Radiata Stories

Time, yet again, for another video game review, and who would have guessed it would be another RPG? In 2005, Tri-Ace released their newest game, Radiata Stories. A completely new project, Radiata Stories aimed to take the aspects of the basic RPG, mix it with a compelling story in a fantasy setting, and make it modern with little taste of Tri-Ace here and there. Overall, the game is a cross between Star Ocean (another Tri-Ace series) and some children’s fairy tale involving knights, elves and dragons. Radiata Stories literally offers hundreds of hours of entertaining gameplay, and the possibilities seem endless. It is definitely one of the great games of the RPG genre, and here’s why.

You play Jack Russell, a thick-headed, ambitious young man, and son of the famous knight, Cairn Russell. Today is the day of Radiata’s Knight Selection Trials, where only one applicant is selected to join based off of their capabilities, and Jack has traveled far to make it to the top. In the very first match of the elimination trials, Jack faces off against Ridley Silverlake, and loses. All seems lost for Jack, but he is let in anyways because of his father’s fame, and is put into a brigade with Ridley and Captain Ganz Rothschild. As a team, the Rose Cochon Brigade begins to build up a name for itself by taking individual missions in the name of Radiata. However, all is not well in the world, and tensions between humans and the fairy creatures (elves, dwarfs, etc) rise to a breaking point while something even more terrible plagues both sides, and it is up to Jack to choose his destiny and save the world.

One of the first things you notice when playing the games are all the colorful characters throughout Radiata. Each one has their own unique personality and backstory, and out of 300 total characters within the game, 175 can be recruited into your party. You heard me right, you can pick from up to 175 characters to fight with you in your quests across Radiata. Some parties may be formed based off stats and abilities, while other parties may be just because you liked the characters and wanted to play with them more. The variety in this aspect of the game certainly is not lacking, and I doubt there is any character archetype missing. You can befriend these characters in any number of ways: some are simple, and all you have to do is talk to them or beat them in a fight; others ways are more complicated, and you have to do that character some sort of favor, which can range from something minuscule like delivering a letter, or complicated like finding them at a certain time of the day after finishing a number of conditions.

The graphics in Radiata Stories, for all intents and purposes, is very cartoony. Some of the scenes look hand-drawn i great detail, and a lot of the styles remind you of what you might see in an anime. Along with the graphics, the best part arrives: the music. As expected with Tri-Ace, we get an amazing variety of music, and, being that the setting is so cartoonish, the music is alive and over-the-top, in a good way. And the creators knew that people would love the music, so they even made it possible for Jack to find records with certain songs, and play them in his house, so you can listen to any music whenever you want.

One of the most fun, if not the most fun, things to do when playing is kick things. You can kick literally everything, and everybody, which is pretty hilarious. Jack, being the blunt, disrespectful character he is, kicks just about everything. By kicking certain objects, you can find hidden items or Dagols (the currency within Radiata); and by kicking people, you can trigger scenes, fights, and it may even lead to them being your friend. Be careful who you kick, though, because some people may kick your ass if you’re not strong enough.

The playable world within Radiata Stories is vast and open, allowing hours of just running around and exploring. While at first the story seems to drag on and gets a little boring because of how linear it is, as soon as you get into the city (which may be a little more than two hours into the game, depending), doors open up and your range of exploration becomes endless. You can travel all of the city of Radiata, or go to any of the several regions surrounding it whenever you want for as long as you want. Each region is unique in its own way, and offers its own unique surprises and possibilities. Since the game is in real time, the clock rolls and day changes to night while you play, and you get to be part of both worlds since your character never seems to get exhausted. However, some events can only be triggered after you’ve finally decided to take a rest, so be sure to sleep often.

The battle system is very similar to Star Ocean, in that you control one characters actions and run around in real time while the rest of your party is controlled by AI. One slight problem is that it is not nearly as exciting as Star Ocean, and may even get tedious after a while. Fear not, though, for those tough battles will still be tough, and you have a variety of different enemies to fight that will keep things at least somewhat interesting.

Lastly, we must cover one of the most important parts to any story: the story itself. Be that it is an RPG, it does tend to drift off from the main plot during the middle, hitting a few plot points here and there. However, when following the story itself, it’s becomes a fascinating epic that explores the reaches of human corruption, as well as human compassion. Eventually you really grow a heart for the primary characters, and you’ll want nothing but more.

Overall, Radiata Stories is a game within its own genre, and is a great game for those who love RPGs but are not really in the mood for something too serious or complicated, similar to Kingdom Hearts. Within its wide range of maps, characters, and things to do, you will never find yourself bored while playing this game (unless, of course, you’ve played it a billion times), and you will always have something to do. Altogether, this game deserves an 8/10 for great playability, story, characters, and an amazing amount of replay value. I really recommend this game to anybody who just wants a fun RPG to pass the time with, and one that you can leave and pick up months later without being confused. Radiata Stories is certainly among my favorite games of all time, and I can’t even count how many times I’ve played through this game since first buying it when it came out. It is truly a great game.

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