Ever since the 8‑bit ages, when the turn-based RPG for­mu­la was per­fect­ed, game devel­op­ers have been try­ing to rein­vent the bat­tle sys­tem wheel.  As the years have pro­gressed, we’ve seen many inter­est­ing new ver­sions that take the core con­cepts of the bat­tling you might find in an RPG, let’s say Final Fan­ta­sy, and expand upon them in fun ways.  Some I’ve real­ly enjoyed and oth­ers have left me want­i­ng, but there is one series that stands above them all in my eyes.  While the Grandia series is far from per­fect in many ways, the bat­tle sys­tem is still to this day my favorite com­bi­na­tion of real-time and turn-based action in any RPG series.


I can com­plete­ly see the mer­it of real-time bat­tles.  When the entire action of the game is noth­ing but you attack­ing and then the ene­my attack­ing it can get a bit stale.  Some series have tried to com­bat this by cre­at­ing sys­tems in which the action is always going.  Attacks are per­formed in real-time and can be dodged by mov­ing your char­ac­ter out of the way.  Some­thing I miss in these bat­tles how­ev­er, is the abil­i­ty to stop and intri­cate­ly plan out my strat­e­gy to take down my oppo­nents.  The overindul­gent cin­e­mat­ic attacks are also usu­al­ly lost in real-time bat­tles which, while some peo­ple would say is an improve­ment, I love to unleash on my foes.

Grandia takes both of these for­mu­las and com­bines them to cre­ate a sys­tem that per­fect­ly hits my but­ter-zone of active and turn-based ele­ments.  Along the bot­tom of the screen, a bar shows when the next char­ac­ter is going to plan their next move.  After choos­ing their move, they go through an “action phase” in which they pre­pare for their attack.  If it’s a sim­ple attack, this phase ends almost instant­ly, but if it’s more pow­er­ful it can take some time.  The char­ac­ters also have to posi­tion them­selves cor­rect­ly on the screen before their attacks, so if you’re hit­ting some­one with a sword you have to account for the time it’ll take them to run up to the ene­my.  If hit by cer­tain kinds of attacks, a char­ac­ter can be knocked back­ward on the line, can­cel­ing their spe­cial attack.  You gain expe­ri­ence for each type of weapon and mag­ic you use and lev­el­ing up dif­fer­ent com­bi­na­tion nets you dif­fer­ent spe­cial attacks.  Your action phase also gets short­er the more you use any attack, so play­ing favorites can actu­al­ly help you.  All of this com­bines into an exhil­a­rat­ing and deep bat­tle sys­tem that is still my favorite to this day.

Instead of me ram­bling away for­ev­er about the specifics, check it out in action below.  Remem­ber, I nev­er said it had good voice acting.

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