North American Dreamcast cover art
Rocket Studio (PS2)
|Genre(s)||Role-playing video game|
|Distribution||1 GD-ROM (Dreamcast)
1 DVD-ROM (PlayStation 2)
2 CD-ROM (Windows)
Grandia II (グランディアII Gurandia Tsū?) is a role-playing video game developed by Game Arts originally for the Dreamcast console as part of their Grandia series. Initially released in Japan in August 2000 by Game Arts, the game was later made available in English for North America the following December, and in Europe in February 2001, with both releases published by Ubisoft. The game was later ported to the Sony PlayStation 2, where it was released worldwide throughout 2002, and later for Windows-based PCs exclusively in North America and Europe later that year. It was developed by many of the same staff members who worked on the original Grandia, including music composer Noriyuki Iwadare but was designed around the idea of creating a more "mature" product than the previous title, as well as the first in the series to feature fully three-dimensional graphics.
The game is set in a fantasy world thousands of years after a battle between Granas, the god of light, and Valmar, the god of darkness, nearly destroyed the planet until Valmar was split into pieces and scattered across the land. In the aftermath of the battle, the Church of Granas has led humanity to prosperity by spreading the word of good, but when a young mercenary named Ryudo is charged to protect a songstress from the church named Elena, their journey reveals that the church's history, as well as the history of the world, is not all it seems.
While the original Dreamcast version of the game received a largely positive response from critics in Japan and the West, its later ports to the PlayStation 2 and PC were typically seen as inferior due to a combination of technical shortcomings and other high-profile games released during the transition.
Grandia II sports a unique battle system. Apart from running its turn-based battle system in real time, similarly to the Final Fantasy series, the game supports limited movement during battle. Characters can run around or strike opponents and then retreat. Dependent on the timing, a playable character or enemy can "cancel" an opponent's move. The battle system uses Initiative Points, Magic Points, Hit Points and Special Points. A combo attack allows a character to land two hits on an enemy. The hits can be increased with certain accessories, up to four hits per combo. A combo attack can also "counter" if it hits an enemy in an attack pose, dealing additional damage. Additionally, if the combo kills the intended target before reaching the final blow, the character will attack the closest enemy to complete the combo. Characters can use magic from equipped Mana Eggs. Using magic consumes MP. More powerful magic takes longer to cast. Special moves and spells can be learned with Skills Coins and Magic Coins, and have a maximum level of 5. Spell efficiency is increased and casting time decreased as the level increases. Magic spells can cast instantly if a character has skills equipped giving a +100% bonus to the element of that particular spell. Special move sets are learned from Skill Books, then equipped onto characters. Skills can either boost stats or add additional effects, such as increased item drops or adding a cancel effect to certain spells.
Grandia II features an assortment of playable and non-playable characters designed to give life to the world in which the game is set. The primary protagonist is Ryudo, a sarcastic, snide, and irreverent young mercenary-for-hire known as a Geohound who lives as a wanderer taking whatever job will pay him, including slaying dangerous monsters with his bird Skye. As the game and story progress, players will recruit five other characters that they may use in battle, each joining or leaving the group at a certain point in the plot. These include Elena, a songstress for the Church of Granas who knows healing magic; Millenia, a sultry sorceress who draws energy from the evil god Valmar to use as destructive power; Roan, a young boy from a noble background; Mareg, a veteran beast-man warrior who wields a large axe; and Tio, an android who lacks emotion but was built to be an acrobatic fighter. Ryudo is accompanied at all times by his pet talking eagle, Skye, who attempts to curb his rebellious streak and acts as a voice of reason, as well as aiding him in battle. All characters were primarily designed by Yushi Kanoe.
The story focuses on Ryudo the Geohound (a kind of mercenary) and his talking bird, Skye. After a progressing mission of Ryudo Skye and Elena cross path a brief second as Skye flies by. Together they accept a mission from the town of Carbo's church as bodyguards for Elena, a Songstress of Granas, who is on her way to Garmia Tower. The job turns into something much more after an incident at the tower, and Ryudo and Elena find themselves travelling all over the world, meeting some new friends and some new enemies.
The game is preceded by a war between two gods 10,000 years before the current events, called the Battle of Good and Evil. In this war, Valmar, the Devil of Darkness, battled Granas, the God of Light; their followers fought as well. This war devastated the planet; it is said that Granas's sword created the Granacliffs, a series of giant cliffs across the face of the planet, as it fell from the sky. In legend, Granas defeated Valmar, but did not destroy him. Parts of Valmar's body, his essence, are stored all over the world in seals maintained by the church of Granas while Granas sleeps, regaining strength. However, unbeknownst to the general population of the world, Granas was actually killed by Valmar during the Battle of Good and Evil. Only a few individuals, mostly members of the church of Granas, are aware that Granas is actually dead and that Valmar was the true winner of that war. It was decided long ago to conceal the truth of Granas's death to prevent the world from sinking into chaos and barbarism, as the population would know themselves to be effectively doomed. For an unknown reason, the church did not hide the fact that the moon of Valmar would appear in the sky to signal the dark god's revival. However, Granas left a powerful reminder of his legacy behind in the form of the Granasaber.
Ryudo and Skye are partners and after a quick job for money he walks to his next destination. A tree not far from just the meeting for the paying customer of his previous job is a note. Skye flies and grabs the note while Ryudo sarcastically talks back to Skye and it seems that Skye is the one that makes Ryudo stay on the mercenary work because he starting to peck on Ryudos head. Ryudo is presented an easy job of escorting a Granas Priestess, a simple job that he takes to make easy money. He meets the priestess Elena and escort her to her destination. But he senses something is off, and assists Elena when the other priestess' perform a dark ritual on her. Eventually the two return to town, later that night Ryudo is attacked by a mysterious and darkly powerful woman, Millenia. She easily defeats Ryudo and escapes the town. Ryudo is then offered another job, to escort Elena to the holy state capital, Ryudo agrees, and the two start their journey. Ryudo eventually runs into Millenia again, but this time on more friendlier terms. And the two of them agree to assist Roan with clearing out a cave of monsters. Roan joins the group, and Millenia continues to mysteriously appear and disappear. The group continue to travel and are attacked by Mareg, a beast-man. Mareg attacked because he thought Ryudo was Melfice, an evil and terrible man who has murdered and destroyed hundreds of people and towns. Mareg joins the party, and Elena asks Ryudo who Melfice is, Ryudo reveals that Melfice is his brother. The group continues their journey, and eventually come face to face with a piece of Valmar. The Tongue of Valamr is defeated by the party, and Millenia absorbs its power, revealing that she is too a piece of Valmar, also revealing that her and Elena are the same person. Elena is now scared because Valmar is inside her, but the party reassure he she is in no danger, and they'll settle things when they get to the capitol.
The group enters another town under the taint of darkness, and it is revealed to be another piece of Valmar. The Eye of Valmar is defeated and Millenia absorbs its powers again. The town is saved and the group can continue their journey and finally arrive at the holy capitol. The holy capitol, St. Heim Papal State, is home to the Granas Cathedral, and the Church of Granas. As Ryudo leads Elena to the Cathedral, she thanks him and he simply states it was his job, making Elena angry. At the Inn, everyone is sad and confused as to what is happening, when a Cathedral Guard enters and tells Ryudo that the Pope summoned him. Ryudo goes to the Cathedral, and meets with Pope Zera. He is upset that Valmar is reappearing and wants Ryudo to find the Granasaber, the only weapon capable of destroying Valmar. Also, he must take Elena with him. After a night, Ryudo agrees and the group leaves to find the Granasaber.
The group head toward the Kingdom of Cyrum, where Roan lives, and meets with the king. It is revealed that Roan is the prince. It is revealed that the King is trying to use a piece of Valmar to cause the end of the world. The party enters an underground plant, where the King has been performing experiments. Roan is sickened that he never knew about this. The group is then attacked by an Automaton possessed by the Claws of Valmar. The group defeats the Claws, and Millenia absorbs it. Afterwards, another Automaton is revived, and calls herself Tio. She falls into Maregs arms, and asks for directions, Mareg simply tells her to be free before the group leaves. Mareg claims that he smells the scent of Melfice. The group heads back to the castle to confront the King, when they see the King being attacked by Melfice. Melfice mocks the party and attacks them, easily overpowering the group. It is revealed that Melfice possess the Horns of Valmar, and flees from the group, mocking Ryudo stating he will see him at home, the island of Garlan. Roan decides to stay in the kingdom to help it recover and change its ways. The automaton approaches the group and asks what she should do, Mareg tells he to be free, but she doesn't understand, he then suggest her coming with them. She agrees, and introduces herself as Tio.
Roan gives the group a boat which they use to travel to Ryudo's home to confront Melfice. At his home, Garlan Village, much is revealed about Ryudo's past, Ryudo and Melfice were guardians of the village idol, a powerful sword. One day, a great storm hit the island, Ryudo and others went to the temple to find the village elders daughter, Reena, but found nothing. Upon arriving back to the village, Ryudo sees Melfice with the sword slaughtering the whole village including Reena. Because of these atrocities, Ryudo was cast out of the town, and became a Geohound. Elena says she feels sorry for Ryudo, and wishes to help. The group then head after Melfice. The group find him on top of Grail Mountains, and engage him. After a brutal and difficult battle, they defeat him. Before striking the final blow, Melfice laments about everything, stating that his greed and lust for power resulted in his downfall and that he is glad to see Ryudo again. He tells them where to find the Granasaber before dying, Ryudo screams for him not to die but is enveloped by darkness. Ryudo passes out and is taken back to the village. The Horns are trying to take Ryudo and there is nothing the party can do. Elena laments and after a conversation with Millenia, they agree to help Ryudo. With their combined power, they save Ryudo from being possessed, but he still has the Horns inside him. Ryudo mourns his brother, and the group heads off to the Granasaber.
The group continue toward the told location of the Granasaber. The group arrive at the Granasaber, discovering that it is a massive sword. They eventually discover that the Church of Granas has actually been actively trying to resurrect Valmar for some time, and a priestess Selene sacrifices several of her knights to resurrect the Body of Valmar. The Body of Valmar raises up and the group enter it with Millennias help. Inside, the group traverse its demonic innards and arrive and defeat the core. With the body defeated and the Granasaber in reach, the group ponder what will happen to Millenia and Elena. Tio reveals that the Granasaber is actually a magical ship, capable of quick travel through the planet, and teleports them inside. The group begin to head back to the capitol, but a dark moon rises and eclipses the sun.
Back at the capitol, everyone is scared, and the Knights of Granas of turned the Cathedral into a fortress and are murdering civilians. Fighting their way inside, the group encounters Zera and Selene, and Selene sacrifices herself to be resurrected as the Heart of Valmar. Elena then absorbs the Heart and reveals her true task to Ryudo, she was to absorb all of Valmar, and the Granasaber was to be used to kill her and all of Valmar. Ryudo says that there is another way to defeat Valmar, something he believes with every fiber of his being, and the group continues onward to meet Zera. Zera then admits he is the mastermind behind the whole events. He tells them the story that when Granas and Valmar fought, they eventually defeated one another. However, Granas had been killed, while Valmar only became splintered, therefore can be revived. That is his intentions, and he takes Elena/Millenia to the Moon of Valmar to revive Valmar.
Even though there are risks involved, the group decides to head to the moon using the Granasaber. The group make their way to the center, and confronts Zera. He says they're too late, and begins the process of reviving Valmar, driving the Wings out of Elena first. Millennia appears, and uses whats left of her power to allow the group to escape to the Granasaber with Elena. There are too many monsters to take off, but Mareg sacrifices himself to defend the Granasaber, and the group leaves the moon without him. The group touch down outside of the Cyrum kingdom and agree to assist it from the monsters that are raining down. Roan rejoins the group, and they successfully defend the kingdom. Roan suggest that they head into the royal families mausoleum, as there is Granas history there. Inside the mausoleum, the group enters a special area known as the Birthplace of the Gods. Inside, much of Valmar and Granas is explained, and that Valmar has the power to control a persons soul, but not if they do not give in. Another automaton, Elmo, reveals this information about the Gods, and Ryudo wishes to use the Horns inside him for good instead of evil. Ryudo says his goodbyes to everyone, and Elena confirms her love for Ryudo. Elmo uses a special machine to activate Ryudo's Horns and Ryudo is taken to a dark place.
Inside, Ryudo is tempted to give into the power of Valmar, and eventually he is unable to resist, and is placed into a void. Outside, Elena and the group is worried about Ryudo, and Elena begins to sing to help Ryudo. Inside, Ryudo hears Elenas singing, and it empowers him to resist and believe. Ryudo then appears in a beam of light on a hill in the Cyrum kingdom, wielding the Granasaber. The group begins their final assault on Valmar. The New Valmar is a colossal entity, and the group traverses inside it. They fight each piece again, and eventually fight Millennia, but Elena calls out the real Millenia and she rejoins the group as a separate entity than Elena. Roan and Tio are separated from the group, and Ryudo, Elena, and Millenia attack Zera who emerges as the final form of Valmar. They defeat him, and while Zera is dying, he explains that he only embraced Valmar when he found out about Granas' death. He stated that he was only scared of what would happen to him should he oppose Valmar.
Valmar begins to crumble. Roan and Tio are still together, and Roan realized that the others have defeated Zera. He kneels down, prepared to face death, when Tio exclaims that she can't take anymore death from those that she loves (referring to Mareg, who was something of a father to her). You later see Tio and Roan floating in a bubble, made by Tio, back down to Earth. Roan thanks Tio for saving him, and they have a nice heart-to-heart. Tio begins to cry. She gets confused and asks Roan why she is crying when she is happy. He explains the concept of happy tears. Roan then says, "Tio, let's go home." Tio replies with, "Yes. Home..." showing that she now understands human emotions and concepts.
Ryudo, Elena, and Millenia are now out in the middle of space. They get to talking about how the world got to be the way it was (in dismay and chaos). Elena states that everybody should pray and worship, and having a god to look up to is the way to lead a happy life. Millenia contradicts that statement, however, saying that people need to "act as free as they feel" and not be tied down. They both turn to Ryudo and ask him what he thinks. He says that they are both right, and there's good and evil in everything. Elena states that that's just like him. Always taking the middle ground. Millenia opens up her wings in a way to say "Let's go home." Ryudo takes out his sword, intending to use its power to help him fly. Elena asks Millenia what she should do, and Millenia asks "Don't you know?" in an exasperated tone. Elena thinks for a second, and then unfolds her newly attained Wings of Granas. The three of them join together and fly down to Earth looking like a comet. The sky clears up around them, and peoplle gather to look up at the sign of hope.
One year later, the Granacliffs have been filled with water, making Roan's kingdom a great trading hub. The city has been rebuilt. Roan is deciding to travel the world again to see the changes. He is about to leave when Tio rushes out of the doctor's office where she is now employed as a nurse. She states that she wanted to be a nurse so that she could help people, because helping is such a nice feeling. She gives Roan a medallion and asks him to put it on Mareg's grave, and she asks him to tell everyone that "Tio is very happy now." Roan visits Liligue where Skye is staying with Millenia, who has become a teacher. She said that she just couldn't seem to get away from little kids, so she became a teacher. Roan asks Millenia if she's seen Ryudo, and she says no. She tells him that Ryudo left one day, saying that he had one last thing to do, and she hasn't seen him since. Roans asks if she is lonely, and Millenia just states that she knows Ryudo wouldn't run off with another woman. Next, Roan travels to Nanan, Mareg's village, and places Tio's medallion on Mareg's grave. He tells Mareg that the world is all okay now. The suffering has ended for the most part, but it is what comes next that he is unsure of. Two Carro (fox-squirrel creatures) run up to Roan and give him a different medallion. Roan recognizes this as Ryudo's. He then wonders where Ryudo is. When Roan travel to the city where the group encountered the Eye of Valmar, he meets Elena, who has now become a travelling singer. He asks her almost the same questions he asked Millenia, and she says that she and Ryudo are connected through the Earth and they are one. She can feel that he is okay. She then gives Roan a hug from behind and asks if he can feel her heart. Can he hear the Earth's pulse? Feel it? She states that Ryudo's heart beats in time with the Earth, and she can feel the Earth's pulse. She then begins to sing, and you see shots of all of the places in the world Ryudo's group has been. You can see that everything is going okay now.
The focus turns to Ryudo who is up on a mountain. He has buried the Granasaber. He talks about how humans will rely on themselves from now on. He looks up at the sky and asks Melfice if he can hear him, and if he still listens.
Grandia II was ported to PlayStation 2 and PC after its initial release on Dreamcast. In the PlayStation 2 version, some of the textures and characters are less graphically detailed than on the Dreamcast version. Also, there is a tendency for graphical glitches and slow down to occur in areas with heavy graphic data. For instance, when a party member defeats the last enemy standing while using the Warp effect of weapon or accessory, the character's color scheme vanishes and only a bright white model is left.
On the PC port, there is a glitch in the first fight with Millenia. There are also several video files on the disc which contain extra frames appearing as a freeze after the casting of certain spells.
English voice cast
- Cam Clarke — Ryudo/Father Carius/Risotto
- Jennifer Hale — Elena/Paella
- Jodi Benson — Millenia/Reena
- Peter Lurie — Mareg/Gatta/Brother 2
- B.J. Ward — Roan/Elmo
- Kim Mai Guest — Tio/Selene/Client's Daughter
- Paul Eiding — Skye/Oro/Carpaccio/Brother 3
- John Cygan — Melfice/Client/Brother 1
- Richard Doyle — Zera/Gonzola/Village Chief
Japanese voice cast
- Shoutaro Morikubo — Ryudo
- Hiroko Konishi — Elena
- Yukitoshi Hori — Skye
- Tomoko Ishimura — Roan
- Mai Hoshikawa — Millenia
- Daisuke Gouri — Mareg
- Junko Iwao — Tio
- Misa Watanabe — Selene
- Isshin Chiba — Melfice
- Osamu Saka — Zera
The original Dreamcast release of Grandia II received a largely positive response during its initial release in Japan, earning a 9.75 out of 10 rating from Dreamcast Magazine, as well as a 35 out of 40 from Weekly Famitsu, which earned it the magazine's editor's choice Platinum award. Famitsu DC would additionally grant the game a 26 out of 30 based on three reviews. Despite good reception, sales of the game remained relatively low in the region, with an estimated 184,863 copies sold.
Grandia II's English release met with an overwhelming positive response, earning the game a 90% average rating on aggregate review website Metacritic, as well as an 88% average on GameRankings. GamePro magazine found the game to be "solidly-built and features stunning visuals, dead-on controls, and a innovative combat system" yet remarked that that game's scenarios seemed too linear at times. On a similar note, GameSpot stated that "While the first Grandia had lengthy dungeons full of puzzles and side routes, Grandia II's dungeons are more compartmental and linear affairs," and ultimately found the game to be "a solid RPG... even if it isn't as deep or difficult as the original." IGN granted the game an Editor's Choice distinction, calling it a "classic" of the Dreamcast and remarking that its battle system was "arguably the most advanced system in play today", yet found the game's story and character development to be cliche and predictable. Eurogamer also found the game's story and gameplay to be largely methodical, and despite being dubbed "the best RPG on the Dreamcast in Europe" and "strongly recommended", editors felt seasoned role-playing game players would find the game too generic, calling it "an incredibly tough game to call". Electronic Gaming Monthly granted the game a 9 out of 10, earning it a Gold Award.
PlayStation 2 and PC ports
The PlayStation 2 re-release of Grandia II in 2002 experienced lower sales than the Dreamcast version in Japan despite a higher install base, selling approximately 42,060 copies in its first month. In North America and Europe, the game received mostly lower reviews than the original, with many publications remarking on the technical shortcomings of the port to the new console. Electronic Gaming Monthly found the PlayStation version to be vastly inferior to the original, citing reduced frame rate, color, and texture quality, adding that its "Inexplicably horrible graphics completely ruin an otherwise splendid title." Some reviewers such as GamePro found the conversion shortcomings to be largely negligible, claiming that it "still holds its own as a solidly constructed but direct port in the more crowded PlayStation 2 fantasy camp" but added that it was still "overshadowed by Final Fantasy X." IGN still regarded the PlayStation 2 version as "a good game" and one of the top role-playing games for the system at the time, but remarked that the "time and stress of transition" as well as the emergence of other prominent games during the one-year time frame had diluted the port's appeal. GameSpot called the Dreamcast release "technically superior", but the new version was recommended to those who did not play the original and that it was still "well worth playing".
Like the PlayStation 2 version, the PC release of Grandia II had a much milder response from critics than the Dreamcast version. Critiquing the game by a PC game standpoint, IGN PC stated that "[t]his game is not like a PC RPG. It's light. It's fluffy. It's colorful. It's not exactly deep. Its storyline is console stereotypical. Its jokes are silly. Its gameplay is cartoony. And the characters all have huge eyes and no mouths," but adding that it "still manages to be fun, maybe even just because it's so different than most of the dark, dreary and serious RPGs that find their ways to our favorite platform." Similarly, GameSpot found that the game would be difficult for consumers accustomed to western role-playing video games to get into, remarking that "Grandia II's linear gameplay, "young adult" sensibility, and anime artwork aren't likely to impress someone looking for another Baldur's Gate II. Still, Grandia II can be fun if you're used to Japanese RPGs to begin with or if you approach it with an open mind."
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