Grandia II (グランディアII Gurandia Tsū ) is a role-playing video game developed by Game Arts originally for the Dreamcast console as part of their Grandia series. Initially released in Japan in August 2000 by Sega, the game was later made available in English for North America the following December, and in Europe in February 2001, with both released published by Ubisoft. The game was later ported to the Sony PlayStation 2, where it was released worldwide throughout 2002, and later for Windows-based PCs exclusively in North America in Europe later that year. It was developed by many of the same staff members who worked on the original Grandia, including music composer Noriyuki Iwadare but was designed around the idea of creating a more "mature" product than the previous title, as well as the first in the series to feature fully three-dimensional graphics.
The game is set in a fantasy world thousands of years after a battle between Granas, the god of light, and Valmar, the god of darkness, nearly destroyed the planet until Valmar was split into pieces and scattered across the land. In the aftermath of the battle, the Church of Granas has led humanity to prosperity by spreading the word of good, but when a young mercenary named Ryudo is charged to protect a songstress from the church named Elena, their journey reveals that the church's history, as well as the history of the world, is not all it seems.
While the original Dreamcast version of the game received a largely positive response from critics in Japan and the West, its later ports to the PlayStation 2 and PC were typically seen as inferior due to a combination of technical shortcomings and other high-profile games released during the transition.
Grandia II sports a unique battle system. Apart from running its turn-based battle system in real time, similarly to the Final Fantasy series, the game supports limited movement during battle. Characters can run around or strike opponents and then retreat. Dependent on the timing, a playable character or enemy can "cancel" an opponent's move. The battle system uses Initiative Points, Magic Points, Hit Points and Special Points. A combo attack allows a character to land two hits on an enemy. The hits can be increased with certain accessories, up to four hits per combo. A combo attack can also "counter" if it hits an enemy in an attack pose, dealing additional damage. Additionally, if the combo kills the intended target before reaching the final blow, the character will attack the closest enemy to complete the combo.
Characters can use magic from equipped Mana Eggs. Using magic consumes MP. More powerful magic takes longer to cast. Special moves and spells can be learned with Skills Coins and Magic Coins, and have a maximum level of 5. Spell efficiency is increased and casting time decreased as the level increases. Magic spells can cast instantly if a character has skills equipped giving a +100% bonus to the element of that particular spell. Special move sets are learned from Skill Books, then equipped onto characters. Skills can either boost stats or add additional effects, such as increased item drops or adding a cancel effect to certain spells.
Grandia II features an assortment of playable and non-playable characters designed to give life to the world in which the game is set. The primary protagonist is Ryudo, a "sarcastic, snide, and irreverent" young mercenary-for-hire known as a Geohound who lives as a wanderer taking whatever job will pay him, including slaying dangerous monsters. As the game and story progress, players will recruit five other characters that they may use in battle, each joining or leaving the group at a certain point in the plot. These include Elena, a songstress for the Church of Granas who knows healing magic; Millenia, a sultry sorceress who draws energy from the evil god Valmar to use as destructive power; Roan, a young boy from a noble background; Mareg, a veteran beast-man warrior who wields a large axe; and Tio, an android who lacks emotion but was built to be an acrobatic fighter. Ryudo is accompanied at all times by his pet talking eagle, Skye, who attempts to curb his rebellious streak and acts as a voice of reason, as well as aiding him in battle.
The story focuses on Ryudo the Geohound (a kind of mercenary) and his talking bird, Skye. Together they accept a mission from the town of Carbo's church as bodyguards for Elena, a Songstress of Granas, who is on her way to Garmia Tower. The job turns into something much more after an incident at the tower, and Ryudo and Elena find themselves travelling all over the world, meeting some new friends and some new enemies.
The game is preceded by a war between two gods 10,000 years before the current events, called the Battle of Good and Evil. In this war, Valmar, the Devil of Darkness, battled Granas, the God of Light; their followers fought as well. This war devastated the planet; it is said that Granas's sword created the Granacliffs, a series of giant cliffs across the face of the planet, as it fell from the sky. In legend, Granas defeated Valmar, but did not destroy him. Parts of Valmar's body, his essence, are stored all over the world in seals maintained by the church of Granas while Granas sleeps, regaining strength. However, unbeknownst to the general population of the world, Granas was actually killed by Valmar during the Battle of Good and Evil. Only a few individuals, mostly members of the church of Granas, are aware that Granas is actually dead and that Valmar was the true winner of that war. It was decided long ago to conceal the truth of Granas's death to prevent the world from sinking into chaos and barbarism, as the population would know themselves to be effectively doomed. For an unknown reason, the church did not hide the fact that the moon of Valmar would appear in the sky to signal the dark god's revival. However, Granas left a powerful reminder of his legacy behind in the form of the Granasaber.
Grandia II was ported to PlayStation 2 and PC after its initial release on Dreamcast. In the PlayStation 2 version, some of the textures and characters are less graphically detailed than on the Dreamcast version. Also, there is a tendency for graphical glitches and slow down to occur in areas with heavy graphic data. For instance, when a party member defeats the last enemy standing while using the Warp effect of weapon or accessory, the character's color scheme vanishes and only a bright white model is left.
On the PC port, there is a glitch in the first fight with Millenia. There are also several video files on the disc which contain extra frames appearing as a freeze after the casting of certain spells.
English voice cast
- Cam Clarke — Ryudo/Father Carius/Risotto
- Jennifer Hale — Elena/Paella
- Jodi Benson — Millenia/Reena
- Peter Lurie — Mareg/Gatta/Brother 2
- B.J. Ward — Roan/Elmo
- Kim Mai Guest — Tio/Selene/Client's Daughter
- Paul Eiding — Skye/Oro/Carpaccio/Brother 3
- John Cygan — Melfice/Client/Brother 1
- Richard Doyle — Zera/Gonzola/Village Chief
Japanese voice cast
- Showtaro Morikubo — Ryudo
- Hiroko Konishi — Elena
- Yukitoshi Hori — Skye
- Tomoko Ishimura — Roan
- Mai Hoshikawa — Millenia
- Daisuke Gouri — Mareg
- Misa Watanabe — Selene
- Isshin Chiba — Melfice
- Osamu Saka — Zera
The original Dreamcast release of Grandia II received a largely positive response during its initial release in Japan, earning a 9.75 out of 10 rating from Dreamcast Magazine, as well as a 35 out of 40 from Weekly Famitsu, which earned it the magazine's editor's choice Platinum award. Famitsu DC would additionally grant the game a 26 out of 30 based on three reviews. Despite good reception, sales of the game remained relatively low in the region, with an estimated 184,863 copies sold.
Grandia II's English release met with an overwhelming positive response, earning the game a 90% average rating on aggregate review website Metacritic, as well as a 88% average on GameRankings. GamePro magazine found the game to be "solidly-built and features stunning visuals, dead-on controls, and a innovative combat system" yet remarked that that game's scenarios seemed too linear at times. On a similar note, GameSpot stated that "While the first Grandia had lengthy dungeons full of puzzles and side routes, Grandia II's dungeons are more compartmental and linear affairs," and ultimately found the game to be "a solid RPG... even if it isn't as deep or difficult as the original." IGN granted the game an Editor's Choice distinction, calling it a "classic" of the Dreamcast and remarking that its battle system was "arguably the most advanced system in play today", yet found the game's story and character development to be cliche and predictable. Eurogamer also found the game's story and gameplay to be largely methodical, and despite being dubbed "the best RPG on the Dreamcast in Europe" and "strongly recommended", editors felt seasoned role-playing game players would find the game too generic, calling it "an incredibly tough game to call". Electronic Gaming Monthly granted the game a 9 out of 10, earning it a Gold Award.
PlayStation 2 and PC ports
The PlayStation 2 re-release of Grandia II in 2002 experienced lower sales than the Dreamcast version in Japan despite a higher install base, selling approximately 42,060 copies in its first month. In North America and Europe, the game received mostly lower reviews than the original, with many publications remarking on the technical shortcomings of the port to the new console. Electronic Gaming Monthly found the PlayStation version to be vastly inferior to the original, citing reduced frame rate, color, and texture quality, adding that its "Inexplicably horrible graphics completely ruin an otherwise splendid title." Some reviewers such as GamePro found the conversion shortcomings to be largely negligible, claiming that it "still holds its own as a solidly constructed but direct port in the more crowded PlayStation 2 fantasy camp" but added that it was still "overshadowed by Final Fantasy X." IGN still regarded the PlayStation 2 version as "a good game" and one of the top role-playing games for the system at the time, but remarked that the "time and stress of transition" as well as the emergence of other prominent games during the one-year time frame had diluted the port's appeal. GameSpot called the Dreamcast release "technically superior", but the new version was recommended to those who did not play the original and that it was still "well worth playing".
Like the PlayStation 2 version, the PC release of Grandia II had a much milder response from critics than the Dreamcast version. Critiquing the game by a computer role-playing game standpoint, IGN PC stated that "[t]his game is not like a PC RPG. It's light. It's fluffy. It's colorful. It's not exactly deep. Its storyline is console stereotypical. Its jokes are silly. Its gameplay is cartoony. And the characters all have huge eyes and no mouths," but adding that it "still manages to be fun, maybe even just because it's so different than most of the dark, dreary and serious RPGs that find their ways to our favorite platform." Similarly, GameSpot found that the game would be difficult for consumers accustomed to western computer role-playing games to get into, remarking that "Grandia II's linear gameplay, "young adult" sensibility, and anime artwork aren't likely to impress someone looking for another Baldur's Gate II. Still, Grandia II can be fun if you're used to Japanese RPGs to begin with or if you approach it with an open mind."
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Keller, Craig (2001). Grandia II Official Perfect Guide. Versus Books. pp. 4–5.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 Crispin Boyer, Chris Johnston, John Ricciardi and Che (January 2002). "Grandia for PlayStation 2 review". Electronic Gaming Monthly (Ziff-Davis Media).
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 Crispin Boyer, Chris Johnston, John Ricciardi and Che (February 2000). "Grandia for Dreamcast review". Electronic Gaming Monthly (Ziff-Davis Media): 156.
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 Bramwell, Tom (2001-04-20). Grandia II Review. Eurogamer. Retrieved on 2009-10-29
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 5.2 Williamson, Collin (2000-07-31). Everyone Scores with Japanese Magazine Scores. IGN. Retrieved on 2009-10-29
- ↑ "Grandia II for PlayStation 2 Review". Game Informer (GameStop Corporation): 79. March 2002.
- ↑ "Grandia II for Dreamcast Review". Game Informer (GameStop Corporation). February 2000.
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 Bro Buzz (January 2002). "Grandia II Review from GamePro". GamePro.
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 Bro Buzz (February 2004). "Grandia II Review from GamePro". GamePro.
- ↑ 10.0 10.1 Kasavin, Greg (2000-09-22). Grandia II for PC Review. GameSpot. Retrieved on 2009-10-29
- ↑ 11.0 11.1 Kasavin, Greg (2002-02-08). Grandia II for PlayStation 2 Review. GameSpot. Retrieved on 2009-10-29
- ↑ 12.0 12.1 Provo, Frank (2002-03-13). Grandia II for Dreamcast Review. GameSpot. Retrieved on 2009-10-29
- ↑ 13.0 13.1 Adams, Dan (2002-03-08). IGN: Grandia II Review. IGN. Retrieved on 2009-10-29
- ↑ 14.0 14.1 Smith, David (2002-04-06). IGN: Grandia II Review. IGN. Retrieved on 2009-10-29
- ↑ 15.0 15.1 Chen, Jeff (2000-12-01). IGN: Grandia II Review. IGN. Retrieved on 2009-10-29
- ↑ Grandia II for PC - GameRankings. GameRankings (2002). Retrieved on 2009-10-29
- ↑ Grandia II for PlayStation 2 - GameRankings. GameRankings (2002). Retrieved on 2009-10-29
- ↑ 18.0 18.1 Grandia II for Dreamcast - GameRankings. GameRankings (2000). Retrieved on 2009-10-29
- ↑ Grandia II (pc) reviews. Metacritic (2002). Retrieved on 2009-10-29
- ↑ Grandia II (ps2) reviews. Metacritic (2002). Retrieved on 2009-10-29
- ↑ 21.0 21.1 Grandia II (drm) reviews. Metacritic (2000). Retrieved on 2009-10-29
- ↑ Dreamcast Japanese Ranking. Japan-GameCharts (2008). Retrieved on 2009-11-05
- ↑ "Top 30 Weekly Sales Report" (in Japanese). Weekly Famitsu (Enterbrain, Inc.) (694). 2002-03-10.