now for something completely different... If
you've been around the block and recognize that
intro from Monty Python's Flying Circus, you
might just appreciate the off-the-wall nature
of TriAce's Radiata Stories. Unlike previous
RPG offerings from Square / Enix which are usually
more epic in nature, RS is a breath of fresh
air filled to the brim with colorful characters
and corny situations. In fact, you could think
of Radiata Stories as the sitcom of role playing
games. It's not quite as deep, but it's entertaining
in small doses.
as Jack Russell, a teenage boy who simply assumes
that due to his father's heroic nature that
he'll follow in the same footsteps, players
will have their work cut out for them to transform
this zero into a hero. Unfortunately, tried
and true heroism seems to skip a generation.
However Jack pays no nevermind as constant setbacks
and defeat will not deter him one iota. Maybe
the kid's a hero after all.
out in the Rose Cochon Brigade, Jack, Ganz (a
big dude) and Ridley (smart ass girl) take on
various heroic tasks but their idea of swashbuckling
devil-may-care action turns serious when Ridley
is attacked by a couple of bad ass orcs and
almost dies. An elf saves her life which ends
his own and thus starts the ball rolling for
Radiata Stories as the elf's bro isn't pleased
at the altruistic actions that took his siblings
life. Eventually the humans are drawn into a
war with the elf people which are comprised
of elfs, orcs, dwarves and goblins and RS branches
off into two directions and you'll have to make
greatly with Square/Enix's own collection of
epic RPG's, Radiata Stories takes the road less
traveled and breaks tradition by keeping the
dialogue light and entertaining and the gameplay
extremely accessible to all players. It's not
Final Fantasy For Dummies by any stretch but
there will be a line drawn in the sand between
the two camps of players who enjoy this RPG-Lite
approach to the overly dramatic offerings and
RS excels is in the wonderfully entertaining
NPC's that Jack encounters. You'll spend the
majority of the time following these people
around, trying to discover what makes them tick.
If they've got that special something you can
even ask them to join your party. The only drawback
is related to the amount of time you'll have
to spend with each NPC before you can ask them
to join. A full day/night cycle will have to
pass before you're given the opportunity to
have them join your little gang. It's not too
punishing if you're into that sort of thing,
but after the first dozen or so, I found it
hard to get enthused about repeating the process.
With over 150 characters to interact with, you'll
need to have the patience and curiousity of
a New York Times reporter coursing through your
veins to continually muster the energy to follow
a new recruit.
wouldn't be an RPG if it didn't force your hand
into all sorts of side quests that will lead
you into many forms of danger on your hunt for
items you probably don't care about - which
will net you items from townsfolk that you do
happen to want. For once, I'd like to see an
RPG where some poor bastard in a town said "I'll
give you the key to the gate if you slay the
dragon in the Moorbog Cave and bring me his
pewter heart" and your character said "If
I've got the power to slay the dragon in Moorbog
Cave, certainly I could just grab you around
the neck and take the key myself, thus saving
me and the dragon a lot of useless busy work."
Some day someone will make this game and I will
play it and fall in love.
having spent time with Star Ocean: Till The
End of Time will recognize the improved battle
system. Battles take place outside of town (duh!)
and can be avoided at certain times since you
can see the enemies roaming the countryside.
If they charge and hit you though, that'll get
the party started. Once in battle mode, you
can target lock your enemies, strafing and dishing
out various attacks and combos dependent on
what weapons you have at the moment. Magic does
not play a part in RS, so you will have to settle
for collecting volty points which will allow
you to do special attacks if you have enough
of them. You might as well call it "magic"
but it's not really...but it's kinda close...but
yet not... Various formations can be achieved
with your party which will help dish out more
damage depending on what you have chosen. Your
party members work independently from you unless
they are in formation, although you can bring
up a menu which will tell them to defend, attack,
recover, or provide support. The formations
can be assigned to the D-Pad for easy access
and since you're more powerful in this mode
it becomes fully necessary to rely on it during
heartier battles. The only sore spot that I
had during battles was the somewhat A.D.D. locking
reticule that would bounce around. Since most
enemies aren't that tough and can be exploited
easily, it wasn't a big issue. Boss battles
on the other hand are a nightmare unless you
come prepared with strong characters and can
heal, heal, heal.
visual style of RS is as appealing and varied
as the plethora of characters you'll find within.
The exaggerated anime art direction will draw
in that particular demographic and the glib
dialogue will also appeal to this consumer target.
The environments are extremely detailed and
fun to explore, while brimming with little eye-catching
touches such as blowing trees, roaming animals,
falling leaves et al that simply help to bring
this colorful world to life.
music and voice-acting is top notch and I found
myself really loving some of the more upbeat
musical stylings that played in certain areas.
Some of the more serious musical arrangements
seemed a little out of place considering the
light-hearted foundation the game was based
upon (until the end that is) but I doubt anyone
would accuse them of being totally out of place.
Since there is a lot of recorded dialogue in
RS, you'd expect a few real clunkers to ruin
the experience, but I spent a lot of time talking
to a lot of people and found that the acting
was high quality throughout the entire game.
Stories is a charming game that provides a 20
hour + adventure the first time through and
due to the branching paths, provides gamers
with enough incentive to play again to see what
other choices would have resulted in. I would
highly recommend this to anyone who played last
years Star Ocean: Till the End of Time and enjoyed
it, while I would be hesitant to encourage Final
Fantasy purists to rush out and buy it. The
games biggest selling feature is the various
characters you can interact with. Like any good
story it's not always about the adventure, but
how entertaining the narrator is. RS will captivate
you in ways that have nothing to do with playing
a game and that's the magic behind it.