For those that don’t know, Brigandine was a Strategy RPG from Atlus released in late 1998 to little fanfare and less media attention. Despite all this, the game quickly acquired a cult following, and became increasingly difficult to track down. Naturally, Brigandine communities reacted very positively to news of a remake, and were not pleased when news that this remake would be for the Japanese market only. Brigandine: Grand Edition is a game of much speculation among fans and foes of the first game. With rumors of voice acting, anime cutscenes, extra knights, and a graphical and musical overhaul, it captured the attention of Brigandine fans everyone.
Brigandine: Grand Editon not only lived up to the hype it received, it surpassed it in most regards.
The aesthetics of the game are outstanding. The changes to the game become obvious as soon as you boot up the game. Instead of a early playstation polygon opening, you get a stunning anime opening, filled with vividly colored scenes from the game. This opening is set to an expansive tune, which sets the mood for the player nicely. The anime scenes, with attached still cells, occur at three points for all six countries. Each quest starts with an anime scene, and there’s one at the disk changing point. Of course, the third and last scene is the ending. These anime scenes replace the mostly text based dialog of normal Brigandine, making the player feel a much deeper connection with the cast.
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Brigandine: Grand Editon’s foray into voice acting was a fairly well done effort. Each Knight has a distinctive voice, and the generals in particular all stand out as soon as you hear them. From Zemeckis’s bold statements, to Dryst’s mad laughter, to Vaynard’s haughty speech, each of the generals statements will strike home with the impact only a good VA can deliver . The actual soundtrack is a cut above what was in normal Brigandine, with rich orchestra sounds replacing the familiar sounds and music of normal Brigandine. Composer Tenpei Sato (Well known for his splendid Disagea composition) did a fine job of providing the remake with a very good OST.
The battle system got a moderate overhaul, both graphically and and gameplay wise. Instead of ugly polygonal duelling figures, the game used animated sprites. The overall effect makes for a better looking and faster moving battle system, without taking away anything from Brigandine’s gameplay. The elemental system was tweaked slightly. Instead of Green being a neutral color, it was turned into the color of lighting and forest creatures. That slight adjustment changed the balance of the monsters. Many more classes got access to Thunder magic, and Green became a blue killer.
The generals themselves were all tweaked in one way or the other. Lance was given access to Thunder magics, while Cador lost his fire magic. Useless spells were replaced, and the generals were tweaked. The game features two new classes, the Knight Master (Dinadain), and Killer Doll (Iria). These classes greatly improve the power of both knights, by improving their draw of spells, and giving them excellent supporting skills.
The game also lists accuracy and evasion. You know your exact chances of hitting or missing with any given move. This new hit system also plays in with the revamped critical hit system. Fighters can use their trademark critical hit attacks on command, at the cost of accuracy. This not only strengthens fighters, it forces a player to think out each attack. Is it worth giving up accuracy for a stronger hit? Monsters were revamped in a big way, in GE. As your monsters level up, the cost of maintaining them increases. New spells and attacks are assigned to monsters. Fairies get the powerful Thunder spell, while Thors gain Geno Thunder. With the weakening of the Power spell, the changes to elemental interactions, and the increased access to magic in general, spells have taken a more balanced approach, and the game’s better for it.
The story isn’t so much as expanded in Brigandine:Grand Editon, as it is finished. Complaints about a lack of a final boss in normal Brigandine were common, and with good reason. Brigandine:GE fixes this by having a set of battles to end each file with. These fights not only manage to be challenging, they provide closure to each file. Esgares is the biggest benefactor from an improved story. Instead of being a hidden country, Esgares is fully playable, with it’s story and cutscenes giving a full showing of Bulnoil and his twisted plans, and the struggles that Zemeckis goes through to create his empire. All the other stories are fleshed out to some extent by the new cutscenes and VA, but none stand out as much as one man’s dream to lead, and the perversions that lead him into overthrowing Almekia.
Brigandine: Grand Editon is truly a game that lived up to the hype and billing it got. I highly recommend the game to any normal Brigandine fan, or any person who has an interest in strategy roll playing games.
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