Grandia and its sequel, Grandia II, are both very good classic role-playing games, full of charm and adventure and spirit. They came out in 1997 and 2000, respectively. Even an HD remake isn’t enough to make up for that.
Today, publisher Gungho Entertainment put out HD remakes of the first two Grandia games for Switch. The pack will cost you $40, and it includes two turn-based RPGs that rank among some of the best-written games of that era. Grandia tells the story of a wide-eyed adventurer named Justin who winds up caught up in an epic battle; Grandia 2 features the snarky mercenary Ryudo, who’s hired as a bodyguard and...also winds up caught in an epic battle. Lots of epic battles up in here.
The remakes of both games are sleek and pretty, there’s no doubt. Problem is, like many retro RPGs—especially the ones that came out in rudimentary 3D on the PS1 and PS2—these two games can feel downright sluggish today. They’re full of slow cutscenes, tedious random encounters, and clunky traveling. Many other publishers compensate for that antiquated feel by adding useful features, like save states and, most pivotally, a fast-forward button, which makes all those mindless random battles feel like far less of a chore. Perhaps the best example of a company preserving classics while also adding enough accouterments to make them playable in 2019 is the Sega Genesis Classics pack, also available on Switch, which includes both a fast-forward and a rewind button.
Sadly, the HD remakes of Grandia and its sequel include nothing of the sort. Outside of the enhanced visuals, there are no useful quality-of-life features, which may make both games near-unplayable for those of us who might want to play (or replay) them but don’t have the patience to spend dozens of hours mashing the A button through monotonous fights. That’s too bad.