Back during the days of the original PlayStation and even before that, knowing that Working Designs had a hand in the role-playing game you were playing meant that you were dealing with quality (in translation and game play). However, quality didn’t seem to be enough and as of late 2005, Working Designs was forced to close its doors and become defunct. While classics such as Alundra, the Lunar series, and others were well known, Growlanser saw a dual release for the PlayStation 2, which would inevitably go on to become one of the PlayStation 2’s biggest hidden gems.
Growlanser Generations, which happened to be the final game released by Working Designs, is a compilation of Growlanser 2: The Sense of Justice and Growlanser 3: The Dual Darkness. Both titles easily fall into the strategy RPG subdivision and in terms of flexibility mesh well modern games. However, those looking for graphics on par with the majestic Final Fantasy games of recent memory will only have to glance to realize the games are a bit dated. However, with the good voice acting and charming characters, the graphics are passable and won’t do much to deter hardcore fans from picking up the game and becoming immersed. In fact, the only shortcomings that the game presents are the level of the graphics. By comparison, the game is comparable to Star Ocean: The Second Story and a bit under Final Fantasy Tactics.
Unlike many Strategy RPGs, neither game operates on a grid battlefield, meaning that your characters have no restrictions in their movements and can freely roam the battlefield as it is presented. However, the game does not operate completely in real time. Characters cannot repeatedly hack away until an enemy is defeated and magic cannot be cast continuously. Depending upon your characters speed and if any magic has been cast (or abilities upgraded) there is a wait between how often your character an attack or access his or her abilities. You won’t be able to just bum rush a group of enemies can come out victorious either. Spells, picking fights, luring enemies, guarding convoys and civilians, escaping from hopeless battles, saving VIPs and other elements all play a role in central battles.
Each character can equip a ring (has to be done a particular place) that boosts their abilities and allows them to equip different gems. Depending upon the ring, you’ll be able to equip gems that give your characters significant boosts in battle such as bows have infinite range or periodically regaining your health. Enemies drop rings after they’re defeated and as you might have assumed, the stronger the enemy the better the ring. The game also has some hidden side quests such as an arena. Most secrets are unlocked through merely investigating towns and constantly gathering information. Also, it’d be wise to watch how you interact with your companions (there’s a meter that shows how much they like you at the moment) as the game does have multiple endings.
Overall, both games are true gems and most will find themselves addicted to the games once they begin playing them. Also, since the game can usually be found for under thirty dollars, you’ll be paying that much for two full length role-playing games, which is always a steal. Make sure not to miss out on Growlanser Generations, it’s certainly worth your attention.