Tag Archives: 2000

Grandia II, Dreamcast

Grandia II was released in August 2000 in Japan for the Sega Dreamcast. It follows the same template as the first Grandia game, except this time with full 3D graphics (the first Grandia mixed 2D and 3D). And – as Grandia II was made by many of the same people who made the first game – it’s not surprising that it’s similar.

The Grandia “template” is: real-time exploration; turn-based combat; spinning, ring-like menus; Initiative Points and a timeline of events in battle; linear conversations; simple puzzles (well, not always that simple); and constant grinding.

You play a “Geohound” (a sort of samurai for hire) called Ryudo. Ryudo starts the game at level ten, with a paid job: escorting the daughter of a local priest to a tower for a ceremony. Of course: everything goes wrong and evil is unleashed and you’re thrown into combat very quickly. Combat is turn-based in essence, but does have an element of real-time-y-ness to it. Like most level-grinders, you mostly get a choice of physical or magical attacks, although – to give the game its dues – it does have features that make the combat varied and interesting. Firstly: you can acquire these things called ‘Power Eggs’ that you can equip on certain characters to utilise their magical powers. What is unique and interesting about these is that it means you can swap around a suite of magical abilities between your party members. Individual characters can also ‘equip’ skills too, which unlock more advanced abilities, and these are interchangeable among your party members too. The only thing is: these special skills and abilities are rationed through the procurement of ‘Special Coins’, which are earned only through combat. So Grandia II‘s gameplay is highly geared towards grinding. Which is fine because the combat is quite lovely.

Grandia II is way better than the first Grandia – in my opinion. Presentation-wise it beats the first Grandia hands down, which you’d expect because the Dreamcast is so much more capable than the PlayStation. Gameplay-wise, this sequel also feels much more refined than the first Grandia. The story and dialogue – while not Shakespeare – are actually quite funny in places. Game Arts were obviously trying to make a game for the slightly older gamer (late teens/early twenties), what with the mild swearing in it, but that’s by-the-by. Grandia II is probably the best RPG on the Dreamcast and a classic still worth playing now. And it’s still available on GOG.com!

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grandia_II
GOG.com: Grandia II Anniversary Edition on GOG.com

Grandia: Parallel Trippers, Game Boy Color

Grandia: Parallel Trippers was developed by Game Arts and published by Hudson Soft for the Game Boy Color in 2000.

Parallel Trippers is a spin-off from the Grandia series that takes place in an alternate version of the Grandia world, but still populated with characters from the original Grandia game.

You play a young Japanese boy called Yuuhi who is transported – along with his two friends, Mizuki and Shirou – into this surreal fantasy world, and who must reunite with his friends and find his way home.

Unlike the other Grandia games, Parallel Trippers is presented entirely in 2D, and with the Game Boy Color‘s limited resolution the graphic artists have gone for a ‘chibi’ style of presentation, and it results in a beautifully-looking, colourful, cute game.

Adventuring is not too dissimilar to a Zelda game, but combat is most definitely turn-based. When combat kicks in each character’s turn in the action is determined by an Initiative gauge and this is nicely represented at the bottom of the screen by a kind of ‘track’ that the character sprites move around on. Once it becomes your turn to act you then have to choose between physical attacks or magical attacks. Magical attacks are all determined by choosing playing cards, or “Synthesis Cards” as they’re called in the game. Each one of these gives your character the power to invoke various different magical attacks. Synthesis Cards can also be combined to create new magical effects, or even unlock hidden, special magical attacks.

Grandia: Parallel Trippers is definitely one of the best RPGs on the Game Boy Color. It’s different enough to be alluring, and challenging enough to appeal to the hardcore level-grind fan. Add in the ‘card’ element, and you have something quite special.

Note: Grandia: Parallel Trippers was only released in Japan. The English translation is a fan translation released by Adventurous Translations in 2012.

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grandia:_Parallel_Trippers

Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows of Amn, PC

Part one of a two-part Baldur’s Gate II series, first published by Interplay in 2000. Shadows of Amn uses an updated version of the Infinity Engine to provide isometric, real-time combat and adventuring.

Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows of Amn uses a licensed Wizards of the Coast Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (AD&D) 2nd Edition ruleset, set in the Forgotten Realms fantasy world.

The game carries on the story of the same character from the previous game (“Gorion’s Ward“), but this time wandering around looking for quests in the kingdom of Amn. The game of course allows you to generate a party of up to six characters at the beginning, and the generation process is uniform and user-friendly across all the Infinity Engine games.

The interface is much nicer than the first game – it’s been noticeably upgraded – and this refinement makes Baldur’s Gate more enjoyable to play.

A second Baldur’s Gate II game – an expansion, really – came out in 2001, entitled Throne of Bhaal. Like its predecessor, Baldur’s Gate II proved to be a big hit with gamers and is fondly-remembered by many level-grind enthusiasts.

Both this, and its sequel – Throne of Bhaal – are available together (alongside The Black Pits II) in Baldur’s Gate II: Enhanced Edition.

These grabs are of the enhanced remake, released in 2013.

More: Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows of Amn on Wikipedia
Steam: Baldur’s Gate II: Enhanced Edition on Steam
GOG.com: Baldur’s Gate II: Enhanced Edition on GOG.com

Icewind Dale, PC

Icewind Dale is the second Infinity Engine-based RPG, developed by Black Isle Studios and released by Interplay in 2000. It’s based on the Forgotten Realms campaign setting, with a 2nd Edition AD&D ruleset.

Story-wise, Icewind Dale is centred around a quest to save a besieged fortress from an evil priest, called Brother Poquelin. But just getting to the evil priest plotline is an undertaking in itself…

Technically, this game is very close to Baldur’s Gate in terms of visuals and gameplay, except that there seem to be far fewer trees. The explorable world is represented as scrolling, 2D backdrops, and you explore with small animated characters who are largely controlled by AI, and who scurry around doing things to your mouse-clicks.

At this stage of CRPG evolution the Infinity Engine preferred to be played at 800×600 resolution by the looks of it, and it therefore looks a bit clunky by today’s standards. With Icewind Dale II the interface was improved even more, which gives it the edge in the series in my opinion.

An enhanced remake of Icewind Dale was released in 2014. These grabs are from the original 2000 CD-ROM version – not the remake.

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Icewind_Dale
Steam: Icewind Dale on Steam
GOG.com: Icewind Dale on GOG.com

Jackie Chan Stuntmaster, PlayStation

Jackie Chan himself was involved in the making of this Canadian PlayStation game, and not just in terms of lending his voice talents.

Developed by Radical Entertainment and released in 2000, Jackie Chan Stuntmaster is a non-stop kick and punch-a-thon through various 3D environments. The game looks quite basic, but is actually reasonably subtle, like having a breakable environment and extra points for combos and style moves.

The most important thing is that the fighting feels good, and it does. There is a weight of feeling to the blows, like you’d expect from a Jackie Chan game. Jackie‘s fight repertoire is limited to punch, kick and jump though.

Jackie Chan Stuntmaster is a scrolling beat ’em up in the vein of Final Fight or Streets of Rage. Every now and then you might get a special action sequence, like riding on top of – or running away from – a truck. Plus every stage has a boss battle at the end. There are 15 different stages in total.

It’s a pity the game is limited to single-player only. If Radical had included a two-player versus (or cooperative) mode, or more unlockables, the game might feel a bit more complete.

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jackie_Chan_Stuntmaster