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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I Hate Grandia







Grandia is a 20-hour game that takes 40 hours to beat.











Twenty-five hours have passed since I crossed the End of the World and I'm closing in on the final boss. During that time, Sue left the party (which is where I quit the last time, fifteen years ago), the story has taken a spectacular nose-dive into a mountain of shit, and the final boss is some faceless, world-destroying monster that's become super-powerful because of all the evil in the world. Which is stupid.


At this point, Justin's comrade-in-arms and romantic interest, Feena, decides that she's the only one who can stop the final boss, so she tells Justin to fuck off and flies away in an airship. Justin, who's spent the entire game vomiting catch-phrases about how an adventurer never gives up, loses all hope and gives up entirely.





As the airship and Feena fade into the distance, Justin literally turns around to his buds, the guys whom he's always backed up whenever they were having doubts or worries, the guys he's always been there for, and they tell him to fuck off.






Trust me, I've been wanting to tell Justin to fuck off throughout the entire game and let Sue be the hero, but for the other characters in Justin's party to do this makes no sense at all. None. It's like the writer said, "This is the sad part where everyone leaves Justin and he totally gives up, and it'll be super sad, so there doesn't need to be a reason behind any of it. Creating motivation is something novice writers do."









And in case you didn't get the message. In case everyone turning on the protagonist in a matter of seconds wasn't clear enough for you that this is the sad part of the game, it immediately starts raining.

IN THE DESERT.






Our hero is broken. Our hero is useless. He loves explaining this to himself.




On a whim, he decides to visit a nearby city and talk to a rabbit-man to see if there's any odd job he could do while the world is ending. Does that make any sense?


The rabbit-man looks up at Justin, and in a heavy Italian accent so fake it would make Mario cringe, he says:

"The sad part is arbitrarily over! This is the happy part of the game!, All your friends are here, even the ones who told you to fuck off; and Sue, who was supposed to be on the other side of the world, she's here just to tell you how awesome you are and nothing else. Isn't that wonderful?"





"Now quick, climb into the mysterious, magic portal that just appeared and nobody finds strange. I'm sure it'll Deus Ex Machina this plot real good."






And I swear the story gets even more ridiculous after that. Justin becomes this Spirit Hero and for the rest of the game the only crap he talks about is mankind's true purpose and what special creatures we all are.

The only small measure of redemption Grandia managed was that you (literally!) had to climb up the final boss's asshole and fight your way through his messed-up body in order to locate and destroy his black heart. That was metal.






Oh yeah. Forgot to mention: Feena is a xenophobe. I'm just saying.
One time at dinner, she started talking about how uneasy she felt about this city we were staying at where all these different races were living together. While we ate, she explained how poorly they worked together because they were all different from each other, and how much better and more unified it was back in this other town we had just left.

Just as a side-note, this other town that we had just left? They kicked our asses out.
And the reason they kicked us out? We had short ears, and nobody in that town trusted people with short ears.




So many incredible games. Why did I choose this one? What the hell is wrong with me?

6 comments:

  1. I did like the atmosphere, music, and combat. But even after you railed on about it, I can't really remember the plot at all. But hey, I do remember the End of the World (cooool!) and I remember the last boss (PYEW PYEW! BKSSHHHH!)! But, uh, yeah... I'd recommend a better game, but I'm afraid nostalgia may have tainted my memory.

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  2. I think Grandia was a really good game, honestly. Obviously it is ridden with flaws but let's not forget this game was published in '97 -- all the "great" games from this era have their problems. Even the biggest games of all time to come from this era have similar problems with pacing and dialogue (FF7's emo moment honestly is much longer, more unreasonable, and more unbearable than the short little thing in Grandia). Grandia is great because of a lot of the gaming aspects -- the level up system was only comparable to FF2 and took some good ideas from that game and made it a lot better. The IP bar and battle system is similar to a lot of other games as well but involves a lot more interaction.

    When I played Grandia I was a little kid, and it was beautiful and like the most amazing thing ever. Obviously at an older age I can say it's not nearly as great as I thought, but I've replayed through it every few years and every time I enjoy it. The characters are all really well made and each can have different conversations with each NPC at different times -- you can get more dialogue in one city with Grandia than you could get in most other games combining all the other towns together. The music was really ingenious and well written for such an early level video game (I've never heard music better for a ghost ship, and hearing all the weirder tracks played on cellos/violins for Iwadare's other performances is amazing)

    I don't know. I can understand disliking Grandia because it has faults. It's silly, it has plot holes, its immature and unbelievable, but honestly those aspects are in almost every video game. To me, the depth of the characters and the fun battle system made it far superior than its counter parts that were released around the same time.

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  4. The entire part of the game that focuses with Gaia was so underdeveloped.
    I love the game so much, but there are tons of "What" moments towards the end of the game that makes you realized that maybe they spent more time building this adventuring game, and then forgot they had a story to tell. I can remember every area in the game, but I cant recall ever learning about gaia...
    What is Gaia? Why does it exist? Why does Baal want it? How was he corrupted into bringing Gaia back despite knowing more about the destruction of icarians than anyone else?

    So many little plot holes that build up into a very vague main enemy.

    I disagree about disliking the Justin loses hope part.. I think that was necessary, they just underplayed it. It was literally a 2 minute scene... He does't find himself, he doesn't do anything, he just walks around in some rain, and then goes back to the town.. It could have been more involving... Sue being there was retarded though, no idea why they would do that...

    I think the second cd could have been even more spectacular than the first, but they seemed to stop building the story and just left it as it was... Gaia has no backstory, you get no new information about the icarians or the Angelou, even after you visit it, it feels like any other dungeon in the game. They stop using cut-scenes to build intrigue and start using them to build drama. And ultimately, the game had been so easy-going and light hearted, that it just doesn't mix as well.

    I think with some changes to the second cd it could be easily just as awesome.. tbh I still really like it, but if they want to focus on Gaia, then they need to fucking focus on Gaia and not leave it as a vague 'super evil thing'

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    Replies
    1. Lately, I've been watching/reading a lot of fiction with hero-type protagonists, and I've noticed that there's a single character trait binding them all together: They never give up. No matter how bad things get (especially if they get bad), no matter how big the sacrifice, the hero toughs it out. This is both a good thing, and a very bad thing (hero protagonists tend to be the simplest and most boring characters in fiction), but they serve their purpose.

      When Justin stops being the hero for those few scenes, he isn't serving his purpose.

      Is it necessary (recommended) for a story to have its darkest moment before everything starts getting better? Sure.
      Should you do that by forsaking the core principle of your hero-protagonist? No. That isn't a character arc. It's a character pothole.

      If Justin showed signs of cracking, if he dropped hints that maybe he didn't really believe all this adventurer stuff he was preaching, then I'd have a much easier time accepting his eventual transition to sad-guy-in-the-desert.

      But that never happens. Justin just runs out of steam and transforms in a matter of seconds. Everyone has their bad days, and I love a fallen hero, but neither of those excuses work for the story Grandia was trying to convey.


      What's up with these 'mope scenes'? Zidane from FF9 did close to the same thing, and all his buds had to cheer him up. Hell, even Kratos has a mope scene during a boss fight where he wouldn't fight the boss and you could only walk/mope around. These are extremely poor ways to add dimension to a character, or an all-is-lost moment to the story; and it's even worse because it's a freaking video game where you're supposed to be in control.

      Celes from FF6, once you start the world of ruin... that was a pretty good mope scene.




      Justin's mope scene could've worked, but the story needed to build up to that scene, not blindside us with it. Of course, he is a fourteen-year-old with ADD, so maybe Grandia handled it perfectly.

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