|A Grandiose Episode
|August 5th, 2011
08/95- 12:00PM EST
It's been a sad week for JRPGs fans, as the news that the
creator of Grandia, Takeshi
Miyaji, had passed away spread around the internet. This week we've got
a few letters remembering the series. If anyone would like to send in
similar letters for next week, please do!
Hey Wheels, long time no write! Sorry I've been so quiet
lately. I had a nice long letter written up and ready to type,
but I procrastinated, and the longer I waited, the longer the whole
thing looked to be an annoying, self-congratulatory listing of all the
nerdy name games I put into my write-up of Kaijuu RamPaGe.
No worries sir! I would like to see that long listing of nerdy games,
so you should type that up regardless.
I was reading that letter from FriendOfAgnes in last week's column, and
thought occurred to me. We've already had an evolution
based RPG of sorts. His idea sounded like an interesting take on
the leveling mechanic though.
Certainly, though E.V.O. is
getting a bit old by this point. I wonder why no developers have really
tried the evolution RPG again? Seems like something worth revisiting.
What really made me decide to write in this time, though, was when CIMA:
The Enemy was mentioned in that same
letter. I'm not 100%
sure, but I might be the only member on staff who's actually played and
finished that game (though I knew it as Frontier Stories at the
time). I agree that the game practically screamed "SEQUEL!!" in every
respect, and it's too bad Natsume never followed up on it. It did have
issues, however. Directing party members along the necessary paths
a pain in the neck, especially with GBA real-time strategy controls. It
would certainly have worked better on the DS. Also, the player
had three squads worth of characters, and each squad could be directed
independently, but only within the space of a single room on any given
floor of a dungeon. It just wasn't possible to split the group between
rooms and have them act independently of one another. Finally, while
character interaction was really good, the writers missed the boat when
came to designing dungeons of personal significance to the trapped
character within (each dungeon usually only had one new character in
The level designs ended up being kind of generic, when they could have
more like Persona 4 in terms of psychedelic symbolism.
Was it you that first mentioned CIMA
in Q&A then? I can't seem to recall.
Anyone, it was a very interesting sequel idea for sure, one that made
me want to go and check out the original game. That and Natsume should
do more original games outside of the usual Harvest Moon games. I think I
should challenge you to come up with your own sequel to CIMA!
Oh well, that's just my two cents on the matter. To wrap up... Connect
the Wild ARMs series to Kevin Bacon in as few steps as
believe I can do it with just one item between the two. Can you?
Your fellow columnist,
I don't think I can do it in that few. Wild Arms V had Yuri Lowenthal as a
voice actor-> Yuri Lowenthal was in the film Silver Case with Vincent De
Paul-> Vincent De Paul was in He
Said, She Said with Kevin Bacon.
How is your day going good sir? I am a big fan of your lovely Q&A
Thank you sir, I'm glad you enjoy it.
The Grandia series. I only
own the first two games, and have only played the first. I found the
first one to be pretty enjoyable; I have only had the chance to play it
recently with the PSN release. I was wondering which titles from series
you have played; also, which is game from the series is your favorite
and why; and what your thoughts are on the series as a whole?
have only played the second game sadly, though I have the first title
ready and waiting on both my PS3 and PSP. Based on my enjoyment of Grandia II's fantastic battle
system (I thought the story stunk), I'd have to say that must be the
defining characteristic of the series. I t was good enough to make me
greatly enjoy the game despite a mediocre story and characters.
I was also curious about your experience and thoughts with the Lunar series. I have had slightly
more experience with this series than the Grandia. I completed Lunar Legend for the GBA a few
years ago. I have also picked up, but have yet to play, Lunar: Silver Star Harmony for the
PSP. I heard it was a remake of the first Lunar title like Lunar Legend was. Have you played
either of the two portable versions of Silver Star?
I have played a small amount of the
GBA game, but primarily I've played the fantastic PSP version. It has
brilliant 2D visuals that finally make the animated scenes from the
original PlayStation/saturn versions feel more in tune with the actual
game graphics. As for the gameplay itself, the story and characters are
classic, but the battle system is a bit too simple. I still had a lot
of fun with Silver Star Harmony
I have also played through, but have yet to complete, Lunar: Dragon Song – which was
also my first DS game. I have heard a lot of people say that Dragon Song is a horrible title
and not worth a look. What do you think? Personally, I have had a good
time playing through it so far; although, right now I am stuck at a
segment where I will have to grind for a while before I can continue
which is why I stopped playing it.
I think Ubisoft's apparently horrible
localization probably turned off a lot of people right off the bat.
Since the charm of the originals was such a big draw, I think it was
just harder for people to overlook the flaws that Dragon Song had. I have a feeling
its not quite as bad as people say, but I'm afraid to actual spend
money on the game to find out. Hopefully it hasn't killed any hopes of
new Lunar games.
If you were wondering what prompted me to write in about this topic,
recently Takeshi Miyaji passed away.
Yes, it is such terrible news,
especially given he was only 45. We will always have his games to
remember him by, and what a great set of games they are!
P.S. I am doing it for the kitty. :P
Thank you for your time, and keep up the good work
Worry not, the kitty is safe...FOR NOW!
Remembering the Creator of Grandia
Long time listener, first time caller here.
As a huge Lunar fan and
someone who's played Grandia II
and III, how easy would it be
to go back and play the original Grandia?
and characters and found Grandia III's
only selling point, so I'm just wondering what
issues I might find going back to the first game on PSN now.
PS: Don't just say it's great. I want to know what is going to drive me
crazy. Long load times? Few save points? Unbalanced difficulty?
Not wanting to dishonor the memory of
the creator of Grandia, I
brought in an expert on this subject, David "FBM" McBurney, since I've
only played the second game.
Special correspondent FBM here. Grandia 1 probably isn't going to
kill you with its archaicism, on PSP the load times are pretty much
part and parcel of what you'd expect for a PS1 game but not too
irritating overall. Difficulty curve is fairly manageable and in the
exploits to get the best healing spells early are pretty obvious to the
trained eye. That said there are a few things that might rub you the
introduced the Mana Egg system that would be repeatedly tinkered with
in Grandia's 2, Xtreme and, 3. As such, it works very
differently here. Mana Eggs themselves don't do a danged thing. The
player merely exchanges them with the magic shop to give a character 1
of 4 different types of magic (Water, Air, Fire, Dirt, magnets not
included). This is good in that missing one doesn't lock you out of
certain spells, but bad in that missing one makes it harder to get all
the magic for certain characters. It's a somewhat frustrating system
when paired with the game's tendency to give the player a revolving 4th
(and later 3rd) party slot that means that certain characters will
leave and take the magic they gained with them. There are precisely
enough Mana Eggs in the game to give every single character every type
of magic but that's a tough tightrope to walk and I'd advise new
players give all their eggs to Justin and Feena before worrying about
anyone else. As a side note, skills and magic are obtained by using
certain weapon and magic types, all of which have individual levels, so
overpowered characters require you to deliberately mix it up in combat.
Aside from the odd magic acquiring and advancement systems, you
shouldn't be faced with too much trouble gameplay wise, particularly
given that the game started the Grandia
tradition of all save points being recovery points and thus good
grinding spots should the need really arise. Story is... another
matter. I like Grandia 1 for
its sense of adventure, but a lot of people I've talked to loathe its
main character. It's not too hard to see why, he spends at least the
first 10 hours (of a game that's probably a good 70 or so but whatever)
acting like an immature idiot. It especially doesn't work well because
he's contrasting sharply with the female lead who's generally quite
mature. Don't go in expecting Ryudo and give him a chance to mature and
you might come out of it liking him well enough. Grandia 1 sort of focuses more on
its sense of adventure so the main character is molded to fit that.
The only other hangup I can think of is the wretched translation, it's
never difficult to understand what's going on, but it's really badly
written just the same. Still, I'd imagine anyone who played a lot of
PS1 RPGs kind of expects that sort of thing by now and as with most
such bad translations, there's some unintentional humor to be mined
from it. It's especially great when they try to pass off a bar as a
coffee shop... that only opens at night... that is surrounded by people
lying between mountains of "coffee" bottles.
Maybe I should just write up a review of this. I dunno. Special
correspondent FBM singing off
The Licensed Game Paradox
What do you think makes up a good licensed RPG?
In my opinion there are two possible ways to make a good licensed RPG.
The first way I would call the "exploring a licensed world" RPG. In
such a game you get to make your own characters, or use otherwise
unknown characters to follow some story secondary to that told in the
licensed property (for example, Lord
of the Rings the Third Age). The other type of course would be
the "licensed story told as an RPG". This type of game is simply a
straight forward telling of a licensed story through the mechanics of
an RPG. An example of this is the Harry
Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban game for GBA. Now this
doesn't exactly explain how to make a "good" game, but from either base
developers simply need to make a good game like any other, just using
licensed material instead of original material.
Any particular standout excellent licensed games, any standout stinkers?
The standout excellent licensed game for me would have to be Magic Knight Rayearth for Sega
Saturn. On the simple side, similar in a way to games like Ys and Zelda, it was a very fun action
RPG, and told the story well enough that you didn't even need to be a
fan of the anime series. On the opposite side I'd point to the Magic Knight Rayearth game for
Super Nintendo. For some reason it actually got a fan translation, and
was quite horrible and boring in comparison to the Saturn game. That or
it may have been a Game Gear fan translation, it's been so long I
can't' recall. All I recall is that is was horrible.
What properties do you consider to ripe for an rpg adaptation?
I think the Wheel of Time and
Game of Throne
series are both ripe for RPGs. Wheel
of Time of course got a first person shooter for some reason,
but that world needs an RPG. With open world RPGs being so popular
right now, it seems like the perfect time for such games to be made,
allowing players to explore these very popular worlds. I'd also love
some kind of crazy Dark Tower rpg
where you travel through many different versions of Earth fighting the
minions of the Crimson King.
That's it for this week! Next week the king of content returns, and
I'll discuss the selecting of the winner of the contest, and I'll give
everyone another week to get entries in.
See you next week!
June 30th: Wheels
July 8th: Wheels
July 22nd: Wheels
July 29th: Wheels
About the Host
What I can't wait for:
1. Battlefield 3 / Xenoblade
2. Disgaea 4
3. Deus Ex 3
4. El Shaddai / Skyrim
5. Tales of the Abyss 3D
On my Playlist:
1. Terrible music I'm ashamed to be listening to
2. Trails in the Sky Soundtrack
3. Crystal Bearers soundtrack
1. Is it time for Tom Clancy to make an RPG?
2. Which system will replace the PSP as the go-to JRPG platform?
3. What long dormant RPG series do you want to see make a return?
4. Do you prefer digital releases or physical releases and why?
5. What makes Falcom's games so different than other Japanese games,
and why have they been able to have success on odd platforms for so