Game Arts Grandia II was released on December 2000 as a Dreamcast title. The game was the awaited sequel of 1997 (1999 on PS1) Sega Saturn’s Grandia, as such it was one of the most anticipated Dreamcast titles for RPG fans.
The game offered a clear upgrade in graphics over its predecessor, and featured fully polygonal 3-D graphics as opposed to the 2-D character sprites that the first the title prominently featured. In my opinion, Grandia II on the Dreamcast remains a very pleasing game on the eyes to this day (the cannot be said for the PS2 port), and worthy playthrough as the game features the best story in the entire three game series. (Read our review of Grandia II here.)
The original Grandia felt a bit “Grand-er”, as it had a longer, and more difficult quest. The story however, while interesting, was a bit lighthearted on its approach. Grandia II continues the spirit of adventuring of its predecessor, but it features a much darker, and gripping tale. One with some religious overtones, and a love triangle worthy of an anime series.
Ryudo, Elena, and Millenia are the most memorable cast in the entire series even if Justin, Sue, and Leena still hold a place in my heart to this day. The acting was fantastic (for a JRPG) and there were genuine funny moments.
The Grana cliffs replaced the Wall in the original grandia as the one big divisor of the game’s world. While the quest is shorter, traveling amongst companions and discovering new villages and dungeons remained a very enjoyable adventure.
Apart from having a great story, Grandia II refined the first game’s groundbreaking combat system which offered a fresh take on turn based traditional battles by presenting a gauge that showed both; the enemy and party wait times, and allowed the cancelling of each other’s attacks by the timing of actions.
The Grandia series, unfortunately, is not as well known (and regarded) as other contemporary J-RPGs during the golden era of the genre. Grandia II is one of the more gripping quests that the genre had to offer and with only 200,000 copies sold (in part due to the DC’s status as a sales failure) it is only just that gamers today can enjoy a remaster of the game on Nintendo’s Switch.
The DC version however, came bundled with a soundtrack and full color manual (a rarity these days), so I feel it remains the best way to own this gem even today. Ubisoft wasn’t known for JRPGs but I feel I they treated, and packaged Grandia 2 with incredible respect.
It is a shame however, that the PS2 version of the game is such a poor port that suffers from bland graphics and incredibly bad framerates.
My advice for fans of the JRPG genre is nab the Grandia HD collection which feature both Grandia and Grandia II bundled together for the price of one game. While Grandia II is not the best RPG available on the Dreamcast (that award goes to Skies of Arcadia) it is certainly one of the greatest JRPGs of the 00’s and must play for anyone interested in the genre.