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Granstream Saga - Review

Ugly stick? Try cliché stick.

By: Radrisol


Review Breakdown
   Battle System 7
   Interface 10
   Music/Sound 9
   Originality 6
   Plot 7
   Localization 5
   Replay Value 3
   Visuals 5
   Difficulty Medium - Hard
   Time to Complete

10-20 hours

 
Overall
5
Criteria

Granstream Saga
 

   Granstream SaGa is quite simply, a game that was beaten severely with a clichˇ stick. The games plot, dialogue, and voice acting are so conventional it boggles the mind. At the same time however, this large amount of clichˇ turns out to be Granstream's greatest asset. It certainly has an old school feel despite the polygon's and Anime cut scenes and unique battle system, an element that I only wish most other modern RPGs had.

   The game has the most bizarre view, you look directly down on your main character, Eon. The view, while awkward, isn't bad. It actually has good application in an Action RPG like this. What is annoying however is the stiffness of how Eon walks. The game came out in 98' in the middle of the PSX's life and by then full-range motion was a norm. You are confined to 8 directions and one speed, and it is very out of place to see Eon walk like a solider in a dungeon or town. A nice feature is that there are lots of profile pics used during dialogue with lots of different emotions, always a plus. The menu system is dirt simple and nice to look at, 'nough said there.


Silly Little Comment on Screen
Granstream's distint over-head view.  

The battle system is one of the only things about Granstream Saga that is unique. When you touch an enemy (battles aren't random) you go into a fight. The shape of the arena is essentially your surroundings. The battle is real-time and action based. You and the enemy play in a 3-D field. You can set Eon to be equipped with a myriad of weapons and armors by the end, assuming you find them all. The variety of weapons is nice. There are daggers, swords, and axes, and there pluses and minus' are quite obvious. After that however, equipping comes down to putting on the most powerful weapon. You also learn special moves which vary with the weaponry. You must find special moves like you must find weapons. Some Armor has special abilities but not are significant enough to make you want to equip it in favor of one with higher defense. You can also change armor and weaponry in the middle of battle. The awkward aspect of battles is that there is NO experience. In fact you only go up a level when the story specifies it. The plus side is that the battles are refreshing and challenging, although repetitive since you don't get anything from the battle's victories.

   The music fits with the game wonderfully, it always enhances the mood of the dungeon or town. The first town is very quaint, and you get music that fits that aura perfectly, as with battles, the music becomes chaotic. It all fits together very well, the occasional over-use of songs makes the music lose some of its luster though.

   The graphics are quite bland and repetitive, and it's common to see enemy repeats with a change in color. The polygon characters don't even have faces, just a mere point to represent a nose. Beware if you're a graphics whore.

   Like I said, the game is intensely clichˇ'd. While the story and characters are clichˇ, the battle system and the use of the Scepter keep the game from completely falling into the cycle of predictability. The Scepter can take a piece of a broken object and make a copy of it in its entirety. The result is a few interesting puzzles scattered here and there to do. Nothing too hard or easy but still enjoyable.


Silly Little Comment on Screen
Faceless freaks, but nice character art.  

The plot is Clichˇ (am i saying that word to often :) but it's clichˇ at it's best. The personalities are all standard too, the selfless hero, the do-good girl, the spunky girl, the wise father-esque man, etc. Yet somehow it just works. The Anime cut-scenes for the most part seem well placed. The voice acting in them is horrible though, there's absolutely no emotion, or too much, in the characters voices. The plot is very linear, essentially you're told what to do and then you go and do it. You can still go and visit anyplace you've already been to, though there are so few actual locations to go back to (the game only has four towns). The ending also throws in a very good twist, in which you are faced with an insanely difficult decision, and your decision results in two very different endings, luckily the big decision is right at the end so you can see both. The ending also throws in a few additional plot twists that manages a mild 'wow' from the player.

   The translation is nothing special. I don't really recall any spelling/grammar mistakes. At the same time, the translation is as literal as can possibly be. Characters really don't have their own unique way of talking but there personalities are still reflected nicely in the dialogue.

   The game really doesn't offer much in terms of replay value. You could go back and try to find every weapon and armor, but there will be no side-quests to stumble upon, and no plot point you wouldn't understand the first time through. It's something you could beat in one rental fairly easily.

   Granstream Saga is an RPG where the sum of it's parts don't equal a greater whole. Yet somehow, is some bizarre way, there is an affinity with it I just can't break. It had some sense of nostalgia to it that old-school gamers will notice, and I think they are the ones who would enjoy this game the most. For those with more modern tastes, I recommend skipping over the Granstream Saga.





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