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SnickerdoodleNinja's Radiata Stories Game Review

Radiata Stories game Review

Story & Playability

In a world inhabited by elves, orcs, and goblins, humans and nonhumans share an uneasy coexistence. In the center of the known world lies the human kingdom, Radiata, home to Jack Russell, who is accepted into the prestigious Radiata knighthood solely because his father was once a famous knight. Along with his fellow knights, Ridley Silverlake and Ganz Rothschild, Jack finds himself involved in a chain of events concerning a deadly disease that turns even the most polite of civilians in raving madmen, a possible war between the races, and ultimately the end of the world.

If you couldn’t tell by the fact that the main character is named after a breed of dogs, Radiata Stories doesn’t take itself too seriously. Instead, it tends to lighten up solemn elements with humor and keeps a light-hearted mood for the most part. This tends to work rather well because as a whole, Radiata Stories’ plot is relatively simple and at first doesn’t really stand out from among the crowd. But while the plot itself might not seem to be anything special, Jack proves to be hilariously obnoxious and idiotic, to the point of being endearing and keeping the story interesting.

In fact, characterization is one of the game’s stronger areas in terms of story. While certainly not every character grows and changes, Jack at least grows to learn what true strength is and develops strong bonds with those around him, without seeming too serious and out of place in the mostly light-hearted story. Many of the other characters are also unique and interesting, though unfortunately some of them are inexplicably lacking real back story, as if the producers wanted them to have a past but then decided not to let the player in on it.

One of the other more notable aspects of Radiata Stories’ plot is the amount of freedom given to the player. For instance, about half-way through the game, the player is prompted to make a decision that will heavily impact the direction of the rest of the game, from plot to available characters and even the ending. The player is also given a large amount of time to recruit allies, run quests, or simply explore the highly detailed city. Amidst a time when many video games have become painfully linear, Radiata Stories is almost unique in that it offers the player nearly limitless possibilities while still having an interesting enough story of fairly short cut-scenes, which just goes to show that you don’t need hour long cut-scenes to have a decent story.

One double-edged sword of Radiata Stories’ plot and freedom is the method of story advancement. Story events directly involving Jack are usually triggered by resting, while cut-scenes that do not involve Jack often occur automatically after a certain amount of time in the game has passed. This can make the pacing somewhat awkward, with seemingly random story events often interrupting exploration or character recruitment, thought at least the cut-scenes were not too long.

Overall, Radiata Stories’ plot is flexible yet sound, with a decent balance between humor and real, serious plot. The tons of optional activities that allow the player to decide the length of the game leave much for you to discover for yourself in a vast, extremely detailed world without holding your hand.

Rating: 6

Graphics

Radiata Stories might not have top-notch graphics by the standards of 2011, but considering the time of its release in 2005, they aren’t shabby, and frankly, I wouldn’t have them any other way. The graphics are very stylized, fitting the whimsical atmosphere of the game while still being good enough to take seriously during the solemn moments.

Human characters were very colorful and usually unique, with each leaving a distinct impression on the player. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the nonhumans. Their appearances were far more generic and most of them were not very distinguishable from the others; as a whole, they were bland in appearance.

Environments are not always bright and colorful, but they are detailed and variant, whether you are in the lovely, ethereal home of the elves or the junkyard haven of the goblins. When the areas need to be haunting, they’re haunting, and when they need to be goofy, they’re goofy. It’s also interesting to note the changes in the game as nighttime falls, with fireflies, stars, and other details making the environments that much more interesting to look at.

Rating: 8

Sound

Although Radiata Stories might not have the most beautiful of music, like the graphics the music is very stylized. While I never have the desire to just sit and listen to the music, it fits the light-heartedness of the game. In battles, the music is faster paced and changes to fit the intensity of the story as the game progresses. Dungeon music is also usually fitting, with sewers and dark castles having eerie tunes while plains and town are much more upbeat. That said, there are a few areas in which I had the urge to mute the volume, though they are few in number and don’t detract greatly from the game.

Voice acting is also done rather well, with each voice actor effectively portraying their character and their emotions. Some of the less important characters are not quite as notable, but that’s to be expected given their minor role in the game.

Rating: 6

Fun

Through its gameplay, Radiata Stories provides a number of different ways for you to amuse yourself. One of the more creative elements is the method of recruitment. As the in-game clock (able to be checked by the player at any time) progresses, day and night come and go, and Jack can follow each of the 177 character in their daily routine as you try to get hints as to how to recruit them. Yes, that’s right: one of the game’s main attractions is stalking people. It’s slightly creepy when you think about it that way, but still very fun to be able to see the detail put into every individual character. That said, not every character you can stalk is recruitable, and unless you look it up you could end up wasting a large amount of time on a non-player character.

Another one of Radiata Stories’ key features is the ability to kick anything and everything, whether it’s your trashcan, a wall, or that guy on the street that you just can’t stand. Kicking objects often gets you items, some extremely useful and others just for giggles, while kicking people on the street too many times will cause them to attack you. The kick feature, though odd at first, becomes strangely addictive, and after I beat Radiata Stories for the first time I found myself with the strong urge to kick objects and obnoxious people in the game I played next.

Yet another fun aspect of Radiata Stories is the ability to customize Jack. His armor shows while in battle, walking around, and even during cut-scenes, allowing you to decide what you would like him to look like. As a result, some of his outfits are quite goofy, such as the business suit, while others are impressive, such as the sharkskin armor. Unfortunately, much of the best armor in the game is either hideous or girly, but the game really isn’t hard enough for you to need those pieces. Of course, along with his armor, you can also customize Jack’s weapons and skill style, choosing between a decent variety of weapons as it suits your taste and playing style.

Finally, I come to the battle system. Radiata Stories utilizes a free motion battle system in which the player can control only Jack directly, with other characters limited to “orders” that they may or may not follow, based on their personality. For instance, kind, compassionate characters will generally listen to you while more aggressive, independent personalities might not. As Jack, the player can not only issue orders but attack, counterattack, dodge, perform special attacks, and form links between party members. (Note: for links, see “other than for learning your allies’ abilities, a virtually useless tool that wastes your special attack points.”)Anyways, as a whole, the battle system is not bad, but it grows somewhat stale after a certain point, with no real changes to mix things up or keep fighting fresh. Luckily, the game is short enough that this isn’t a huge drawback.

In closing, playing Radiata Stories will not open your eyes to the meaning of life. However, while it may not be revolutionary, its refusal to fit to the modern cookie-cutter mold of games makes it stand out as one of the most enjoyable, unique games out there. What you give Radiata Stories is what you will get out of it; give Radiata Stories a good effort to explore and recruit, and you won’t be disappointed.

Rating: 8

Final Verdict

7.00 (above average)

Reviewed by SnickerdoodleNinja, May 27, 2011

Comments

  1. aozoraskies May 28, 2011

    This sounds like great fun, a little ridiculous and certainly not very deep, but still awesomely fun, in an oddball, random way. :D I have to say, the gameplay for character stalking caught my attention the most xD - that doesn't sound at all common. And kicking~ I don't know, I don't often play these games but NPCs can annoy me to the point that I want to kick them too. >D

    Your review touches on all the characteristics that make Radiata special and a game that stands out in its looser, light-hearted gameplay. It's a rather attractive game for people as random as me. Each section of your review receive apt attention, and highlight how Radiata certainly knows how to mold atmosphere with its settings, graphics and music. You also pointed out its flaws (non-serious, single-character play) which makes your review justified and fair, I feel. I quite enjoyed reading (and imagining) about this game so your review works indeed! Good work~

  2. angelxxuan May 28, 2011

    I remember getting my hands on this game when it was released (obtained it used) and your review did justice to it, it was an interesting game with a few twists to humor, but there again the name pun would pretty much leave that one wide open for such things. nice review, slightly longer than my mind could withstand at the moment but I broke it down in leaving and coming back and was able to read it all, nice review as always :)

  3. Weskalia Jun 03, 2011

    Well, I haven't played this game but it sounds fun to me. Your review is good as you paid attention closely to each section even the "Fun" part is very long.
    Btw, will you contribute to more TV series? So far I only see the game ones.

  4. CyanideBlizzard Retired Moderator Jun 24, 2011

    Radiata Stories was one of those games that I wasn't terribly interested in at first, but after playing more I got absolutely hooked and played it to death. I put roughly 150+ hours into the game and unlocked either the majority, or close to all the characters at one point or another. Needless to say I truly loved the game.

    Personally speaking, I'd score it a bit higher, but reading all the points that you covered I can perfectly see why you scored it as such and completely agree with it as well. Also, this is, in my opinion, the last truly good game Tri-Ace released. Although, I need to invest more time in SO4 before I can fully say such a thing xD.

    Great review!

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