Developer: Game Arts
Release Date: February 14, 2006
Alicia Ashby: This is a big year for RPGs with fantastic battle systems, but when it comes to combat, Grandia's always been the pimp king of RPGs. Grandia III, due out less than a month as I write this, is doing a fine job of upholding the royal pimp legacy. The active battle system from the first two games is back, with a brand-new ability to juggle air combos for massive damage and spectacular graphics. The story and character elements people love about Grandia haven't changed either, with a charming cast that includes such oddities as a saturnine pirate and a disturbingly hot mom.
Geson Hatchett: Before the action-RPG became a staple of gaming, there was Grandia – and more importantly, there was Grandia II, which boasted one of the most innovative battle systems ever in an RPG. Heck, it was so good that it darn near carried the game by itself. GameArts and Square Enix are looking to make one of the best even better, and I, for one, plan to be there to experience the results.
Joe Keiser: The Dreamcast may have only had a couple of good RPGs to see it through its abbreviated life, but they were genuinely great. Grandia II was one of them, with incredible graphics and one of the most inventive and exciting battle systems in the whole genre. Grandia Xtreme was about as good as you'd expect of an RPG with the "word" Xtreme in the title, but with Grandia III, it looks like it's back to form of the series proper. This game promises to explore familial relationships in new and interesting ways, bring back the joyous combat of the second game, and just generally be beautiful and fun and keeping in the spirit of its predecessors. If anything, it actually looks like it might exceed all the earlier games – given its pedigree, that's saying quite a bit.
Brian "Katarani" Porbansky: Game Arts has been known for years for making intensely popular yet average console RPGs. The original Grandia was hardly the Final Fantasy-killer that Japanimaniacs who had imported it on the Sega Saturn claimed, the story being almost a rulebook on what clichés you could have in a RPG and get away with it. Grandia II, on the other hand, not only took leaps and bounds with the story, but also fine-tuned an already spectacular battle system, making each battle an exercise in thought versus one in button-mashing. Grandia X-Treme took a hit on the story but fine-tuned the battle system into an unstoppable juggernaut, with few flaws and many advantages. If Grandia III follows suit, the battles will have become even more strategy-oriented than before, and the story is (hopefully) even more complex than that of Grandia II, elevating the series to a level on par with the franchise that many claimed years upon years ago that it could beat.
Hank Wang: Grandia is another RPG series that has been overlooked by many people, myself included. Grandia III gets back to the series' roots, which is usually a good thing. It'll be fun to see how the storyline plays out, and the battle system is another aspect that I'm looking forward to.
Gordy "XyzzySqrl" Wheeler: Grandia has always had the single most butt-kicking RPG battle system in the entire universe, and yeah, you can quote me on that. With an emphasis on strategy and the real-time/turn-based hybridic nature of it, fights in Grandia just feel more dynamic than most games. That's a big push towards picking this up right there, but along with that comes the storyline. Game Arts loves to give us heroes that look hopefully to the future, and the dream of flight is an easy one to relate to. Yuuki, the wanna-be pilot, looks to return to the wide-eyed enthusiasm of Justin (hero of Grandia 1) rather than the sarcasm of Ryudo (Grandia 2's main lead). Those of us who love a strong sense of wonder in our games can't help but be enthused about Grandia III. In a metaphorical as well as a gameplay sense, it's a struggle against the darkness and angst that engulfs so many games lately. We need games like Grandia III to remind us it's okay to be a young person with a big dream.
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