The first entries in one of the greatest JRPG series have finally been compiled in a brand new collection for Switch. Let's check it out!
Before getting to the review, allow me to describe my personal history with Grandia. I actually played Grandia II first as I found it in a bargain bin and figured I should try it out. After completing it, I couldn't believe what a fantastic game it was so I went to my local game store and the owner sold me his rental copy of the original for a somewhat hefty price and to my surprise, I enjoyed it even more! Prior to playing through these delightful adventures, I loved RPGs such as Chrono Cross and Vandal Hearts yet Grandia did something that no other game did before; it managed to combine strategic combat with real-time battles in a way that felt action-packed and supremely rewarding. Sure, the action pauses whenever it's one of your characters' turns but that only adds to the tension as you see enemies lunge towards your friends as you try and cancel their actions and gain an advantage by using a multitude of unique skills and spells.
When I started playing the original on Grandia HD Collection, the memories came flooding back. Reacquainting myself with Justin and his mom in their humble cafe as well as his pal Sue in the small port town of Parm instantly put a smile on my face. From then on, you adventure to parts unknown and past the End of the World while meeting new friends such as the energetic Feena and the hilarious Rapp. Watching everyone's abilities slowly expand as you master the elements, various weapon types, and learn new skills is extremely satisfying, especially once you manage to topple tricky bosses. The soundtrack is excellent, the world is huge and memorable, and the voice acting is cheesy yet that only makes it even more charming. Overall, it's a wonderful game that holds up beautifully.
All of that being said, the iteration of Grandia here doesn't quite feel like a full HD remaster. For starters, the sprites are smoothed over and although I'm sure that many gamers will find them appealing, I much prefer the pixel-perfect sprites of the PS1 version. I wish there was an option to switch between retro and modern sprites. I also noticed some weird audio glitches such as music going silent for brief moments and even getting completely jacked up at other parts. Aside from these easily overlooked issues, I'm happy with how smoothly Grandia runs without any noticeable load times or massive hiccups so you can generally enjoy it without many disturbances.
Thankfully, Grandia II looks and sounds a lot better than the original here. I'm fairly certain that it's based on the 2015 Anniversary Edition release for PC and it plays fantastically. Keep in mind, I played through Grandia II on PS2 back in the day and that version was full of performance issues and annoying bugs so the version here is a huge improvement.
Anyway, Grandia II stars a mercenary named Ryudo who's in charge of protecting a singer from the church named Elena at the beginning of the tale. Soon into the story, things become quite crazy and the general atmosphere is a lot darker than the original. For starters, Ryudo is sarcastic and frequently hard-headed which contrasts with Justin's almost constant positivity. It's a lot shorter of a game, too, as the original takes about 60 hours to beat while Grandia II lasts about 35 hours. That being said, I really can't stress enough how crisp it looks and how smoothly it plays. I'd even go so far to say that this is the definitive way to play Grandia II. However, it seems to have some major performance issues while playing portably so make sure you keep this sucker docked for maximum enjoyment.
Finally, I must admit that I'm quite disappointed by the fact that there aren't any extras in this collection. To illustrate this, the main menu merely has you choose 1 of the 2 games which reminds me of another recent duology of games for Switch. I guess it's cool that you can swap between English and Japanese voices but aside from that, I wish there were galleries, soundtracks, etc.
For the awesome games alone, Grandia HD Collection is worth checking out for any RPG fan. Although it could use a lot more content, fine-tuning, and options to reward long-time fans such as myself, what's here is still a treasure trove of delightful RPG goodness.
- + Contains 2 timeless classic JRPGs that are still great fun to play
- + Both games generally run very smoothly
- + Grandia II looks great in particular
- - Currently has some minor glitches
- - Could use some sort of extra content
- - Grandia looks and sounds a bit rough