The Gaming Archive – Radiata Stories

Welcome to the Gaming Archive. This is a place where many games are stored. They can be video games, board games, mind games, or a mixture of all. If it is a game, it will be stored in the archive. Of course, most people don’t see the vast gaming vaults of the Archive, so I decided to start taking some out and looking at them. Much like toys, games are not meant to be hidden away just to become dusty relics of the past. NO! They are meant to be played, to be experienced! That is why I decided that every week I will sneak a copy of a game out and play it. Just don’t tell the head Archivist, he would have my head for doing such a thing…

The game of the Week: Radiata Stories

Japanese Role Playing Games! How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love your big swords, your over dramatic stories, and your deep combat customization! Since I do love a good JRPG, I decided to get Radiata Stories a try. It is a semi-forgotten game created by Tri-Ace and released by Square Enix.

Since it is a PS2 game, I had to pull out my trusty old silver slim system and dig up some memory cards. I actually had to make room on the memory cards, since the cards are full with many other games. (As an aside, this had me looking online to see if any place still sold PS2 memory cards. They are out there and I am glad. I need to buy at least two more.) Radiata Stories has a typical plot: A boy wants to be a knight. Yet when he tries to become a knight, he is soundly defeated. He isn’t just soundly defeated by just anyone, of course, but by a girl! How embarrassing for a stereotypical Japanese video game teen. Of course, since he is the son of another famous knight, the boy is promptly accepted in to the order and promptly teamed up with the girl who defeated him.

This is where the bulk of the game starts, one that does its best to stick to JRPG conventions even if ideas are presented a bit differently. Although I only made it about 12 hours in to the game, it was clear to me that this it feels like a Tri-Ace product. The battles are in real time with AI companions. There are unlockables scattered throughout the game, which take the form of different companions the player can get. There are nooks and crannies full of items for the taking; all I needed to do was kick everything. There is also a big map to explore with different cities on them, though the way the world is presented kind of annoyed me.

A fair warning- If a gamer doesn’t care for Japanese Style RPGs, this game will not change his mind. It has long cut scenes, for one. The game itself didn’t start until 30 minutes in, despite having one or two points where I could control the character. In addition, the action oriented Tri-Ace style of combat can be described as chaotic. I know many people who just don’t like this arena focused RPG combat. On the whole, the combat doesn’t bother me but it can get a tad annoying from time to time. My biggest complaint is the way exploration is presented. There is no 3D world map, although the graphics are in 3D. Outside of towns, the path is set for the player outside of a few choices. This means that as I was exploring, I was generally trapped going left and right. Monsters are put in my way often like cows on a train track – I just ran in to them because they were there. After playing a game like Dragon Quest VIII on the PS2, it was somewhat disappointing to have this mechanic in place. Yet I did enjoy the game and I would like to go back. There are many features that I like and I do rather enjoy some of the character interactions. The graphics are gorgeous for a PS2 game and the combat can be fun. Like any typical JRPG, there is much more substance to the game than first appears. If you enjoy Japanese style RPGs, do yourself a favor and try this game.

Next week: I’ve had my eye on Skies of Arcadia Legends for the GameCube. The head Archivist left a copy out awhile back. It is still on his desk. I am sure he won’t miss it for a week…

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