Rocket Studio (PS2)
SkyBox Labs (Anniversary Edition)
|Platform(s)||Dreamcast, PlayStation 2, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation Network|
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 Microsoft Windows exclusively in North America and Europe later that year. An enhanced port, based upon the Dreamcast version and entitled Grandia II Anniversary Edition was released on August 24, 2015 on Steam and GOG.com. The game 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.
Ryudo is a Geohound, a mercenary, and is hired by the Church of Granas to escort Elena, a Songstress of Granas, to Garmia Tower for a ceremony. Upon arrival, Ryudo is asked to wait while they perform the ritual. However, Ryudo hears a scream and rushes up to the top floor. Seeing everyone dead and Elena with a pair of wings, Ryudo rescues her and returns to Carbo village. Back in the village, Ryudo is asked by the priest to escort Elena to St. Heim Papal State to seek Pope Zera to help cleanse Elena of the Wings of Valmar, one of several pieces of Valmar, that now possess her. Before he can say no, the village is attacked by a mysterious, winged woman, who engages and defeats Ryudo in battle. She introduces herself as Millennia and disappears. The next morning, Ryudo accepts the job and departs with Elena. In Agear town, Millennia appears again, this time more friendly, and teams up with Ryudo. She accidentally reveals herself as the Wings of Valmar and that she possesses Elena, sharing her body as a separate being. The group, eventually joined by Roan and the beast man Mareg, encounters more pieces of Valmar, which Millenia absorbs after being defeated.
The group finally arrives at St. Heim Papal State. Elena meets with Pope Zera, who wishes to speak with Ryudo. The Pope requests that he find the legendary Granasaber, a weapon wielded by Granas which was used to defeat Valmar. Ryudo reluctantly agrees, and the group travels to Roan's hometown of Cyrum Kingdom. Upon arrival, the group rests at the inn as Roan departs. The next morning, it is revealed that Roan is the prince, and that the people of Cyrum once assisted Valmar against Granas in the ancient war. The party enters the castle and finds the Gate of Darkness open and discover an ancient factory underneath the castle. They encounter the Claws of Valmar, and later, Melfice back in the castle. Melfice is revealed to be the brother of Ryudo and the man Mareg seeks. He flees after defeating the group in battle, telling Ryudo to face him at home. Roan is made king and chooses to stay in Cyrum, to encourage its people that the past does not predict their future. Tio, the being possessed by the Claws and an Automata, joins the group after being rescued.
The party arrives at Garlan village, Ryudo's hometown, by boat, and Ryudo is immediately chastised for returning and commanded to leave. He reveals that Melfice has returned and he plans to kill him to end his torment of the world. At the inn, a disguised Skye reveals Ryudo's history to Elena. Garlan used to be a village of swordsmen, with Melfice being the best. However, one night, during a storm, the idol in the hills grew restless, so the villagers sent Reena, Melfice's fiancé, to pray at the altar. She didn't return, and Melfice investigated, being secretly followed by Ryudo. In the shrine, Ryudo witnessed Melfice murder Reena. Ryudo later fled from town and stayed away for three years, causing the villagers to believe he abandoned them. In the morning, the group travels up the mountain to confront Melfice. At its peak, they defeat Melfice, who afterwards reconciles with Ryudo and informs the group of the Granasaber's location before dying. While Ryudo grieves, the Horns possess him, causing him to lose consciousness. Back at the Inn, Elena asks Millenia for help, but she initially refuses. However, she relents and uses her powers to seal the Horns inside of Ryudo, who then awakens with a renewed sense of purpose. Elena questions Granas, as it was Valmar who saved Ryudo.
The group travels to Nannan village, Mareg's hometown, near the location of the Granasaber. In the village, Mareg is praised for his successful mission and the group are informed of the Granasaber's whereabouts: within a giant cyclone to the east. The group travels there and deactivates the artificial storm, revealing the Granasaber. However, Selene, the High Priestess, appears and sacrifices a Cathedral Knight to revive the Body of Valmar around the Granasaber. The group enters the body and destroys it. Tio reveals the Granasaber to actually be a ship, teleporting the group inside and guiding the giant sword back to St. Heim. But the "Day of Darkness" arrives, and the group witnesses the Cathedral Knights slaughtering townsfolk before they kill the Knights. Elena reveals her true mission: to absorb the pieces of Valmar so they could be destroyed by the Granasaber. Inside the Cathedral, Selene transforms into the Heart of Valmar and the group defeats it. They catch up to Zera, who reveals the truth: that Granas actually died in the battle against Valmar, whilst Valmar was merely broken. Driven insane, he declares that Valmar shall be revived using Elena and abducts her to the Moon of Valmar.
The group uses the Granasaber to reach the moon and save Elena. A wounded Mareg later sacrifices himself to allow the group to escape from the moon. Crashing near Cyrum, which is now besieged by monsters from the moon, the group rejoins with Roan and defends the town. Soon, Valmar's Moon, revealed to be a giant egg, crashes into the Cathedral and creates the new Valmar. Unfortunately, the group finds itself without the means to defeat him. Roan suggests traveling to the nearby Birthplace of the Gods for answers, which reveals much about the ancient war and the origins of both gods. Meeting another Automata named Elmo, Ryudo chooses to confront the Horns within and is beset by many trials. However, he overcomes his fears and insecurities and is granted the true Granasaber. The group challenges Valmar and enters his body. Inside, they are confronted by Zera, who attacks them before sending a false Millenia after them. Ryudo's party is victorious, and the true Millenia, now separated from Elena, joins them. Zera divides the group and launches a final attack against Ryudo, Elena, and Millenia. They defeat him and destroy Valmar for good, restoring peace to the world.
The ending shows the different characters one year after Valmar's defeat. Roan is still king and embarks on a journey to find his friends. Tio has become a nurse in Cyrum, Millenia is a teacher, and Elena tours the world as a singer in a troupe. Elsewhere, Ryudo lays the Granasaber to rest and makes his return to the world.
- Ryudo (リュード Ryūdo): The main hero of the story. Ryudo is a Geohound, a mercenary. He is skilled with a sword and shows a sharp wit. He cares little for others beside himself at first; however, his attitude changes and he eventually wishes for a better world.
- Elena (エレナ Erena): The main heroine of the story. She is a Sister of the Church of Granas and a Songstress. She joins Ryudo early on in the adventure and is typically naive of most things about the world. She wields strong healing and divine magic and uses a mace/staff as her weapon.
- Millenia (ミレーニア Mirēnia): A mysterious woman who meets Ryudo early on after the failed ceremony at Garmia Tower. Revealed to be the "Wings of Valmar", Millenia appears to be a rather blunt, hot-tempered woman who at first uses Ryudo to accomplish her goals, but eventually falls in love with him. She uses a crossbow and absorbs pieces of Valmar to gain dark powers.
- Roan (ロアン): A boy that Ryudo meets in Agear town, who requests help in finding his lost medal. He joins Ryudo's party until it is revealed he is the prince of Cyrum kingdom, whose people served Valmar during the "Battle between Good and Evil". He eventually becomes the king, but later rejoins the party. He uses daggers/knives as his weapon.
- Mareg (マレッグ Mareggu): A beast man who initially attacks Ryudo, mistaking him for his brother, before joining him on his journey. He teaches Tio about what it means to be alive. He is strong and uses an axe/spear as his weapon.
- Tio (ティオ): An Automata housed under Cyrum kingdom. She is awakened by Ryudo's group and joins them, as she has no other function. She calls Mareg "Master", but eventually considers everyone a family. She uses chakrams as her weapon.
- Valmar (ヴァルマー Vu~arumā): The God of Darkness. Destroyed, broken into pieces and sealed away after the Battle of Good and Evil. But the pieces are being released and his revival is apparent.
- Melfice (メルフィス Merufisu): An evil swordsman whom Mareg is valiantly pursuing, and Ryudo's brother. His strength is unholy thanks to the Horns of Valmar within him.
- His Holiness Zera (ゼラ): The Pope of Granas Cathedral and its leader. He sees the evil in the world and vows to defeat it at any cost.
- Selene (シレーネ Shirēne): The High Priestess of Granas, she follows Zera's leadership without question. Her zealousness is unquestionable.
- Skye (スカイ Sukai): Ryudo's trusty bird companion. He's just as snarky and quick witted as Ryudo, but more mature and full of wisdom.
- Granas (グラナス Guranasu): The God of Light. Responsible for the destruction of Valmar and the sealing of his pieces.
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
- Showtaro 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
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.
On May 11, 2015, GungHo America president Jun Iwasaki revealed to GameSpot that Grandia II will be receiving an HD remaster on Steam and GOG.com. Based on the Dreamcast version of the game, the port will have mouse, keyboard, and gamepad support. Along with the visual definition upgrade, it will include Steam achievements and Trading Cards.
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 rated the game 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. It received an aggregate score of 88.81% on GameRankings and 90/100 on Metacritic. 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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