RPG Grinsia is the latest Japanese role-playing game from Kemco Games, who also brought us the popular Eve of the Genesis and Symphony of Eternity. It’s a great throwback to the pixelated RPGs of the past, similar to the ubiquitous Final Fantasy series in its younger years. It has its fair share of flaws, but overall, it’s definitely worth checking out if you’re into the genre.
The game stars a simple family of treasure hunters, including your father Grieg, your sister Milka, and yourself. While visiting an island with some strange ruins in an attempt to pay the bills, you find that the Empire is also seeking special artifacts. You are called upon by the goddess Mave to find and protect six special treasures that must not fall in the hands of the empire, or the world could fall into total disarray. Along the way, your party grows larger and larger, incorporating a colorful cast of characters. So the story is fairly trite, but I’m OK with that.
The gameplay is like your classic Final Fantasy; your characters on the right with your enemies on the left. Each side follows specific formation rules, in which all back rows have increased defense. You can attack, use special skills and spells which cost MP, defend, use items, change formation, or attempt to flee. Enemies will drop gold and items, you’ll gain experience and level up, and towns will always have equipment and item shops as well as Inns. Not much innovation here.
You can choose to play the game with a D-pad and selection button, or you can play with special touch controls, which are actually pretty well done. You can tap anywhere on the screen, and you characters will take the shortest path to get there, although the pathfinding is very wonky over long distances, and sometimes they’ll confusedly run into a wall instead. The touch interface is also pretty well done. Some menus flow well, but others are a bit too complex and layered for my taste.
This is a pretty fun game, but the developers definitely made several rookie mistakes. Wandering the wilderness causes the day and night cycle to change, which greatly affects gameplay, yet you can only change from day to night by staying at an inn, which is quite frustrating when all the shops and useful things are closed at night. Also, when your characters die, they can only be revived by spells or items, even after a battle is over. Most RPGs aren’t so harsh. There are several small annoyances like this, but nothing game breaking.
The old school graphics accompanied by the HD interface and anime drawings is a nice mix, and the music is well done too. You can play with high or low quality graphics, and I don’t know what’s going on with the coding of this game, but it runs ridiculously slow with high quality graphics turned on. Even on a tablet device like my Motorola Xoom, there was big time slowdown during battle. How a throwback to twenty year old RPGs could run so poorly is anyone’s guess. Luckily, it still looks just fine on the low quality setting. All in all, I’d say this game is definitely worth picking up if you’re in the mood for some old school JRPG fun. OpenFeint achievements are supported, and you can download this app for four dollars.