Developer: Game Arts
Release Date: December 1997
Grandia follows the traditional JRPG formula rather closely. Much of the story is narrated by the characters and game progression is linear aside from a few optional dungeons. Characters are represented by 2D sprites, while the environment is made up of polygons. As a result, this title is semi three dimensional. Like most RPGs, characters that participate in battles gain experience in order to level up and become more effective in combat. Character development is also governed by a variety of skills (IE sword skill, fire magic skill, bow skill) that improve with use. Improving skills grants a character stat bonuses as well as unlocks new spells and special attacks. For the most part Grandia’s magic and special attack systems are fairly straightforward and orthodox, but it bears mentioning that in order to buy spells players must find “mana eggs” that are hidden in dungeons. Grandia’s dungeons and towns are fairly large and provide players with plenty to explore. Dungeons in particular are often stocked with weapons, armor, items as well as the occasional mana egg. Players will often have to navigate mazes and solve simple puzzles in order to find the boss and clear dungeons. Towns feature the usual array of NPCs, shops, and inns.
Grandia’s battle system requires some explanation due to it being somewhat unique. All hostile mobs are visible on screen can be avoided (usually) by moving evasively. Running into a mob initiates combat and the game transitions into the battle screen which consists of the player’s party and hostile NPCs facing off on a flat plain. Under normal circumstances, both the enemy and player’s party can move around on this plain and must do so in order to successfully hit with melee attacks (it should be noted that the game’s AI controls both mob and player movement). Spells, ranged weapons and some skills can hit enemies from a distance. Once a character’s turn begins the player can select actions from the usual spell/fight/run/item menu. Turn order is determined by a meter on the bottom of the screen that features portraits of the party members and active mobs. Faster characters move across the meter more quickly and player’s should be aware that taking damage often slows a character’s progress on the turn meter (this counts for the enemy as well).
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