Beautiful girls, hot springs, childhood romances revisited, lies, deception—no this isn’t an episode of the latest Fox drama, it’s the domestic PS2 release of the celebrated Growlanser series! Growlanser you say? Never heard of it. Well read on and discover why you should be playing this game right now.
Working Designs delivered the “P” in P.I.M.P. of all RPG packages this past winter with its much belated (and anticipated), release of Growlanser Generations, a collection of Growlanser II/III. If you’ve got the bones to spare for the deluxe pack (and you can still find it!)—a deck of cards, a watch, the soundtrack, and other thoughtful additions.
But does WD deliver what we, the RPG addict, truly wants—hot girls, innovative battle systems, and an ultimately engrossing world within which to spend 40 or more hours of our lives? (Hot girls! how did that get in there?) Despite a few frustrations, it does and heading into Growlanser II for my third time (haven’t fully beaten Growlanser III yet, but it expands on much of the same), I can say that yes, it is worth every penny.
Thanks to the beautiful (and distracting) artwork of Satoshi Urushihara, of Plastic Little fame, we enjoy high-quality portraits for each character. Additionally, thanks to WD’s ambition, each character is vocalized with many of the actors/actresses recognizable from previous WD efforts. There is also an off button for the vocals, as to make everyone happy! Overall graphics are, as the professionals like to coin the style these days: “old-school 2-D.” I prefer to call it, “refreshingly nostalgic.” The graphics are cute and work well within the structure of this collection. The music is standard fare, with some good pieces during key battles and story elements.
So many RPGs (and SRPGs for that matter) and such an empty wallet—so why should I, the gamer, put down my hard-earned cash for this collection? If you’ve enjoyed any number of the great RPGs recently, you can consider Generations a welcomed close to 2004. What is does, it does right, and where it fails, well that can be overlooked for the most part.
The collection fuses elements of the RPG with dating sims (very prominent in Japan), think Atlus’ Thousand Arms or the Japanese-only Sakura Taisen series, where you will be presented with choices that affect who likes you, where you go, who joins you, and ultimately who lives and dies. This is a nice touch and shows the localization talents of WD (a note that WD did not seem to add as much of its own “unique” humor this time around, a contention for many fans of the Japanese originals).