"There is no denying that I still had a ton of fun revisiting the genre I fell in love with many, many years ago."
During my time as a reviewer here at RPGFan, I've come to a certain realization: I'm a hard man to please. When I got the opportunity to review Grandia II Anniversary Edition, I was certain this was the game for me. I'm an old school guy, I take cheap shots at Final Fantasy XIII any chance I get, and my rose-tinted, nostalgia-soaked glasses are about as thick as they come. So, a Dreamcast classic like Grandia II should cruise right into the 90% bracket with an Editor's Choice badge proudly shining on its chest, right? Well, not quite. You see, there's something else I realized during my time with Grandia II: I don't miss the old days quite as much as I thought I did.
Grandia II is a fine title, but unlike fine wine, not everything about it has aged well. This is most noticeable in its visuals. While Grandia II boasts imaginative art direction, with major characters and locations all having a distinct look and feel, low polygon models, stiff animations and grainy FMVs don't leave any doubt that this game is almost old enough to drive. Support for higher resolutions and some smoothing options give it a minor facelift, but there's only so much you can do with 15-year old visuals.
Audio fares much better, sporting far fewer wrinkles than its video counterpart. Grandia II offers a rich and varied musical experience. Be it Elena's song, funky hiking music or one of several battle themes, Grandia II delivers a solid soundtrack from start to finish. Voice acting is present, with many familiar talents such as Jennifer Hale, Cam Clarke and Paul Eiding lending their vocal skills for the English dub. However, it's used rather sparingly, as only select parts of major story segments utilize voiced dialog. Quality of delivery varies, and while I have heard better performances from the English cast, nothing stands out as particularly cringe-worthy. For anyone who prefers original Japanese voice acting, the option to switch is available in the game's launcher. The developer in charge of this port was gracious enough to provide separate sliders for different elements of the audio, including footsteps. This seems like a minor thing, but trust me, it's a big deal and you'll be thankful that it's there.
Despite some wrinkles, Grandia II stands firm with its head held high. While the nostalgic tint may be fading from my rosy glasses, there is no denying that I still had a ton of fun revisiting the genre I fell in love with many, many years ago. The team behind Anniversary Edition delivered a good port, and I can only hope they'll do the same for other Dreamcast classics.