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"Since the airship engineers like to spend their time debating the feasibility of an airship engine at Warp 5, we've found our hive of resident techno-geeks. I'm sure that each and every one of them can remember every single line from every Star Trek movie ever made, God have mercy upon their Spock-ears wearing little souls."
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Grandia II : Part 1
By Jeanne
Posted 11.25.02
Pg. 1 : 2 : 3
Grandia II is an example of a game that has a lot of potential, but goes so very wrong somewhere along the way. But don't take my word for it -- well, I suppose you will have to take my word for it, since I'm the recapper. Read on to find out how a young man full of sarcasm and bitterness loses his way and becomes a drooling, brainwashed idiot. I hate you, Grandia II.


The game starts out with all sorts of panoramic views of the earth from outer space and different landscapes. We don't know or care about any of these yet. There are some people worshipping some very phallic towers. No, I'm serious -- the things are practically anatomically correct. Do the game designers not realize this, or do they throw in that stuff on purpose? We may never know. Nor do we want to. Against a calm musical background of strings, a mighty war wages on the planet, with flames and reddened skies and the whole nine yards. A white sparkly thing floats above the clouds. We see a mural, then we're back to the white sparkly thing clashing against something else in outer space. You know, this makes no sense. Mural, sparkly thing crashing to earth and creating a giant chasm, world map with some fake clouds, real clouds moving aside to reveal birds flying over the chasm, and then we have our title. I am so confused right now.

We go to what looks like regular gameplay mode. Some people are standing around a dirt road in a forest near a river. There's a blond chick bending over and talking to someone. A group of girls dressed like the blond girl stand behind her. No, not that close; don't be sick. Oh, the blond chick is talking to a little kid. That means she's kind and motherly. Isn't that sweet? The girls start to walk across a wooden bridge and suddenly we see a bird zooming along the river carrying something that looks like three balls on a string. The music gets all 80's guitar and brass, and the girls scream as the bird flies under the bridge. Yeah, that's really scary.

Now we're following the bird and his balls. The bird plunges into the forest. We see a young man wearing what looks like earmuffs. He's hanging from a rope on the side of a cliff. A moment later, we find out that his name is Ryudo. He's a total Squall clone, except for the overtly obvious homosexuality. "Don't let me down...Skye," he says. Skye is the bird. Get it? "Skye"? And he's a bird? Just then, a bunch of lizard men run out of the forest and join some other lizard men who are standing right underneath Ryudo's cliff. This looks bad. There is what looks like several treasure chests under the cliff as well.

That just looks wrong.

Suddenly, something explodes in the forest, causing black smoke to drift upward. Some of the lizard men run to investigate. Ryudo jumps down and attacks one of the remaining lizard men but the screen goes suspiciously blank. Uh-oh, is this a Final Fantasy IX-style "too lazy to do animation" moment? Yes, it is indeed. The camera fades in on Ryudo standing over the lizard's dead body. Oh, that's nice -- they spared us a "gory" death scene. Ryudo took something from the lizard, though; it's a blue ball. You read that correctly. No, don't ask. Ryudo tosses the blue ball in the air and then catches it a few times. Uh-oh! The music turns all evil and the remaining lizard men run out of the forest, pissed. They throw spears at Ryudo, all missing. Why do bad guys always have such bad aim? Ryudo screams for Skye, and the bird appears to fly Ryudo to safety. The lizard men are pissed.

The next scene shows Skye, Ryudo holding onto his leg, flying over the forest. "Ryudo! I cannot take much more of this!" he says in kind of a gay pseudo-British voice. "Quit your bellyachin' and fly, dammit!" Ryudo tells him. I like him already. Too bad his sarcastic attitude doesn't last through the entire game. What do game designers have against assholic heroes anyway? Someone like Tidus can be a huge wanker throughout the game with no discernible personality change, whereas someone like Squally or Ryudo has to become a love-damaged twit. It's not fair. Anyway, back to the action. Skye, true to his word, falls into the forest, Ryudo still attached.

Then, in what seems to be a completely different scene, Ryudo is talking to a couple of people on a dirt road in the forest. There are a lot of forest dirt roads or something. "I finished the job, didn't I?" he asks. "Yes, in your own crude fashion," says the old guy snidely. He throws Ryudo's money to him. The guy's daughter isn't pleased with her dad's rudeness, and she apologizes to Ryudo, who says he's used to it. "I won't have you speaking to HIS kind," says the snotty old codger. This is our first hint that Ryudo is of some despised group. We'll be hit over the head with it many more times by the end of the recap, so prepare yourself.

"I cannot stand him. What a pompous fool," Skye says of the old guy in that gay voice of his. I guess I have to respect Skye, too. They have a discussion about how work is work and sometimes they have to deal with assholes. It's really uplifting, and something that many of us can relate to. I'm fairly lucky in my own job, but in the recapping biz, I often have to deal with wankers. The two of them continue on, and Skye makes a leering remark about the old guy's daughter. We establish that Ryudo doesn't care about her or people in general. Kind of like me. No, wait, I really care about all of you. Really. Get back here.

A piece of paper tied to a nearby tree alerts Skye that they have another job. That seems like kind of a chancy way of telling someone he has a job. Ryudo whines a bit, and then comments that he's still sore from the fall, thanks to Skye. This makes Skye peck the ever-loving crap out of Ryudo, who quickly changes his tune. Insert pecker joke here. Ryudo reads the piece of paper, which says, "The Church of Granas wants to hire you as a bodyguard." Ryudo doesn't want to have anything to do with the Church of Granas, and if the church in this game is like any church in any other video game, I don't blame him. But as Skye reminds him, "A job's a job." "Yeah, I guess you're right. That's what it means to be a Geohound," Ryudo replies in this really wanky way. A what? A Geohound? What kind of dippy name is that? It sounds like Geodude from Pokemon. Therefore, that is what Ryudo's job is now: Geodude. And in Grandia II, no one likes Geodudes.

Now I finally get control of the Geodude. I walk him from Point A, somewhere in the forest, to Point B, a nearby town called Carbo. There are "random" battles in the forest, also known as battles where you can see the monsters before you fight them but it doesn't matter because you can't avoid them. Kind of like Chrono Cross. And I don't understand what is supposedly so legendary about the battle system. It's just...there.

In the town, Ryudo finds the group of girls we saw crossing the bridge earlier. The leader, Elena, has balls hanging from her headscarf. She apologizes to the others for not being able to go with them to some place we neither know nor care about yet. Another girl, Tessa, says, "I guess your role is more important than ours. Don't worry, we'll do all the preparations for the ceremony." Before Tessa and the others leave, yet another girl, Ismene, says that they hired Elena a bodyguard so that she'll be able to join them safely. I wonder who that bodyguard could possibly be? And I wonder if sweet, religious Elena, and world-weary, sarcastic Ryudo will fall madly in love and both become better (and more irritating) people because of it? The answer is yes. However, Skye has not played many video games. "Probably none of our concern," he says as the girls walk off.

Yeah, I would say that's fortunate.

A random guy approaches them. "Are they collecting tithes? There's enough...what do they do - storm through your door and beat charity out of you?" Ryudo wonders. "I understand they're off to a tower outside the village to drive away evil spirits. We're very fortunate to have the sisters." the guy replies. So Ryudo's guess was a little off. He asks about Elena. "Oh. Miss Elena? She's a Songstress of Granas. She sings such pretty songs for us," Random Guy says. So basically, Elena is Mary Sue. That's her name from now on. Random Guy warns Ryudo that there are bad scary monsters about at night and he shouldn't go out then. Skye asks where the church is located and Random Guy gives them directions. That means that since Skye is male, a male actually asked for directions! Don't kill me.

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