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4.6 out of 5 stars
Radiant Historia - Nintendo DS
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120 of 121 people found the following review helpful
on February 22, 2011
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Radiant Historia crept onto my radar courtesy of a Game Informer review. As an avid RPG-gamer, I am 100% satisfied with my purchase of Radiant Historia. Those familiar with the 16-bit SNES era of Console RPGs will find similarities to Chrono Trigger (time travel mechanic and depth of story) and Legend of Mana (ambiance and soundtrack), though it was hard to find a comparison to the combat system.

The narrative itself has satisfying depth in an age of watered down scripts laden with overly shiny cinematics and corny dialogue. The game features two parallel dimensions, of which you can travel freely between using a magical book named the "White Chronicle". Events in one dimension have effects on the other, allowing the game to deliver the story in a unique and innovative manner. The game is primarily dialogue, which very few animated cutscenes. This means anyone familiar with the genre should expect a lot of dialogue, though Atlus has done its best to make each NPC have something worth saying while not stripping the world of its life and population.

The story follows a trained military spook named Stocke on a journey to end a war which has stripped the land from hope; however, the game strips away linearity in favor of a time-travel mechanic. You can travel forward and backward through time to any major event in the story. If you lose a party member, you must soldier on until you become strong enough to defeat or discover a way to change the outcome of whatever event it was that felled your beloved friend. The time-travel mechanic can get repetitive at times, but the game keeps track of how much progress you have made toward completing a given "node" (major day) in time. This keeps you from having to search through all of your presently unlocked nodes until you complete an event that allows you to move forward in the main story.

The combat system is where the game really shines. In a fresh spin on the turn-based battle system, your enemies prepare to battle you in a 3x3 grid system (think Final Fantasy I-VI in terms of enemy placement). Each enemies' position on this grid affects its stats. Enemies in the front row will deal more damage than the same enemy in the back row; however the back row offers more defense. Some of your abilities will knock enemies onto the same square, allowing future attacks to damage both at the same time.

Get this game while you can! Being an Atlus game, this will likely have a small print run in the English Market, and the sheer quality of the game will leave very few gamers with a desire to part with it; both of these set up to make Radiant Historia a rare cartridge in the future.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on February 24, 2011
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I love RPG's but I'll be the first to admit, the formula is getting a little stale now. Leave it to Atlus to create a game that completely switches things up and makes the genre fresh again. One of the first things you'll notice about this game is how the battle system has been completely changed from the standard turn based battle style that's been used since the 80's. The grid based battle system is almost like a chess game in that it allows you to position the enemies how you want for maximum damage and also allows you to change the turn order for characters. This last allows you to maximize the damage potential and strategize the best ways to dole out big combos. Also, the battles aren't random encounters, which is a huge plus to me as I feel that random encounters are extremely outdated now. The other new feature in this game is the 'White Chronicle'; a book that allows you to reverse time and change your actions in the past to create a brand new future. While you're playing you may need a skill that you don't possess for instance, just reverse time and choose an alternate path in life. Every decision that you make has far reaching effects on you, your party and the entire world.

While I love the gameplay and story in this game, I find a little fault with the graphics. They're somewhat subpar and could've definitely made due with a little more detail. That's not to say that they're horrible; just not great and probably could've been better. All in all I couldn't recommend this game more highly. Even if you're not an RPG fan I think you'll find a lot of fun here. How many games allow you to play and then go back and choose another path that you didn't take previously to see what the outcome is? I'm an Atlus fan and I think they always put out unique games, this one is no exception.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on March 22, 2011
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If the title of my review hasn't sparked your curiosity, let me explain why Radiant Historia is a breath of fresh air.

So many RPGs are similar in that their plots are linear, even if time travel is a device. Even if you travel back 1,000,000 years ago, you will technically arrive X days since your RPG journey began. Ergo, you can never meet yourself, you can never change decisions you've made, and such. This and many boring RPG conventions are not true for Radiant Historia. Radiant Historia innovates and challenges in plot movement, battle mechanics, and storytelling.

I was charmed by how Radiant Historia approached plot and its gameplay. The fact I could replay a scene I misunderstood, skip parts I had seen before, and choose a different outcome made time control an inexorable piece of the game. Instead of simply being a plot device, I felt that it was an exciting gameplay element. I felt like I needed to be aware of the plot threads left dangling by a poor decision or lack of ability. This was compounded by the fact that the plight of the main character, his world, and his best friend were compelling.

The battle mechanics in the game make me feel competent, yet continuously challenged. Typical RPGs' feature battle difficulty by wars of attrition--Radiant Historia has left that in the dust. The first few battles in the game show how to move enemies around the 3 x 3 grid to defeat them quickly. That hooked me. I felt that "planning ahead" and playing with time had extended its emphasis into battle. Battles can be difficult, but never frustrating or unbalanced. This makes each battle feel more like a strategic compromise between defeating a few foes at a time or making yourself vulnerable to have one massive combo attack. Even when winning was distant, it was always just within my reach. I could easily avoid encounters or even run from battle when I didn't need to fight.

Finally, Radiant Historia manages to evoke emotion from me by telling a story well. It's been a long time since a game has made me feel even the slightest emotion. However, it manages to draw me in with spectacular storytelling and plot. In a literary sense, RH uses foreshadowing well (to make you wonder if clairvoyant visions, as well as evil intent come true), dramatic irony (between the main character's foreknowledge of events versus his friends' ignorance), and great characters. Finally, the plot conspicuously ignored telling me the hero's back story long enough to make my discomfort about my ignorance another motivating factor in the game. Many games try to use plot twists to compensate for bad storytelling, but Radiant Historia does not need that. (To be honest, deliberate omission/delay is going to be a storytelling tactic I will forever remember, now.)

Ever since picking up Radiant Historia, I haven't put it down. Make sure you get everything done before buying this game, because you won't work until it's over.
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54 of 70 people found the following review helpful
on February 13, 2012
[2/12/2012] If news hasn't spread yet, Atlas has issued a re-release of this game 1 year after its original American release. Why? Mainly due to profiteers and collectors buying up many multiple copies of this game, either because for "collecting" reasons, or because long ago, many have found out that Japanese RPG video games come to the Western world in (somewhat) limited quantities compared to more "mainstream" releases, and have sought to profit from it. DO NOT BUY THIS GAME IF IT'S OVER $35 NEW OR USED! Skip the high offers and go for the cheap ones when this game becomes available.

As for the game itself, I have only heard good things about it and am thinking of getting a DS or 3DS just for this. Why? When several commenters made that this was in the same iron vein of the legendary SNES title, Chrono Trigger, I think you're onto something great.
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21 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on September 21, 2012
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This game started off amazing, and the battle system was extremely well done and unique. This game was a lot of fun....for a while.

After a while, you begin realizing that you're fighting the same enemies over and over again, walking through the same areas over and over again. The battle system that was fun in the beginning becomes a chore. You realize that you're skipping battles because you don't want to have to pull strategy, you just want to get to the next part of the story. But you do need to grind too a bit, so you're forced to battle. And because so many areas look similar, you can get lost VERY easily.

The story is interesting, but because of the way the game is designed you find yourself doing the same things over and over again. You can skip certain dialogues, but you'll have to find your friends again, and other repetitive and annoying tasks.

It's overall a good game, but you have to have the right mindset for it. I put it down, don't know if I'll pick it back up again.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
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Update (12/10/2011): So the difficulty takes a huge hike early on in Alternate History chapter four. I'm really pleased with this, though I got destroyed very quickly because I wasn't expecting it. And I'm well leveled. There is a LOT more strategy required for the battles now. So I'm more impressed overall. I've been playing a few other games in the meantime (Solatorobo and Atelier Totori), but I've been taking a few swings at this over the last few weeks and will complete the game then update the review further. Just note: Much more difficult now, so disregard the earlier posted comments on how easy the game is.


Update (10/12/2011): Well into the game and nearing the end of Chapter 3 (out of 6 I believe). Finally we get to see some other characters to use in battle, and actually get a pool of several characters to choose from. The story really gets into gear in chapter three. Pretty gripping stuff. The music has improved with access to new areas, there are several new scores instead of the usual 5 or 6 from the first couple of chapters.

Also of note with the music, the regular battle music is rather... not intense? It has a pretty good sound overall. But when you hear the three or four boss music scores... those are a vast improvement. And I like that they have several different boss music beats, that way the more intense and troublesome bosses have the more sinister music. Nice!

Another note: There will be times in chapter 3 and on where it would be... inadvisable to do a timeline jump since there are not any nodes to bring you back to the current timeline. This is nice because it keeps the story moving very well. You 'can' do a jump, but then you would have to jump back much earlier in chapter three and re-work through much of that timeline to get to where you were. Just saying that the developers seemed to say: "Hey! Stick with this storyline a bit longer, it's just getting good!"


Update (10/5/11): Despite the game starting off ridiculously easy... it suddenly goes into extra tough overdrive about 4 or 5 hours in. More than level grinding, what is required of later battles is a smart sense of tactics. Many opponents will arrange themselves in the grid for a special attack, or hit certain points on the grid with enhancements, such as a MAJOR attack increase. Your top priority at this point is to use your players to keep these opponents off those parts of the grid or to immediately knock them to a different point on the grid.

Also, there are a few techniques you gain which enhance the exploration aspect. You receive a technique to chop trees allowing you to access previously blocked chests/areas, and later you gain an ability to 'sense' hidden treasure and items on the exploration screen. Give this game 4 to 6 hours and you really get into the meat. It really doesn't even get going until the end of chapter one/ start of chapter 2.


Things that I enjoy? First and most notable is the music. The tunes are great old school RPG style songs with good variety. They're catchy and mood fitting for the most part. I also loved the included CD with the piano arrangements. Awesome extra for those like me who pre-ordered (though there may be some with the CD still around).

Graphics are amazing. They remind me a bit of Xenogears from the PS1 without the ability to freely move the camera. The sprites are chunky little 2d things but the use of character portraits helps to personify the main characters and overcome this. If you really look around you can see the rich detail in almost every setting.

Battles are fun and the use of the grid system really adds a bit of versatility. It seems this may have worked well as a Chrono Trigger like system with more are and line attacks and combos, but despite the seemingly simple system it works. And you do gain better rewards after battle with higher combos. I could sit here and describe the system and bore you to death, but better to check out an online video.

The time travel element adds a nice touch to the game. At certain points history diverges and there are nodes created to when you may return. It makes some parts repetitive, but you can rapidly skip text in the blink of an eye, just not speed up character actions (like little clouds of annoyance or people walking about etc...) so some of the repeated points in history can get a tad annoying.

The real gem of this game is the story. You immediately dive into a complex and rewarding story. Some of the other characters might get a bit annoying, but most villains and heroes are complex and rather a treat to engage with. It is one of the deepest and most interesting stories for any DS game (the exact opposite of Final Fantasy Tactics A2!).

If you enjoy deep stories, engaging characters, and fun battles then you ought to pick up a copy before they become hard to find and double in price. This is a late release for the DS, but another of those classic style games that makes me a huge DS fan!
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on March 14, 2011
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Radiant Historia is by far one of the best JRPGs I have played on Nintendo DS. Before I get into the gory details, because it may not be for everyone, I want to mention that this review will contain no major character or plot spoilers, but I will spoil game mechanics. Why are you reading the reviews in the first place if you can't stand any spoilers? ;)

Radiant Historia is set in a steam punk-esque world between warring nations. You are the protagonist, Stocke, a "secret agent" of sorts for one of the nations. The game focuses around the political and social intrigue between these two nations and several others. As you investigate some major and minor problems you do standard JRPG stuff like fighting foes, levelling up, gaining and buying equipment and making decisions of whom to include in your fighting party of three.


This will be a long section because RH does a lot of things differently from typical JRPGs and this is what really makes this game unique. Radiant Historia is roughly like a cross between a time travel JRPG like Chrono Trigger, a Choose Your Own Adventure book and a tactical RPG like Final Fantasy Tactics or Tactics Ogre. Very early on, Stocke gets the ability to travel between two timelines: a "Standard" history and an "Alternate" history. What happens in one timeline effects the other. Its best to suspend your disbelief about this sort of thing if you're going to enjoy the game. Although the game does a pretty good job of smoothing over logical inconsistencies in this method, you can always be successful with "go do something you missed" in the other timeline when you got stuck. The game forces you to jump timelines to obtain items needed to solve problems or change someone's attitude or life. You can't jump to any precise point. You are limited to "nodes" that are major events for the main character. All of the available nodes are nicely laid out in a timeline map for you that also contains pertinent information about your status on different quests. At critical junctures in the story, the main character must choose between two alternatives to progress the story. There is no penalty for a "wrong" choice as the game immediately gives you the chance to jump back in history to correct your mistake without a game restart. Completists will enjoy finding all of the "bad" endings, of which there are many. I found many of these choices to be logical yet requiring some depth of thought. You really need to consider all the character's motivations to get the story-progressing outcome right away. While some crave finding all the bad endings, I challenged myself to avoid as many bad endings as possible and was quite proud that I got through with only a few out of likely dozens of possible bad endings. The key to success in this game is following the mantra of: "if you get stuck, go to the other timeline." There was only one place in the game "near the beginning" when I wasn't sure what to do and its right in the beginning when you have to do your first transfer between timelines. Many people find themselves asking "why is doing this going to change something in the other timeline? After this first one it makes more sense what you have to do to accomplish tasks (the game makes it very clear too) so my initial frustration at this first one was quickly replaced by an understanding of how the game "works". Combat in the game is on a 9X9 tactical grid and the object is not just your standard JRPG "use your skills to kill each individual enemy as quickly as possible." The grid adds the interesting tactical element of being able to "push" and "pull" your enemies into different spaces. The front line allows you to do more damage, but you take more damage and the back line allows you to avoid damage while you do less. The middle is, well, the middle ground. Most characters have the ability to manipulate enemies on the grid in some way, with Stocke being the best at it. By pushing and pulling enemies around, you can "stack" enemies on a single square of the grid, resulting in any attack doing damage and affecting all enemies on that square. Rarely are battles the same in beginning setup and enemies change frequently. Three additional mechanics make battles fresh. Yes, we're still going. Every battle is governed by a turn order that you can manipulate. If you want to have your three characters go nine times in a row, you can switch with enemies and allow them to go before you to make it happen. There is a down side, of course. When you switch, your character becomes slightly more vulnerable to attack until they act. The purpose of switching turn order is to take advantage of the multiplier system. By alternating magic and physical skills, your characters can chain together a long series of attacks to build the multiplier, increasing the damage done to enemies when you have a large multiplier. Before battles begin, you can press the Y button to swing Stocke's sword at enemy, potentially "stunning" it. If you enter battle while an enemy is "stunned" you get a "surprise" round with three or four total turns to take before your enemy gets to act. I should probably also mention that battles are not random "sprung" encounters. You can choose to enter combat. Many are annoyed by traditional "random" encounter JRPGS and this is not one of them.


Extra characters (six of them) enter your party as the story progresses and leave as the story requires them to do so. Each character has a defined personality and there is character development and growth of several of the characters. They are all likeable for different reasons and I personally found myself growing to like all of them. Stocke is particularly likeable as the "reluctant" hero archetype. He is much grittier than a lot of JRPG protagonists and he is much more intelligent than almost all of them. He doesn't say dumb things and this in game thoughts are logical.


Combat systems are driven by skill sets and the skill sets in this game are well thought out. Every character gets some sort of "grid manipulation" skill and several characters specialize in them. You also have characters specializing in magic and some in other nuances. You can build some characters in multiple different ways although some characters clearly have strengths that you will want to cater towards. Every character in the game is useful in some way and I was surprised how much utility that I could get out of characters that seemed like they would be ineffective on the surface. You really just need to know how to play their role. Some of the best characters are not damage dealers. Characters gain most of their skills automatically through levelling although each character can also learn four additional skills through side quests. Many (but not all) of these "extra" skills are useful and make the end game much easier. One of things that I like about the skills in this game is that most of the skills that inflict status ailments on enemies are useful and make a big impact. Poison, often the lamest mechanic in most games is very useful in this game. Use it often, especially on bosses. Steal, also a very lame mechanic in most games, is incredibly useful here and can result in getting some unique equipment. The "stacking" nature of the grid can often result in multiple enemies with just a little health left and the Steal skill can be a good finishing move. Just like with damage, your chance to steal increases with increasing multiplier and increases with more enemies on a space.


The economy in the game is pretty loose in that I rarely had any trouble buying anything. Note that I fight nearly every enemy that I encounter and reaped a lot of cash as a result. The challenge of this system isn't so much to have enough cash as it is to remember what time and place has the equipment that you need. Certain equipment is only available in certain times at certain places. Some of the best equipment is found in dungeons or as drops or can be stolen from bosses.


The game has about two dozen side quests. This may not sound like a lot to some fans, but since many of these side quests require multiple different jumps back in forth through time to complete it is a lot of extra content. These side quests can also unlock different skills. Doing different sidequests can unlock alternate endings, including a "true" ending which I have not attained yet.

Length and Difficulty

I am no stranger to tactical or JRPGs and I found the game challenging at first and progressively easier as I went along. It is important not to "fight" the stacking nature of the mechanics to be successful. General JRPG rules like "having the best equipment" and "having enough support items" apply here. I think I was over-levelled throughout most of the game. I took my sweet time and fought every enemy and as a result I experienced little challenge from the final boss. I think if you did a blitz play-through only fighting what was necessary you would find the game much more challenging, especially around a certain chapter. It took me 45 hours to finish the main story and most of the side quests but there is still content I haven't seen. I think that the 45 hours is probably a mid-high estimate of how long it should take the average gamer. I usually take longer than most people, especially with games that interest me.

Look and Sound/Music

The game has a nice look to it with interesting locations. It has a steam punk aesthetic with technology in a sword and sorcery world. Monsters have no sound effects but weapons and spells do. They are pretty basic. There is no spoken dialogue in the game. The music is very nice although there isn't much (about eight tunes or so) and it is appropriately recycled depending upon the general "mood" and location of the game. There are some times in game where the music suddenly seems to disappear. A minor glitch.



This game has a lot of dialogue. Reading all the dialogue is very important to get an understanding of where you are supposed to be going and what you are supposed to be doing there as the timeline doesn't always tell you. I think this an advantage to the timeline because it forces you to actually pay attention. It can get tedious to listen to dialogue over and over again as you skip through time. The game allows you to press START to skip entire conversations, but sometimes when you change history the conversations change and you miss out on subtle dialogue changes and whether you actually obtained the item you needed. Its a lot to re-read if you don't want to miss out on the clues.

Enemy weaknesses

Just like many JRPGs, enemies in this game are supposed to have weaknesses to physical and different elemental attacks and spells. The degree to which this matters is pretty weak in this game. What I would say is that there actually seems to be no middle ground. Enemies will tend to be nearly completely immune to certain attack types or vulnerable to certain ones. Almost every enemy in the game seems to be affected by lightning, which kind of cheapens the whole enemy weakness system and makes certain characters more valuable than others, but not by much.


This is by far one of the best JRPGs I have played and in my top five games I have played on the DS. I do a lot of research before I buy games and I only buy the ones that suit my tastes and get good reviews. So, to put this in my top five means a lot. My only regret is that I finished it. By the time I finished posting this review the game is likely hard to find and has had a price jump so if you are still looking to find it, good luck!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on December 3, 2011
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I'll admit that I have been a little disappointed with Japanese RPGs of late, and have found it difficult to really get engaged in any of them. I will make an exception for Radiant Historia. I haven't gotten very far yet but I love what I have seen so far. The story is very complex without being convoluted, the combat is a new twist on an old system without being Tedious or Haphazard, and the characters are likable without being annoying. Probably the most important element for me is the story, the time travel aspect might remind some of Chrono Trigger but the way time travel works is very unique. Also I find that the dialogue was translated quite well and is not specifically aimed at being accessible to young children. The content is also rather mild and unoffensive, without feeling childish, thus proving that a game does not HAVE to be rated T or M to appeal to a more mature audience.
Overall Radiant Historia is fantastic game that people from all ages can enjoy so if you are looking for a good Japanese RPG on the DS,look no further.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 12, 2011
I have heard absolutely fantastic reviews for this game, and so I finally got it.

And am I happy I received this gift for my birthday! The game has a wonderful story, reminiscent to Chrono Trigger, in that this game also involves time travel (though beyond that I won't say. I want to avoid a spoiler-rific review).

The music is also fantastic, as is expected of Yoko Shimomura, who also composed the music for Kingdom Hearts. The battle system is unique, in that it combines a grid where you can push enemies around, and you aim for massive combos. Again, the story is also engaging, where it actually breaks a few typical JRPG elements of story, and the general steampunk atmosphere is a wonderful addition.

I highly, HIGHLY suggest this game to veteran JRPG fans. If you are new to JRPG's, I would suggest starting with another game, as if you don't know how most JRPG's work, a guide might be needed.

As a final note, to those who may be struggling, there is a wonderful detailed "Let's Play" on Youtube by HCBailly. It is basically a walkthrough, while the uploader inserts their own commentary. The same user also has a thorough guide in the description of his first video of the Let's Play.

Happy gaming!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 6, 2011
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Having been going through withdrawals from the lack of good "classic" RPGs of late, this game was just what I needed. The pill was bittersweet however as this amazing title makes it that much more obvious that the heyday of RPGs like this is dead and gone about 15 years. Had this game been release 15-20 years ago it would probably be considered one of the greatest games of all time, much like Chrono Trigger. As it is, I fear that Radiant Historia will be lost amongst all the drivel that the DS offers. Bottom line is if you love the golden era of RPGs that the Super Nintendo offered then you will love this game. Even if you don't, the graphics, story, and especially the music is so great that anyone can enjoy this "hidden" gem. One of my personal "game of the year" candidates for 2011!
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