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Radiant Historia


Radiant Historia

There are so many people who look back at the bygone SNES RPG days with nostalgia in their eyes and hope that some day a game will come out that hits all those same notes that they loved. When Radiant Historia hit the west, that's what seemed to be on everyone's tongue. "It's like a SNES RPG! Just like those games from my childhood!" I'm sure we all heard those sorts of comparisons. But it is so much more than that. Facing the future of a world turned into a desert, Stocke and company must fight everything from corrupt politicians to deadly monsters in two separate timelines. Seeing the events unfold from two different perspectives and changing things when they seem hopeless while also hitting so many dead-ends from seemingly simple choices really sells the idea that even small things can have big impacts. In fact, I made sure to get every possible bit of story out of the game and by the end of it I could almost feel the pulse of this world. The true ending is definitely worth it.

The biggest complaint I, and most others, had was the battle system was simplistic and never really grew as the game did. I think it would be the perfect thing to overhaul if they were to bring out a second game. I was so sure that there would be another given its reception. While I still hold out hope I can't help but wonder if that feeling of nostalgia would be the same if there were a sequel. - Robert Sinclair


Radiata Stories


Radiata Stories

Radiata Stories is a game I was certain would spawn a series, but never did. You play as Jack Russell (a boy, not a terrier) who moves from the country to the big city to become a knight. There, he finds himself teamed up with a young girl named Ridley and a rotund soldier named Ganz. The story is charming, and evolves into a rather touching love story between Jack and Ridley. But it's not the story that makes Radiata Stories so memorable, it's the world. Meticulously detailed and gently colored with a soft, earthy color palette, it's one of the best looking games on the PS2 and still looks surprisingly good even today. This world is inhabited by over two hundred unique characters, no two looking alike, each of which goes about their day in a repeating twenty-four hour cycle. Most of them can be recruited into your party, but first you have to figure out how. Half the fun of the game is following these characters around, seeing what antics they get up to each day, and ultimately finding a way to recruit them.

Even eleven years later, Radiata Stories remains one of my favorite games of all time. There aren't any other games quite like it. - Adriaan den Ouden


Resonance of Fate


Resonance of Fate

tri-Ace has a deserved reputation for trying new things when it comes to RPGs, and Resonance of Fate is a very good example of that. Released back in 2010 at a time when Sega was still localising plenty of nich titles — hopefully something that will return with the company's recent purchase of Atlus the game offers offer a distinct experience that stands out with its purely stylishness. Resonance of Fate just runs on cool, particularly when it gets into combat.

Any battle system that is predicted on juggling enemies by shooting them deserves some special attention. It may require a bit of suspension of disbelief, not least when weapon creation can result in a monstrosity that featuring a barrel count in the double-digits (sadly not rendered in-game), but it's very easy to get sucked it to the combat. There is a lot of depth to the system as well, with a number of different that tactics that players will need to make full use of throughout the game. tri-Ace added plenty of depth in other areas the hex-based exploration was another aspect that really appealed to me — and, of course, there are the ten unlockable difficulty levels.

Admittedly there are few that know what on Earth is going on the actual plot, however, the main cast and their interactions more than make up for any nebulous story twists. Zephyr, Vashyron, and Leanne are all interesting characters in their own right, but when together everything just clicks between them. Other members of the cast also get moments to shine, Jean-Paulet and Pater two in particular that make their mark. The game is on the receiving end of a great localisation, both in terms of the script that and outstanding voice acting throughout. - Alex Fuller


Skies of Arcadia


Skies of Arcadia

What is it that Skies of Arcadia does differently from other RPGs? When it comes to mechanics, not too much. Standard fights are random, turn-based affairs that functionally aren't that different from games of the mid-80s, although on the Dreamcast they came with loud disc-access noises that were a great way of alerting the player. The story involves something that was already old hat in 2000, an evil empire bent on world conquest. Skies is clearly not a revolutionary conception of the RPG that changed everything previously known.

Instead, Skies is a demonstration of how to apply sturdy RPG ideas in a good way. Its cast isn't particularly deep, but Vyse, Aika and Fina are a really likable team of protagonists. The rogue's gallery of antagonists is similarly not deep, but the insane De Loco and macho Vigoro manage to be very memorable, along with all their Valuan compatriots. There is also the airship combat, something that still hasn't been seen much in RPGs. When in a vessel that's not the equivalent of a rowboat, Vyse and compatriots get to engage the enemy's ship directly using cannons. It feels like a tactical game at this point, and makes these encounters memorably cinematic.

More than anything else, Skies of Arcadia does a wonderful job at world-building. Vyse and Aika come from the Blue Rogues, the airship equivalent of Robin Hood. The world they live in has a bunch of land masses separated not by water, but by the sky, making those airships absolutely vital. As the game proceeds new means of exploring the world are found, via more powerful airship engines or just by going where no one has dared go before. There are actually a couple of dungeons explored using an airship instead of on foot, and taking advantage of the ability to move up and down makes these very interesting to traverse. Vyse has the chance to find Discoveries all over the world of Arcadia that fill in huge parts of the world's culture and make it a more interesting place, but if they aren't turned in at the earliest opportunity a rival adventurer is likely to get his name on the commemorative plaque instead. When Skies of Arcadia Legends gave the game a second chance on the GameCube, it brought extras along too. Those unfortunately weren't enough to get it the kind of attention that Sega might reward with further adventures. Plenty of places for further expansion on the game world are present, from very briefly seen surface of the planet below the clouds to learning more about Fina's civilization. Skies of Arcadia did a fantastic job of mixing pirates, airships, and exploration. No wonder people look back fondly on it now. - Mike Moehnke


The World Ends with You


The World Ends with You

If there's one word that can describe The World Ends with You, it's "unique." It has an original and complex story, and while at it core it's about how the antisocial Neku learns to open up and make friends, there are all sorts of well-executed twists and turns in the plot, and the depiction of Shibuya's Underground and the Reaper's game is fascinating. Many of the characters are also very well characterized and develop over the course of the game, sometimes in unexpected ways. The antagonists are less multifaceted and relatable, but they do have amusing quirks, like Sho Minamimoto's love of math metaphors. Shibuya is vibrantly depicted, with many familiar locations and objects and the use of fashion trends in equipment, all accompanied by a soundtrack largely composed of excellent J-pop-like vocal songs in both Japanese and English

The battle system has a high learning curve and is imprecise, but it very original and loads of fun. In the DS version, it is essentially two action battle systems at once, one found at the top screen and controlled by the face button and the other on the bottom screen using touch controls. Though confusing at first, I find the best way to play is to focus you attention to which screen the Light Puck is in. By passing this between the two screens successfully many times, both characters will unleash a powerful Fusion Attack. Combat is hectic and takes some practice, but it's a blast.

The World Ends with You was not only a critical success and fan favorite, but performed fairly well commercially for a then-new IP. Heck, the iOS port even contains an extra scene at the end that could be a hint of a sequel. Likely what's slowing down a hypothetical new game is that the people who would be needed to make it are currently working on Kingdom Hearts III and the Final Fantasy VII remake. Regardless of why TWEWY remains standalone, it's at the top of many people's list of best DS games, including mine, for many reasons. - Cassandra Ramos



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