I've always counted Radiata Stories among my favorite PS2 games, and picking it up again, it's easy to remember why. Everything about the game is polished to an incredible level that frankly makes SO3 look like a joke by comparison. The graphics are crisp and gorgeous, even on a hi-def TV (though with PS3 upscaling, to be fair. It still looks twice as good as SO3) and the character designs are whimsical and generally just plain awesome. The localization is great, the dialogue flows wonderfully, and the game is just filled with charm and humor right from the start.
I've put in a few hours so far today, and it's been easy to jump right back into the world. And it's a huge world. The castle alone could take hours to explore, and while I walked around a lot of it, it's just so damn big that it's easy to get lost. I've already discovered several things that I missed on my earlier playthroughs - and that's another thing that's great about the game. With a constantly flowing clock, citizens that move around all day, and an enormous world to explore, it's virtually impossible to find everything in this game; there's just so much.
Even the battle system, which is admittedly a lot slower-paced than SO3, is still a lot of fun. The combat even has a comical feel, as the characters are quite clearly not the most skilled at what they do, and you'll often see Ridley or Ganz stumbling or even falling down when trying to attack. I haven't unlocked the meat of the battle system at this point in the game, namely, the Link and Command systems, but I'm still having a lot of fun.
On a final note, this will be my fourth playthrough of this game, and with this playthrough I hope to achieve 100% completion of the friends book. I acquired all the nonhuman characters in my last playthrough, so this time I intend to get the humans that I missed out on. Hopefully I can pull it off.
10/20/08 - 08:45
Party: Jack, Edgar, Cosmo, Gene
A bit farther in now. I've left the castle and am getting into the meat of the game, though I still have a little bit farther to go before the Link system becomes available. I'm spending a lot of time getting characters recruited and making sure I don't miss any. Gotta fill in those last twenty or so names!
The discussion came up a bit farther down the thread, but I absolutely love Radiata's music. It's among my favorite game soundtracks, and it does wonders to heighten the game's spirited mood. Despite what some would have you believe, it isn't ALL jazz. There is definitely a jazzy influence to a lot of the more upbeat songs, but it's not true jazz, rather it's more of a hybrid of jazz/big band and classical music.
The jazzier tunes are limited to background music when exploring the town and world outside, for the most part, by the way. Major scenes generally have specialized music to fit whatever mood the story is bringing around.
The game does one other bit with music that I absolutely love, and that's adding little musical trills and bursts during some of the cutscenes to heighten the scene, almost like an old cartoon show. I've never seen another game do this, and it works wonderfully.
10/20/08 - 09:45
I'd totally forgotten about this, but it deserves a mention for it's sheer awesomeness. After <span class="spoiler">Ganz and Jack are fired from the Knights and Ganz joins the bandit guild</span>, Ganz starts wearing a different outfit. The outfit is the same as Claude wore in Star Ocean 2, right down to the red headband. It even says Star Ocean on the back of it!
I know tri-Ace loves to throw in fan service from their other games, but this one of the more unusual ones they've done.
Maybe I'll log out and check my e-mail or something...