Title: Grandia HD Collection
Available on: Switch
Developer: Game Arts
Publisher: Gung-Ho America
Version Tested: Switch
Release Date: August 16th, 2019
Where to Buy: Nintendo Eshop
I feel the Grandia games kind of went under the radar when they originally released on the Sega Saturn and Sega Dreamcast respectively. At a time when Sega was on a downward spiral, the Grandia games provided some solid JRPG goodness to both systems. While, not as impactful as Zelda 64 or Final Fantasy 7, the original Grandia is a hidden gem in the style of Chrono Trigger albeit with a more upbeat tone. This collection includes both the original and Grandia 2, updated with HD visuals. So is it worth picking up these two classics for your Switch?
The original Grandia released in 1997 on the Saturn and was later ported to the PS1. In the West people probably know it from the PS1 version and it’s that version’s code that has been used here. Grandia has a cute aesthetic that uses 2d models laid out on a 3d map. The graphics are nice and you can tell they would have been impressive at the original time of release. It’s traditional JRPG fare and uses an active time battle system that works really well. During a battle, you can use combos, special attacks, defend or use items.
Enemies appear on the screen rather than randomly which makes it a lot easier if you want to avoid a grind. You also have the option to flee. Grandia really has a great combat system, but over my playthrough, I did feel that not too much strategy was needed to beat some of the bosses. Just hitting loads of combos and using first aids seemed to work.
As a Square Enix RPG, you might be wondering how Grandia’s story and characters compare to the genre greats. Well, the characters are lovable and the protagonists, while slightly generic, have a depth to them. Justin, the main character is a young teenage kid who loves adventuring and is keen to explore the ‘new world’. He gets himself into some humorous situations and although he can get annoying, he’s still really likable. Then there’s his friend Sue and numerous other characters you’ll meet who’ll come in and out of your party. Some NPC’s are over the top but the games got a really charming vibe to it, similar to a Saturday morning cartoon.
In terms of sound, Grandia has some great tracks, although I wouldn’t say the quality is as high as a game like Final Fantasy 7 or Chrono Trigger. Overall, then Grandia is a great game and one I’d definitely recommend to fans of the genre or those wishing to explore some 90’s classics.
Grandia 2 sports a huge graphical enhancement over the original and looks great for a game that first released on the Dreamcast. I imagine that back then, Grandia 2 was a bit of a cult hit, and it’s a really impressive game, although it generally sticks to the same formula as the original. What I mean by this, is that Grandia 2 uses the same (albeit with 3d models) battle system, and same general structure, as the original. This isn’t a criticism, as the original really is a stand out JRPG that holds up even in 2019. In fact, I’d rather play either of the games in this collection than a ‘modern’ JRPG like Xenoblade Chronicles 2 or a newer Final Fantasy which really seems to overcomplicate combat.
Grandia 2’s story focuses on a character named Ryudo who is much more serious and determined than Justin from the original. Ryudo is a mercenary for hire and in general, the second game is a lot darker than the first. However, you don’t need to have played the first title to immerse yourself in the second, as both games are there own story. Grandia 2 has a few more twists in terms of narrative which go with its darker tone, and the characters you meet are also weirder. Overall, I would say the original is the better game because it flows better, and the charm and sense of adventure are greater.
In terms of the presentation of the collection, it’s pretty bare-bones. You have the option of choosing which game to play, and either English or Japanese voice acting. It would have been great if there had been some artwork or achievements to look over. Technically, I never noticed any slowdown or freezing although, for me personally I don’t really care too much about things like frame rate. Both games look gorgeous, and if you want a classic JRPG blast from the past, these titles are great.
Verdict: Grandia HD Collection for Switch is a solid port of two of the best RPGs from the late ’90s. While these games might be unknown to you, they are great role-playing adventures that deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as Final Fantasy 7 or Chrono Trigger. If your a fan of the genre don’t hesitate to pick up this collection, and even if your not, but like hidden gems and enjoy good storytelling you can’t go wrong with the Grandia Collection.
- Charming, Timeless Stories
- Interesting, Likeable Characters
- Great Music
- Satisfying Combat System
- Not Many Additions Compared to Original Versions
- Some Technical Issues