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A Role-Playing Game for the Playstation

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Overrated, boring, and trite.

  • Dec 24, 2001
Strange how some people regard Grandia as the best Saturn RPG and one of the best on the PlayStation. While Grandia possesses some interesting qualities, it is completely dismantled by a series of devastating flaws that cripple the game. This review will be formulaic, but it will get the point across.

The graphical engine was very good. 2D characters and 3D environments that can be rotated at will. I like nuances, and Grandia possesses many. I like knocking over teapots and making clotheslines as I walk into them. The spell effects were boring, however, and the FMV, while technically good at the time, just wasn't exciting.

The music is overwrought and almost silly. The main themes seem bombastic and pretentious, as if the game is saying, "Come look at me, I'm important!" The compositions are impressive musically, but they feel emotionally hollow. There is one song, a piano & violin duet, which I loved. It was completely gorgeous. I also liked how the combat music changed as the game continued. RPGs often frustrate me by giving me the same combat music through the entire 40 hour game.

In Grandia, using specific kinds of magic or weapons makes you more skilled in that capacity. Naive gamers have said that Grandia's character growth system is innovative and interesting. It is not innovative, in my mind, and not interesting. Such systems have been done in 8-bit Final Fantasy games and reams of Japanese RPG with lower profiles (the SaGa games come to mind). Also, because the game is so long, you'll probably learn every spell and weapon technique about 50% though the game. Since this removes any real incentive to engage in combat, all future battles are suffocating in how boring they are.

The combat is boring. This is mainly because it is incredibly easy. I didn't spend extra time advancing my characters (I tried to finish the game ASAP, actually), so I definitely wasn't too strong. Still, not a single boss offered any form of challenge. Even the final boss felt like nothing more than a ponderous standard encounter. It seems evident to me that a game cannot be exciting when there is no threat...no sense of danger or challenge. This wouldn't be _that_ bad if the battles didn't take so long. So, you get thousands of long, boring, simple fights over the course of the game. The dungeons are amateur in design, and made about 10 times more dreadful because of the combat. There's also a gauge in combat that shows when when each character will take an action. However, this does not create any real strategy because all the characters move at different speeds, so it's just a funky gimmick.

The story is not bad, but it is badly told. It uses about every hackneyed Japanese RPG element imaginable, but it doesn't remedy this problem with interesting characters or compelling twists. The translation is just dumb. Sony broke it down to simple diction and pure, fatuous juvenalia. The "romantic" relationship between Justin and Feena is basically insulting -- it has the maturity of an elementary school infatuation. Sue is an utterly pointless character, who's involvement in the story is simple arbitrary and ridiculous. What is the creature "Puffy"? The game never explains. I expected some kind of enigmatic quality to the creature, with a revelation disclosing all at some point (like Nall in Lunar). This never happens. It's stupid. The voice acting is hideous. Attemps at humor fall flat. Attempts at emotional expression are cringe-inducing.

The game took me about 50 hours to beat (though I tend to be slower than some). In my mind, the game is about 35 hours too long. So, expect the "meat" of the story to be padded with superfluous side-quests packed with obnoxious combat and torturous dialogue. I like side-quests...when they are optional or purposeful. In this game, the side-quests are neither. Adventures in a ghost ship or on a mysterious prehistoric valley might sound fun on paper, but without important story revelations or fun gameplay, it's boring. Granted about 10 hours of the game is pretty interesting. But that's a mere 20% of the game. In school, that would be an 'F'...a FAILING grade.

The game is just tedious. It's boring and insipid and hackneyed to death. I'm sure there will be many who say, "Grandia rulez! you lie!" and give me a "not helpful" vote. I didn't write this to please anybody...I wrote it because I think Grandia does not deserve the praise it receives. Heed my word, and perhaps you will save 50 hours of you life. That's a long time! 50 Law & Order episodes! A genuinely good RPG! Think about it.

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More Grandia reviews
review by . January 05, 2010
posted in The Gaming Hub
The Sega Saturn was, for all we can really say, a flop.  In 1997 an RPG came out in Japan on the System called Grandia.  It became incredibly popular on Japan.  It never made it here to states and despite its popularity in Japan... it was eclipsed by Final Fantasy VII.  The game then had a port which came to the Playstation in 1999... and that was actually released in America.  Unfortunately Grandia was once again eclipsed by a Final Fantasy.  This time Final Fantasy …
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Clayton Reeder ()
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Rogue capitalist in search of all that is interesting, weird, or beautiful.      Collected here are my hundreds of reviews from Amazon.com, covering mostly music that is offensive … more
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If you can put up with the cutesy graphics, Grandia is one of the longest, most compelling, and most character-driven role-playing games you'll ever spin in your PlayStation. By the time we finished this massive quest, we really cared about the game's characters. (By comparison, our interest in Final Fantasy VII was focusing more on getting from one transition movie scene to the next). The main story line is standard role-playing fare. The powerful General Baal has plans to unleash something of a Pandora's box on the world, and you can guess whose job it is to stop him. Grandia provides a world packed with colorful characters who are fun to talk to, and the unconventional combat system lets players pick and choose their fights. The characters in your party grow, as do their magical skills and weapons, meaning there's always some new accomplishment just around the corner that keeps players adventuring long into the night.
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Publisher: SCEA
Developer: Game Arts
Genre: RPG
Release Date: September 30, 1999

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