Grandia HD Collection

Review: Grandia HD Collection

The Grandia series is from a bygone era when the Dreamcast was on the shelves, and Sonic Adventure was the latest craze. In subsequent years, the series landed on PlayStation and even received a few new titles, but Grandia has been missing since the PlayStation 2 era. The Grandia HD Collection is a nostalgic journey back to the golden age of JRPGs, featuring two timeless classics remastered in high definition.

In 2019, the Grandia HD Collection landed on the Nintendo Switch, and I was excited to revisit the duology. However, it wasn’t until 2024 that I found time to sit down and play a pair of games. I’m thrilled I did, though, because they are exceptional. Now, Xbox and PlayStation have their moment with the port landing this week.

The series was developed by Game Arts, which worked on Lunar, one of my favourite series from the 90s, alongside Grandia. Sadly, neither franchise has had a resurgence since, but they are well worth experiencing even once.

There are caveats to the collection, though, as it’s a rather barebone bundle that excludes the PlayStation 2 game Grandia 3. 

Grandia HD Collection Is Great But Incomplete

What does the collection include? The re-release offers the choice of English or Japanese audio for both games, and both games see an HD facelift. As I mentioned, this is a barebones port with minimal changes made, which is a shame, given how good the recent Final Fantasy Pixel Collection is.

The Grandia games include widescreen support, but cannot you can’t speed up gameplay and story segments. Also, there’s no way to cheese the system and have the choice to experience the story with challenge, so you’ll have to play through the story instead of being able to inject max-level characters into the story from the beginning. there’

The FMV sequences are unchanged, and it isn’t enjoyable. Instead, while they are

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Grandia, initially released in 1997 for the Sega Saturn and later ported to the PlayStation and other platforms, follows the journey of Justin, a young adventurer with dreams of exploring the world beyond his humble village. Set in a vibrant fantasy realm filled with ancient ruins, mythical creatures, and mystical artifacts, Justin embarks on an epic quest to uncover the secrets of the past and save the world from an ancient evil.

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Its engaging storytelling and charming characters are at the heart of Grandia‘s appeal. From the plucky protagonist Justin to his loyal companions Feena and Sue, each character is brought to life through expressive dialogue, vibrant personality traits, and meaningful character development. The narrative unfolds through captivating cutscenes, dynamic interactions, and intriguing plot twists, keeping players invested in the journey from beginning to end.

One of Grandia‘s most innovative features is its combat system, which blends turn-based mechanics with real-time action. Players must strategically time their attacks, spells, and special moves to outmaneuver enemies and gain the upper hand in battle. The Active Time Battle (ATB) gauge adds an element of tension and strategy, allowing players to interrupt enemy actions and chain together powerful combo attacks. This dynamic approach to combat sets Grandia apart from other RPGs of its time and continues to be praised for its depth and innovation.

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In addition to its compelling narrative and innovative gameplay, Grandia is also known for its stunning visuals and memorable soundtrack. The vibrant 2D sprites, detailed environments, and expressive character animations bring the world of Grandia to life in vivid detail. Meanwhile, the orchestral score, composed by Noriyuki Iwadare, sets the tone for each scene, evoking a sense of wonder, adventure, and nostalgia.

Grandia 2 Is A Timeless Classic

Grandia 2, released in 2000 for the Dreamcast and later ported to other platforms, including the PlayStation 2 and PC, takes players on a darker and more mature journey than its predecessor.

Set in a world plagued by darkness and corruption, players assume the role of Ryudo, a cynical mercenary with a troubled past tasked with escorting a songstress named Elena to a distant cathedral.

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Grandia 2‘s narrative is a tale of redemption, sacrifice, and the struggle between light and darkness. As Ryudo and Elena journey across the land, they encounter various characters, including the enigmatic magician Millennia and the devout priest Roan, each with motivations and agendas. The story unfolds through cinematic cutscenes, dramatic confrontations, and philosophical discussions, exploring themes of faith, morality, and the nature of power.

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Like its predecessor, Grandia 2 features a unique combat system that combines turn-based mechanics with real-time action. Players must strategically position their characters on the battlefield, time their attacks and spells, and exploit enemy weaknesses to emerge victorious. The addition of the Cancel system allows players to interrupt enemy actions and chain together devastating combos, adding depth and strategy to each encounter.

In addition to its compelling narrative and engaging gameplay, Grandia 2 is also praised for its striking visuals and atmospheric soundtrack. The updated character models, enhanced environments, and improved special effects breathe new life into this classic title, while the haunting melodies and epic orchestral score create a sense of tension, drama, and immersion.

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The enduring appeal of the Grandia series can be attributed to several key factors. Firstly, Grandia and Grandia 2 feature rich, immersive narratives that captivate players with compelling characters, intricate world-building, and epic scope. Whether embarking on a quest to uncover ancient mysteries or battling against the forces of darkness, players are drawn into a world brimming with adventure, discovery, and emotion.

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Secondly, the Grandia series’ innovative gameplay mechanics set it apart from other RPGs of its time and continue to be praised for their depth, strategy, and accessibility. Combining turn-based combat with real-time action adds a dynamic element to battles, keeping players on their toes. Meanwhile, the deep character customization, diverse skill trees, and expansive world exploration offer endless opportunities for discovery and experimentation.

Finally, the Grandia series’ timeless charm and nostalgia have endeared it to generations of players worldwide. From its vibrant art style and memorable characters to its sweeping orchestral score and epic storytelling, the Grandia series continues to evoke a sense of wonder, excitement, and nostalgia for old and new fans.

Verdict

The Grandia HD Collection is an acceptable way to play two solid RPGs from a different era. However, the collection lacks any unique material you can dive into to spend more time with these characters, and quality-of-life changes are at the bare minimum, which is a shame. I’m also curious why this collection didn’t launch along the Switch and PC ports, but here we are.

Recommended

[The publisher provided a copy of the game for review purposes.]

Reviewed on: PlayStation 5

Grandia HD Collection
Review: Grandia HD Collection
Summary
The Grandia HD Collection is an acceptable way to play two solid RPGs from a different era.
Liked
Two great games from a simpler era
The battle system is still a ton of fun
Great narratives
Didn't Like
Lack of Grandia 3
Barebones port with no extras