Earthbound or Dragon Quest 9. That would be so cool and would get a lot of the annoying battles out of the way due to the speed that the enemies come at you. I also wish there was an unlimited item-holding container instead of a limited amount of items on the character. There is a storage bin to store items in, but it is inconvenient because it is only in towns. Like I said earlier, the voice acting can be bad at times and although it’s not Game Arts’ fault, I wish they could have gotten people like Tara Strong or Steve Blum for some of the characters. It is also a tiny bit tedious to level up your weapon and magic skill, since you have to keep using those spells and weapons to power yourself up, but there are certain ways to easily level yourself up, so this is just a minor gripe.
This is one of my favorite games of all time and one of my top 10 favorite RPGs. I wish it wasn’t such an overlooked, but pretty popular classic Japanese style RPG. It will cost you a bit to get a hard copy of this game, but you can easily get this game off the PSN store for 10 dollars, which is an easy steal for such a long and memorable RPG. This has been part one of the Game Arts tribute and the 199th review from me. Get ready for the long awaited 200th review and the final part of the Game Arts tribute.
This game gets a 9 out of 10