Radiata Stories is a video game created by tri-Ace and published by Square Enix for the Playstation 2 on January 27, 2005 in Japan and September 6, 2005 in North America, although it was not Released in the UK or other parts of Europe. It sold over 413,000 copies worldwide and was met with both good and bad reactions.
Radiata Stories places great emphasis on its open persistent world and non-player characters (NPCs) each with their own lives, lifestyles, jobs, personalities, homes, dialogues and schedules, which are controlled by the game's Day/Night system.
The game provides the novel ability to kick almost anything. Kicking furniture and other inanimate objects will occasionally turn up items or dagols (the local currency). Kicking NPCs several times will cause them to fight Jack, or summon guards to fight for or with them. Jack gains experience, money, and possibly items when he wins these duels, but will not lose the game if he is defeated. Jack may only win a duel against each character once each day.
There is no overworld map during fights. Battles takes place on a separate screen in real time, though monsters appear on the field screen. The player has direct control of Jack's movement and actions in all three dimensions, though bringing up menus pauses the action. Jack is the only character the player controls directly; all other party members are run by the in-game AI. The player can issue commands to individual party members, and the entire party can be ordered into tactical formations via the "Link System."
176 NPCs are recruitable. Some need only to be talked to, while others must be placated with fetch quests, dueled, recruited after Jack or a certain character has reached a certain level, or during certain moments in the game's story. After recruitment, they are placed on his "Friends List," at which point the player may include most of them in Jack's party at almost any time. The Friends List also provides capsule biographies for each character. It is impossible to complete everything during a single playthrough.
NPC party members can strengthen their single skill. However, they do not learn new ones, and cannot be given new weapons, armors and accessories, so skills and equipment are a significant criteria in choosing one's teammates. There is also no "magic" stat, forcing the player to constantly recruit new party members as magic spells do not increase in power.
Depending on the path the player chooses, they will lose certain characters that they recruited, and characters they didn't recruit will be unrecuitable for the rest of the game. Also, certain areas of the game will be inaccessible.
After completing the game, the player may continue playing the same game, unlocking a bonus dungeon, the Dragon Lair Cave. If the player chooses the option "Strong from Start", they will retain all their skills, money, and some items. All the characters the player recruited will be kept in their Friends List. However, the player must recruit the characters again in subsequent playthroughs.
In the birth cry of the cosmos
The twin eyes awake
Above us they shine
The world made safe for our sake
The forests they flourish
The towers grow high
The four lights shine down
Chaos withers and dies
But imbalance grows
Forests turn dark
This is our doom
The tower breaks the sky;
Here come the dragons to
bring it down
The game opens with a brief scene of legendary Radiata Knight Cairn Russell fighting and defeating the Water Dragon, one of the four elemental dragons of the world. Jack then awakens on the day he is supposed to journey to Radiata Castle. He spends time swordfighting with his older sister, Adele, before she gives him Cairn's famous sword, the Arbitrator. Jack then travels to Radiata to join the Knights of Radiata and follow in his father's footsteps.
During selection trials, Jack is paired against Ridley Silverlake, a composed young noble girl who has trained to be a knight from an early age. Ridley effortlessly defeats Jack, but Lord Larks asks that Jack be inducted into the knights anyway, citing that Jack is Cairn Russell's son. Jack and Ridley are placed in the Rose Cochon Brigade under newly promoted Captain Ganz Rothschild, son of Gawain Rothschild, Cairn's alleged killer. Jack seethes over his loss to Ridley while Ridley looks down on Jack, and they bicker constantly.
The Rose Cochon Brigade's first mission goes well, successfully escorting the dwarven leader Donovitch to Radiata despite an encounter with the Goblin Trio. They are watched secretly by Leonard and Natalie at the request of Lord Jasne, Ridley's father. They are escorted by Clive, a low ranking member of the Olacion Order.
The Rose Cochon is then assigned to deliver a letter to the light elves, accompanied by Genius, a human researcher. After being rebuked by the light elves, they travel to the Forest Metropolis, home of the friendlier dark elves, and speak with Lord Nogueira about the problem. As Jack and Ridley start to develop a respect for one another, the group is attacked by a blood orc. Ridley is mortally wounded before Nogueira manages to defeat it, but her life is saved when Nogueira performs a transpiritation ritual on Ridley, a taboo among the elves. Cross Ward, who said he'd been tracking the orc, also arrives. Jack abandons his rivalry and carries Ridley back to Radiata personally. When Jasne finds out what happened, he pressures a reluctant Lord Larks into expelling Jack and Ganz from the knights.
Jack goes on to join Theater Vancoor, the mercenary warrior guild, catching the eye of the leaders. Ganz is unable to pass the selection test to join Theater Vancoor. Jack is placed in Jarvis' unit and rises to corporal after defeating squadmate Daniel in combat. After an encounter with Nocturne, Gerald's nemesis, Elwen names Jack as Gerald's successor and promotes him to sergeant. Shortly after, Jack helps Parsec, the Fire Dragon, seek a mysterious individual he is looking for. Ganz helps Cody, son of Void Community thief Rynka, and eventually Rynka takes pity on Ganz and lets him join the thief guild. Meanwhile, Ridley is promoted to captain within the Radiata Knights, but she is furious when she discovers what her father has done, and Ridley's feelings for Jack emerge. The side effects of her transpiritation also become apparent as she starts speaking an ancient elven language.
Jack quickly gains fame and recognition within Theater Vancoor, and he also attends Ridley's birthday party at her invitation, where she is apologetic, but Jack also notices that she is behaving in an unusually subdued manner. Jack also butts heads with Cross, and Ridley makes it clear that she loathes her fiancée. Jack invites Ridley to speak to him if she ever needs to before departing.
Meanwhile, tensions escalate rapidly between the humans and the fairy creatures. One day, the Radiata Knights under General Dynas and Cross are sent to Earth Valley, home of the dwarves, to persuade them to continue trade and to lower their prices. During negotiations, Cross disobeys his orders and has his knights attack. Dynas is helpless to stop the ensuing massacre. Earth Valley is captured and dwarves that survive the initial attack are enslaved, starting a war between the humans and the fairy creatures. Donovitch visits Jack to request his help, and they travel to Earth Valley in time to witness Baade, the Earth Dragon attacking the knights. Many of them are slain, but Cross manages to kill the dragon, and a despondent Donovitch returns to Earth Valley to share the fate of his people, despite Jack's urgings to not do so.
Days later, Jack is given a message by a Radiata guardsman that Lord Larks has requested him at a meeting at the castle. Ridley then visits Jack, saying she doesn't feel like herself, and that she is fearful of what is going to happen to her. She then explains to Jack that she needs to go to the City of Flowers to see Lord Zane, leader of the light elves, to find out more about her condition. Jack's feelings for Ridley become apparent, but she bids him farewell. The player must choose to either follow the human path by attending the meeting at Radiata Castle or to follow the fairy path by following Ridley to the City of Flowers.
In the human path Jack decides that Ridley is just going through a phase, and he attends the meeting at Radiata Castle, Lord Larks reasserts his authority and overrides Jasne, reinstating Jack as a knight. Jack learns that the fairy creatures are protected by the four elemental dragons. The Water Dragon was slain by Jack's father years ago, cementing his status as a legendary knight. The Earth Dragon was killed by Cross when the knights enslaved the dwarves. Larks then orders Jack to accompany Cross and Dynas to the Wind Valley, home of the elves, to kill the Wind Dragon.
Jack joins the Radiata Knights in the attack on Wind Valley, meeting heavy resistance from the light elves but fighting through them. Jack, Cross, and Dynas eventually reach the Wind Dragon as well as Gil, the light elf second in command. Cross is incapacitated and during the battle Dynas is injured, leaving Jack to fight and defeat Gil and the Wind Dragon. Gil and the Wind Dragon both die. Dynas then learns that Fort Helencia has been captured by the fairy creatures, and that Gawain has been spotted among them. Jack asks to accompany Dynas to confront Gawain, and Dynas agrees.
Jack and Dynas help reorganize the knights driven out of Fort Helencia, and Jack angrily attacks Gawain, though he is driven back as well. Jack is surprised to discover that Ridley is with the fairy creatures as well, and he asks her to return home, though she refuses, saying she is bound by her destiny. Upon returning to Radiata, Jack again finds himself helping Parsec find Aphelion. Shortly afterwards, Parsec attacks Radiata Castle in dragon form and Dynas is killed. Larks orders Jack and Cross to pursue the fire dragon, but Jack is stunned to discover that Parsec is the fire dragon. Jack kills him but feels remorseful, while Cross' rivalry with Jack intensifies.
Jack is visited by Ridley, who wants to speak to him one last time. Jack and Cross are assigned to watch over Lupus Gate to Radiata with other knights. As Jack anticipated, the fairy creatures attack with a massive army. While Cross leads a charge into the attackers, Jack kills Galvados, the blood orc leader. He then comes face to face with Lord Zane, leader of the light elves, who reveals that he is infected with Algandars. Jack defeats him in battle and Zane succumbs to the Algandars moments later.
Lucian, Lord Larks' advisor, is revealed to be Aphelion, the silver dragon who will help bring about the end of the world, and flies in the same direction as Ridley. Jack and Gawain meet again, and Jack fatally wounds him, but asks him if he really did kill his father. Gawain tells Jack that he avenged his father's death before dying. Jack proceeds to follow and meets Cross at the entrance to the city, who tells him that he is not needed, and to go home. Jack still enters the city, and finds Lucian, who explains Ridley's situation. She has been overtaken by the elf within her and is poised to be the vessel of Quasar, the gold dragon, the other apocalyptic dragon.
Jack ascends the tower in the city with Lucian and discovers a badly beaten Cross, who weakly tells Jack to not trust Lucian. Lucian then kills Cross and reveals himself as Aphelion, and then kills Ridley to prevent Quasar from taking control of her. Enraged, Jack kills Aphelion, and the final scene shows Jack leaving Radiata.
Jack decides that Ridley is important to him, remembering that knights of the same brigade are as family. Ridley is visibly gratified at Jack's decision to accompany her as they travel to the City of Flowers. Upon their arrival, Ridley is captured and held at knifepoint by Shin and Fan. Lord Zane appears, and Ridley explains the situation of her transpiritation to him. Jack interjects that if Zane wants to start a war, he'll capture Fort Helencia himself in exchange for Ridley's life, pointing out that he is a sergeant of Theater Vancoor and can get inside. Zane agrees to the idea despite Ridley's protests.
Jack visit Fort Helencia and is allowed inside to be confronted by Leonard and Natalie, who accuse him of kidnapping Ridley. Jack's attempts at explanations prove useless, and he is forced to defeat Leonard and Natalie, but reinforcements arrive. Jack quickly retreats but is reinforced by light elves Gil, Pitt, and Row, who are all impressed that Jack is following his word. They defeat the knights and send Jack back to the City of Flowers to see Zane, who releases Ridley as per their agreement. Jack is disturbed by Leonard's accusation that he has turned against his own kind.
Zane then learns that the Wind Dragon has been killed, and vows retaliation. Jack confronts Ridley about turning against the other humans, and Ridley comforts him. Jack is given new heart and firmly declares that his mission is to protect Ridley. The next day, Jack and Ridley attend a meeting with Zane, Gil, and various light and dark elves. The guest of honor Zane waits for is revealed to be the Fire Dragon in human form, Parsec. Parsec explains how the world works with the dragons and takes a liking to Jack. Parsec mysterious suggests that Jack and Ridley should visit the Goblin Haven, and Zane has Coco guide them.
When they reach the Goblin Haven, Jack is attacked by Gawain. Jack defeats him, but does not kill him. Jack then asks what happened to his father, and Gawain explains. Kelvin the Water Dragon attacked Radiata out of the need to protect the cosmic order, and Cairn ignored it to protect his fellow humans. After the fight he was infected by Algandars, and a distraught Zane had to send his top assassins, namely Gil, after his respected friend to prevent algandars from spreading and restore order. Gawain accuses himself of destroying Jack's family, saying he knew about this and did nothing, and that Gawain's statement of being responsible for Cairn's death was misconstrued as a confession. Jack happily forgives him, to Gawain's surprise. Jack explains that his family was happy even after Cairn died, and that he doesn't blame him. Jack then asks Gawain to join them, and he agrees, inspired by Jack's words.
On the way back to Fort Helencia, Jack is confronted by Jarvis and Daniel, who want to bring back to Radiata. Jack, Ridley, and Gawain defeat them, and Jarvis says that his final order to Jack is for him to follow his mission, whatever it is, before carrying the injured Daniel away. At Helencia, Ridley begins to become ill from the effects of the transpiritation, while Zane learns that the Radiata Knights are attacking Lord Parsec at Fire Mountain. Jack travels there but meets Elwen on the bridge, and is forced to fight her. He can either win or lose but Elwen allows him to pass, and Jack reaches Parsec's chamber to see Cross and Dynas attacking Parsec. Jack is unable to stop Cross from killing Parsec, but Gawain rescues Jack.
While Ridley and Gawain meet with Zane, Jack is reunited with Ganz, who has rescued Adele, who had earlier been imprisoned by Cross for her association with Jack. Ganz also reveals that the blood orc that attacked Ridley was sent by Cross. Ganz joins Jack and the fairy creatures and is reunited with his father. Jack spars with Gawain, who eventually deems him worthy of using the Arbitrator, Cairn's sword. Later, the Radiata Knights make a surprise attack on Fort Helencia, and Jack vengefully defeats Cross, but Dynas, Gawain, and Ridley stop him from killing Cross as well. Dynas angrily tells Gawain that Cross ordered the attack without authorization, but during the retreat Cross kills Dynas and frames him, and an unknowing Larks promotes him to general. Lucian is revealed to be the silver dragon Aphelion, and flies to the south.
Jack awakens one morning to discover that Ridley and Gawain are gone. Ganz accompanies him en route to the City of White Nights. Jack comes face to face with Gerald, whom he defeats, and Gerald admiringly allows Jack to pass. At the entrance to the city, Jack and Ganz meet Cross and his brigade; Cross is eager for revenge after being bested by Jack at Helencia. Jack and Ganz defeat Cross, though Jack spares him. Moments later, Aphelion appears and kills Cross. Jack and Ganz then enter the city and ascend the tower, where Jack saves Ridley from Quasar. Lucian reveals himself as Aphelion and attacks, but Gawain intercepts the blow and is mortally wounded, speaking words of comfort to Ganz before dying. Jack and Ganz defeat Aphelion, but Ganz opts to stay behind with his father's body as the city collapses. The last scene shows Jack and Ridley returning to Radiata hand in hand. Ridley is glowing with golden light and Jack's voice echoes, suggesting that something happened to them on the way back.
Tri-Ace incorporated characters and references to their other games in Radiata Stories. Ganz wears Star Ocean 2's Claude C. Kenni's clothes when he is part of the Bandit Guild. Jack can obtain Fayt Armor, which changes his appearance to that of Fayt Leingod from Star Ocean 3. Four bonus bosses are from other games: Lenneth Valkyrie and Lezard Valeth from Valkyrie Profile; and Gabriel Celestra and the Ethereal Queen, who are tri-Ace staples. Of these, only Valkyrie is recruitable; and her armor can also be spotted inside the kings' chambers in the Radiata Castle, as part of the background.
The soundtrack was composed by Noriyuki Iwadare. Prior to this all tri-Ace music was composed by Motoi Sakuraba. However, keeping in line with their tradition to refer to past games, three of Sakuraba's original compositions were rearranged by Iwadare. These are "Mission to Deep Space" (also in Star Ocean 2, Valkyrie Profile, and Star Ocean 3), "An Incarnation of Devil "(Star Ocean 2, Valkyrie Profile, and Star Ocean 3), and "Highbrow" (also in Star Ocean 3). Tri-Crescendo, which has a strong affiliation with Sakuraba, was credited with "Sound Direction" for the game. Furthermore, the soundtrack was released under the TEAM Entertainment label which is the primary promoter and distributor of Sakuraba.
The original soundtrack was 2 CDs with 79 songs. One month later Iwadare released "Radiata Stories: Arranged Album" which rearranged 16 songs from the original soundtrack.
The Sacramento Bee said the music was "peppy and cheerful, if unmemorable" but that the sound effects were "largely recycled from the developer's previous games, all the way back to 1999's "Star Ocean: The Second Story." GameSpot remarked that "None of the music will get stuck in your head, but you won't want to mute it either." Game Informer said the soundtrack was a "masterpiece". However, the game does not support Dolby Surround sound.
In November 2004, it was announced that all Japanese preorders of Radiata Stories would come with a bonus audio disc, "tri-Ace Battle Sound Collection." The disc contained 2 battle themed tracks from Star Ocean, Star Ocean 2, Star Ocean 3, Valkyrie Profile, and Radiata Stories, respectively.
The theme song of the Japanese version of the game, "Fortune", was sung by Japanese Pop star Nami Tamaki, who became known for her debut single "Believe", the third opening theme of Mobile Suit Gundam SEED. She also played a recruitable party character of the same name in the game. The character Nami was modeled after Tamaki's likeness and her lines were voiced by the singer. It was her first single of 2005 and her 16th single overall. A music video with scenes from Radiata Stories and her dressed in her character's clothing was released in January 2005. The Japanese television advertisement for Radiata Stoires featured the song in the background. This song is found in her second album Make Progress, which also includes "Reason", the first ending theme for Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny.
The character's name was changed to Rachel in the English version and "Fortune" played during the ending credits.