Review: Grandia HD Collection finally arrives on more consoles

grandia hd collection

Outside of Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest, Grandia has been among my favorite RPG series for decades. It’s easy to see why: they’re incredibly colorful and boasted not only great characters and stories, but also a fighting system so good it’s been aped by countless other games ever since.

It’s very nostalgic to think about just how influential these two games have been in my life as a RPG fan, and it’s no wonder I hold them in such high regard since they helped cement my love for the genre as some of the first games I managed to finish. Although closing them off isn’t saying much, considering their lower degree of difficulty when compared to other games in the genre, that goes a long way in showing just how approachable they were, and the paramount importance they have in popularizing RPGs from Japan in the west.

I find it hard to decide which of the two is my favorite. The first Grandia is so full of life, with gorgeous sprite work and an easy to like cast that’s thrust into a surprisingly deep story with a very naive beginning. Justin and co are some of the most memorable RPG protagonists of their generation and thirty years on, I got chills booting the game up for this review. Such an amazing score!

Grandia’s plot is caked in innocence and the eventual arrival at maturity with the challenges and losses that come with becoming an adult. It’s cute at times while dark and grimy at others – it’s THE one that set the bar for the franchise and honestly, has yet to be topped. The game was originally released on Saturn and eventually ported to the PlayStation, where it got its new English voice acting which isn’t great, but it’s hilarious at times, enough to be more enjoyable to listen to than the opposite. I’ve been having a blast coming back to this game since it’s been a while since my last playthrough.

grandia hd collection
You tell ’em, Sue!

Grandia 2, on the other hand, was one of the very few RPGs that I got to play on the Dreamcast simply because Sega’s final console effort didn’t have many of those, but still, the competition was strong with Skies of Arcadia and Phantasy Star Online zeroing in on everyone’s lists of best genre games for that system. Even though Ryudo, the merc with the bird, wasn’t as personable of a hero as Justin initially, he grew on me, and just like the first game, this one also had great music, fun gameplay and a simple but effective story.

The competition was small but really fierce for RPG fans’ attention on that console, and Grandia 2 managed to carve out its niche and settle in as one of the best genre games on the all-too-soon departed Dreamcast. Grandia 2 eventually found a new audience on PlayStation 2 and PC, but with a much more populated field of competition, it struggled a bit to settle in. The third game in the series eventually came and went, but 2 had way more character and charm, and in my mind, it was the last great entry in the series by Game Arts.

There’s no denying that both of these games have aged graphically, and even with the bump up in resolution, they certainly look old. But if you can get past the low amount of polygons and blurry textures, you’ll find that they still play well, and if you’re just coming into the series now, the characters and their stories, albeit chiché at this point, are extremely likable and energetic in a way that just isn’t a thing in games anymore.

grandia hd collection
The combat in both games is easy, but very satisfying.

The Grandia series is known for its turn-based timeline combat system where those engaged in fighting can pop back and forth into and out of turn, making fights both very strategic and positively hectic. Neither of the two can be considered difficult, in fact they are quite the opposite, but even being breezy they still manage to be entertaining due to how fun the fighting can be. 

It’s a little baffling to me why it took publisher GungHo this long to bring Grandia HD Collection to more consoles, nearly five years after its initial run. There’s likely a perfectly good reason for that, but still, it’s kind of silly when you think about it. Nonetheless, they are finally out on just about every single current console and on PC now, so this is your best bet at getting two of the finest RPGs – easy the highlights of the franchise too – in honestly their best form they’re likely to ever be.

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