Radiant Historia was one of the Nintendo DS’ classic RPGs. It had a story that spanned different timelines and a battle system that blended some interesting strategic elements into a turn-based system. It was something special. Now, it is returning to the Nintendo 3DS as Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology. While much of it remains the same, the updates, new content and port do a lovely job of showing people how important the title is.
Let’s begin with one of the biggest changes. Radiant Historia’s story has always revolved around a specific gimmick. Stocke, our hero, is able to head to Historia due to his possession of the White Chronicle, a book that allows him to travel through time. The world is dying, and Stocke is able to impact his timeline by visiting alternate histories. The entire game has you going to different times and seeing how things change due to small decisions made. It can even result in multiple endings. Having this kind of control over the story was an unusual and appreciated thing in the original installment. With Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology, we get more of that. Possible Histories can be viewed and visited, allowing us to take part in special quests. At the very outset, the game even lets you decide if these possibilities show up throughout the course of the adventure or at the very end, allowing a degree of control over how much these optional adventures impact the overall experience.
The way the battle system is handled in Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology shows how well the original worked and how the new version improves upon it. This is a turn-based game where your three party members remain in a single line on the right side of the screen. All of the enemies, however, appear on a three-by-three grid. Players can use skills and abilities to alter your turn-order in battle in exchange for reduced defenses, as a shout out to Stocke’s time manipulation powers. They can also use movement skills to arrange the position of enemies on the field to allow attacks to hit multiple opponents at once. This means each battle becomes about arranging enemies, preparing traps if you have the right characters on hand and controlling the field. It is far more strategic than most RPGs, leading to a level of involvement that rewards thought, rather than zoning out and button mashing the attack button. Especially since those who wish to avoid meaningless battles can do so by having Stocke hit someone on the field to avoid a fight.
Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology’s Support Skills help enhance this system. I actually felt like it helped make it easier, perhaps for people who are just beginning to adapt to the system. You can only have three people in a party at a time, and Stocke is a given. (Aht should be another, as her traps remain amazing.) Someone who is with you, but not in the party, can kick in and help as you play. Having an enemy weakness revealed, a buff applied to the party or an opponent poisoned can be quite helpful. And, it fits in story-wise as well. We know Stocke’s party is a close-knit one, and seeing them all come together and pop in makes sense. And having these learned by leveling up or acquired by Skill Cards is helpful. Especially so when it comes to the cards, as it allows you to purposely prepare people who you know will not often be in your active party.
Of course, the obvious change is the alterations to Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology’s presentation. Everyone has a new character portrait, which people may or may not appreciate. (I preferred Eruca’s original look.) The user interface seems a bit crisper and cleaner. There is tons of Japanese voice acting to appreciate. On the whole, it is a game that sounds better, but the fantastic sprite work from the original game remains untouched.
Radiant Historia was the sort of game Nintendo DS owners really should have played. It did some very cool things with its story and battle system. Now, Radiant History: Perfect Chronology has made some additions and adjustments that highlight those achievements. The extra history episodes provide even more timeline hopping for people who enjoy that mechanic. The Support Skills give even more opportunities for characters to show their stuff in a fight. And of course, the other refinements might make the game look and sound better to people. This is a case where a good thing becomes even better.
Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology will come to the Nintendo 3DS on February 13, 2018 in North America and February 16, 2018 in Europe.