Thankfully, everything else in the game is fresh and provides hours upon hours of fun. The backdrops and character designs are colourful without being flashy, the game has a great pace (for an RPG), and players never have to stand around too long looking for the next thing to do. Even the writing, within its cookie-cutter plot, is smart, well-translated, and occasionally funny.
The game's strongest element, however, is its battle system. Taking the best of turn-based and real-time battle engines, Grandia II forces you to choose your moves carefully with respect to timing and position. The battles are very simple in the beginning, but grow increasingly complex as you fight larger numbers of monsters with a growing party of allies. How you meet your encounters--whether you initiate the fight, are ambushed, or meet head on--affects both the timing of the blows and the positions of the contestants. Battles emphasise counter-attacks and combination blows, but you'll soon find that movement and defence keep you alive against the tougher enemies. Elemental magic, items, and skill books are just icing on the cake. Even if the battles do grow old, the random fights are fairly easy to avoid, and a versatile AI option lets you use cruise control through the rest.
Grandia 2 may be just the traditional role-playing game for which console owners have been waiting. The question of whether it's too traditional doesn't matter, as it offers a better experience than most that have come before.--Porter B. Hall
Note: This review refers to the Dreamcast version of the game.