By Silent J
In the late 90’s I was lucky enough to play Grandia, developed by Game Arts for the Sega Saturn. It was known as the Final Fantasy killer. It didn’t quite live up to that name, but it was a refreshing take on something old in a desert riddled with the same dark RPG’s. To me, Grandia is the best RPG ever made (yes, even better than FF7).
When other RPG’s were about complicated themes like the meaning of life or does god exist, Grandia kept it simple: a story about a kid going on an adventure. At first glance, it doesn’t look like much, but it’s so well written that you will be surprised at how something so simple turns out to be grandiose.
Grandia’s graphics aren’t impressive: 2D sprites in a 3D environment. But after a while you realize that the style is what makes Grandia feel big and epic.
Out of every RPG I’ve ever played, Grandia has the best battle system. First, there’s no such thing as random battles: you see every enemy on the map. It is up to you if you want to fight them or flee. But if you choose to run and they catch you, they will have the element of surprise on their side. While in the middle of a battle, you’ll see a bar that not only indicates each character’s turn, but also that of your enemy. This helps you decide the best strategy.
Grandia’s magic system is one of my favorite things in the game. Throughout the game you’ll acquire mana eggs (source of magic) based on the four elements: fire, water, earth and wind. The more you use them, the stronger said spells become and they’ll be cast faster; also, the more you level up your magic, the more techniques you’ll obtain. Leveling up basic magic elements will combine them and make new elemental magic (for example water + wind = blizzard, wind + fire = thunder, water + earth = forest, etc.).
There’s still one aspect I haven’t covered: the special attacks. Every character uses more than one type of weapon, for instance Justin uses swords, axes and mazes. Just like magic, the more you use one specific type of weapon the stronger it gets. Leveling up different weapons will give you new special attacks that combine with your magic.
On another more artistic note, Grandia’s soundtrack is beautiful. One of the best I have ever heard in a video game. Do yourself a favor and search for it. You won’t be disappointed.
If this throwback has enticed you enough to buy Grandia, you can get hardcopies on Ebay from $20 - $50; or you can buy it through the PlayStation store for around $10. If you have the time and money, I suggest you go buy it already! I assure you, you won’t regret it.