PlayStation (eBay - £15-20).Grandia
, by all accounts, isn't a fantastic game, but it's certainly an interesting one. Its development and release were surrounded by a lot of hype back when it was a shining, role-playing beacon on the Saturn in 1997, before going on to become one of only two titles on the platform to shift over one million copies in Japan (the other was Virtua Fighter 2
). It saw a worldwide release through the PlayStation several years later, and a cult following ensued.
It's not difficult to see why. Its quirky cast of wannabe explorer Justin, childhood friend Sue and seasoned explorer Feena are all an instantly likeable bunch. The visuals contained an innocent pop-up book essence with 3D environments represented by 2D characters and enemies. Its absolute highlight was the battle system, which was turn-based and real time all in one - party members and monsters moved around automatically with actions advanced or delayed through spatially specific attacks. The fact that enemies wondered around in dungeons, and could be snuck up upon for an opening advantage, was an innovative and refreshing idea at a time when random battles dominated the landscape.
However, it was the dungeons themselves and the overall progression that suffered. It was an adventure, quite literally, as the team set off to stop the Garlyle Forces from plundering ruins, and departed across the world to find the elusive holy land of Alent. While other games pace it so exciting events and new characters appear at regular intervals, it was a grind moving from one location to the next, with three-hour dungeons in sterile and repetitive ruins as the plot was drip-fed throughout. It wasn't until the second disc that the ball actually got rolling, where the arrival of new characters and the discovery of Alent and Gaia almost made up for the grind that came before, for those that actually played that far.
It's a hard game to go back to unless you're patient with sprawling dungeons and poor plot-pacing issues which were fixed with the superior cult classic Grandia II
released on Dreamcast, PS2 and PC (which we will probably gush over another time). Unless you're seeking the Japanese Saturn release, it's not a difficult game to get hold of, and makes for an interesting role-playing experience for the committed.Any fond memories of Grandia? Add a comment in the space below!