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Radiant Historia Review

Since I just beat N in Pokemon Black, I decided to tak a small break and review Radiant Historia. Also, just as a note, this game is apparently really hard to find in most areas. The 4 EBGames nearest to my house has it though, if the Canadian website is anything to go by. Amazon US has the price raised to $50+, but the Canadian Amazon still lists it at $34.99 and in stock. Is it because there are no people who play RPGs in Canada? That can’t be true though, since I know several. Just not many who actually buy their handheld games. Regardless, if you want the game for a reasonable price, consider phoning up some Canadian relatives (assuming you don’t live here already).

Radiant Historia is an RPG by Atlus that features time travelling and a more strategic take on the usual turn-based system. The protagonist is Stocke, an unsociable and silent young man under the Special Intelligence unit of Alistel, AKA people who do dirty work while the army takes all the glory. Alistel is currently at war over Granorg for arable land since desertification is happening quickly around the world, and Stocke is sent on a mission to rescue a secret agent being pursued by Granorg. He is given subordinates, Raynie and Marco, and the White Chronicle to aid him on his task. However, something goes wrong on the mission and the agent, Raynice, and Marco get killed by Granorg soldiers and Stocke barely escapes alive. He wakes up in Historia next to a shota and a loli who tell him he has to jump through time and make history go the right way so the world doesn’t end up as a giant desert.

Gameplay:
The gameplay is a rather refreshing take on the traditional turn-based combat. The enemies stand on a 9×9 area during battle, and they can be moved using various attacks that push enemie units to a different square. What use is this? Multiple enemies can occupy a single square and some enemies occupy more than one square, and attacking an enemy will also deal damage to other enemies on the same square(s) as the target. With the right positioning, You can potentially deal damage to many enemies using a single target attack. Your characters can change turns with an enemy or another ally, and consecutive attacks combo and increase in damage. You also get Limit Breaks that can erase enemy turns later. With so many factors, skillful manipulation of the system can yield some beautiful results. Of course, things also work if you want to play it like a basic RPG system and kill enemies one by one (provided that you grinded/they don’t kill you first). The system is quite deep, and as with Atlus games, status-inflicting moves work on bosses and buffs work nicely. What you get at the end is a pretty deep and fun combat system, especially with moveable enemies. There’s some difficulty spikes, but nothing too extreme or ragequit worthy. The difficulty goes up pretty steadily for the most part.

There’s shitloads of backtracking. Like, there’s several dungones you have to go through multiple times no matter where you’re going, with different enemies at different points in the story. The backtrack-required dungeons aren’t exactly distinct, and look pretty much the same no matter where you go. There’s also no minimap, but I guess you don’t really need one since the bigger the dungeon is, the more straightforward the paths are. At the end I actually got used to the backtracking-required ones and memorized them.

Story:
The story is definitely on the better side of modern RPGs. It’s one of the most solid ones on the DS, with no draggy parts at all. I think I clocked around 35 hours at the end, which makes it a decently-lengthed game without unneccessary padding. Plus there’s two different ways of the story unfolding due to there being two timelines, and numerous bad ends. The time travelling isn’t confusing or frustrating at all, and there’s always a node during choices that can potentially go to a bad end.

Characters:
There are no annoying party members, and most non-party members are fleshed-out and well-written. Especially the villain (even though you can probably guess that he’s evil at first sight). The protagonist doesn’t bring anything new to the table, but he’s a pretty cool guy and doesn’t angst like a emo teenager. He’s also the most badass in the team of playables in my opinion. The other party members are beyond simply tolerable, and I liked having them by my side. I wish they had more sidequests about the characters (I’d probably be completely satisfied if they had something that went as deep as social links, but I guess there is only so much you can do in a scenario where you know you’re saving the world right from the beginning.), because I wanted to know even more about them. I actually cared for everyone, even the villain. Atlus’ quality writing shines even in a 35 hour game.

Music:
I started up the game, and stopped at the first screen of dialogue just to listen to the music. After playing the game, I’m still listening to the bonus 5 track piano arrange CD that came with the game every moment I’m at the computer. I don’t think I’ll be letting that CD out of my computer any time soon.

Graphics/art:
The character portraits are nice, but there’s only one expression for everyone. The entire game is in 2D, using sprites, and there are no extremely flashy battle animations. Nothing WOW or limit-pushing, but it’s a pretty nice 2D look. Alistel, the city that you won’t be returning to too much, is actually the most beautiful backgroun IMO. A lot of the dungeons that require backtracking are extremely plain-looking, though (Gran Plains, I’m looking at you). This certainly is not a game for graphics whores or anyone looking for something that pushes the system to its limits in terms of graphical capability.

Overall:
I enjoyed this game very thoroughly. If you’re looking for a DS RPG, Radiant Historia is a good place to start. It’s got a good plot that doesn’t feel too old-school at the same time, beautiful music, and fun gameplay where you can’t just blindly choose attack. RH is better than a lot of new RPGs this gen, and will become one of those hard-to-find games (judging on how hard it is to find in the US right now). Sadly, I think it’ll be forgotten or unnoticed by the majority of people outside gaming forums (y’know, like how a lot of standalone RPGs are nowadays).


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Radiant Historia CLEAR!

I just cleared it with the True ending, and feel completely satisfied. Sadly though, I think RH will become one of those quality RPGs that are completely forgotten and unknown a few months down the road. It’s got low print run, and probably nonexistant popularity outside of GameFAQs and other forums of the like. It’s apparently selling pretty badly even for a new IP, although that may be because of the low print run. I’ve heard more complaints about people not being able to find this game anywhere than I ever want to, Amazon jacked up their price for $25, and it got released like a week before Pokemon Black. I guess it’s just bad luck, although from what I’ve seen every single EBGames close to my house has at least 1 copy of the game. I guess people in my area just don’t like RPGs, or don’t like to stray from known franchises. I did meet a dude who played Persona 3 Portable–at a gym, no less–so I’m happy.

Anyways, I feel like pouring out all my thoughts before doing a review, so SPOILERS FROM HERE ON

I liked Stocke a lot, for a protagonist. I find him the coolest guy on the team, which is quite rare for an RPG. He starts out a bit typical, being our silent guy who doesn’t like to talk, but progresses to become a person who truly cares for others. And this is done in a believable way too. He’s not the whiny dude who always has emotional outbursts, and also not the silent emo guy either. Stocke stays calm and actually tries to think his way through, and doesn’t go into an emoing phase like what is so popular these days. He kinda reminds me of Yusei, in the sense that he’s a stoic but cares for his friends.

As for the villain, I could pretty much tell he was evil the first time I saw him. No mysteries there. Heiss was very obviously the final boss, and they played the sympathetic villain card. I don’t normally like sympathetic villains in RPGs because we end up seeing MOAR ANGST or taking him down doesn’t feel as satisfying. It also seems pretty abrupt most of the time. Good thing they wrote Heiss well, and he was actually successful as a sympathetic villain with legitimate and believable excuses. He wasn’t the hardest final boss, but certainly takes the annoying card during the second phase of his final form where he put all my party members to sleep and I could do naught but watch as they get their health chipped away. Thank the Random Number God that his petrify never hit, and they woke up in time for healing.

ALL the playable characters were more than tolerable at worst, and most go into the “want to see more backstory” category. This extends to non-party members too, seeing as how much I liked Viola and Garland. I wonder how ATLUS handles their characters so well. Raynie is one of the rare main girls that I actually like, and I actually like her the most (it’s not just because she’s the hottest, I swear!). I wanted to see her and Stocke reunite after the ending, although leaving it open-ended works too since you can pretty much guess what’s going to happen. It’s kinda strange how I actually wanted to see some more romance in this game even though it’s a put-off for me in most games where you can’t choose your love interest. I really wanted to see more of Viola and Garland, because I ended up liking them even with their limited screentime. Good characters don’t need many appearances to leave an impression =D

The music was great, and especially memorable is the track that plays during sad events. I think I want the soundtrack…The graphics aren’t WOW or anything, and the game looks pretty retro. The sprites are well-drawn, but each character only has one expression so it gets very akwards when people say “Oh no, that’s horrible!” with a smile. Couldn’t they at least make a normal and a sad sprite, if anything? The 2D sprites aren’t exactly detailed, and the backgrounds are plain for the most part. God, I don’t want to go through Gran Plains anymore because it is huge and everywhere looks the same.

Radiant Historia has a great story, even with the cliches, and it has a pretty original concept and system. The time-travelling basically makes nothing permanently missable. The battle system is fun with the use of combos, but there isn’t much when it comes to customization. There’s plenty of sidequests, some of them mandatory if you wish to aim for the true end. At the end, there isn’t a whole lot of end-game content and RH isn’t the type of game you can normally play for over 100 hours, but it certainly left a strong impression on me. I finished the game in less than 35 hours. Those were some good 30+ hours, though. Enjoyed every moment, and nothing ever dragged out. The true ending was completely satisfying, strongly implying that Stocke goes back to see his friends. After beating the game, I really wanted to give my game box a big hug.

RH doesn’t go with the dark style of Shin Megami Tensei games, but it made me love Atlus even more. Go Atlus! Reprint, and sell more copies!

END SPOILERS

Wow, I gone on for far longer than I intended to. Radiant Historia really is a good modern RPG though, and it will probably find a special place in my heart. I’ll write a review on the weekend or something.


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Yeah! Catherine US release!

http://www.siliconera.com/2011/03/01/catherine-officially-confirmed-for-summer-2011/

Both this and Disgaea 4 are summer releases. I better save up fast and not give in to the temptation of the 3DS and Anime North. Not to mention Dragon Quest VI, and various other games that will receive release dates soon. I can do it! Survive on Pokemon Black until summer break!

crycrycry


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Upcoming RPGs

I’ve been checking some sites, and it seems like NISA is bringing over the PSP version of Phantom Brave eeveryone’s been wanting, along with Neptune (named Hyperdimension Neptunia for NA release). There’s actually a lot of stuff I didn’t know about, so I’m compiling a list for upcoming RPG both NA and JPN release.

Japanese releases are in italics

Nintendo
Pokemon Black & White (Spring 2011, DS)
Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Revelation (Feb 14 2011, DS) – This should probably go under another company, but it’s listed on Nintendo’s website and counts for Club Nintendo points so I put it here.

Sega
Valkyria Chronicles 3 (January 27 2011, PSP)

Atlus
Radiant Historia (Feb 2011, DS)
Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 2 Tsumi (March 3 2011, PSP)

Level 5
The Little Battlers (March 17 2011, PSP)

NIS America
Hyperdimension Neptunia (Feb 2011, PS3)
Phantom Brave: The Hermuda Triangle (March 2011, PSP)

XSEED
Ys I & II Chronicles (Feb 2011, PSP)

Marvelous
Rune Factory Oceans (2011, PS3 + Wii)

Imageepoch
Tale of the Last Promise (TBA, PSP)
Black Rock Shooter: The Game (Summer 2011, PSP)

Square Enix
Final Fantasy IV: Complete Collection (Spring 2011, PSP)
Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together (February 15 2011, PSP)

Gust
Atelier Violet: Alchemist of Gramnad 2 (February 3 2011, PSP)

Namco Bandai
Tales of Xillia (2011, PS3)
Venus & Braves (TBA, PSP)
Tales of the World: Radiant Mythology 3 (Feb 2011, PSP)
…actually, I don’t wanna see any more news of Namco Bandai stuff so I’ll stop here unless they’re releasing something in English.

I probably missed some stuff here and there, but I’m pretty sure that’s it so far for English releases and noteworth Japanese games. I’m interested in the Atelier games by Gust, and anything NISA decides to bring over is at least worth a look for me. I’ve already got Radiant Historia pre-ordered and I’ve got my fingers crossed for P2. I do like FFIV and Tactics Ogre seems to have a lot of praise so I’ll check out SqEnix this time. Level 5’s The Little Battlers seems interesting, but I’ll wait to see how it does first. Imageepoch’s game has permadeath so I’ll have to wait and see instead of rushing into things head first. Now that they’re partnering with NISA, I’m more relieved for the company’s games being localized.

On a side note, on the PSP dating sim scene, we’ve got Photo Kano (links to Siliconera article), where the PSP is like an in-game camera and you take pictures of the girls. The 3D seems to be very well done here, especially the girls’ expressions. I’m not too fond of such realistic hair tones though. I prefer crazy anime hair colors to just browns and blacks. One of the reasons why I’m interested in Dream Club more than other recent-ish dating sims is because they’ve got a variety of hair colors.