Played on: PS1 emulation on Vita
Released On: October 26, 1999
I was a Sega kid. I wanted fast paced action, flashing lights, killer guitar riffs playing up the attitude. I wanted my Surge cold and thrown at me in a junk yard. I wanted to snowboard down an avalanche. From age 7-12, I was fully invested in the 90s marketing of extreme.
So RPGs didn't really fit that marketing persona I was trying to live up to.
Even though the PlayStation 1 is my all time favorite console, I didn't understand it's greatest strength until I shed my spiked hair, the JRPG.
There's the obvious RPGs like Final Fantasy, Chrono Cross, Legend of Dragoon that I've circled back around to, but there were so many RPGs in the decade of PS1 that I missed, it's nearly impossible to get my head around what is worth my time and what isn't. I mostly rely on reading blogs or hearing about them on podcasts.
Retronauts discussed Grandia when it hit PSN a few years ago and on a whim I bought it, not really knowing what it was other than the interesting battles system Jeremy Parish described.
I didn't actually get around to playing Grandia until relatively recently. I installed it on my Vita where it lived un-played for several years while I played more pressing RPGs like Persona 4, Vagrant Story, and Final Fantasy VII. But getting stuck in Final Fantasy, and completing Persona a second time, I found myself staring at Grandia bubble icon and figured why not.
At first, I was really excited to see an opening cinematic. There's nothing quite like the PS1 era, overindulgent, CG cut scenes we got. But this one... this is a solid 3 minute CG cinematic that you can't skip.
So maybe started this one out on the wrong foot.
But then the story switched to in game scenes, I was greeted by these gorgeous blown up images of faces attached to the dialogue.
And the character models in game were vibrant colors which really popped after playing Final Fantasy VII. I was in again. I was excited to see the art.
I loved roaming around town. I loved that a story of kids and their imagination was building this adventure. It was so different than the "world is going to end and only you can save it" sort of stories JRPG's typically rely on. I was really excited for this game.
And then I just couldn't figure out what to do. I roamed around for what felt like forever, got to a world map, and wandered some more. I had no idea what to do.
I contemplated pulling up a GameFaq just to see more of this game and to see if it eventually clicked, but as I stared at the laptop that was powered down and back at my Vita, and then to the time, I decided just to give up on this game for now and maybe revisit it again in a few years when I find myself craving a game like this.
Jeremy warned me that this wasn't the best RPG. In fact, I think he said something about it being an acquired taste, and my brief hour with this game, I could see the sudsy acquired taste like your first beer peculating below the surface.