Coming this winter
If there is one thing PAX West has taught me, it’s that what’s old is new again. Throughout the show, I see games that hark back to classic console eras and remakes and HD ports of the timeless titles from our youth. Grandia + Grandia II HD Remaster falls into the latter category.
Announced last month by GungHo Online Entertainment, Grandia I + II is on its way to the Switch in the coming months. On the PAX show floor, I get to take the work in progress for a spin, and while the unique combat system is certainly a draw, I’m not quite sure enough work is going into making this a title worthy of the term “HD Remaster.”
If you’ve never played a Grandia game, the turn-based battle system is one that rewards careful planning and attention to details. In battle, each member of your party and every enemy has their attack order dictated by a continuously moving action bar in the lower right of the screen. The bar is divided into two halves. When a party member icon is in the first half, I’m waiting for their turn to attack. Once the icon reaches the end of the half, I can pick a move and specifically target an enemy for the chance of knocking them further back on the bar, disrupting their place in the attack order.
The second half of the action bar is for the attack. Once again I have to wait for my character icon to reach the end of the half to actually pull off the move I select for them. If I attack an enemy while their icon is in the attack portion of the action bar, I have the chance of canceling out their move and sending them to the very start of the action bar.
If that sounds like a lot to take in, it’s actually pretty simple in action. In the one fight of the demo, I do a pretty good job of continuously interrupting enemy attacks and pushing their place on the action bar further and further back. It’s quite the rewarding system, one I wish were attached to a more modern looking game.
The fight from the demo is taken from Grandia II, an 18-year-old game that originally appeared on the Dreamcast. It still very much looks like that Dreamcast game, but with character and enemy polygons upscaled to HD. While those characters look clean on the Switch hardware, not everything is being given the same treatment. There are many bits of pixelated icons that are fuzzy throughout the demo, meaning crisp HD characters will exist in a world of low-resolution details. It’s not a deal breaker in terms of whether or not this game is worth playing, but it certainly gives the impression not much work is going into the port. A widescreen mode for the game is in development, but for my demo, the option only stretches the picture to fill the television screen.
Grandia + Grandia II HD Remaster for Switch is set for release this Winter and there is still quite a bit of work to be done. While the battle system certainly makes this game worth paying attention to, I’m not sure the quality of the port will appeal to anyone who isn’t already saving their pennies and nickles for it.