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The Pimping of Growlanser Generations: Deluxe Pack

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First off, BDBB is gonna be straight up with all you makeshift playas out there. Growlanser Generations ain't cheap. It will set you back enough cheddah for nine $10 hos, two $45 hos, or one $90 ho. However, I'm so overjoyed with the game so far that it is going to be pimped regardless of cost. This pimp session will include a 411 on the game itself first, and a breakdown on the deluxe extras at the end. When I finish Growlanser II and make some headway into Growlanser III, I will update this.


The 411


The Growlanser games provide an interesting, strategy-filled take on the traditional RPG. Growlanser Generations contains the second and third installments in the series. The first game was released on the PSX in Japan only. There is a small possibility that it may be brought to the US on the PSP. Growlanser IV is a PS2 game and is currently being considered for a US release. The Growlanser games are developed by Atlus, and published by Working Designs. The games can each be enjoyed on their own, although unlike Final Fantasy, the plots are interconnected. I am halfway through Growlanser II and many of the characters from the first game have made appearances. For those interested in length, I have heard estimates of 20 hours for Growlanser II, and 30 for Growlanser III. Based on my current pace, they seem accurate, although getting all the endings and paths in the second game will probably take me longer than 20 hours.



For All the True Playas


In a word, the gameplay in Growlanser is outstanding. The battle system is an intelligent hybrid between what is seen in JRPGs and SRPGs. The battle maps are laid out as you would expect in an SRPG, but there is no grid. You provide orders to your party members and they carry them out in realtime. This on its own is pretty interesting, but it doesn't stop there. Rather than standard SRPG fare where you face off in predictable battles against traditional arrays of enemies, many of the missions are built around interesting scenarios. For example, one early mission has your party trying to fight its way out of a hallway as a spiked wall slowly advances. Pretty much every mission I've played so far has had an interesting twist, and it keeps the game fresh. The downside is that some missions are hard to beat on the first try since you won't have advance knowledge of scripted events. However, you can save at any time during a mission, and they don't require the huge investment of time that missions in other SRPGs do, so it doesn't detract from the game much.


Magic is an interesting affair. Spells take time to cast, during which the caster is vulnerable. As you cast higher level spells, this vulnerability period becomes longer. However, casting higher level spells is more efficient. For example, a lvl 1 Cure spell may cost 4 MP and have a wait timer of 40, but a lvl 3 Cure spell might cost 11 MP and have a wait timer of 110. As you go higher and higher in spell level, the incremental cost of adding another level decreases in terms of MP and casting time. However, you must balance this with the risk of leaving your character vulnerable for a longer time.


When you cast a spell, you can distribute the levels as you see fit. For example, with a level 4 Cure spell, it's possible to provide 1 unit to 4 different party members, provide all 4 units to one party member, or anything in between. Most spells, offensive and defensive, work this way. If an enemy has a small amount of health left, you can finish him off with a portion of an offensive spell and send the brunt at other enemies.


The Bling of Rings


Rings are the equipment of choice in Growlanser. Each character can equip one ring at a time. Rings provide stat boosts, and each one has 3 slots each numbered from 0 - 9. For example, a ring might be 8-5-3. The slots are used to equip gems, with higher level gems needing rings with higher level slots. The system seems relatively simple, but it provides a huge amount of latitude in customizing characters. At some points, you'll have to choose between better stat boosts and higher slot numbers. The gems do all manner of things. For example, the right combination can allow you to have a character that attacks 3 times every round and restores his own health with every hit. While some characters are naturally predisposed towards fighting or magery, a character that falls in the middle can easily change roles by equipping different rings/gems. By the way, you'll always have tons of rings. Enemies drop them all the time so there are plenty to choose from. Gems can be equipped freely and even changed during battles, but you must go to certain shops and pay a nominal fee to change rings.


The only other equipment is armor, which is self explanatory. Each armor has a minimum strength requirement to equip. If a character doesn't have enough strength, the armor can still be equipped but a movement penalty results.


Raising The Roof: EXP Style


As in most RPGs, characters gain experience and level up by casting spells and killing enemies. Gaining a level results in stat boosts, and also gives you a few ability points to allocate. There are basic types of abilities: Skills, Spells, and Techniques. Skills are generally always active, and consist of things like lower delays between attacks, better evasion, adding poison to attacks, etc. Spells are pretty self explanatory. Techniques are special moves that must be activated and consist of things like stealing, special attacks and extra elemental defense. Allocating ability points to a specific ability in one of the three categories will allow you to learn it, with better abilities generally costing more points. Some abilities will be cheaper for certain characters to learn than others, and some characters may not be able to get them at all.


Visual Shizzual


Growlansers graphics won't win any awards, but I still find them very attractive. The backdrops range from decent to breathtaking, and the character sprites themselves look oddly reminiscient of those in Xenogears. Unfortunately, the resolution is a bit low and the animation isn't very good. However, the overall art direction and character designs are wonderful, and they have a distinct anime feel. When an important character speaks, a large portrait is displayed on the screen. These are beautifully drawn and provide a lot more personality than is normally seen in RPGs.


Bangin Beats


The music in Growlanser is well done and generally fits the mood perfectly. It doesn't really break any new ground, but there's nothing wrong with that. Most, but not all of the game is voice acted. It isn't triple-A quality, but the lines are generally read appropriately and it helps give the characters a lot of personality. There is one character that I'd like to kill though. The voice acting can always be skipped over if you want to advance through the text faster.


Once Upon a Gangsta


Like the music, the story doesn't seem to break any new ground but it's still great all the same. The plot is standard fare at this point, but the excellent characters and the added focus on character relationships are a welcome change from the whiny metrosexual protagonists that have been running around in RPGs lately. The greatness here is not in the plot itself, but rather in the excellent presentation and pacing.


There are many instances in which you'll be given dialouge options that affect your relationships with your party members, and these relationships are tied to unlocking different endings in Growlanser II. Although you have frequent choices, the main character still has a distinct personality. Don't go expecting KOTOR here. I've read that the relationship aspect is toned down in Growlanser III, but the overall plot is supposedly better. If you follow a FAQ, it's possible to get everything in Growlanser II in one playthrough, but the game is also replay friendly since your rings and gems carry over. There are also hidden story paths that can be unlocked by performing well in missions.


One thing I'm continually impressed with is how well the mission scenarios are integrated with the story.


Bling Bling Deluxe


The deluxe edition has some very cool extras, but it probably won't be worth the extra $40 for most. Movie Trading Company sells this game for $69.99 though, and the extras are definately worth an extra $20. The deluxe pack includes:


- A ring with a chain necklace. These are pretty cool and will allow you to indulge by pretending to be Frodo.

- A deck of cards. The cards pretty much suck. I was expecting artwork on all the cards, but it's just a normal deck with Growlanser stuff on the backs of the cards. The jokers have a character from the game on them.

- A soundtrack. I haven't listened to it but I hear it's good

- A watch. The watch is actually really good, and it's something you could wear out in public. The band on mine has some slight tarnish/discoloration that is visible up close and I don't know if they're all like that.


I'm a bit dissapointed that there isn't a hardcover manual as past WD releases have included. I was actually expecting one since the pictures on EB's and Gamestop's websites make the soundtrack sleeve look deceptively like a hardcover manual. Also, the front of the box does not fold out like other WD games. The bottom line on the Deluxe edition is that if you should have it, you probably already own it. If you can find it for a reduced price like I did, go ahead and pick it up, but I don't think it's worth the $89.99 MSRP.


The game is also available at the $49.99 MSRP without all the extras, and this version comes highly recommended. If you want a well produced RPG with appealing characters and cerebral gameplay, look no further than Growlanser. If you used to think JRPGs were great but have been turned off to them lately, you owe it to yourself to give this fusion of innovative gameplay and old-school style a shot.

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First off, BDBB is gonna be straight up with all you makeshift playas out there. Growlanser Generations ain't cheap. It will set you back enough cheddah for nine $10 hos, two $45 hos, or one $90 ho.


:lol: I love that sentence. Made me laugh out loud while reading it. Good stuff Bling. :tu:


Thanks also for the very well written impressions of the games themselves! I'm not normally into these type of hybrid strategy/RPG titles but I might go ahead and give this a rental as I liked what I was reading about the rings and how they play into the combat. Looking forward to your thoughts on the third game as well.

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Though I probably won't be picking up this game due to a lack of funds, time, and the fact that I'm not a big RPG player, I do want to say that I appreciate these threads, Bling. I hope to see more of them in the future.


Oh, and I'm still planning on giving Yager a spin once I get past RE4 and The Minish Cap (which hasn't even been opened yet).

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Originally posted by FutureVoid@Jan 14 2005, 12:45 AM

:lol: I love that sentence. Made me laugh out loud while reading it. Good stuff Bling. :tu:


Thanks also for the very well written impressions of the games themselves! I'm not normally into these type of hybrid strategy/RPG titles but I might go ahead and give this a rental as I liked what I was reading about the rings and how they play into the combat. Looking forward to your thoughts on the third game as well.

I think you'll be fine with it as long as you have a liking for JRPGs. Unlike SRPGs, it doesn't have a lot of intense movement micromanagement where you have to meticulously position your characters to be out of enemy range. In fact, you don't even have to spend a ton of time giving orders since characters since they'll carry out orders until they complete them, or until you pause the action to give them new orders. I think if you like the ring concept, it's worth a shot. There are just countless ways to configure a character, and you can even adjust the gems during battle.


For example, you can give your slow, tank-type character some movement boosts to get him to the enemies quicker, then remove the movement gems and give him some HP regenerating gems when he starts taking a beating. There is another character that doubles as a support mage and a powerful (but very slow) ranged attacker. You can use gems to give her stronger spells, then when she runs low on MP, swap them for a MP regenerating gem and gems to cut the delay between her ranged attacks. Then you can fire off some arrows while she builds MP again. These are just some basic examples. Many of the gems do things a lot more interesting than just regeneration.



BTW, I just want to make it clear that GL Generations contains GL II and GL III only. I just mentioned the other games to provide background on the series.

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