Growlanser: Wayfarer of Time - PlayStation Portable Standard Edition
- Platform: Sony PSP
- ESRB Rating: Teen
- Media: Video Game
- Item Quantity: 1
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Never before released outside of Japan and widely considered the best entry in the long‐running franchise, this PSP system iteration of the fourth chapter in the Growlanser saga delivers visuals remastered for PSP system's 16:9 widescreen, a vastly expanded script with tons of new characters to meet and quests to complete, a wealth of new ending possibilities, and much more, making it the first and only version of the game North American fans will ever want! Wayfarer of Time tells of a land-once rich with culture and technology - long ago nearly wiped out by evanescent divine beings. Two millennia later, the beings appear again, threatening to bring about an end to all things unless a powerful warrior can rise against them. New characters, scenarios, and events are complemented by a host of visual and technical improvements, dramatically improved loading times, and a message skip option that lets players rapidly advance the story. Players can spend time getting to know the characters in their party, even going on a vacation with them apart from the game's main quest. It isn't simply a way to learn more about them and their motivations; unlocking the games 40+ possible endings requires players to make choices about who they will bond with.
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Growlanser as a series has been pretty good, its a shame that it took this long for this entry to reach the US. My favorite part about the series has been the fact that you get to choose pretty much everything the main character says, it moves the whole experience from a third person perspective, closer to a first person experience. That has been one of my biggest issues with RPGs as of late, it always felt like I was just watching someone else's story, instead of playing into my own.
The battle system is very addicting so far, there is a lot of skills out there to learn, and plenty of opportunities to grind and customize your characters into walking weapons of mass destruction.
There is just so much about this game that it does right with the genre, its hard to find for me to find fault with it. Well, aside from the fact that it is only available on PSP and PS Vita (you have to transfer the game from a PS3 to get it on Vita currently).
The PSP is ending its run soon, and console RPGs have been less than satisfying since PS2 ended, so I really hope this series gets picked up again.
-Excellent story where every character has their own part to play.
-All characters are interesting and there weren't any party characters I didn't like.
-Gorgeous anime art-style.
-Fun Battle system: When I read something on the box like "Battles aren't just about winning or losing", my first thought was "Yeah, that's what they all say" lol. But it's true. The battle system is similar to traditional Final Fantasy games, with a wait bar for each character showing how long before they can attack, use a special move, use an item etc. But in this game you also control where your characters move around the map, kind of like a strategy rpg but with no grid. Anyway, each important battle or mission will have some objective that you need to accomplish in addition to or even instead of defeating all the enemies, such as retrieving an item and escaping or protecting a certain character from harm. There is some trial and error involved (especially in certain missions where you pretty much HAVE to have a certain skill to be able to succeed), but when you do figure out how to win you feel a real sense of accomplishment.
-Choices that can actually change the story and your ending: You choose which party characters to get to know and even pursue romance with (including male characters ^^), you make story choices that can drastically change how things turn out, and what you do in and outside of battle will determine if certain characters live or die. There are over forty possible endings by the way lol, including some you can only get in New Game+.
-Lots of side quests/optional stuff to do.
-Good music. There weren't any songs I found annoying or out of place, and I really loved the Valkania theme.
-The voice acting isn't terrible, but it isn't anything special either. A lot of the voices I felt didn't match the characters at all. Only the anime cutscenes have voice acting though, so it isn't a huge deal.
-Armor in this game has strength requirements you have to meet or equipping it will make your speed go down a certain amount. Not a big deal really, but it's kind of a bummer when I can't equip my best stuff right away when I start a new game.
-The animations for casting spells or doing a special move in battle are waaaaay too long. You can skip them by tapping O though.
This game is a love letter to you. I am enjoying this lost gem to the fullest. Everything I loved about the original Growlanser series is preserved and serviced in this PSP retread. I love it. Some people may think it's dated graphics and turn based/ action hybrid combat is archaic. However, those people wouldn't pick up this sort of game to begin with. This is for the fans. People who have already fell in love with this timeless series. I purchased my PSP for one purpose. There are MANY rpg's on it. This is not just another. This is one the best. I love the story. The slow pacing that takes time to introduce characters and motivations. The anime rendered cut scenes. This is everything we enjoy about JRPG genre games in one. If you're a fan and on the fence. Fear not, this is worth it. If you hate JRPGs and love making fun of these games. Why waste your breath bashing them...? This is for the fans. Love it or hate it. Haters need not apply.
So speaking of battles, they are actually quite enjoyable. You have the ability to set your allies on AUTO attack, but you can also give them various commands. What makes the system work is that when an ally executes the commands to the point that command is no longer valid, the queue pops open for you to give the next command or set auto. So if you have someone attacking one specific enemy, and that enemy dies, then it queues you to enter a new command (unless on auto). The same goes for if you are moving and you reach your target. Also, when moving, your ally will automatically attack those in his/her way. Makes battles fluid and fun. There is an ATB style gauge that fills when attacks are executed then winds down, when down to zero the next command is executed. Think a cross between Final Fantasy Tactics and Final Fantasy 7 during the Fort Condor battles and you get the rough idea.
The storyline is where this game shines. So many modern RPGs sacrifice story for gameplay (not necessarily a bad thing), but rarely nowadays are there great stories in a game with solid gameplay. Perhaps because this was actually a December 2003 release on PS2 originally? (But the port from PS2 to PSP was well done.) And the story is very interesting and complex: basically the Angles come in to thin out humanity's numbers when they get too powerful. It reminds me of the story of the anime Record of Lodoss War. Also, the game is rumored (though Atlus USA is the source of that 'rumor') to have 40 endings. Yes. FORTY. Add to this all of the additional content and you have a game worth playing multiple times. It's been awhile since a game had this kind of story that wasn't as cinematic and deep as say Final Fantasy X, but was mixed with a lot of intrigue and plot twists, much like Chrono Cross, Star Ocean 3 (the game sucked but the story was pretty awesome), and even hearkening back to the 16 bit days of the golden RPG age.
The only weird aspect of the game is movement on the field. You run really fast and it is hard to get your character pointed at something. The blocking makes it so that the character continues moving around objects. So if you point at a wall, you run into the wall then start sliding left or right. Hard to position in front of something you want to check, like a notice or a sparkle (treasure spot).
Customization is insanely fun. You get ring weapons and jewels and can use them to create attacks and spells to buff up your characters. It's amazingly fun, and though it's complex at first, you really get used to it quickly. The game has plenty of in game tutorials to assist.
Real time anime cut scenes are peppered throughout the game and add a nice little layer. The regular graphics are early PS2 style (they look like crisper, streamlined PS1 graphics for the most part), but there are some nice details. A lot of the background reminded me of Chrono Cross. But graphics aren't the strong point here.
The major gripe I have is that Atlus did not cough up extra dough to license the voice track for the game. Understandably this would have put more pressure on Atlus to make big sales goals, and then we might never have seen this game in the states. So I for one can live without the voice track if that is what it took to get the game localized in the states. Bravo Atlus for taking the risk to release this gem very late in the PSP's life. I have a PS3 but it seems I pick up the PSP or Nintendo DS more often. 'Old School' games like this and the Persona series really made the PSP a memorable system for me. If you are a fan of interesting and deep JRPGs, then pick this up before the price jumps in the secondary market.
Oh, for the record, I think Crevanille is one of the WORST main character names, but luckily you have the option to rename your hero. I would recommend the name I put it, but it's not appropriate for all ages. Just think of the license plate episode from Seinfeld and you have the name. ---man. Or just make one up yourself.
+ Great story
+ Interesting characters
+ Fun battles
+ Ring system customization
+ Great music
+ Many endings possible / diverging story lines
- No voice track
- Average graphics
- Tricky controls in field
- Sometimes too easy
The other aspect of this game that I love is the relationship system. Growlanser has the most sophisticated relationship / romance that I've ever seen in a RPG- there are many conversation options that will affect how a character views the protagonist. In addition, decisions you make and how you perform in battle all affect how other characters view you. All major characters have their own ending that you can unlock by befriending / romancing them and completing his or her sidequests.
The only significant flaw is that the first couple hours move slowly as it is mainly set-up / introducing the player to the battle system (but this can be said of most RPGs). The graphics may seem dated to some but I'm a fan of classic 2D RPGs so I certainly didn't mind this. Frankly, the gameplay is so good, I'd still love this game if they used stick figures. Occassionally missions can be tricky when you it is not obvious exactly what must be done. There are some areas where I wish they had more frequent save points.
All in all, every one who considers themselves a fan of RPGs, especially JRPGs should give this game a shot! If you are generally not a fan of anime art style do not let that deter you from getting the game.