TOKYO--New details on Square Enix's recently announced fantasy role-playing game Radiata Stories, have been revealed in the latest issue of the Japanese magazine Dengeki PlayStation. The PlayStation 2 game is being codeveloped with Tri-Ace, best known for Star Ocean and Valkyrie Profile.
Radiata Stories takes place in a fantasy world called Radiata, where humans and fairies coexist. The two races once lived together in harmony, however, they went to war over some small differences. The humans found themselves having to fight not only against the fairies, but also against their protectors, the dragons. The story's human hero and heroine get caught up in the war--a war less about good and evil than about racial strife.
Despite the gloomy-sounding story, the graphics in Radiata Stories have a mild warmth to them. The characters' proportions are cartoonlike rather than realistic, like in Star Ocean: Till the End of Time. The main character in the game is a lively young 16-year-old boy with short brown hair named Jack Russell, who grew up in a village on the outskirts of the Radiata kingdom. His parents are both deceased, but his father was a famous general who was renowned as a dragon killer. Wanting to become a great knight like his father, Jack takes the entrance exam for the Radiata militia.
The heroine in Radiata Stories is a blonde girl named Ridley Timberlake, who is the only daughter of the famous Timberlake family. Ridley was raised to become a knight, so she tends to be rather strict and stubborn. On the other hand, she also has a weaker side, and she can't pull herself back together once she begins to dwell on something. Ridley joins the Radiata militia together with Jack, but the two constantly squabble because of their opposite personalities. Their story begins from there, as the humans and elves start to collide and Jack and Ridley go on a mission with their military chief.
Radiata Stories' world changes from day to night as time passes by; 30 minutes in real life is about one day inside the game. What's more, the characters in Radiata Story live their own lives according to time. So if you follow a person in a town, you can watch him or her waking up in the morning and going off to work, eating a meal during lunchtime, and then coming back home in the evening. If you knock on a store's door during closed hours, you'll get complaints by the store owner rather than a greeting. And like in real life, there's various people living various lives, like people that sleep during the day and then go off to work during the night. Monsters also go to sleep when it's nighttime, so you can ambush them if you feel like it. There's about 300 characters total in the game, including Jack's sister, Airdale Russell, military chief Gantz Rothchild, and nonhumans such as elves, dwarves, orcs and other beings, which means you'll encounter a lot of different lifestyles and schedules.
Over half of the 300 characters in Radiata Stories can be used in battles as party members, although you'll need to convince them to join your party. The battles will take place in real time, except with a number of new features. You fight the battles with a party of four characters, which will consist of Jack and three other party members of your choice. The player controls Jack, and the rest of the members are controlled by the computer.
There are a number of ways you can fight in cooperation with your members. One of them is the "Link" system, which allows you to organize your party members into various formations. Aside from being used to attack enemies, formations can be used for other effects, such as restoring life or defending against enemy attacks. There's also a system called the "Bolty" system, where you can perform special actions by using up a meter on the battle screen. There are various things that you can do with the "Bolty" system: execute a superattack, give special orders to one of your party members, and so on.
Radiata Stories will feature conversations between the party members during battles, where the talking character's portrait appears on the bottom of the screen together with the dialogue text. It is unknown whether this feature will have an effect on the gameplay.
In towns, dungeons, and on the world map, Jack can press a button to kick things. You can kick treasure chests to open them up, and there are also items hidden in various places of the game, so you might get rewarded when you kick desks, display signs, and interact with other suspicious-looking things in the field. As in the Paper Mario games, kicking monsters before battles start will reward you with a chance at a preemptive strike. You can also kick townspeople, which may start a battle with them.
"Tri-Ace is mostly known for the Star Ocean series, so we wanted to make an RPG that's totally different," Radiata Stories' producer Yoshinori Yamagishi commented to Dengeki PlayStation. "We made it into a standard fantasy RPG rather than a sci-fi setting, and the graphics also have a kind of warmth to them," said Yamagishi, who is known as the producer to both Tri-Ace's Valkyrie Profile and Star Ocean series. "Of course, there are also a lot of new systems implemented into the game, so we're taking up the challenge of making something that's totally new for Tri-Ace."
Radiata Stories is slated for release on the PlayStation 2 in Spring 2005. Fans with knowledge of the Japanese language can check out the official site, which will be making its grand opening tomorrow.