If you start looking into the history of some of the most highly touted RPGs ever, you would find Grandia and Grandia II. Originally these games were released in North America for the PlayStation and PlayStation 2 respectively after being ported from their Japanese versions for different systems. We are stepping into the future and will be exploring the fully remastered versions contained in the Grandia HD Collection. This is our Grandia HD Collection review.
Originally developed by Game Arts, the essential Grandia HD Collection RPG is once again being published by GungHo Online. For those who have never played these games, a bit of backstory may be in order. In Grandia I, you are a young protagonist named Justin and travel with his friend Sue on an adventure to discover the secrets of a long-forgotten civilization. While it sounds formulaic, there have been games with worse premises and the story doesn’t hold the game back in this regard. It is further enhanced by English voice acting that is decent enough and that will leave you pleasantly surprised with how well this retro title holds up today. The battle system brings us back to the good old days before people wanted action-RPGs. Grandia employs a turn-based battle system for you to relive your childhood with.
In Grandia II, we see the meta change a little bit from what you would normally expect. The main character in this game is not what you would consider a hero character to be. He is rude and a bit cold to the core. He holds a profession that a lot of people look down upon in the game called a Geohound. Initially, you are hired by a church to take a character named Elena to the northern forests and to a tower that looks dreadful. Things, of course, go wrong here and you are thrust into a new job taking her around the world trying to help her. There is a little bit better showing for the English voice acting in this one and the battle system employed is roughly the same. But the biggest change is visual: Grandia was a 2D game graphically and Grandia II is a 3D modeled game.
Combat in the Grandia series is pretty standard and very good in my opinion. While in combat, your character moves around the battle area as you attack the enemy forces. Once your attack is complete you retreat into the back of the area to avoid attacks. The turns are based on a slider where your marker and the enemy markers will move from left to right until it is your turn to act. Your menu for all of the combat options floats above your character’s head in both games. The options you have spin around on a wheel. More modern games have begun using wheels in their games, however, in the Grandia games, you have to scroll through this wheel as opposed having the entire wheel show on the screen as it is seen more frequently these days. I honestly like this wheel type action and it is one of my favorites for RPGs.
Attacks come in two basic styles: a more basic attack called a Combo and a unique Critical attack. In an odd twist, Combo attacks hit faster and hit multiple enemies, often dealing higher damage. However, Critical attacks are cool because, though doing less damage, once complete, the send the enemy further back into the queue and makes them wait longer before they can attack again.
Visually, the Collection is disappointing. The graphics seem blurry and ill-defined. It’s here that you really see the age of the games. Overall, they don’t detract from the games that much, but they are noticeable and are something that devs really should have put more effort into.
Finally, one thing that caught me off guard and locked me into the series in the first few minutes is the musical score. The soundtracks in both of these games have a very classical tone. In Grandia I, the score is pretty upbeat and bouncy while Grandia II’s score is a little darker. Both really enhance the experience altogether.
The bottom line is this: If you love retro games or if you have fond memories of days gone by, the Grandia HD Collection is for you. If you are looking for a completely updated remaster? Well, you may want to keep looking.
Note: Our copy was reviewed on the Nintendo Switch with a code provided by PR.