Radiant Historia Hands-On

We watch history unfold in different ways as we travel through time to save the world.

The number of Nintendo DS games has been dwindling as the industry prepares for the launch of the Nintendo 3DS. Atlus has already announced Devil Survivor for the new handheld, but before we start to experience things in 3D, the publisher has Radiant Historia lined up next. Radiant Historia is a Japanese role-playing game from the team responsible for games like Persona 3. Members of the Atlus development team include those who worked on Radiata Stories for the PlayStation 2. We recently spent some hands-on time with the game and found that it was easy to get sucked into the world of Vainqueur, which is threatened by desertification.

Time travel plays a major role in the game, and you are introduced to the specifics during your first mission. You play as a young agent named Stocke, who works in the special intelligence unit of the nation of Alistel, which is currently at war with Granorg. It's obvious that you're the unit's prized agent because you're given a mission of upmost importance from the get-go. You're to escort one of your own back safely because he has vital information that will turn the tides of war. Without revealing too much, you're accompanied by a couple of mercenaries, and the mission doesn't go as well as you had planned. But before you left, your superior had given you a white chronicle that holds the power to go back in time, and you have the ability to look ahead into the future. Throughout the game you will use this compendium to go back and find the "true" course of history.

For whatever reason, Stocke is now put in charge of saving the world, and to do so he must make key decisions that will ultimately lead him to his proper destiny. You will be presented with important events, and you have to make decisions that could take you down an entirely different path. With the chronicle (which you can access via save points), you can jump back to important life-altering decisions and play through another storyline.

Radiant Historia is a standard turn-based RPG where enemies are seen onscreen, but the unique aspect to the game is that once you go into battle, your enemies are presented on a three-by-three grid. Their positioning affects how much damage you take when they attack, but you can use your push attacks to move enemies around on the grid. By doing so, you can chain combos with your party members and hit multiple enemies at once. The downside is that if you have your entire party hit one enemy and its health is depleted after the first or second attack, your teammates will continue to hit the same target, so plan carefully. The top screen displays your turn order, and you can swap turns with the enemy in order to go in line with your entire party. By attacking consecutively, you can do more damage, so it's worth moving your turn. However, by giving up your turn in battle, you'll go into baroque state, which makes you more vulnerable to attacks.

Grid-based battles can be used to your advantage.

Radiant Historia is easy to get into, and while the city of Alistel may seem cold and gray, you'll appreciate the hand-drawn character portraits and Yoko Shimomura's (Kingdom Hearts) touching and heartfelt soundtrack. There will definitely be more Japanese RPGs on the horizon, but it's hard to say how many will be strictly for the DS once the 3DS comes out. For more information on the game, look for our review when the game ships on February 22.

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Discussion

18 comments
Wolflink001
Wolflink001

Radiant Historia is Radiant Historia. Not Chrono Trigger.

pallymaster
pallymaster

Just because a game involves time travel doesnt mean its exactly like chrono tigger!!!!!!

chengstax
chengstax

Oh, it's ez. If you haven't played chrono trigger for the snes, you are missing out. That is one of the most epic rpgs ever created: Deeep and emotionally moving storylines, every character gets their fair share of screen time, Music is FREAKING EPIC even by todays standards. Battle system is still better than what most rpgs have nowadays. It also has a ton of different endings, and save game + (meaning you can start the game again with levels/stats/weapons/items carried over from the last game). What made chrono trigger stand out, aside from what was mentioned above, is the time travel. Oh my god, there are soo many optional side stories/quests that will show up depending on what you did in the past. You can jump to the past and manipulate stuff, even items, and see the effect in the future. Sometimes your hidden treasures will disappear and you'll have to look through time and figure out WHEN it was taken, and then look for it, and you always end up with an epic boss fight. And then sometimes what you say to people can affect the future, like 1 milion years into the future, like open up more quests etc (the quests btw are NOT BORING!! and always award you with epic items). The time warp system is done so beautifully, there is no loose ends at all. When this game first came out, I played it so much that the memory itself inside the cartridge wore itself out! After I beat it for the 476th time, the game would no longer start up :(

Ovirew
Ovirew

And why are people comparing this to Chrono Trigger? I'm not quite sure I get the comparison.

Ovirew
Ovirew

I'm interested in this game, but a few things they've said in this article make me wonder if I still should. These people were behind Radiata Stories, which I wasn't a big fan of on the PS2, and they also worked on the Shin Megami Tensei series which I am just not into. I'm just wondering if this game will end up appealing to me or not.

chengstax
chengstax

Can someone say....the real Chrono Trigger 2?!

WitteKraai
WitteKraai

@Gelugon_Baat Why does this game need saving? It looks like a lot of fun.

Wormkid_64
Wormkid_64

This looks like a really cool idea.I read about it in Nintendo Power,and the time travel mechanic looks cool.

bioniclefreak
bioniclefreak

I'll have to follow this, I loved chrono trigger and this seems similar. Looks interesting

Arkanis_Vayll
Arkanis_Vayll

@Kou-Nurasaka Radiant Historia and Radiata Stories names are similar because part of the dev team from Radiata was involved with making this one. Was quite intentional that the name be evocative of Radiata Stories. Nintendo Power has been doing extensive coverage the last few months.

soulless4now
soulless4now

I can't wait to hear the soundtrack for this one.

BetardxFoosier
BetardxFoosier

I totally forgot that they released Chrono Trigger for the DS...I've been holding out forever. Now Radiant Historia and the chance to replay Chrono Trigger are VERY enticing...

Wolflink001
Wolflink001

As much as I want to get Dragon Quest VI first I'm gonna have to get Radiant Historia first!

advocacy
advocacy

Chrno Trigger, Chrno Cross... now, Radiant Historia!

Kou-Nurasaka
Kou-Nurasaka

I was flipping through an issue of Game Informer and immediatly fixated on the article for Radiant Historia, hoping that someone had finally had enough sense to pick up a sequel to Radiata Stories. Sadly, no. Radiata Stories was easily one of the best RPG's on the PS2, shame it sold poorly and is generallly overlooked. We love you Jack Russell!

Visa004
Visa004

I'm definitely gonna pick this up. This year kicks so much ass!!