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SkyBox Labs (Anniversary Edition)
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.
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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, Ryudo rescues Elena and heads back to Carbo village. Back in the village, Ryudo is chastised for his intervention before being asked to escort Elena to St Heim Papal State to meet Pope Zera. Before he can say no, the village is attacked by a mysterious woman who engages and defeats Ryudo in battle. The next morning, Ryudo accepts the job and him and Elena head out. In Agear town, the mysterious woman appears again, this time more friendly. She reveals she is Millenia. Millenia accidentally reveals herself as the Wings of Valmar and that she has possessed Elena, sharing her body as a separate being. The group, eventually joined by Roan and beastman Mareg, encounter more pieces of Valmar, which after defeated Millenia absorbs.
The group finally arrives at St Heim Papal State. Elena meets with Pope Zera, whom asks the meet with Ryudo. The Pope asks if he will find the legendary Granasaber, a weapon wielded by the god of light Granas which was used to defeat Valmar. Ryudo reluctantly agrees, and the group head to Roans hometown of Cyrum Kingdom. Upon arrival the group sleep in the inn while Roan heads to his house. 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 group sneak into the castle and find underneath the gate broken and discover an ancient factory underneath the castle. They encounter the Claws of Valmar and Melfice. Melfice is revealed to be the brother of Ryudo and the man Mareg seeks. He kills the king and flees, telling Ryudo he'll see him at home. Roan is made king and decides to stay in Cyrum kingdom, 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 group arrive at Garlan village 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 Ryudos history to Elena. Garlan used to be a village of swordsman, with Melfice being the best. However, one night during a storm the idol in the hills grew angry, so the villagers sent Reena, Melfices fiance, to pray to the altar. She didn't come back, Melfice investigated followed by Ryudo. In the shrine, Ryudo sees Melfice murdering Reena and killing many. Ryudo is chased out of town and never comes back for three years, this hurts Ryudo deeply. In the morning, the group head up the mountain to confront Melfice. At its peak, Ryudo faces Melfice and declares he's no longer his brother, hes been consumed by the Horns of Valmar. After his defeat, Melfice apologizes, but the horns possess Ryudo but he fights against it. Back at the Inn, Elena asks Millenia for help, but she refuses. However, she relents and uses her powers to seal the horns inside of Ryudo. Ryudo awakens with renewed purpose. Elena questions Granas, as it was Valmar who saved Ryudo.
The group heads to Nannan village, Mareg's hometown and near the location of the Granasaber. In the village, Mareg is praised for his successful mission and the group are told of the location of the Granasaber, located within the giant whirlwind to the east. The group heads there and deactivateas it, revealing the Granasaber. However Selene, Pope Zeras most obedient servant appears. She sacrifices her holy knights to revive the Body of Valmar around the Granasaber. The group enters the body, and destroys it. Tio reveals the Granasaber to be actually a spaceship and teleports the group inside and away from danger. However, the "Day of Darkness" arrives, and the group heads to St Heim Papal State where the knights are slaughtering everyone. Inside the Cathedral, Selene transforms into the Heart of Valmar, afterward the group meet with Zera. He revelas Elenas true goal; to absorb the pieces of Valmar so he could actually be destroyed by the Granasaber. However, Zera reveals more, Granas actually died in the battle against Valmar, whilst Valmar was only broken. Driven insane, he declares that all humanity must bow before Valmar and abducts Elena to the Moon of Valmar.
The group uses the Granasaber to reach the moon and save Elena by defeating Zera. However, Mareg sacrifices himself to allow the group to escape. Returning to Cyrum kingdom, the group is met by Roan. However, the meeting is cut short as the Moon crashes into St Heim Papal State and begins creating a new Valmar body. The group decides to attack it, but are without cause as how. Roan suggests looking in the ancient mausoleums in under the city for answers. These reveal much about the ancient war, the Granasaber was actually a warship used by Granas. Ryudo wishes to find the true Granasaber. Inside the Birthplace of the Gods, Ryudo is beset by many trials. However, he overcomes his fears and insecurities and is granted the might Granasaber. The group head to the new body and enter it. Inside the new body, the group is confronted by Zera whom attacks them and besets Millenia against them. The group is victorious, with the true Millenia joining them. Zera separates the group and attacks Ryudo, Elena, and Millenia. The trio finally defeat him, and destroy Valmar for good.
The ending shows the different characters, including Millenia who is no longer a part of Valmar, after the defeat of Valmar. Roan is still the king, Tio has become a nurse, Millenia has become a teacher, Elena misses Ryudo while touring. Meanwhile, Ryudo 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 of the events of the story 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 she defeats him in battle. Revealed to 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 changes her mind. She uses a crossbow and absorbs pieces of Valmar to gain dark powers.
- Roan (ロアン?): A youth that Ryudo meets in Agear town whom requests help finding his lost medal. He joins Ryudo briefly in his journey until it is revealed he is a prince. He is the prince of Cyrum kingdom, a kingdom which helped Valmar during the "Battle between Good and Evil". He eventually becomes the king after the death of his father. During the story, he rejoins Ryudo an accompanies him again. He uses daggers/knives as his weapon.
- Mareg (マレッグ Mareggu?): A beastman who initially attacks Ryudo, mistaking him for someone else. He joins Ryudo in his journey. He helps Tio discover 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 Ryudos 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 and broken apart into pieces and sealed away. The seals are being released and his revival is apparent.
- Melfice (メルフィス Merufisu?): An evil swordsman whom Mareg is valiantly pursuing. His strength is unholy, and he has a connection to Ryudo.
- Holy Pope Zera (ゼラ?): The pope of the Church of Granas and its leader. He sees the evil in the world and vows to defeat it at any cost. Any cost.
- Selene (シレーネ Shirēne?): A priestess of the Church of Granas, she follows Zera's leadership without question. Her zealousness is unquestionable.
- Skye (スカイ Sukai?): Ryudos trusty bird companion. Hes just as snarky and quick witted as Ryudo. But, much 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 parts.
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.
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
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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