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|Publisher: Game Arts/ESP|
|Developer: Game Arts|
|System(s): Sega Saturn|
|Sound driver: SCSP (1/1Track)|
|Number of players: 1|
Grandia (グランディア) is a Sega Saturn RPG released in Japan and later brought overseas on the PlayStation. It is the first entry in Game Arts's popular Grandia series of RPGs. It was followed by Grandia II. The game is very characteristic of Game Arts' other classic franchise, Lunar, in its colorful and relatively lighthearted nature.
In a humble port town, Justin is playing games with his friends, while rumors are circulating that a new continent has been found. Meanwhile, the Garlyle forces, the main militia of the game's primary villains, are hunting for information regarding power sealed inside of the ancient ruins of past civilizations. Justin, along with his friend Sue, dream of going on the same adventures that Justin's late father undertook before him. Managing to get an entry pass to the adventurer's society, he is eventually led on a tour of the ancient ruins near his hometown. Inside, he opens a door with the help of a spirit stone and discovers that the legends of these cities may be a reality. But when the Garlyle forces go after him, they learn of what he has found and from there the adventure begins.
Grandia was distinct from many JRPGs of its time, in that players can see the enemies on the world map. Whether or not an enemy is caught from behind or vice versa, can trigger a first-strike surprise battle in a separate screen. The battle mode is also semi-tactical; players do not move through a grid but a series of several spots in terms of evasion or reaching enemies. Attacks are performed as a meter goes up, and this is the same for enemies, meaning whoever is first in line will be next to attack. Certain skills require more time to be process and even recover after use. Players can level up individual weapons, for which each character is capable of using a different set. Magic is also leveled up, like weapons, through use, though they must be obtained using mana eggs. The field also allows people to interact with objects, which either results in something as pointless as causing a tool to rattle, or triggering a door, bridge, and such for another player to travel.
The original Saturn game was one of the most beloved titles for the Saturn in Japan at the time of its release and won a Japan Game of the Year award. It sold nearly a million copies, and alongside Virtua Fighter 2, is one of the system's best selling titles. In 2015, Dengeki Online, a major video game publication in Japan, did an article recollecting the Saturn's history. In it, contributors were asked to name their 20 all-time favorite Saturn games, with Grandia receiving a nearly unanimous recommendation. The Saturn version never saw a release outside of Japan, but the later PlayStation port in 1999 did get published, though it would become only a cult classic in western territories.
Many gamers in the west view Saturn's quintessential JRPG as either Shining Force III, Dragon Force, or Panzer Dragoon Saga. Neither of these became a major success and are among the most sought after games on the system for Saturn RPGs with an english counterpart. As with the absence of Grandia's Saturn version for English territories, the lack of success with the Saturn contributed to this problem. At the time of its release, Saturn's main competitor for RPG epics was PlayStation's mammoth Final Fantasy VII by SquareSoft (now Square-Enix). Although Saturn could never rival the sales of Sony's console and it's highlights, the Japanese market, being more receptive to Saturn, helped usher the lighthearted Grandia into commercial success and there was thought as the system's answer to Final Fantasy VII (as some US outlets even echoed) though the two are quite different in style.
The PS version features some downgraded graphical effects, mostly due to 2D layering. For example, the Saturn version has a higher definition battle background.
The Saturn version also had an expansion disc called Grandia: Digital Museum, which allowed players to use their save files from the original game with a variety of bonus dungeons and unlockables.
|Sega Retro Average|
| Based on|
|Grandia (1997) | Grandia Digital Museum (1998)|
|Grandia II (2000)|