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For: Android   Also on: iPhone, 3DS

Grin and bear it?

Product: Grinsia | Publisher: Kemco Games | Format: Android | Genre: RPG | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
Grinsia Android, thumbnail 1
Given that both Google and Apple are North American companies, it’s to be expected that the bulk of game development that occurs on Android and iOS takes place in the West.

It’s all-too easy to forget that in Japan both platforms are gaining traction, and many Japanese publishers have started to see the humble smartphone as an exciting new gaming battleground.

Veteran firm Kemco Games - which can trace its history back to the NES era - is one such company. It has already released several role-playing titles for Android, and it's recently translated its latest adventure into English.

Grinsia is an unashamedly old skool Japanese RPG. It boasts cute characters, 2D graphics, a predictable storyline, and turn-based encounters that occur entirely at random and without warning.

Taking it back to the old school

It looks, sounds, and plays like a relic from the past - and that’s why we can’t help but have a soft spot for it.

Grinsia’s staunchly traditional gameplay calls to mind 16-bit RPGs such as Final Fantasy III and Phantasy Star IV. You explore the world, interact with other characters to glean information, and cross swords with all manner of disgusting monsters.

Grinsia subscribes to the time-honoured ‘random battle’ template. As you wander around the lush fantasy world you run into hostile creatures, which trigger confrontations without any warning.

Random factor

Once you’re locked in battle, you have to assign each team member with a command. These range from physical blows to magic spells. You an also use restorative items such as potions, or even attempt to run away from the ruckus should the tide not be going in your favour.

Success in combat not only results in physical rewards such as cash and new items, but it also increases the experience levels of your characters. This in turn boosts their levels, which means augmented abilities and increased strength.

Grinsia’s hand-drawn visuals are as good as any you’ll find in a SNES RPG, but the high-resolution of most mobile phone screens does tend to make things look a little sparse. The menu system is drab, but at least it’s functional.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it

Ultimately, such points will matter little: Grinsia offers hours of quality RPG entertainment for just a couple of quid. The English script is mercifully free of translation howlers, and the plot - which involves a family of treasure hunters saving the world - is enjoyable, despite being packed with more cliches than a Michael Bay movie.

Android exclusives of any real quality are few and far between these days, so it’s nice to see a game like Grinsia prove that Google’s platform has content that's worth crossing over for.

Fans of old skool Eastern role-playing titles will feel at home with Kemco Games’s epic, while those too young to appreciate the charms of the 16-bit era should get a kick out of the compelling challenge and expansive quest.
Reviewer photo
Damien McFerran | 9 January 2012
The sparse 2D visuals make Grinsia a hard game to sell to modern gamers, but beneath the clunky visual exterior you’ll find an RPG which manages to replicate the old skool charm of the 16-bit era
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