April 27, 2012

Let's talk about...The Granstream Saga!

Time for a new article about a forgotten RPG and I couldn't think about something else then "The Granstream Saga"

This is one of that special cases where a game is kinda snobbed because it came out at a "busy" time....in fact, it was released in japan at 1997, when japanese players were busy playing Final Fantasy 7, released the same year, but the european release wasn't lucky either, 'cause we saw it in stores in 1999, when most of us were playing Final Fantasy 8.

Let's point it already: this isn't an RPG as good as those two, it has a lot of flaws...but still, there are a lot of special things about it, that really deserve to be analized.

Basic things first: as I said, it was released November 6, 1997 in Japan, June 30, 1998 in North America and last, February 26, 1999 in PAL territory, developped by "Shade", or better know as "Quintet", a develop company most active during the '90s, with many action RPGs released on the NES and SNES system, like "ActRiser 1 & 2", "Soul Blazer" and "Illusion of Gaia" ("Illusion of Time" in Europe), but also with some other release in recent period, like "Godzilla Generations" for Dreamcast and "Orphen: Scion of Sorcery" for Playstation 2 (an interesting game that will probably deserve his own article in the future, we'll see). Sadly there isn't a lot of activity from them recently, except for some collaborations with other games

Anyway, let's talk about this specific game...

The Granstream Saga backstory is about a great war between two factions, the Allied Spirit Army and the Imperial Wizardry. At the climax of the war, the Imperial Wizardry built a special weapon that, based on their calculations, should have striked with heavy damages the enemy field...but, hey, guess what? It didn't worked, instead, they caused massive damage to the whole planet, changing the planet axis and causing global warming and the rise of the oceans, nice job!

Always a war...why can't they solve things with some cookies?
Luckly, four guys, called Wise Men, managed to create a machine to rise the continents up in the sky, allowing them to save them from the flood. With this system under their and their descendents surveillance, the world was going to be ok, but someday, the descendents of the Wise Men disappeared and the continents are now risking to fall. And this is where the main story begins,

We take control of Eon, a crimson-haired young orphan who lives with his adopted father, and archeologist named Valos, on the Wind continent of Shilf, where Valos job is to cut whole pieces of landscape with the help of magic stones, to make the continent lighter and save it from falling down. But there are no more magic stones, so the continents are doomed...or maybe the solution will rest inside some old ruins, where the search for a solution will result in Eon finding about a mysterious power he possess thanks to his parents memento, a strange crystal on his bracelet.
During his quest, he'll travel to all the continents, meet with interesting characters and facing REALLY hard choices...

My hair has the same color of my shirt, your argument is invalid
There is the plot, now for the gameplay...

In this action RPG, you control the main character in a top-down visual, exploring towns and dungeons. In the dungeons you will trigger the battle by entering in contact with enemies who are fully displayed on the map: there will be no transactions to a battle screen, the camera will move to a more dynamic angle and you'll start fighting. The battles are quite simple: you can attack, defend or use magic, chaining basic attacks for a quick combo, running or dodging. Yours and your enemies life is composed by two bars, one is the HP bar, the other is the Life Points bar: when the HP bar is depleted, you'll lose one Life on your Life Points Bar, and start again with a full HP bar, if you lose all your HP with no more Life Points, it's Game Over, or victory if you do this to the enemy.

Striking the enemy with your weapon is good, but don't forget we have still MP for some spells!
Most of the battles are quite easy and the random enemies will never give you much of a challenge...but of course, bosses are on another league, and they'll require more than just button-smashing the attack button, you'll always have to be on your guard.

Graphically talking, there are some flaws we need to point out: character designs for the important ones are pretty good, but still, nothing exceptional; also, funny thing to point out, characters models DONT' HAVE FACES!!!

Probably this was made 'cause with the top-down visual there wouldn't be the need to show faces, or maybe because during cutscenes, there are characters portait that provide expressions during dialogues.
I don't know the real reason for that, but still, it's a funny thing/unusual lack.

Eon : I wanted to, but i just remembered that I don't physically have eyes...
While the whole world isn't really detailed, there is to point out that this is one of the first RPG that came with full-polygonal landscapes, something different from PSX's "Final Fantasy", that would stick with more detailed, but pre-rendered backgrounds, and more similar to Squaresoft's "Vagrant Story".

First dungeon in the game, we'll see a lot of them, don't worry...
Also, during the game there are a lot of very well animated anime cutscenes that will show some important plot points.

As I said, important plot points...
So, any other things to point out? Yuuuuuuuuup, and not a good one
The english voice acting...it's not the worst I've heard, but it's so bland and uninspired, there is very little effort in it, and it fail to give "emotions" on the different situations. Pretty average is the music and the sound effects, nothing remarkable, but still nice to hear.
Pretty obviously, my favorite music in this game is the battle theme

So, is there anything left to say about this game?
I guess I covered most of the important things to say: it's not a masterpiece or a game that would start a competition against other RPGs, but personally, I don't think it was his purpose.
"The Granstream Saga" greatest misluck was to be released on a console during a time period where Squaresoft was dominating with his products.

Sometimes a nice concept and a great story, with some nice, even if not perfect, graphic and music is not enough to pierce the market, even if, the players who tried this game, never forget it, probably, that's the best moral victory it could be achieved.

1 comment:

  1. The game is really nice. Short, but sweet. But "40-60 hours of gameplay", as stated on the back of the box, is total lie :) Must-play for everyone, anyway.