OK, so let’s talk about this sweet little PS1 and Saturn RPG called Grandia that was released way back in the days when 2D sprites were still acceptable on a next-gen console without having to be super hi-res-HD-burn-your-eyeballs-fantastic, gameplay could last up to 50 hours without boring you to death and voice acting was still sort of new enough to be deemed acceptable, regardless of how terrible it seems nowadays.
And goodness knows it’s fucking terrible by today’s standards.
It was a game that took place over the COMPLETE space of two discs (at least on the PS1 it did, I’m not as au fait with the Saturn version) and in my eyes, it is still one of the finest old-school RPGS of its era. To be more precise, it was the year 2000. Actually that does sound like it was pretty late for this kind of thing but the PS1 version came out three YEARS after the Saturn version (but even that was Japan-only, apparently and there were panty-stealing minigames… BECAUSE JAPAN, apparently).
So let’s get the nitty-gritty out of the way, OK? Story-wise, we’re talking about a kid named Justin, who is actually OBSESSED with adventuring – and we’re talking creepy levels of obsession – and his childhood friend Sue, an uber-peppy, screechy ‘GOSH JUSTIN, YOU SURE ARE A SILLY BILLY’ type of girl who grasses him up every chance she gets, calls him out on his behaviour and acts like a little saint all of the time because she’s small and cute and knows it. Essentially, she looks like she’s about 8 or 9 in-game when she’s probably only a year younger than the main character Justin, who’s probably only 13/14/15 but who knows, the game doesn’t really specify his age but that’s de rigeur for this kinda thing dontchaknow? They can’t be any older than 16 in an RPG otherwise it just wouldn’t work. No one would buy a game where the main protagonist is over the age of 16 and has to defeat a boss who is clearly twice/thrice his age and holds all the power known to man. I mean, really now? Get with it, grandpa. That stuff doesn’t sell! *tsk*
Did I mention Puffy yet?
I fail to remember what that thing is but y’know, RPG laws and all. It’s there. It’s probably a boy but you can’t tell. It’s something Sue uses to fight with. One of its moves involve kissing opponents to death. I think it’s meant to be headbutting but the sound effect that accompanies it is totally not a headbutt noise but either way, it’s a thing that is in the game and occasionally has to be mentioned by Sue in a “don’t you agree with me?” kind of way, almost like Sue’s trying to gang up on Justin like she seems to do the entire game because she’s small and cute and get away with that type of thing (ABOOOOOO).
Anyway, Justin and Sue are having a real la-la-la happy time with their friends who seem to hate them because Sue doesn’t like this other guy who wants to marry her and Justin, being the true gentleman that he is, will FIGHT FOR HER and DEFEND HER and be all manly and stuff by finding pot lids, dirty aprons and a piece of wood, all of which must be done for sunset or else shit will go down y’all. Because reasons. RPG reasons.
Basically, it’s the RPG equivalent of The Goonies only with slightly worse acting.
And that’s a fucking great film. Sense the tone.
So eventually, Justin starts talking to his ma about some old rock his dad gave to him called a Spirit Stone, which is obvs the main focus of the whole story because why bring it up if its just gonna get thrown under the carpet again? Anywho, turns out Justin’s ma was a pirate and nobody knew ever except we all totally knew because it says so in the game’s manual, but that’s just common sense and since when did characters in video games have common sense (HINT HINT PERSONA HINT HINT)…
So this Spirit Stone (I’m gonna keep calling it an old rock cos it’s funnier) lands Justin in a bit of bother and some crusty old army guys get a bit pissy about the fact he has it and they want it so they say ‘gimme that old rock’ and Justin’s like ‘nah dude, fuck you’ so there’s a HILARIOUS chase scene involving some old ruins and three colonels who are really only there for comic relief because the music tells us so, and one of them fights with a yo-yo and all characters who fight with yo-yos are always comic relief characters according the video game law. Anyway, these three are actual proper genuine bitches to everyone except Herr Mullen (that’s his actual name) because he’s got long blonde hair and that’s really it. He has long blonde hair. He’s a dick but he’s got long blonde hair so it’s perfectly fine, apparently. I missed an opportunity to make a HERR pun there but you’ll get over it.
Oh, Herr Mullen’s like one of the antagonists but he’s like ‘do I, don’t I’ most of the time even though he’s just following daddy’s order like a little wuss. Daddy’s in control and he just gets ordered around like a puppet acting all high and mighty in front of everyone else because WAH WAH DADDY WON’T LET ME TAKE CONTROL OF THE SPIRIT STONE or whatever his problem is. It’s not that exciting anyway. He sucks. You don’t like him. Justin makes it clear throughout of that so get used to it. Just call him a dick and be done with it. Moving on!
So after the ruins, Justin goes to see some old adventurer dude because some girl in the ruins told him to GO EAST which is repeated regularly throughout the entire game and eventually you stop singing GO EEEEEAST in the style of the Pet Shop Boys because it’s not funny after the first three times and it doesn’t even work anyway. That old geezer has the most disturbing eyebrows you could possibly imagine and basically goes about his daily life in a suit of armour and actually has no real bearing on the plot other than as a set piece for a boss and a really badly animated cut-scene involving mine carts. Anyway, Justin wants his boat passport thingy because he can’t get one otherwise to be able to GO EAST and this old git’s like ‘no fucking way’ until Sue starts being a dick to him saying he’s a n00b and he’s all like ‘now hold on, back the fuck up’ and basically gives it to him in the end after the awful mine cart chase scene which totally needed the Benny Hill theme tune accompanying it. Anyway, the old git says ‘leave the girl here, she’s rubbish’ and you actually do it and she kicks you in the shin and fucks off home crying because OF COURSE SHE WOULD, YOU JUST TOLD HER TO FUCK OFF, WOULDN’T YOU? Jeez, Justin, you dick.
She follows you anyway, there’s some stuff about the spirits of the sea saying you have to be thrown overboard in a barrel if you’re a stowaway but you sorta get away with it, fight a ghost ship, meet another adventurer, Justin’s all sexist about this adventurer being a girl because he’s like “I bet he’s a muscly beast and I wanna have adventure sex with him” only when it’s a girl he’s like “I gotta protect you from all the adventure sex because you’re a girl” and she REALLY hates that and spends the rest of the game trying not to slap him upside the head about it because SEXIST but she does slap him a couple of times later on in the game and you’re perfectly OK with that because you’re being a dick, Justin. Stop being such a dick.
Anyway, you GO EAST, you do some other adventuring stuff, meet a few weird characters, none of whom are as interesting as the talking rabbit who speaks in the most bizarre cod-Italian accent and attacks with a bow that he uses his feet to fire with and basically goes all cryptic all of the time. There’s a giant wall in there too, I don’t wanna spoil too much for you. You GO EAST. A bunch of stuff happens. It’s fun. WOO.
Also, the voice acting is atrocious. Herr Mullen could not sound sincere if he was given lessons in being sincere and slapped with the sincerest book in the world. Google translate would have been a better voice actor even if you turned it to Japanese and listened to it say ……………….. (honestly try that if you haven’t already, it’s fucking hilarious).
Anyway, Justin saves the world (SPOILERS) and everything’s mostly OK. Oh and Sue gets sent home and you rejoice about it but then realise that she basically is your Aeris, aside from the lack of death. She’s that ‘I levelled up this character all this way and FOR WHAT?’ character. Don’t give her ANY Mana eggs. If you play it, you’ll know what I mean. She appears again towards the end to kick Justin up the arse for acting like a complete dick to his other party members but that’s like ‘WHY ARE YOU HERE, I SENT YOU HOME, STOP MAKING MORE PLOTHOLES’ and eventually you save the world again because, obvs, Sue helped by calling you a numpty and no offence to her but that’s just rude and you don’t like it so go show her what you’re made up, ya dick.
So yeah. Grandia. Rad as fuck PS1-era RPG. Look, the graphics aren’t great but if you played games like this for graphics, you’d be playing them in 3D by now and even when you have that, you complained about Final Fantasy VII’s polygons “ooh they’re so square and weird looking” – ahhh, go tell it to the wall, nobody cares.
Just soak up the appallingly translated story.
You guys is sick.