Grand Fantasia

Grand Fantasia is a anime/cartoon styled MMORPG by Aeria Games, a US subsidiary of Japan based Aeria Inc. that focuses on creating/developing free MMORPGs.

While all their games a free to play, they do employ a micropayment system in, i.e. a system where you pay real money for special in-game currency that can be used to purchase especially powerful items and equipment not available for free-players, in order to pay for servers and maintenance.

The game itself can be downloaded for free here: grandfantasia.aeriagames.com/download.

Mechanics

The game is relatively light-weight taking up only around 700MB, and that’s fully updated, though this might be because it is currently ‘only’ in its open beta stages. I don’t know when the beta ends, but for now, I’m just enjoying it since it means that less people know of it and that in turn means always tons of space on the server.

Speaking of servers, there are currently only two of them (though this is enough), each having four channels. When you create a character (you can create up to three) on a server, you are confined to that server (as far as I know), but you can move freely between the four channels.

Audio/video

While it’s cartoony-esque style might be off-putting for some, I find it an advantage since it translates to less processor butt-rape. And let’s face it, we all want to avoid teh butt-rape… That aside, the scenery and details are quite impressive, especially on higher settings.

Palette swaps for monster are however abundant, which is a bit of a shame, but is to be expected. It would’ve been nice with some extra details on more dangerous fiends of the same genus rather than a darker shade of yellow. On the audio side, it is surprisingly good! I sometimes linger around some of the areas just to enjoy the area-specific music.

Character classes

The job classes are more or less the same as they are for most other RPGs, starting with the generic novice. At level 5 you then choose the “path” you want to take by becoming a Fighter (tank), Hunter (ranged), Spellcaster (magic user), or Acolyte (healer).

You get a class ugrade again at level 15, which is essentially just a stat boost and more abilities unlocked for purchase, and then the same at level 30, but where you have a choice between two jobs within the same path.

E.g for the tank path, it would be: Novice -> lvl. 5 -> Fighter -> lvl. 15 -> Warrior -> lvl. 30 -> Paladin OR Beserker.

Personally, I think the Beserker (tank) or Necromancer (magic user) are the best classes to go after, simply because the defense stat is next to worthless as far as I am able to tell, so pouring everything into offense is the way to go. I think they went with this to maybe balance out the other jobs more, so not everyone would just tank everything, but I honestly don’t know.

Social aspect

I have probably never played an MMORPG that tries harder to force you into being social and marking parties. I mean sure, the game has guild-only missions, but so do many other MMORPGs. Grand Fantasia, however, will have regular missions seperate into 3-5 parts, where the last part is always a boss fight that you have no chance of winning alone, unless you are the boss’ level x 1½, and even then it’s difficult.

So you are essentially forced into forming parties, but since only one person can pick up the mission item, only one person per time can complete the mission, after which, they usually quit the party. So it’s a pretty poor marketing decision to have done this >____>

On the upside, I think they at least somewhat acknowledge the issue, as the regularly have timed Double Experience events where you in the one hour the event is ‘active’, you earn double exp for any kill and therefore level faster.

Sprites

A feature I had never seen before was the Sprite system. The easiest way for me to explain sprites are that they are in-game Tamagochis crossed with Pokémons or something.

Why I like this system is that while many MMORPGs will have you waste time doing mundane things such as harvesting, foresting, mining, etc., these things are all performed by the Sprites in exchange for a very small fee (which you usually earn back by killing a low-medium level monster).

In addition to doing these mundane things, they can also perform alchemy and even forge armors and weapons. One sprite is however confined to forging one type of weapon or armor, e.g. only tank armor or only magic armor, etc.

But the smart thing is that in addition to the Sprite you get in the beginning, which is also able to evolve at higher levels, you can also summon two additional sprites with special summoning items and have them forage for you as well.

There’s a bit more to the Sprite system, such as caring for the sprites, training them, and summoning them to give your character stat boosts, but I’d rather not go into that much detail. You’ll find out when you play it.

Conclusion

Grand Fantasia is a fun game that tries to allocate the mundane chores to a pet system which actually works rather well. It also contains several interesting features not mention in the review, such as a player auction (in addition to just selling stuff at stores), mounts, PvP battles and PvP Wars, etc. because I simply didn’t have the time to cover all that.

It is, however, advised that you start playing with some of your friends as many missions require parties to successfully pass, and the only guarantee of an effective and consistent party is to play with at least 2-3 people you know in advance.

Apart from that, it is an entertaining game with a few twists that sets it apart from many other cartoony MMORPGs, and with it’s relatively small file size, you should definitely give it a chance. While the missions might become a bit mundane in the long run if you’re playing solo, the nice surroundings and fantabulous music almost makes level grinding bearable.

If you reach level 10 and still don’t think the game is something for you, then I’m sorry for having wasted your time, but personally, I think you can get at least a few weeks of playtime out of this game, probably months if you join a good guild.

Score
Totally awesome!

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