Grandia Review

For PlayStation

By Contributing Writer Rob Pecknold

Rating: Awesome
   For a game as great as Grandia, I'm surprised that Sony didn't hype it 
up more than they did.  Not that the game needed it, though.  Lots of video 
game magazines and web sites have been praising Grandia for months now, 
saying that it's a masterpiece that is even better than anything Square can 
dish out.  And you know what?  They're almost right.
   Grandia was originally released by GameArts (the creators of the Lunar 
series) for the Japanese Sega Saturn in December of 1997.  All five owners 
of the US Saturn at that time were looking forward to a US version of the 
game, but Sega of America wouldn't touch it with a 40-foot pole.  Instead, 
those five people who bought US Saturns were given Magic Knight Rayearth 
(the horror...).  GameArts ported Grandia to the Japanese PlayStation 
earlier this year, and now Sony has ported it to the US PlayStation.
   After the horrible job that Sony did with the translation for Star Ocean: 
The Second Story, I was expecting something equally bad for Grandia, but 
instead I found a very entertaining script.  However, the new English voice 
acting for some characters is so bad that it hampers the story.  The first 
time I heard Sue speak, I knew that no matter what she said, if I could 
hear her saying it, I would hate her more and more as the game went on. 
   Grandia's graphics look nice in screen shots, but are slightly less 
impressive in person.  Grandia is so graphically intense that the 
PlayStation and its pathetic 2MB of RAM run the game like a dog with wheels 
for hind legs.  Wait a minute... a dog with wheels for hind legs would be 
incredibly fast and would have an advantage over normal dogs, so just 
forget that analogy, okay?  Anyway, the slowdown in this game almost never 
stops, but it does become bearable once you get used to its presence.
   The graphical details in Grandia's towns are very cool, but I rarely 
visited houses other than the ones I had to, mainly because of the 
immensity of the towns themselves and the horrid loading times.  It's 
fairly easy to get lost in some of the bigger towns.  Maybe I'm just stupid,
but I found that some parts of towns are un-recognizable, which often makes 
it hard to find your way to a notable landmark.
   One of the best things about Grandia is its superb soundtrack.  Heck, 
even the tracks that play on the intro and "Press Start" screens are cool.  
This isn't surprising given that Grandia's soundtrack was composed by 
Noriyuki Iwadare, one of the people responsible for the beautiful 
soundtracks in the Lunar series.  This man has the power to move people in 
a way that composers for say, THQ could never dream of doing, and he fully 
utilizes this talent in Grandia.
   Grandia's battle system is incredibly fun, and this is coming from a 
person who doesn't usually enjoy the battles in RPGs too much.  You can see 
your opponents on-screen before you go into a battle, which results in some 
strategic positioning as you try to ambush your enemies.  You can also be 
wherever you want on any battle field and attack with every character at 
the same time.  If you can get the timing right, you'll find yourself doing 
some awesome 4-on-1 attacks.
   While Grandia's main character doesn't have the bad-ass feel of Solid 
Snake, Squall, or even The Rock for that matter, he gets the job done as a 
main character, providing some witty one-liners and a good shoulder to cry 
on for the less-than-stable females he surrounds himself with.  Grandia is 
by no means an epic RPG, at least not in the way that term is used these 
days.  The story is incredibly light-hearted, with the characters doing 
almost nothing important (on a saving-the-world scale) for the first ten 
hours of gameplay.  But that's the joy of Grandia: Its story is so personal 
and well-paced, it doesn't need to be epic.  It also doesn't have to rely 
on explosions or large, flashy battles to make you interested (cough, FF8, 
cough) because it has raw human emotion flowing out of every orifice in its 
proverbial body.
   With its sensational soundtrack, likable characters, and excellent story 
line, Grandia is one of the best RPGs I've played all year.

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