Video previews of the combat system are the second thing that sold me on Radiant Historia. After the failure that was Cross Edge, I didn't want to deal with another grid based combat system ever again, but I figured I should stop being a little baby about it and see what Radiant Historia could do, and Index Corporation wound up making one of the most enjoyable battle systems I have ever encountered. Your party of three will fight opponents on a three by three grid, so it's reasonably small, but you'll quickly find that enemy placement is of the utmost importance. For example, enemies in the back row will deal less damage, if they get up to the front of the grid they can really pound your team. Here's where things get interesting, you can move your opponents around the grid with special attacks, and they can occupy the same square of the grid over the course of a combo, and will then spread out when all your attackers have taken their turns. This allows you to set up some ridiculous combos that will have you pushing and pulling, and moving enemies all across the grid in an attempt to round them up to do damage to everyone at once. Later on you'll encounter enemies that cannot be moved, or enemies that generate fields that can protect specific parts of the grid, and you'll find your focus shifting to moving enemies to bundle them up with immobile enemies or to keep enemies off the grids that can regenerate health, or raise defense or strength.
Every battle winds up playing like a bit of a puzzle game. You have to make the most efficient use of the turns you are allotted, and can even learn skills that will knock out enemy turns. You can also gamble by allowing the enemy to go before you in an attempt to get as many consecutive turns as possible, in exchange for slightly weakened defense. It's fresh, it's clever, and I cannot get over how fun it is. I think a game really succeeds for me when I don't ever feel compelled to run from a battle, and aside from Shadow Hearts 2, this is one of very few games where I won't run from a fight just because I am bored of combat. Another great thing about this game, no random battles, you'll see all enemies on the screen, and they are quite easily avoided. You can also stun them which will allow you to run past them or you can get a preemptive attack, giving you an extra turn or two. Another great thing is how the game rewards your clever combos with extra cash and experience at the end of battles; it might just be a miniscule one percent or so, but it's a really nice inclusion.
Up until about a week before Radiant Historia came out, it was not on my radar at all. And then I started watching some videos, and my interest was definitely piqued, but I wasn't completely sold. After playing the game I'm really glad I got a chance to do so. The juggling storyline wasn't too complicated, but still kept my interest and allowed itself for some interesting situations. The music was nothing short of fantastic, and the combat alone could almost save this game if everything else were terrible. Thankfully that is not the case as Index Corporation managed to create one of the most enjoyable JRPGs I have ever played on the DS. I think this just goes to show that you don't need to be on the latest bleeding edge hardware to make a successful game. Sure it's nice to have all the graphical bells and whistles of an HDTV, but I think this game proves that there is still plenty of space in the market for a title that can harken back to the 16-bit era in terms of graphical fidelity. Really, I cannot recommend Radiant Historia enough, it is a stand-out title that should be in every DS library if you're a fan of JRPGs.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.
An almost flawless game, Radiant Historia is everything I hope for in a modern-day portable RPG. Atlus and Index Corporation have potentially created a rival for Chrono Trigger in terms of story telling and quality.
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