Review: First you tell me it's a game about radiator stories. Now that I play it, I find that it's another RPG filled with adventure, treasure, and babes. You are such a Square...Enix!
Poor taste isn't in the cards when it comes to finalizing how enjoyable battle alignments come together for good or bad in Radiata Stories, but the game's attack pattern is definitely not as deep as it is in other RPG games. In fact, Radiata's system is like a simplified adaptation of Star Ocean 3's own version. In Radiata Stories, enemies aren't that fierce (bosses are about the only worthy foes), and a spell system is almost nonexistent (healing spells and volty attacks are but a limited view of special powers held in the game). There is some use of elemental effects (poison, paralysis, confuse, and most of whatever else that's traditional for the genre), but the action is dumbed down to repetitive one-button combo hack and slash style thrusts from the seat of a single playable character. One of Radiata's biggest downsides is its non-functionality over anyone other than Jack. Only Jack can be controlled. Only Jack can equip weapons or armor. Only Jack's skill set can be tweaked. Of course, this decision was probably intended to easily comply with the astonishing number of members that can hurdle together in Jack's stable of allies. But then that in itself is another issue, since party enlistment really isn't that much of a necessity to completing the game. Sure they give players something extra to do, but solving the missing pieces to where, how, and when to snatch up these compliant persons and things of Radiata Stories isn't going to change the way the game plays as mentioned earlier -- considering the fact that they can't even be used in the story mode missions. Remember how Radiata Stories is more like several games than one? There are the objectives for obtaining these friends, then there are the sidequests distributed by the Theater Vancoor guild: a fighter-for-hire depot that Jack will eventually become a member of. This place helps for raising money (and simultaneously enhances the experience levels for Jack and his chosen three friends), with such missions as storming into the city's sewers to kill a giant blob of goo, to gaining entry into goblin territory for a rare armor. Main quests on the other hand appear less frequently, as is the case when you may end up spending more time picking up friends than progressing the game along. These story mode priorities though aren't really so different from other mission types, as Jack will be traveling to distant regions to deal with bosses, deliver messages, and save people from harm. It's the kind of stuff you'd expect.
Radiata is a word that relates to invertebrates; animals or insects without a spinal column and whose internal structure is built with organs that are arranged in a systematic order. Radiate stems from this definition. As does radiant. For a word that describes Radiata Stories as that striking, well it's really not. Radiata Stories isn't the most groundbreaking RPG you'll ever witness, but it's definitely got a lot of imagination going for it. A lovely watercolor overtone immerses Radiata Stories in a delightful land full of people, animals, fairy creatures, and other forms of fictional characterizations. Enormity is captured throughout the towns and buildings. You will be confused just circuiting the lengthy stretches of the outside world, the streets of the main city that link up into maze-like dividends and even through the enormous interior of the castle that sits right in the middle of its bulk. Its bigness is complimented by both sprightly and dreary thematically artistic visualizations. Edging along the dirt trails apart from city living will lead Jack past trees and rock-planted grassy meadows, on top of log-made bridges overlapping a craggily painted backdrop, through darkened cavern and sewer systems where mucky brown liquid surges through its dank tunnels, and into all other necks of the woods like fairy, dwarf, and goblin habitats. Reasonably, Radiata Stories actually has plausible environments. It's just that, the game has sort of a drained tone masking its artistry. With some areas amongst the city and even in outside locales, there's a barren and kind of plain decor (stacks of boxes, cobwebs, dried up sorts of things). Some stuff stands out, while some of it doesn't. But it's not a big problem really, unless you're thinking of the battle design. Placed on top of flat and generic painted grounds (think pasty green grass without the actual depth of grass blades), the scrimmage windows are vacantly bordered territories that are made less exciting by the unattractively lifeless face of them. Since skirmishes aren't all that inspiring, the real magic happens through the clock mechanic, which sees day inch to night, where the blue sky naturally fades into lighter and then darker hues, the windows and street signs glow a bright yellow, and the stone-tiled ground and wooden homes contrast along with the purplish sky overhead.
Stories is the second word in this game's title. If you don't know what stories mean, then you're stupid. Stories, or fables, tales, legends, and history are usually about descriptions of fascinating events, or more often the people who were there. As such, the people of Radiata Stories are the more fascinating aspect of its graphical qualifications. You might figure that a game that can support up to 177 characters on your watch would have had spent very little time, if at all, receiving treatment in diversifying the appearance of each single person or whatever it is you'll see. Not in this case. Radiata Stories boasts all different assortments of both irregular and regular faces you'll come to love the look of. All divergent, each one great looking, and most importantly a lot of very cute females, Radiata Stories hosts a menagerie of creative anime-like person and thing designs spawning numerous character classes within the game. Spiky headed males and females, long hair, short hair, oddball eyeballs (ones with big circles and little dots in the middle), armored knights and robe-wearing clergy people, rugged thieve wear, and green skinned, sharp toothed, quirky but lovable goblins. They're all here. Jack himself is a short brown-haired, saucer-eyed skinny lad that always looks ready for anything. One interesting fact to know about Jack is that when he alters outfits through the armory, it will stick with him (and on him) throughout future story sequences and in-game until he is to equip another one down the line. What's not so great is some of the game's animation. Specifically to do with the battle moments, it's not that the motion of the characters is ugly, but rather unsuccessful representing at a more rewarding caliber. Brawling against the enemy gets kind of boring and repetitive to watch when you've seen the same flashing lights and little limbs hacking into small and large masses. Seeing characters fall backward when hit, seeing pretty particles flying as orange and reddish fire scorches bodies and makes them run, seeing partners jab and toss harmful items: this is some of the stuff you may be receiving a lot of times. Watching Jack on the other hand with his changeable combos lends a more robust, albeit still not overly enticing role of spinning circles, slicing left and right, bashing overhead, and hopping upward to pound downward. There are good things to say about the action, as it flows well enough. But since Radiata is without more advanced or more entertaining physics and lacks an enchantment module, the war ritual tends to be situated on the dull side of the letter.
Everyone knows, or everyone should know there are songs you just can't play in certain situations. Blasting country, pop, or death metal at a funeral would probably make attendees sob even more. Especially with that dry and tasteless country tune playing. For Radiata Stories, the deal is this. Musically, the game is okay in some cases. But for others, it just gets a little too happy. However, that's just Radiata's angle. This being a lighter, more comedic style of RPG, there are plenty of joyful orchestrated moments with flutes and violins playing here and there. There's even a song closely resembling Tequila, that upbeat tune heard in the bar scene of the classic movie Pee Wee's Big Adventure. That's not to say there are no deeper, more entrancing melodies that inflict some emotion or mood to realistically convey the sense of adventure or evil that lurks around every corner. It's with audio too that Radiata isn't the best at doing, but does fine all the same. A little foot ruffling a shaky table here, a little whacking action emanating forth from swords, spears, and axes producing arcade-like quality effects there, and some aural noises of water gushing, birds flapping, and feet stepping along everywhere. Corny as Radiata's story may become at times, its wide array of voice cast does a splendid job at delivering voices that really hit home with each new face. As there are tons of tons of denizens roaming the game, so is it that tons and tons of talent must accordingly act out a giant pile of parts -- which they do rather well. Jack is usually an excitable guy, always finding new things to think that are cool to him. But more so, Jack expresses anger, compassion, and a bunch of other articulations through his young sounding portrayal. Other actors besides his own, like the gentlemanly British-tongued Ganz and the demeaning but fragile Ridley also add to the miscellaneous order of personalities, ranging from powerful, to calm, and even nutty. The only sad part is that, characters only talk out their written dialogue during key scripted moments. Otherwise, they're either spouting funky responses when Jack initiates in conversation with townspeople (involving exaggerated "Hey" and "Hello" comments), or they're shouting peppy exclamations in battle that are annoyingly and repeatedly mouthed like so, "Alright!"