Retro Play: Grandia III

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It has been ten years since we played the last entry in the beloved but now niche franchise Grandia. One of the things that made the Grandia games so special to us were not only their stories but in particular their great combat, and this is where Grandia III truly shines.

We recently played Grandia III on the Playstation 3 as it has been re-released digitally on to the PSN network. It doesn’t look all that different but you wouldn’t expect that given that the game is technically a PS2 game.

It still shines with a sparkle though, literally. The ocean has a nice ethereal shine to it that we couldn’t help but notice as we were walking down the paths of the mostly linear game. This shine was also shown in the spells, the sky, and the glass-like environments of the game’s Verse-Realm.

It is pretty obvious that this was a later-gen game on the PS2 and it’s nice to see the graphics don’t look terribly dated. Well…the graphics outside of the cut-scenes do somewhat have a lack of polish but we found this forgivable.

Back to the great combat. Coming back to Grandia III after a ten year hiatus felt nice. The combat most definitely captivated us. The combat is a semi action, semi turn based affair in which you try to take advantage of enemy openings by beating them to the punch.

You do this by cancelling their moves, especially those that will hurt party members, do wide group aoe damage, or put any other disadvantage on to your party.

The combat has a nice balance of easy entry level tactics, but deepens with game play time.

Strategically, you’ll want to pay attention to your enemies’ movements and not doing so won’t necessarily kill you outright, but it will make things harder.

Another fun thing to do is try to gain an aerial attack. This is done by launching an enemy in the air and having the next person’s turn timed just right to hit them in the air. It does a combo and feels so damn satisfying.

The story of Grandia III isn’t the best of the series, but it’s also not the worst. For us, there was a nostalgic factor because the JRPG storyline felt very much like your old school JRPG story. Boy meets girl, girl has secret enemies following her, boy gets involved and protects girl … and then somewhere down the line you’re saving the world.

It’s easy to see how Grandia III’s story didn’t hold up during the JRPG golden era, but now its got a nice sheen of classic narrative to it. Also, shout out to the creators for letting a parent come on to the journey with the young heroes.

While she does eventually leave, it was so refreshing to see family dynamics (other than siblings or cousins) play an intricate role in the shifting story.

It was bittersweet to see her come to terms with the fact that her son was growing up into a man who is capable of making his own decisions.

Grandia III is definitely a nostalgic piece of JRPG that you should check out!