E3 2019: Grandia HD Collection PreviewIt's going to be a Grand-ia time.06.16.19 - 2:09 PM
When the Grandia HD Collection was announced last year, fans were overjoyed. While Grandia II has been accessible on Steam since 2015, the original Grandia has never been ported to modern consoles, outside of its PSN release. We got to spend some time with the Grandia HD Collection and looked at both games to see how they've fared over the course of time. Takeshi Minagawa, Director of Game Publishing at GungHo, was eager to show us both titles in docked and handheld mode, and while these are just straight ports, we're so excited that we can finally get our hands on these games again.
The Collection is digital only and contains both games on the same download. On the menu, there's language options for English, French and German, which is fantastic as the original releases did not have this option. You can also switch the dub between English and Japanese within each game if you wish; in Grandia, you can do this at any time, but in Grandia II, you must be on the game's starting menu.
Minagawa started our session by walking us through Grandia, in the Port Town of Parm. The first thing that stuck out is how great the game looks. It's been expanded to a 16x9 aspect ratio, even in battle, and the spritework and graphics are much improved. In the town we started in, the game also ran at a smooth 30 fps with little to no jittering. Minagawa also noted the changes to the UI and fonts throughout. We think they are both marked improvements, with much larger, sans serif fonts that make the dialogue and menus much more readable. We had the chance to play around a little, and the game controls nicely, allowing adjustments to the camera with both the right joystick and the original right and left bumpers.
We also got to spend a little time in the Salt Ruins during our demo and went into battle. The battle system and the UI look exactly the same outside of the expansion to the 16x9 aspect ratio, which is a good thing — Grandia's battle system still looks just as dynamic as it's always been. There did appear to be some slowdown a few times during battle, and the animations don't appear to be optimized as of yet, but it wasn't too noticeable. Grandia will also be coming to Steam as a separate release, not bundled with the sequel, so fans have a couple of options for where they can play this title.
After he finished showing us Grandia, Minagawa popped out to the menu and quickly switched over to Grandia II. For the most part, Grandia II is a direct port of the PC version, with a few notable differences, including upping the aspect ratio from the Steam release to fit the wider screen, meaning no more black borders. On top of that, Minagawa highlighted how much clearer and more detailed the environments look, and indeed, everything was much crisper than the previous release. GungHo plans on having Grandia II run at 60 fps, and this was the case for most of our demo, but in some busier areas there was a little lag. Some of the text was also a bit more pixelated, due to the hardcoding of the Steam version, but these aspects are currently being worked on.
Battles are still as frantic as we remembered them, and seeing them in action in both games is a great reminder that many consider this series to have one of the best turn-based battle systems ever. Some of Grandia II's spell and skill animations were a bit staggered, and the FMV animations looked a little bit fuzzy, but we're sure once they polish this up, the experience will feel complete. We got to see Grandia II's final dungeon, and watching Minagawa defeat some of the game's strongest monsters on the Switch was delightful.
Comparing both the docked and handheld experiences, the Grandia HD Collection feels right at home in the palm of your hands. Minagawa was keen to show us just how good both games looked on the Switch's smaller screen, and some of the fuzziness of the text is far less noticeable. They still run at a consistent framerate too, but whatever way you choose to play these games, you're in for a visual treat full of nostalgia.
Overall, the Grandia HD Collection is mostly the original experience with cleaned up graphics and UI. GungHo haven't included a lot of things we usually get in modern ports, like remastered music, a quick save option, or a fast forward feature, but this is still Grandia, and it looks to be the best and most convenient way to experience it. Minagawa wasn't able to give us a firm release date, outside of saying his team is still hard at work on the games and that we'd get our hands on it "very soon." Stay tuned to RPGFan for more news on when this exciting collection will arrive on Nintendo Switch!
Written by Alana Hagues and Zach Wilkerson.