From “Meh” to “Crap!” …

So, since I was feeling so “Meh” towards Disgaea 2, I decided to start playing Growlanser II. And I enjoyed it a lot more than Disgaea 2, because while the story had humour in it, the game seemed far more focused and consistent in tone than Disgaea 2. I pushed through it a lot and eventually saved after one part where the MC had to do a fight alone and used up all his MP and then headed on to the next battle … which was a massive boss battle. Which I was underlevelled for. So the immediate answer would be to simply level up a little more — as I did for other battles — and then tackle it. Except that about the only way I knew to recharge MP was at an inn … and the game had cut me off from the previous areas and, more importantly, from towns with inns. And I only had one save, and the auto-save had advanced past that point. So, my choices were to restart the game from the beginning or to ditch it. I was tempted to restart — since the game was fun enough — but then something came along that freed up my TV from the thrall of “Dark Shadows”, and so I decided instead to move on to “Mass Effect”. Which I started last night, getting only to the first combat scene with my character based on Helena Cain from the new Battlestar Galactica (whom, I guess, will end up going Renegade as I walk through the series).

So, let me talk a bit about Growlanser II, and compare it a bit to games in the same vein like Disgaea 2 and Record of Agarest War. Unlike the latter two, Growlanser II is based around random encounters to gain XP. So in order to level up, you generally have to walk around a lot to trigger encounters that you can then win to get XP, while in both of the other games you can basically trigger fights as you want them. So, Growlanser II is a bit annoying that way. It’s also annoying that you don’t gain very much XP from winning fights, but from attacking and killing things in the fights. This is actually a fairly nice way to generate XP … except that if you have one character that is better at doing that — Hans was that for me, with rapid attacks that did a lot of damage to weaker characters — they will gain XP a lot faster than anyone else. Add to it that for magic-focused characters for even remotely even fights you aren’t going to put them into the front lines to attack anyone, that means that you need them to cast spells to get XP. But casting spells takes time and uses MP. Which means that you’ll have to go to inns to pay to get that restored. Which is a bit annoying when for the small fights you’re in, you may not need to use spells, but need to just to level characters up. And if the enemies are weaker, the stronger characters might kill them too quickly for the other characters to get attacks off, especially if they have ranged attacks. Unless you just sit them out of the fight, of course. But that might make the fight too hard. So it’s a bit of a conundrum.

That being said, the fights are challenging and will require a knowledge of tactics and a use of the proper equipment without being as overwhelming on it and presenting as overwhelming a set of choices as Record of Agarest War, which is why I was able to proceed so far in it. The story is interesting enough, although it often seems a bit rushed, with major events starting and then ending in a very short period of in-game time. And there are a lot of character interactions to explore that you might miss if you don’t stop to check everything out. But it is interesting enough and certainly moves along quickly enough that you don’t get bored, and it is definitely a game that I will pick up again at some point in the future.

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