Growlanser IV (PSP)

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Growlanser IV (PSP)

Postby Imperial Knight » Thu Dec 22, 2011 7:21 pm

Nothing's been officially announced (and likely nothing will be until after some time after New Year's), but Atlus is hinting that they'll be localizing the PSP version of Growlanser IV. I'd certainly be really excited if they did since Growlanser IV is one of the best games in the series and the PSP version is supposed to add quite a bit of new content, including branching story paths.

If you aren't familiar with Growlanser, it's a series of RPG/SRPG hybrids with a spotty localization history. The original game was only released in Japan but Growlanser II and Growlanser III were brought over to North America by Working Designs as a twin pack called Growlanser Generations that was released to mostly favorable reviews. Later Atlus brought over Growlanser V under the title Growlanser: Heritage of War which received mixed at best reviews (it's not a bad game per se, but it's extremely unpolished and I would consider it the worst game in the series). Growlanser VI was never localized and for quite some time it seemed like Growlanser IV would share the same fate. The story in Growlanser IV is independent of the other games in the series (1,2&3 all had connected stories while 6 is a direct sequel to 5) so you certainly don't need to have played any previous games in the series to enjoy this one.

If you are familiar with the series, Growlanser IV in many ways mixes the best elements from Generations and Heritage of War. The battle system works largely like it did in Generations, where you input your commands for characters and they execute them in a real-time-ish system which can be interrupted at any time to revise the commands. Traveling between towns and dungeons is similar to Heritage of War where instead of an overworld, you travel on field maps that are the same scale as the dungeons and towns. Enemies are visible and encounters are initiated whenever your party gets close to the enemies (similar to how you would initiate battles in the dungeons in Growlanser III). The Ring Weapon system present in Generations returns in Growlanser IV. The gems you attach to the rings now function not only as accessories but also teach magic spells and other skills. The co-op magic system from Growlanser III, where you can cast powerful magic spells by having two different characters cast weaker spells together, returns in Growlanser IV. Like in previous Growlanser games, each story battle will give you a rating (Mission Complete, Mission Clear or Mission Failed) when you beat it depending on how well you achieved your objectives (for instance, in a battle where you need to protect civilians, you would need to have zero civilian causalities to get a Mission Complete, while allowing one or two might get you a Mission Clear). An additional factor in Growlanser IV is the time it takes for you to win the battle; you have to achieve your objectives within a set amount of time to get a Mission Complete. Overall, it's probably the most challenging game in the series. Not that it's super hard or anything, but it's certainly no cakewalk.

This will likely be a day one purchase for me if it really does get brought over.

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Re: Growlanser IV (PSP)

Postby LunarSilverStar » Fri Dec 23, 2011 12:55 pm

This game I do want.

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Re: Growlanser IV (PSP)

Postby Sonic# » Mon Dec 26, 2011 7:01 pm

I'm looking forward to this, if it does indeed come over. All of my PSP games are RPGs, and so this would be a welcome addition.
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Re: Growlanser IV (PSP)

Postby Alunissage » Wed Dec 28, 2011 9:53 pm

It would be nice to have it in English, certainly. I have the import LE, but only played a very little bit of it.

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Re: Growlanser IV (PSP)

Postby Imperial Knight » Wed Jan 18, 2012 6:21 pm

http://www.atlus.com/growlanserpsp/

Atlus has officially announced they'll be localizing the game under the title Growlanser: Wayfarer of Time for a July release. The Japanese version had the nonsensical title Growlanser IV: Over Reloaded so it was pretty much inevitable that they'd have to change it. The title is similar to the one used for the original (Japan only) PS2 version, Growlanser IV: Wayfarer of the Time.

I'm really excited about this. We're finally getting one of the best games in the series.

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Re: Growlanser IV (PSP)

Postby soup or man » Fri Mar 16, 2012 7:22 am

I really hope this gets localized.

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Re: Growlanser IV (PSP)

Postby Imperial Knight » Fri Mar 16, 2012 9:52 pm

soup or man wrote:I really hope this gets localized.


http://www.atlus.com/growlanserpsp/

The localization has been officially announced.

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Re: Growlanser IV (PSP)

Postby ShindoW » Sun Apr 01, 2012 7:21 pm

I'm looking forward to this. I completed II, almost completed III, and I haven't started V yet.
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Re: Growlanser IV (PSP)

Postby Imperial Knight » Thu Jul 26, 2012 4:39 am

For those of you who are interested, the release date is now just under a week away. If you're curious, you can check out a bunch of info about the game, as well as the opening animation, on the official website http://www.atlus.com/growlanserpsp. There's also a trailer from Atlus at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=al64LdoZdEI. If you liked any of the previous Growlanser games, you'll should love this one.

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Re: Growlanser IV (PSP)

Postby Imperial Knight » Sun Aug 12, 2012 2:32 am

I'm not sure that anyone is still reading this thread, but I'll go ahead and post some thoughts on Growlanser: Wayfarer of Time now that I'm a good ways into it. I'm going to keep this spoiler free and, although I have played the PS2 version, I'll be focusing on the game itself rather than the differences from PS2 to PSP since most likely no one else here has played the PS2 version (aside from Alun, who's only played a bit of it anyway).

Gameplay has typically been the highlight of Growlanser games, and that's definitely true for Wayfarer of Time. In fact, I'd go so far as to say its gameplay is the best of the series. The battle system is as good as ever, and the game throws enough interesting situations at you in the missions to really keep things interesting. Growlanser has always been really good at having dynamic missions with variable goals (it's not always just "defeat all enemies") but Wayfarer of Time really brings it to another level. Many of the missions really require you to think and plan, you can't just brute force your way through. Even a veteran of the series should find a decent challenge in these battles. The character growth system offers a nice balance of flexibility and simplicity. Characters learn new magic spells and other skills by equipping items called spellstones. Defeat enough enemies with a spellstone equipped and you'll learn the skill it teaches. Defeat even more and you'll power up the skill. There's enough possibility for customization there without having to spend all your time wading through menus or sitting through endless tutorials. I only really have two complaints about the gameplay. The first is that it's a bit slow to get going. For the first hour or so you don't have any spellstones so all your characters can do is fight, move, defend and use items. It makes the early battles a bit dull. My second complaint is that sometimes the missions are more annoying than challenging. Sometimes it feels like there's only one way to win the battle: do one specific thing and you're guaranteed to win, don't and you're guaranteed to lose. Fortunately, there's only a couple of missions that feel that way, the rest are really fun.

Stories in Career Soft games are usually a mixture of political intrigue and more standard fantasy elements, and Wayfarer of Time is no exception. As is usually the case with their games, the politics is more compelling than the fantasy. Part of what makes the politics work is that the world feels real. There are four different countries which each pursue their own interests, often in ways that defy a "good vs. evil" dichotomy. Alliances between countries shift, different factions vie for power within a country, the advantage in war goes back and forth, etc. The fantasy elements, while not quite as compelling, are still reasonably done. The premise initially appears to be a horrid JRPG cliche, but events thankfully end up going in a more interesting direction. The cast of characters is also pretty good. Overall, the story isn't at the level of what I'd expect from a really good book, but it's good for an RPG story and that's all I ask.

The localization is excellent overall. All the dialog feels very fluid and natural, never stilted or awkward. The only disappointment is that Atlus removed most of the voices. The Japanese version of the game is almost fully voiced, while the American release only has voice acting for the (infrequent) animated cutscenes. Still, it's a minor issue for me and given the realities of localizing a niche PSP game like this, I completely understand their decision.

Graphically Wayfarer of Time is pleasant, but it certainly won't blow anyone away. The game uses sprites on prerendered backgrounds. These look fine for the most part, but occasionally there's a scene where the camera is zoomed in enough that the sprites look pixellated. The character designs are by Satoshi Urushihara, an anime artist of some renown. Honestly, I find them to be a mixed bag. Especially among the original cast, there are too many characters who are supposed to have cool outfits who just end up looking odd instead. Fortunately, most of the characters that were added to the PSP version have better designs. The soundtrack is fine but not particularly memorable.

Overall I really, really like this game and rank it among my personal favorites. I'm glad to see it's getting a good reception (most reviews have been in the 80-90% range). I recommend it to any JRPG fan. Especially those who managed to make it thorough this long winded post :P

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Re: Growlanser IV (PSP)

Postby Alunissage » Sun Aug 12, 2012 8:20 pm

Thanks for letting us know. I haven't been following this much at all and certainly hadn't heard that there were additional characters for the PSP game. And as I've commented enough before, I'm totally in favor of fewer voices since it cuts down on the chance of disliking the voices, although at least for this game I'm not used to the Japanese voices so probably won't be totally put off by the US ones. (Grow II. Ack.)

Gah, so many games to catch up on...

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Re: Growlanser IV (PSP)

Postby parappa » Tue Oct 09, 2012 12:35 am

My interest in this is definitely piqued. I was thinking of getting Growlanser IV but what with The Last Story, Borderlands 2, and a landslide of other games coming out, this one got pushed off to the side. Sounds like I should make the effort for it, though.

My only experience with Growlanswer was playing the PS2 port of Growlanser II, of off Growlanser Generations. I loved what I saw of that game, although from what I've heard most other Growlanser titles aren't as good. Has anyone tried Growlanser V? That one is supposedly lacking.

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Re: Growlanser IV (PSP)

Postby Imperial Knight » Tue Oct 09, 2012 2:11 am

Heritage of War (aka Growlanser V) gets a lot of hate, but it's only sort of deserved. Many people seem to regard it as a terrible game and I don't think that's quite fair. I've even seen it called the worst RPG on PS2, and it doesn't even belong in the conversation for that "honor." That having been said, while it may not be terrible, it's not what I'd call particularly good either. The "new and improved" battle system is a step back for the series. Basically they took a really fun and unique system and turned it into something that either plays like a mediocre rip-off of Final Fantasy XII or a mediocre rip-off of Baldur's Gate depending on what mode you're using. The game is also extremely unpolished. Expect lots of ugly, unintuitive menus and unresponsive controls. The story is a definite mixed bag. I really liked a lot of the ideas behind it, to the point where I would say it probably had the most potential of any story in the series, but the execution is kind of botched so much of that potential goes unrealized. The graphics are also downright awful, although I can live with that. There's enough of what makes Growlanser great lurking beneath the surface that if you're willing to deal with all the problems the game can be a decent amount of fun, but I'd hesitate to recommend it to anyone who is not already a fan of the series.

Growlanser II is kind of a funny case. People who have only played the localized Growlanser games tend to regard it as one of the best in the series, while Japanese players and importers usually consider it a disappointing follow-up to the original Growlanser. I suspect a lot of the reason for the divergence is a sort of "first game effect" where people tend to regard the first game they play in a series to be how the series is "supposed to be." Coming off of the original, GL2 could be seen as disappointing since it's relatively short and removed some of the neat gameplay features from the first. On the other hand, it has some nice features of its own that aren't in other games in the series, such as an 8-person party and a branching story (although branching stories were added to the remakes of GL1 and GL4). The game also benefited from an excellent localization by Working Designs that added some nice features (most notably an auto-battle option). I personally consider it as a very good game overall, but not quite on the same level as the original Growlanser or Wayfarer of Time.

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Re: Growlanser IV (PSP)

Postby parappa » Tue Oct 09, 2012 3:27 am

That's great stuff to know, thanks! Now if only they'd localize the first Growlanser, I could try to play them all.

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Re: Growlanser IV (PSP)

Postby Alunissage » Tue Oct 09, 2012 4:49 am

Imperial Knight wrote:Growlanser II is kind of a funny case. People who have only played the localized Growlanser games tend to regard it as one of the best in the series, while Japanese players and importers usually consider it a disappointing follow-up to the original Growlanser. I suspect a lot of the reason for the divergence is a sort of "first game effect" where people tend to regard the first game they play in a series to be how the series is "supposed to be." Coming off of the original, GL2 could be seen as disappointing since it's relatively short and removed some of the neat gameplay features from the first. On the other hand, it has some nice features of its own that aren't in other games in the series, such as an 8-person party and a branching story (although branching stories were added to the remakes of GL1 and GL4). The game also benefited from an excellent localization by Working Designs that added some nice features (most notably an auto-battle option). I personally consider it as a very good game overall, but not quite on the same level as the original Growlanser or Wayfarer of Time.

I would guess that a lot of that reaction to Grow II from people who played Grow I is simply that there are enough of the main characters from Grow I to tantalize but not satisfy. I mean, I haven't even played much of Grow I myself but when I first played II, as soon as Carmaine (sorry, got used to that version of his name early on) made his appearance he stole the show from Wein. There are lots of appearances by Grow I characters but so few of them are playable. I wonder if it would have been easier for players of Grow I to accept Grow II if none of the characters from the former were playable.

And clearly something of great significance to the world happened in Grow I, while Grow II's plot is smaller in scale. For the most part I liked it, though I often felt like some piece of backstory or followup just wasn't there, like Wein's family history. I suspect this was because there were so many little pieces that were dependent on optional bits early on, so the game's nonoptional text and scenes couldn't include anything that players might have missed.

Sigh. Grow I is probably top of my list of games I'd like to see localized so I can find out what the hell is going on.

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Re: Growlanser IV (PSP)

Postby Imperial Knight » Wed Oct 10, 2012 4:25 am

The story I've heard is that after the relative success of the original Growlanser, Atlus wanted a sequel that brought back the same characters (which eventually became GL2) while Career Soft wanted to do a prequel (which eventually became GL3). I suspect this led to some difficulty for Career Soft in coming up with a good story since GL1 didn't really leave any loose ends. The result is definitely a story that feels quite a bit less epic than GL1. For the most part I think GL2's story works well enough as the tale of Wein's personal journey and the moral choices he is faced with, though I occasionally got annoyed when the game seemed to try and make the stakes seem higher than they really were (the worst offense being dialogue about how terrifying Gevas was when all it did was attack some ruins and rural villages). Put another way, I think GL2 works well as a character-driven story but the plot is a little on the weak side.


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