RPG Review #41: Grandia II

NuMetalManiak
So here's another entry to this long-winded review series. Am I seriously gonna keep playing these until I drop? That might be a possibility. But you know what? I'm enjoying most of these games, I think there's only a select few that I did not enjoy when I played them. So Grandia II, the second in the series, and the first on the Dreamcast. It's well received, but its ports to the PC and PS2 (the version I played on), were lamented. In fact, the PS2 version had a lot of gray floor glitches, which thankfully did not screw with the gameplay. I thought it was an alright game.

Gameplay: The core gameplay of Grandia II is almost exactly like its predecessor. Its main navigation system and battle system are mostly unchanged, so if I said anything here it would be just like the first game, really. Although it certainly is smoother though. One notable change is how the characters level up after battle. No longer did I have to use a weapon or a spell many times to level it up, which makes this game go a lot faster. Instead, after a battle, in addition to the regular gold, item and EXP drops, there are also special coins and magic coins awarded. Then there's the power up option in the game menu that allows a character to learn new spells or skills, or power them up a star level to make them both more powerful and faster. MP in this game is also not limited to three separate levels, and there's no combining magic (like water + wind = ice), as this time, there are actually different mana eggs to collect, each with their own preset spells. Another new feature, skill books. Like mana eggs, there are different ones, each with their own set of skills, obtained during the story. These also get powered up, either by special or magic coins depending. Basically, they are augments, like an increase of a certain stat or better chanting ability of certain spells. When it comes down to it it all is just really basic.

So overall, Grandia II does not actually bring a whole lot new to the table. It's a bit disappointing really, as any fan of the original game will likely breeze through this one. Grade: C+

Characters: Ryudo: Let me tell you about Ryudo. He's the guy who clearly just doesn't enjoy stupid stuff. He's the guy who is sarcastic and cynical in response to others. His talking bird friend Skye is almost exactly like him. But he still does good despite being a jerk at any moment, and at the final parts of the story, Ryudo clearly knows what it is to do the right thing. Of course, big hero does good in every stat.
Elena: The songstress who is to be bodyguarded by Ryudo for pretty much the whole game, Elena obviously has good heart and works good as a healer, but it's surprising that her magic is actually pretty bad in this game. She has a dark side though...
Millenia: Probably the most famous character in the game, the "Wings of Valmar" is Elena's alternate persona, appearing where Elena does not. The opposite personality of sweet Elena, Millenia is a flirt towards Ryudo, and wields a crossbow. In battle, if she's hit enough times, she goes into a berserk state where she can't be controlled
Roan: The little runaway kid who joins Ryudo actually has the best magic stat of anyone besides Millenia. He's revealed to be the prince of the Cyrum Kingdom halfway through the game.
Mareg: Big beast man, so he's obviously a bruiser in combat, although he can use magic too. His main trait is his ability to SMELL things, and it's a recurring thing, him and his sense of SMELL.
Tio: An automata, who's mostly emotionless, but Mareg and the others teach her through the game what it means to have a heart. She's one of the fastest and best characters overall.

Like in the original Grandia, every major character has a voice, and there are a few recognizable voices, Cam Clarke, Jennifer Hale, and Jodi Benson to name a few. Other important characters include Melfice (Ryudo's brother), and Pope Zera. A lot of interesting characters and personalities. Grade: B+

Plot: It's interesting, this game shares a plot with Breath of Fire 2 and Lunar 2, and it's not because they were the second games in their respective series. They all feature a church, one that is eventually discovered to be nothing but a sham for the bad guys the whole time. Did Grandia II outclass the other two? I'm not too sure, but it's a generally good plot.

The cynical, snarky Ryudo gets a job to escort songstress Elena to Garmia Tower, where things go wrong at a ritual and everyone dies except for the two characters. Ryudo then takes up the second job offer to take Elena to St. Heim, where the grand church is. This is where Millenia decides to show up and wreak havoc on everyone. Later on, Millenia is revealed to be sharing Elena's body, around the same time Roan decides to tag along. Along the way, Millenia makes her appearances in order to devour the parts of Valmar (the big Satan of the game) that possessed several different individuals. Mareg joins at some point, apparently wanting revenge on Ryudo's brother Melfice, who's also corrupted.

Pope Zera asks Elena and Ryudo to search for a weapon known as the Granasaber, wielded formally by the great God that everyone worships known as Granas. The weapon would be used to defeat Valmar for good. At Cyrum Kingdom, Roan reveals himself as a royal prince. The king is killed by Melfice and Roan ends up taking the title, leaving the party, but then Tio joins around this time.

Ryudo winds up going to his home village, a place where he and Melfice were chastised due to an event long before the story began. Apparently Melfice kills his beloved, then gets possessed by the Horns of Valmar. Melfice is then killed at the top of a mountain peak, and now the horns have passed from Melfice to Ryudo. With Millenia's help, Elena seals the horns to prevent him from corruption, but questions her faith as well. Melfice's last words to Ryudo told him the location of the Granasaber, and everyone sets off to Mareg's home village where more details are spread. Around the time Elena, and Millenia, competitively, starts developing romantic feelings for Ryudo, who grows a bit more compassionate after Melfice died.

This Granasaber is revealed to be this HUGE sword in the midst of a whirlwind. High Priestess Selene, a superior devout of Granas, makes some sacrifices, apparently revealing Valmar's body, but it gets defeated, once again with Millenia's help. Also, the Granasaber is really a spaceship. It's around this time everyone at St. Heim gets slaughtered by Selene's knights, and Selene herself sacrifices her own body (by falling on the blades of her knights' swords, creepy) and becoming Valmar's Heart. And here's where the corrupt church plot gets into full view, Zera, quite predictably, was working on making everyone worship Valmar the whole time, and that Granas, their supposed lord, was dead all along.

Elena then becomes damsel in distress as Zera flees to the moon, in which the heroes follow using the Granasaber. Next thing that happens is that Millenia is pulled out of Elena, and is sucked in and killed. While retreating with Elena, Mareg makes off with several monsters, and is killed while everyone else flees. All the apocalypse stuff starts happening around this time as Roan rejoins Ryudo's group. Ryudo then does several trials, denying the will to be a god and to destroy Valmar, and the "glimmer of hope" plot device is triggered. At the very end, Valmar does indeed get defeated, with some help from Elena releasing Millenia (never did die) and everything is happy in the epilogue, although Ryudo goes solo on his own personal journey.

I think it did a swell job of the corrupt church plot, even if all the cliches are there, up to and including stopping the apocalypse and all. Grade: B+

Music: Hey do you like ROCK music in RPGs. Many of the songs here feature some trademark electric guitar sounds, in contrast to some other songs in-game involving church caroling (Elena's speciality), and general town music. Some of Grandia's original tracks are used in minigames as well. Not much I can remember however. Grade: B

Overall Grade: B-

Okay, it's decent enough, especially for fans of the original, but not a whole lot can be said about Grandia II's gameplay that can already be said about the original. Sure, the other stuff is different, but as far as successive installments go, there should always be new stuff around every corner. At least it's a generally fresh RPG with no major bad points. Being darker and edgier than the original might have helped too.

Comments

Third favorite game review series, first is Random Video Game Review and second is the unofficially named game review series by M4j045. - Skullkid755

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