Chris Winkler
GungHo Finally Details Grandia Online
Online iteration of popular franchise to ship this summer.
05.21.09 - 6:24 PM

At a press conference in Tokyo today, GungHo Online Entertainment and its subsidiary GameArts finally took the wraps off its MMORPG Grandia Online. Originally announced four years ago, the project has since been shrouded in mystery. Today, GungHo revealed that the game has been jointly developed by an internal development team and Grandia makers GameArts. As expected, series composer Noriyuki Iwadare is in charge of Grandia Online's soundtrack. Kikuko Inouchi will again lend her voice to Liete. Meanwhile, Mariya Ise will voice the Colta race.

Grandia Online is to bring the first Grandia's spirit of "adventure" to the world of online games. The newest addition to the storied franchise will feature an original story centering on the ancient Icarian civilization the powerful spirit stones which already played a major role in the first game. The developers plan to tell their story through updates similar to the episodes of a TV anime series. The story begins with only the player and his partner getting away unharmed from the petrification of an entire village. Supported by Liete, they embark on a journey to save the village and solve the riddle behind its petrification.

Players will be able to choose among the following three races: humans, the child-like and cute Colta and the huge Ralga race. A key feature of Grandia Online is the AI-controlled partner, who will remain on the player's side at any time.

System-wise, series fans can look forward to the Ultimate Action Battle System, an action-oriented battle system reminiscent of Grandia's. During battle, an IP gauge will let the player save up on combo points. By using those combo points, it will be possible to unleash powerful combo skills. Boss enemies will possess IP gauges, too. The key to victory will be to prevent the boss from filling up his gauge. Boss monsters will consist of multiple parts. Before the main body can be attacked, the party first has to do away with both hands. Once a battle is over, a pillar of light might appear and allow the player to venture into a parallel world known as Pulse of Gaia. There, more powerful monsters and enemies who drop rare items can be encountered. A pillar of light can be entered by multiple parties, so it is possible to call on other players to simultaneously enter the parallel world.

To strengthen one's weapons spirit stones are required. Depending on how those precious stones are put together, the abilities of a particular weapon or accessory will vary significantly.

Grandia Online is set to enter a technical test with 5,000 participants next month. Next is a closed beta testing phase in July, with an open beta to follow sometime in summer. The commercial launch in Japan is set for summer, too. Playing the game will be free of charge, as users will have to pay real-world cash for any items they choose to purchase in-game.


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