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Radiata Stories Review

Developer: tri-Ace Publisher: Square Enix
Release Date: September 6, 2005 Also On: None

Konami’s Suikoden series gained instant fame with its unique character recruiting system, allowing you to have up to 108 (plus four secret) allies join your side throughout the game. Square-Enix has decided to take it to the next level. Cross-breeding its own Star Ocean: Till the End of Time’s instantly engaging story and fast-paced battles with Suikoden’s character recruitment system and endless quests, we have the beautiful RPG offspring: Radiata Stories.

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In Radiata Stories, you take the roll of Jack Russell, a young boy who dreams of becoming a Radiata Knight. Jack isn’t exactly the sharpest tool in the shed, but his intentions are good and his antics are nothing less than hilarious. After getting thrashed at the Knights tryouts, he gets a lucky and is accepted anyway because his father was a famous Radiata Knight. After getting accepted, he joins up with Ridley Silverlake, another knight-in-training, and becomes a member of the Rose Crouchon Brigade with Captian Ganz Rothschild.

After a few assignments and a lot of bad luck, Jack and Ganz are kicked out of the castle and are forced to join Theater Vancoor (a small warriors guild), and before you know it, thrown into the middle of a struggle between humans and the fairy creatures. Once you join the warrior’s guild, you’re free to explore the vibrant town of Radiata. As in any RPG, you will speak and interact with the townsfolk, but not like you do in Radiata. In Radiata Stories, everyone you interact with has his or her own specific schedule and tasks that he or she has to do. Meaning if you meet Alvin and he asks to fight you at Vancoor square at 7:00pm, not only will he be there, but you can follow him and watch him make his way from one end of the town to his destination. This aspect really brings the game to life, and encourages you to talk to as many people as you can to discover just what they’re set out to do that day.

In addition to each of them having their own AI, just about every person you interact with is a potential party member that you can recruit to aid you in your quests. That makes a total of 177 possible allies; eat your heart out Suikoden. Recruiting allies can be as simple as walking up and talking to them, or as complex as going on journey’s across the map.

The battles in Radiata Stories can be fast-paced and fun, or synonymous and boring. In the main menu, you can select the order of attacks you want Jack to use from a list that grows as you gain levels and each different weapon gives you a new set of skills to choose from. There are two main buttons used in battle: circle and square. The circle button is the main attack in which Jack executes the attacks you previously selected for him, and square is your Volty attack.

Volty attacks can be used in one of two ways. You can either use an individual Volty attack, which takes up 10 and will depend on the weapon you’re currently using. Or you can unleash a massive Volty attack, which takes up your entire Volty gauge, but does massive damage upon the enemy you’re currently locked on to. Volty points are gained every time you or one of your party members lands a hit on the enemy. Although Volty attacks are fun to watch, most battles unfortunately come down to mashing the circle button.

All enemies can be seen in the environment before engaging in battle, getting rid of the random battle cliché. When in battle, you can have up to three members of your friend’s list battle with you. However, the only character you will be able to control is Jack. They do, however, equip you with an assortment of link formations that you can learn, allowing you to pick anything from a box, to a single file line formation. They also give you commands that you can give out to your party members. You can have them stay back and conserve themselves, or go all out with Volty attacks. The battles are relatively fast-paced, but can become tiring; you can only punish your circle button for so long.

The town of Radiata is split up into different subsections. Each section has its own color scheme, as well as its own music. This makes traveling the town much less monotonous as most RPG’s. The character designs are each very unique and well made, as well as their attitude, making it easier to hate or dislike a character upon first impression. All dialogue is voiced throughout the game with decent voice acting, as well as being very humorous.

The biggest problem in the game is that you have nearly too much freedom. Most story events are time-activated, meaning that until that time, you’re free to go and do whatever you please. But Jack has no way to control the flow of time. You can go back to your sleeping quarters and sleep until the next day, but if you have to wait until 9 p.m. to talk to a character, you’re forced traverse the town until then. However with 177 recruitable characters and endless quests, you seldom find yourself with nothing to do. Also, the game isn’t always clear on telling you where to go or what to do next, leaving it up to you to explore until you activate the next sequence. This can be irritating for some that want to get through the story rather than get all the extra things.

With an enchanting story, beautiful graphics and characters, and only a few minor time management and battle flaws, Radiata Stories, in my opinion, is one of the best RPG’s to be released in 2005. If you like getting through the game quickly with complex battles and extravagant CG sequences, you may want to turn another way. However, if you’re into secret items, long journeys and billions of other extras, this game is right up your alley.

Graphics: 8.5
Sound: 8.5
Gameplay: 9
Creativity: 9
Replay Value/Game Length: 9.5
Final: 9
Written by Matt Evangelista Review Guide