Radiata Stories is the latest role-playing game from Tri-Ace, well-known developer of Star Ocean and Valkyrie Profile. Radiata Stories strays from the heavy-handed tone of those games, though, taking every opportunity to lampoon itself. Aside from the goofball characters and silly dialogue, Radiata Stories is a pretty average role-playing game. However, it's one you'll want to play, if only for the beautifully crafted world, compelling characters, and off-the-wall humor.
Radiata Stories follows the adventures of Jack Russell, a young knight with far more courage than intelligence.
Radiata Stories follows the adventures of a precocious teenage boy named Jack Russell. Jack is the son of a legendary knight, and since Jack is determined to follow in his father's footsteps, he joins the prestigious ranks of the Radiata Knights. Jack is assigned to the Rose Cochon Brigade, along with a snooty girl named Ridley and a well-intentioned buffoon named Ganz. The enthusiastic young recruits of the Rose Cochon Brigade take on a few missions, but everything goes awry when Ridley is nearly killed by a couple of blood orcs. An elf is able to save her life by performing a transpiritation ritual, but the elf dies in the process. The elf's brother is understandably angry, so he hatches a plan to go to war with the humans. Meanwhile, the Rose Cochon Brigade is disbanded, and Jack finds a new home in a warrior's guild known as Theater Vancoor. Here, he takes on various odd jobs and hones his skills. Eventually, a war breaks out between the humans and the fairy creatures (dwarves, orcs, goblins, and elves). Jack is forced to choose sides, and at this point the story continues on two separate paths, depending on where your alliances lay. Eventually you'll have to save the world for both man- and fairykind, which only makes sense, since genocide isn't exactly a viable theme for a T-rated role-playing game.
The story in Radiata Stories unfolds through several lengthy, in-game cutscenes. Most of these are fully voiced, and the dialogue and character animation is often pretty hilarious. At one point, Jack is trying to convince Ridley to let him help her out, and he says "Your trouble is my bubble... Wait, that doesn't make any sense." There are lots of lines like these, which are funny just because they are such a departure from the intense, forced dialogue in most role-playing games. There are some more serious moments toward the end of the game, but for the most part, Radiata Stories keeps things light. One wacky game mechanic involves kicking pretty much everything in the world. You can walk up to any item and kick it, sometimes revealing treasures. You can even kick a random person in the shins a couple times if you want to--but you'll have a fight on your hands if you do. Sometimes, starting fights with townsfolk can earn you experience and items, but if you challenge the wrong person you'll end up getting whipped. The character design is very animelike, with sinister, androgynous sorcerer types, skinny young girls with bad attitudes, and badass warriors with extremely disproportionate swords. Even the nonplayable characters have distinct personalities, and you'll want to get to know as many people as possible throughout the game.
As you get to know people, you'll make friends. You can then call upon anyone on your friends list to join you in battle. You can take up to three characters into battle at a time, and there are dozens in the game to choose from. Battles take place when you are outside of the town. You can see creatures in your path ahead of time, and usually they are easy to avoid if you don't want to fight. Sometimes though, the creatures will charge you. If you make contact, you'll be drawn into a fight. The fights take place on a large, open field where you can run around hacking and slashing enemies. You'll automatically lock on to the closest enemy, but you can hold that lock-on by tapping the R1 button. Once you have a target, you simply have to hit circle to perform a variety of attacks, which can be strung together to form a combo. You can learn new attacks as you become more proficient with each weapon type, and you can customize the order of attacks. For example, you can assign a quick right slash, a quick left slash, and a sweep for an easy three-hit combo.
The battle system is pretty much the same as in Tri-Ace's last game, Star Ocean: Till the End of Time.
With each hit you land, you'll earn volty points, which are displayed in a gauge at the top of the screen. Since there's no magic to speak of in Radiata Stories, special volty attacks are the answer if you're looking for more powerful, flashy attacks. If you have 10 volty points, you can hit square to perform a volty blow. There's a different volty attack for each weapon type, as well as a volty blast attack that you can unleash when your volty gauge is full. These volty blasts are superattacks that automatically hit for big damage.