Copyright Adam Schlosser
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Copyright 2005 Adam Schlosser


Posted by Pip

F269- GuILLty

You can't solve all of your problems with ice cream, Envy! But it totally works most of the time so keep trying! Although, the minty goo of exploded Sleep might trigger some mint chocolate chip or pistachio PTSD. Pretty Tasty Smooth Deserts, naturally.




Quick Critique: Grandia 2 Anniversary Edition

Grandia 2 is a game good enough that I was willing to play it on my computer instead of a console. The Dreamcast version is one of my favorite games on that system and I'm thrilled that it still holds up 15 years later. There are so many things that could have been too cheesy or annoying but the game skirts them beautifully. It starts off pretty anime-Christianity, but by the end, it's a good tale of religious persecution with some nice twists. Ryudo is the gruff bounty hunter that has a tragic past, but he's SUCH a dick and in really amusing ways that he's fun. Elena is the pure, church girl, but she's kind of a jerk too and has some personality. Roan is the whiny anime school kid, but when we find out his backstory, he gets pretty okay. Millenia... it shouldn't be a surprise that the cute demon lady is my favorite and pretty much the best. This is a game where you have to steal a little girl's eyes and that's a pretty darned good scenario for a video game. Kind of feel like an ass after finishing that chapter.
Grandia has always had a fantastic combat system, but G2 is where everything comes together the best. It has a fun leveling systems that lets you customize how your character grows but ultimately still max out everything, so by the end of the game, you're an unstoppable killing machine warping around the battlefield. After each battle, you earn skill and magic coins in addition to regular experience. You spend the coins on powering up spells or special bonuses like stat boosts or abilities in combat. It's a fantastic system that does away with a lot of the tedium normally associated with leveling in RPGs. Your long term goal is to level up, but the coins give you frequent short term goals of making a spell a bit stronger or boosting a skill to give you some extra stats. The best part is that your magic or skills can be equipped to whomever you want, so you never feel like you wasted coins when you unlock something better. If you find new magic, you just hand down the magic you already boosted to somebody else in the party or if you find new equipment for somebody that has a skill that does the same thing, equip the item and pass the skill to somebody else. G2 has the absolute best turn-based combat system that it should be criminal that more games don't use. It expertly uses field positioning, speed, turn order, and what moves you're doing to create a strategic but fast-paced and, most importantly, fun battle system. Once you get used to it and then master it, you're juggling enemies on the timeline, canceling their attacks, and running circles around them. It's a game that really rewards you for learning its systems.
As fantastic as the base game is, the port has its problems. Everything looks great all cleaned up for the modern era, but there are sound issues aplenty and some generally sloppy functionality. The default settings are just weird. The camera rotation is reversed and while you can fix it, every time you relaunch the game, that one specific setting has reverted and you have to fix it again. The L/R buttons on my controller would occasionally swap but if I entered and exited the camera settings menu, they'd fix themselves, so that compounded the camera issue. The audio mix is awful with the ambient sounds almost twice as loud as the music, but if you go into the audio settings you can see that they're jacked all the way up and music is only halfway there. The assignments are strange where sometimes footsteps are determined by the footsteps setting and sometimes they're determined by the sound effects setting. Or the lines characters say when casting spells are determined by the sound effects setting, not the voice setting. If multiple sounds play at the same time, they get amplified in volume. Using a move that kills every enemy at the same time is earsplittingly loud to the point that I'd keep one hand on the speaker's volume knob while going through areas I'd be fighting a lot. Even cutscenes suffer and it really kills the emotional impact of two characters having a heart to heart when there's a yeti constantly grunting just off screen and drowning them out. In cutscenes, the camera can clip through the world and show you what's under the level. They use a copy of a monster's sprite to spawn a monster that appears from off screen. That's exactly what I do in my games so now I don't feel so lazy about doing that if Grandia 2 does it as well! I had it crash to the title screen when entering a battle and sometimes it doesn't launch in full-screen mode, so there was enough to be uneasy about that I constantly had to be monitoring the game and volume rather than just enjoying it. It would have been nice for the port to have some gameplay settings too, like being able to speed past the battle animations with a button press or the end of battle wrap up screen. Porting issues aside, if you've never played G2 and you're a fan of RPGs or if you have played it already and are thinking of giving it another spin, Grandia 2 is still one of the absolute best games the genre can offer.