|Release Date (JPN)|| 18/12/1997(Saturn)
|Release Date (USA)|| 30/08/1999(PS1)
|Release Date (EUR)|| 30/03/2001(PS1)
|Platform(s)||Sega Saturn, PlayStation, PlayStation Network|
Grandia is the first installment in the Grandia series and was released on the Sega Saturn in Japan in 1997, and released in English on the Sony PlayStation in 1999. It was directed by Hidenobu Takahashi, written by Takahiro Hasebe and produced by Misa Usui. The music was composed by Noriyuki Iwadare and was well received by fans. Grandia features a mixture of 2D and 3D graphics, with 2D sprites being overlaid onto 3D backgrounds.
Although Grandia was not the greatest selling game, being outsold by Final Fantasy, it retains its legacy as an RPG classic and has been remembered as an enjoyable game. Regardless of the fact that it was not a best seller, Grandia was voted as the 73rd greatest game in Japanese magazine Famitsu in a 2006 poll.
The game was a critical, though not a commercial success. It received satisfactory reviews from most video game magazines. It was one of the first console role-playing games to achieve widespread popularity outside of Asia, and the ongoing popularity of the title led Ubisoft to produce a series of developments beneath the communal name.
The game centers around Justin, an aspiring adventurer who lives in the busy port town of Parm. Most people consider Justin's aspirations to be naive and silly, as it is widely believed that "The End of the World" was discovered on a recently-discovered continent (in the form of an insurmountable stone wall), and that the role of the intrepid explorer is now obsolete. Justin's late father was an adventurer himself, and that same spirit runs in Justin's blood. His lifelong friend is a girl named Sue, who is herself an orphan and has become a surrogate sister of sorts.
As the story starts, a military convoy has come to survey the outlying ruins close by. Justin decides to escape city life and sneak into the digging site, hoping to find something extraordinary. After eluding the guards, who have the ruins cordoned off, Justin and Sue make their way into an inner sanctum. There, they see a holographic image of a strange woman named Liete. She instructs them to venture across the world to locate the ancient city where she resides, a place called "Alent". Now armed with information that the military wants, Justin has the perfect excuse to leave home and venture across the sea to the New World.
The story begins with General Baal of the Garlyle Forces giving orders to two officers, Colonel Mullen (his son) and Lieutenant Leen, about the impending military excavation of the Sult Ruins. These ruins lie near Parm, the hometown of the main protagonist, Justin. Justin is a young man keen on becoming an adventurer, like all of his ancestors, and having received a gift from his late adventurer father in the form of a supposed Spirit Stone, Justin embarks on a mission to determine whether it truly is a real Spirit Stone, an important artefact of the lost Angelounian civilization.
Parm's museum curator is unable to tell him this, so he arranges for Justin and Sue (his childhood friend) to visit the Sult Ruins simultaneously with the Garlyle Forces. Justin and Sue, after sneaking in, discover that the Spirit Stone causes ancient mechanisms to move. They meet an apparition of a woman called Liete, who tells 'he who holds the Spirit Stone', Justin, to head east to Alent. This, she says, is where he will find the secrets of Angelou.
Justin decides that this will require that he and Sue cross the ocean to the new continent, Elencia, and so they set about acquiring a steamer pass to do so. Crossing the ocean, they meet New Parm's greatest adventurer, Feena, and prove themselves to her in saving the crew from a ghost ship. Upon arriving in New Parm, it transpires that the Adventurers' Society is now led by an unsavoury character, who forces Feena to marry him. Justin and Sue rescue Feena and the trio head for the Dom Ruins together in the hope of meeting Liete again.
At the Dom Ruins, Liete informs the three that Alent still lies to the east - however, the 'End of the World' blocks the way. The three rescue an injured humanoid child whilst returning to Feena's house and are captured by the Garlyle Forces, who are hunting Justin because he could operate the machines in the Sult Ruins and because the humanoids are classified as top-secret under the Garlyle Forces plan. Having escaped on a military train, the three discover the humanoid's hometown, Luc Village, shrouded in mist at the foot of the End of the World, which turns out to be a giant wall. The village is attacked by Garlyle, who want to steal their spirit stone-esque statue. As Justin's party are defending the villagers, it is revealed that Leen is Feena's sister.
Crossing the End of the World, the three meet a knight called Gadwin and go to his village, Dight. Alent is not here, and to the east is more ocean. After saving Dight from impending doom brought about by cursed rain, the party set out for another village, Gumbo, where they look for a boatman (unsuccessfully), and then travel to the Twin Towers nearby to find more answers about Alent - however, they are intercepted by the Garlyle Forces (who routinely cross the End of the World on their airships). Escaping from the depths of the tower, they head back to Dight. Sue falls ill and has to return home, and Gadwin remains in Dight.
Crossing the ocean in Gadwin's ship, Justin and Feena begin to express their feelings for each other. Landing on East Elencia, they meet a young man called Rapp from Cafu, and after he and Justin become friends, they resolve to destroy a nearby tower which has inexplicably petrified Old Cafu. Unsurprisingly, it transpires to belong to the Garlyle Forces, and, battling their way up the tower (meeting another accomplice, a Lainian named Milda), they discover an odd creature called Gaia being grown by Garlyle, apparently the source of the petrification. They attack and defeat the creature, but having stolen the 'seeds' which Gaia left behind, they are confronted by Leen back at Cafu and the seeds are stolen back.
Still desiring to reach Alent, Justin's party travel through the Zil Desert and across the mountains to Laine, Milda's hometown, where a similar tragedy has occurred in Old Laine. To know how to reach Alent, they must ask the three Wise Men of Laine: Darlin (Milda's husband), Derlin and Dorlin. However Dorlin lost his horns at Old Laine, becoming forgetful, so the party must retrieve them. The centre of Old Laine is a nest of Gaia, and the party are worried about this creature's reoccurence. Having discovered the way forward, they proceed back to the desert town of Zil Padon and enter the Underground Ruins. There, having obtained the artefact necessary to enter Alent, the party is again ambushed by Garlyle and Feena is taken captive. Justin's party race to save her, and catch up with the flying battleship Grandeur - it is revealed that Baal has partly merged with Gaia, and he takes the Spirit Stone from Justin.
Feena uses her recently-discovered powers as an Icarian (a member of the ancient Angelou civilization) to save Justin, who was cast from the Grandeur by Baal. The reunited party (now numbering Justin, Feena and Rapp - Milda having stayed in Laine) travel to Alent, which is in fact in orbit. A magical lift takes them there, and they finally meet Liete. Liete reveals to them that Gaia is the evil, destructive embodiment of humanity's evil desires, and that it was the downfall of the Angelou civilization - humans attempted to use the power of the Spirit Stones, a gift from the great Icarian race, and the result was Gaia. Also, it is revealed that Icarians are born as twins every time Gaia is about to rise again, and together, through sacrificing themselves, can cause Gaia to lie dormant until the next evil human comes along desiring more power. This is the sad cycle of the world, and Justin wants to break it.
It is decided that they must change the course of history, as Baal plans to use Gaia to destroy the world and 'rebuild it to a better plan'. Baal uses the Spirit Stone to fully revive Gaia, which begins devastating the surrounding region. The Garlyle Forces attempt an unsuccessful mutiny, Justin's party now allied with them. Leen, one half of the Icarian pair, sacrifices herself to immobilize Gaia using J Base's steam cannons, and a plan is formed. Mullen wants to use Feena's Icarian powers to defeat Gaia, but Justin knows this will repeat the chain of history: by using the powers of the Icarians, Gaia will not be truly killed but will remain dormant, as it was before. However, he is left behind with Rapp and Liete and loses hope.
He is later encouraged by the reappearance of all his old allies, and is drawn up by the spirits (guardians of the world and an opposing force to Gaia) into their own realm, where he receives the Spirit Sword with which to fight Gaia. Entering Gaia's body and recovering Feena from Mullen, they reach its core and fight. Having won, Justin and Feena proceed into the very centre of Gaia and destroy the swollen Spirit Stone. This destroys Gaia and breaks the curse of the Spirit Stones which binds the world, and a new age is formed as people from every nation unite.
Ten years later, Sue meets Justin and Feena (with children in tow) returning to Parm after a decade of adventuring, and the game ends.
Grandia is a mainly list-of-options determined role-playing game. At first, Justin is limited to the Messina continent, but as the player progresses through the game, more of the world becomes available, and the scripted escapade sequences slowly give way to other maps and chances to discover. At numerous situations in the tale, the game is episodic by completely scripted theatrical scenes, several of which are fairly extended.
Throughout its turn-based fight successions, the game uses the similar scheme used in the two Grandia games after it. Grandia allows a maximum of four characters to be in the party at any one time. As the save point in Gadwin's house points out, the more characters in a party means the longer the party is and the more of a chance an enemy striking from behind as on the field in this game, each character follows the other directly instead of only the primary character being visible such as in other RPGs e.g. Final Fantasy.
Grandia's skill system utilizes mana, which consists of Mana Eggs which can be found in dungeons. Mana Eggs allow characters to access Magic and MP.
Grandia's environments appears as three-dimensional field maps, with characters represented by 2-D animated bitmap sprites. The camera is fully rotational and follows the party from an angled third-person perspective; it is often necessary to rotate the camera in order to see hidden items or passageways. The main party can hold up to four characters, each of whom are visible at all times. The latter three members follow in a line behind the leader (Justin), with Justin's movements being controlled by the player. In proportion to the characters themselves, Grandia's cities and dungeons are considerably large in scale. Caves, ruins and open environments are honeycombed with treasure chests, and the search for treasure alone can greatly extend the amount of time a player takes to navigate an area. An on-screen compass is always present at the corner of the screen.
An important statistic is SP (Skill Points), which are gained from winning battles. Once the party meets the requirements to learn a new ability, a certain amount of Skill Points are spent to unlock it.
Grandia features a rotational party roster. However, the story requires that player spend a great deal of time with each character until they depart. This makes developing their weapon and magic proficiency important. As per usual, the statistics of each party member increases each time they gain a new level by defeating enemies and earning experience points. There are two exceptions to this: Weapon Skill and Magic Skill. All characters are able to wield various types of weapons and magic. Party members must use a particular weapon/magic spell a number of times in battle, until its Skill Level is raised. Weapons are divided into different classes, including swords, maces, axes, whips and knives. The game encourages the player to periodically switch between weapons.
The main characters begin the game with no Magic, but will eventually uncover Mana Eggs hidden in chests within dungeons. Mana Eggs can be utilized to imbue characters with a new spell. Magic spells in Grandia are Element-based, meaning that they are divided into four groups: Fire, Wind, Water, and Earth. Repeatedly casting spells of a particular element will increase a party member's proficiency in of that type of magic, allowing them to learn other spells of that type. Blizzard, Lightning, Forest and Explosion become available later in the game once the party has mastered the basic elements. These spells combine the traits of two elements to produce a new effect; for example, combining Fire and Wind results in a Lightning spell, and Water fused with Wind produces Ice.
As the player progresses through the game, they will have more choice over what spells and abilities their characters can learn. Each party member's potential abilities are listed on a Skill screen within the game's main menu, as well as the Skill requirements that must be met in order to learn them.
Monsters in Grandia are visible on the field and wander around aimlessly until the party gets close. Once spotted, the enemy will lunge forward, and a battle will begin once the monster touches a party member. If the player manages to sneak up on the enemy and make contact from the rear, they will gain a "Pre-Emptive" strike and will attack first. Likewise, if an enemy touches the lead party member from behind, or anyone other than the lead party member, they will get the first strike instead.
Combat itself are shown from the familiar third-person overhead view. Because every character attacks at the same time, battles are generally shorter than those in most RPGs. The IP bar at the bottom right corner of the screen displays a row of icons, which represent all party members and enemies on the screen. When an icon drifts to the mid-point of the IP Bar, that person will be able to choose their next action. Once the icon reaches the end of the line, they will attack, and the process will repeat itself. The IP Bar also shows the time it will take for enemies to attack. During the period where an enemy is preparing an attack (between the halfway point and the end of the line), if the party manages to land a strike, that enemy will be dizzied and will automatically lose its phase of turn.