At this point, I’ve covered twenty-five games I’ve regretted parting with. Of them, the ones that hurt the most are of the RPG ilk. I’m sure you’re super surprised by that. Looking through what I’ve already talked about, that means seven open, still bleeding, albeit slowly, bullet holes: Beyond the Beyond, Star Ocean: The Second Story, Brave Fencer Musashi, SaGa Frontier, Breath of Fire III, Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest, and The Granstream Saga. By their nature, RPGs are massive beasts, and I know that younger me did not see everything they had to offer, especially when you consider I barely started the Faerie Village mini-game in Breath of Fire III before trading it in for something else. Might as well pile on more hurt by adding another RPG to the list then.
Grandia II makes no attempt to stray from the traditional Japanese RPG story: Ryudo the Geohound, a mercenary of sorts, along with his bird, Skye, accepts a mission to accompany a songstress of Granas named Elena as she ventures towards Garmia Tower. Naturally, things go awry quickly, and an accident at the tower requires the two to work together to stop a greater evil. I’m a sucker for forced, unlikely team-ups, which is why I immediately think of Dark Cloud 2 and Wild Arms when I read that plot summary and remind myself. Though the naive nun with a demon inside of her does make this adventure a little different. Plus, there’s a lot more cursing than you’d ever expect; imagine if Final Fantasy VII‘s Barret Wallace was the star of his own game, able to freely speak his mind at every scenario. Yeah, like that.
Grandia II‘s battle system is both simple and sophisticated. At the bottom right corner of the screen is a bar with icons representing the characters in your party and the enemies you’re battling. It’s sort of like the Active Time Battle system, but not quite. The bar is divided into two parts: a long waiting period, followed by an arrow indicating when commands may be entered, and a then another waiting period, followed by a second arrow at the end indicating when the entered commands will happen. That second waiting period is where you hope to often get in an extra attack to kill a monster or interrupt whatever command the enemy punched in. Theoretically, if you wanted to, you could devote your characters to executing consecutive canceling moves to repeatedly knock a boss or generic enemy lower on the action bar, basically preventing them from making any moves in that fight. Other standard options include using items, casting magic, evading, which you do by moving to a new pre-picked location on the battlefield, running away, or letting the computer auto-determine your choices.
Something else that I really liked about Grandia II–and this was before my time with any of the Elder Scrolls games–is that characters learned new skills through…reading. They had to read books to learn magic and additional techniques. Clearly, I had found a game that spoke directly to me. The books and skills within even grow in level as your party battles and gains experience points.
From the sounds of it, Grandia II is not terribly long, somewhere are the 30 hours completion mark. I don’t think I ever hit double digits though, as I remember picking up the title for fairly cheap along with a few other big RPGs, like Dark Cloud 2 and Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter, meaning my attention was easily taken away from me, more for the former than the latter, of course. Looking over the rest of the series on good ol’ Wikipedia, I have this strange, flimsy feeling that I also either played or owned Grandia Xtreme at some time in my life, but it no longer sits in my collection today. That could be my mind just trying to come up with an excuse to write about the game’s hero, Evann, a young ranger, voiced by none other than Superman himself–Dean Cain. Lisa Loeb is also in it. Hmm, we’ll see.
Grandia II originally came out on the Sega Dreamcast, but my copy was a port for the PlayStation 2. I don’t recall it looking amazing, though it was certainly colorful, like a bigger, better Star Ocean: The Second Story, bursting with polygons, but it was more the battle system and kooky characters that had me hooked. I wish I can remember when and for what I traded this in for. Hopefully not for that copy of Godai: Elemental Force. Gah. The shame.
GAMES I REGRET PARTING WITH is a regular feature here at Grinding Down where I reminisce about videogames I either sold or traded in when I was young and dumb. To read up on other games I parted with, follow the tag.
I played Grandia II on the Dreamcast, but I have to confess, I barely remember it at all (unlike Skies of Arcadia, which I can vividly recall). Your description of the battle system brings back a few memories though, I remember that was pretty good, and I also remember that the game was quite enjoyable, if not memorable!
Never got to play Skies of Arcadia, but that does seem to be the one from the Dreamcast that people remember better! Can you give me a quick blip about what made that RPG so good?
The setting was probably the most memorable thing – exploring all those floating islands in a pirate ship was a lot of fun. The ship battles were ace too, and the more crew members you gathered, the more your ship could do, so recruiting them was a big part of the game (like in Mass Effect). So basically, it was like a forerunner to Mass Effect and The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword!
the DC version of the game was far superior to the PS2 shoddy port. There was a lot of slow down in the ps2 version and a jaggier look, I agree with the poster below, Skies of Arcadia was a truly remarkable experience at the time, unlike most Rpgs of the day that had that 3/4 from the top view, Skies had a Zelda style camera that allowed the player to better view the gorgeous environments (gorgeous in the early 2000’s of course). That being said I do remember the cliched yet for some reason entertaining story in Grandia 2 more.