11/1 – Radiata Stories

Hello and welcome! My name is Katosepe and I’ll be your host for today’s Video Game of the Day.

When developer tri-Ace was starting out, they quickly found themselves with a hit franchise on their hands: Star Ocean. They managed to take a quick break from Star Ocean during the PS1 days to make the critically acclaimed Valkyrie Profile but otherwise, Star Ocean was their bread and butter. By the time the PS2 came around, and Star Ocean 3 effectively ended the franchise, or so they thought, they wanted to take what they had learned and make something new. Today’s video game of the day is tri-Ace’s 2005 Playstation 2 RPG, Radiata Stories.

Unlike the space-faring Star Ocean games, Radiata Stories goes to a soft-steampunk world also filled with medieval staples like castles and knights. Players play as Jack, a human boy joining the Radiata Knights right in the midst of racial tensions between humans and non-human. While the story and general gameplay feel right at home in the JRPG genre, Radiata Stories is actually quite atypical. Battles are all in real-time with players only controlling Jack directly. Other characters have their own independent AIs which can be given orders by the player during battle. This is similar to Star Ocean or the Tales series and while it’s not uncommon now to see real-time JRPG systems, it still wasn’t common at the time, particularly in games that made it to the west.

Radiata Stories also features a fully persistent world where every person is unique with their own AI. Each character players meet in the world has a name and behavior unique to them. Also, over half of the characters players can meet can be recruited to your team, with 176 total possible recruits. Each character has their own skill that can be leveled up, combat AI, and recruitment requirements.

Japanese critics and fans loved Radiata Stories, Famitsu listed it as the third most highly expected game in January 2005. When it released that month, it would sell 152,000 copies on the first day, making it one of the best selling games of 2005 in Japan. Radiata Stories’ reception in the west was a bit more tepid. Some outlets still praised the game with Game Informer giving it their Game of the Month award but more found it to be too cookie cutter. Some critics felt that the mechanics felt as though they were ripped straight out of other earlier games and the story had significant pacing problems. Still, Radiata Stories sold decently well and has become something of a forgotten gem for JRPG fans. A sequel to Radiata Stories is unlikely at this point as most of the developers have moved on to other things but if you’re looking for a unique and obscure JRPG, Radiata Stories is one to check out.

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