I have zero nostalgia for the Grandia series.

So when I say I love Grandia 2 I say it as someone who enjoyed it in 2024 without  prescription rose tinted glasses.

The story has eerily similar plot hooks to Final Fantasy 10 which would come out a year later in 2001. You take control of the world’s biggest fuckboy as he escorts the most pure hearted bigot on a questionable pilgrimage. On their journey together romantic tension forms and you also score a beast man.

The game is a straight shot from beginning to end, no side questing, just raw bareback main story the whole way. Time to beat is pretty short for a JRPG with average completion time is about 31 hours.

I’ve said it at least once and I’m going to say it at least twice that you can tell that a JRPGs battle System is good if you actually want to get into fights. Grandia passes the test easy. It’s actually a crime no one has stolen this battle system but I guess Square Enix was afraid we might have too much fun.

Combat uses the typical action bar to decide turn order and before the last third of the bar you lock in attacks. Hitting opponents while they’re in this zone can cancel their attacks entirely. So far so generic.

The real secret sauce is that your characters run around the field to attack. Meaning you need to figure in travel time if you want to hit counter windows or even spreading attacks out across the field to avoid AOEs. You can even intuit who monsters are going to attack next by where they’re moving and intercept them if you’re quick.

By making distance and physical move speed a component in battles the decision tree grandia has planted in my head gets fully fertilised.

Since you can’t choose your party you’re able to tweak almost everything else about them to form strategies that work for you like cherry picking passives for synergies with equippable spell sets, that can be mix and matched with each character.

You get three forms of levelling currency. XP like usual and magic and special coins. I thought this was some messy as fuck economy but turns out they’re points you can spend as you want across your party, giving you ample opportunity to completely neglect your least favourite abilities and spells. By the end of the game some sets were completely maxed while others had seen less use, either way I was tweaking my builds here and there right to the very end.

Perhaps the part that has aged the most is the overhead camera positioned in such a way where you can see sweet fuck all. You can rotate it around but this makes things worse when you come out of a building and it completely resets the angle so you have no idea where you are. One of my friends, grub, can completely forget where he is if he drives down a road from the opposite direction he literally just drove along it from. I now know how he feels.

Fortunately the compass can auto point at whatever you need it to, shops, inns, the next plot objective or back the way you came. Once I figured this out the camera stopped being an issue.

The only other glaring indicator of this being an old game is just how long special attacks take. Fortunately actual battles are quick and breezy. But Once you’ve seen one disgusting mouth emerge out of the ground you’ve seen them.

I don’t know where to put this but I need to just mention the menu. Check out how crazy this shit is. I haven’t seen something like this in years. More effort was put into this menu than the entirety of skull and bones. Grandia 2 AAAA confirmed.

You find better equipment by going off the beaten track otherwise it’s one of those games where shops will only sell four weapons and armour pieces and it’s exactly the next set you need. I actually like this method. End consumerism, remove the illusion of choice, burn wall street, eat the rich they’re low in starch.

Story segments and downtime are always a welcome reprieve but they go on just long enough for me to get excited about getting back into the comforting loop of fighting again.

Right now you can buy the remastered version, which you should. Then download the rom for the Dreamcast version and play that instead. Purely for portability and fast forward reasons if you haven’t got a switch. I’ve got no beef with the remaster apart from the fact they did the absolute bare minimum.

At the moment we’re getting a lot of retro inspired 16bit era JRPGs gagging to be chronotrigger. But why not get ahead of the curve AND cut out the middle man and go ahead and play old 32bit era JRPGS.

This game has hooked me so hard that I’ve already started playing Grandia 1. It’s that good.