Growlanser II: The Sense of Justice is part of the newest Working Designs RPG compilation in the market, which is named
Growlanser Generations. The package includes the aforementioned game and Growlanser III: The Dual Darkness. Why Growlanser
I wasn’t included in this compilation, is anyone’s guess. But I will not dwell into that here.
Working Designs is known for only bringing to the States the very best Japanese RPGs on the market (Two of their games
Alundra and Lunar 2 Eternal Blue are in my all time top ten), and thus as expected Growlanser Generations is a high quality
package. Yet Growlanser II in most aspects seems like a rather average RPG.
While I haven’t yet touched Growlanser III, I finished Growlanser II, and I will say right now that while it was
an entertainingly short RPG, it isn’t the kind of game that will instantly earn the cult classic name tag that other
Working Designs RPGs have earned.
At its heart Growlanser II is really a strategy RPG, the battles play like any turn based RPG before it, you make a selection
from an Attack Menu, in which you can move through the battle field, attack, defend, cast a magic spell or use a Tech skill.
After making the selection you wait for your characters to execute the action.
The strategy part comes in the fact that you just can’t simply level up and attack with powerful attacks to win the
battles. As most boss battles usually have rather challenging…well…challenges to deal with. For example there
is one battle where you have to get your characters across a field floor that is collapsing, if one of your seven party characters
falls through the floor, the game ends. In other battles you have to be able to contain a certain amount of enemies in a field
before they can escape the battle.
It is very important to think before hand what course of action you are going to take, of course strategy alone won’t
win the day, you (as always) need to spend some time fighting random battles on the map screen in order to properly level
up your characters.
A lot of the success in battles will depend on how you equip Rings. Each character can have one ring equipped; the best
rings are the ones that boost your stats while at the same time allowing you to carry high level Gems. Each Ring has three
slots to carry gems, each slot has a number lets say 9-6-4 this means you can equip a level 9 gem or lower on the top spot,
a level 6 gem or lower in the middle spot and so forth.
Rings have to be earn in battles while Gems can be bought at shops, in some battles it is crucial to have the right selection
of gems equipped, so be very careful.
Fortunately the game is pretty short about 20 hours so leveling up won’t become a major drag. However most of those
boss battles can go for pretty long, some times even 20 minutes, so it is good the game has a save game feature while in battle.
Just press the Square button while in the middle of a match and you can save your progress. All in all the battle system in
Growlanser II is one of the few things that the game does very well.
Unfortunately besides the polished battle system, there is not much more to get overly exited about if you have been playing
RPGs for a long time. The Story is about war and conflict and there are many interesting characters, but the story never goes
deeply into any of them. Wein Cruz who is sort of the main character, wants to be an Imperial knight. So he decides to join
the academy where slowly he will become involved in a big conflict, in which he will meet the rest of the cast and will eventually
embark in a world saving quest.
The only saving grace of the plot is that is not predictable, as there are two or three completely shocking twists. But
other than that while the characters have personality you never get to really know them, and the way the game ends, it gives
you the impression that maybe Growlanser IV (Growlanser III has a different cast of characters set in a different world) will
keep following Wein’s exploits.
However I was disappointed by the game’s uninspiring ending, while the plot was never too deep I was expecting a
bit more from the story specially when the villain and Wein had an interesting relationship. The story truly feels like half
The story is pretty linear, as there is no real time 3-D world map, instead your characters walk through dots in the map
screen, in which you can enter towns, to chat with NPCs and stock on supplies. However you CANNOT walk while in the towns
or explore anything in this game, every thing in the game is done through menus, the only time you have control over your
party is during the battles. So some players might be bored, I kept playing because while the story was a bit bland it had
enough things going around it to keep me going.
Graphically this is a game that belonged in the PS1/Saturn era, and even then it would have been a technically under-whelming
game. The characters are made up of high quality sprites, but the battle stages are done in primitive pre-rendered back grounds,
these pre-rendered backgrounds are also used for town graphics and in any other time where you actually can see your party
on screen. The world map like I said before consists of a flat hand-drawn map with dots, so while the game is Visually a stinker,
the character art work is top notch.
Like in Atlus’ Thousand Arms, when the characters speak to each other big anime drawings appear on the screen, it
is in this instances that one can appreciate the talented character designers from Atlus and Careersoft (who developed the
game, Working Designs is the publisher).
Sound Wise while working designs made it a point to find quality actors, Maximillian, Wolfgang, Xenos, Hans and the female
cast, are the only ones who deliver a solid performance. Wein sounds too weird for me. The voice acting in the game is merely
The music is average stuff, while the vocal ending theme that plays at the credits is solid the rest of the music isn’t
worth listening to. Growlanser II, which was originally released in Japan in 1999, has all the makings of a low budget RPG.
In what packaging is concerned, Working Designs offered two options a Deluxe package and a standard version, the standard
version just includes the two game two disc set with an instruction booklet, which is the standard of the of the market. However
being that I am such a collector, I bought the deluxe version which has all the goodies one has come to expect from Working
This time around however the package doesn’t feel as tight as it did in Lunar 2. The package includes a Soundtrack
, a color instruction manual that lacked interviews and things of the sort, an okay looking chain with a rusty looking ring,
and a complete stupid deck of cards. At first I thought the cards featured Character art work as the case in the back of the
deluxe package showed. However I was EXTREMELY disappointed when I opened my deck of cards and I saw that the cards were standard
American playing cards, if I wanted generic playing cards I would buy them for a buck at the local Walmart, so thanks Working
Designs but no thanks this time. The entire package would have been a failure of catastrophic proportions (at least by Working
Designs high standards), if it wasn’t for the Elegant "Silver" watch that the package included, yeah I know the watch
isn’t made of real silver but it looks real enough to fool people.
However than being said I paid 80 big ones for that package and I don’t feel so far that the packaging was worth
that much, specially considering that Growlanser II is a fairly average game, maybe Growlanser III will make it all worth
Growlanser II however stands as mildly interesting strategy RPG, that only collectors and RPG hardcore fans should play,
every one else will probably find the game primitive and boring.
Gameplay: 7.0-It’s a pure Strategy RPG, and the combat and leveling up system is solid.
Graphics: 5.0-Harkens back to the PS1/Saturn era and even in that era it would have been a sub-par looking game.
Music: 6.0-Average fare, nice ending theme though.
Story: 6.0-Interesting enough to keep me playing, but a bit bland and shallow. No real character development ever
happens during the game.
Addictiveness: 6.0-Finish it once and that's it, it's done. If you are a masochist the try to unlock Sandra’s
quest for what is worth, also the are multiple endings depending on what choices you make during some conversations.
Overall: 6.0-A polished battle system and a mildly interesting story, keep Growlanser II two from sinking in to
the dreaded 5.0 to 4.0 territory.