Radiant Historia

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Radiant Historia
Radiant Historia Cover Art.jpg
North American Nintendo DS box art
Developer(s) Atlus
Headlock
Publisher(s)
Director(s) Mitsuru Hirata
Satoshi Takayashiki
Designer(s) Tomohiro Okuno
Yasuko Sumiya
Satoshi Takayashiki
Programmer(s) Daisuke Yajima
Artist(s) Hiroshi Konishi
Masaki Hirooka (3DS)
Writer(s) Yoh Haduki
Souzou Tonami
Kazuhito Okayama
Composer(s) Yoko Shimomura
Platform(s) Nintendo DS
Nintendo 3DS
Release Nintendo DS
  • JP: November 3, 2010
  • NA: February 22, 2011
Nintendo 3DS
  • JP: June 29, 2017
  • WW: Q1 2018
Genre(s) Role-playing
Mode(s) Single-player

Radiant Historia[a] is a role-playing video game co-developed by Atlus and Headlock for the Nintendo DS. It was released in Japan in 2010 by Atlus, and in North America in 2011 by their subsidiary Atlus USA. An expanded remake for the Nintendo 3DS titled Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology[b] was released in 2017 in Japan and is set for release in 2018 in both North America and Europe; the European version will be published by Deep Silver.

The game is set on the continent of Vainqueur, which is divided between the warring nations of Alistel and Granorg while also being turned into a wasteland by a malady called the Sand Plague. The story follows Stocke, a soldier of Alistel, after he is chosen to wield the White Chronicle, a book which can enable him to navigate alternate timelines and prevent the destruction of Vainqueur. Stocke and his party explore Vainqueur, fighting enemies on a grid-based battlefield using a turn-based system. Travelling between alternate timelines is a key part of both the storyline and the gameplay, with the number of potential timelines unlocked influencing the ending.

Radiant Historia was developed by a team with staff drawn from both Atlus' Megami Tensei series, including Mitsuru Hirata in his debut as director, and Satoshi Takayashiki and artist Hiroshi Konishi from the tri-Ace title Radiata Stories. First proposed by Satoshi Takayashiki in 2007, the base concept underwent several changes due to suggestions from Atlus staff. The remake included redrawn artwork, an additional story path, and an animated opening produced by A-1 Pictures. The music for both versions was composed by Yoko Shimomura, with the theme songs being performed by Haruka Shimotsuki. Reception of the original release was positive in both Japan and the West.

Gameplay

Radiant Historia is a role-playing video game set in a fantasy steampunk world and following a group of characters traveling across the war-torn continent of Vainqueur.[1][2][3] The game's environments are explored from a top-down perspective, with different zones opening up during the course of the narrative.[3][4] These self-contained environments are accessed using a world map, and can then be freely explored.[1] Within these environments following the game's opening mission, the main character Stocke can manipulate boxes to clear paths and solve puzzles, in addition to other elements such as destructible objects and treasure chests containing consumables or items such as armor and weapons.[5]

Time travel

Traveling between parallel timelines forms a key mechanic within Radiant Historia, with the percentage of timelines explored influencing the ending.[6]

A key part of Radiant Historia is navigating a series of branching stories spread across alternate timelines using a book called the White Chronicle.[6][2] Given to main protagonist Stocke during the game's opening, it is used to travel between different timelines during the course of the story.[6] After its first use, the Historia can be accessed at special points scattered through the game world.[1] Following a key choice within the story, there are two main timelines and numerous smaller branches from those timelines.[6][3] Several events within one timeline can only be completed using information or items gathered from the alternate timeline. Events in both timelines are recorded in a journal that can be accessed through the party menu.[1][3][4]

Aside from points where the story dictates the player's action, navigating the timelines is a non-linear process.[2] Story segments within each timeline, called "nodes", are color-coded, denoting the events which take place; brown nodes are chapters of the main story, blue boxes are events in which the player can made a choice which creates new paths in the timeline and can be revisited to take a different path, and dark boxes indicate a node with a bad ending or no way to continue the narrative.[6][5] Experience points and currency earned in battles are carried over between timelines.[7] Events across each timeline are tied to side quests the player can complete. While there are multiple endings depending on the path taken by the player, there are only two canon endings; the standard version, and an extended version unlocked by completing all side quests.[6]

Battle system

Combat in Radiant Historia uses a grid-based battle arena and turn-based battle system, incorporating manipulation of turn order and grid position.[6]

Enemies can be seen while exploring environments as sprites. Running into them will trigger a battle, but Stocke can also stun them with his sword, enabling the player to avoid battle. A cloaking ability also enables the party to slip by enemies unseen.[3][8][7] Battles take place in a separate arena area after battle is triggered, with the battle itself and turn order information being displayed respectively on the bottom and top screen.[6][3][2] There is an auto-battle function, where the party will automatically perform basic attacks.[6] Successfully defeating the enemy party rewards the player party with money and experience points which level up the party members, giving them higher statistics such as raised health and more powerful attacks.[3][7][9]

The arena is divided between Stocke's three-strong party and the enemy group. The battlefield itself is laid out on a 3x3 grid, with enemy units being positioned in different squares of the grid, with some enemy types taking up multiple squares. The player party's position is fixed, but enemy units can use their turn to change position on the grid.[6] The battle system itself is turn-based, with each unit on either side being given a chance to perform an action. Rather than each unit acting once an action is decided, each action is queued once selected, and when all actions are selected the two sides perform their actions.[6][5] The type of actions an enemy unit can perform depends upon their position on the grid; enemies positioned further back have weaker attack power and strong defence, while those at the front will receive more damage while having a higher attack power.[2][4]

The player party can use specific actions to knock enemy units onto different squares of the grid, which can send enemies into prepared traps, or group enemies into a single square. When the latter happens, attacking the unit within that square using either standard or combination attacks will damage all units. Once the player turn ends, enemy units return to their original positions on the grid.[6][2][7] Chaining attacks together increases their effectiveness, which in turn grants a greater reward at the end of a battle.[3] Both sides are able to use the "Change" mechanic. Using this mechanic, unit's place in the action queue can be shifted to another point in the queue, allowing them to take more actions than might otherwise be possible. Using the Change command causes a unit to take more damage until their action is completed.[6] Other actions related to the Change command include erasing an enemy's upcoming turn and switching out the player party's unit turns.[2]

Synopsis

Radiant Historia is set on the continent of Vainqueur, a land populated by humans and Beastribes. Once ruled by an ancient empire, it is now primarily divided between the warring kingdoms of Alistel and Granorg; the root of the war stems from Alistel's belief that Granorg is responsible for the spread of the Sand Plague, a magical illness which drains living beings of their Mana energy and turns them to sand—the "desertification" of the continent is spreading, further inflaming the conflict.[1][8] Stocke, an espionage agent for Alistel, is sent by his superior Heiss on a mission with mercenaries Raynie and Marco to escort a spy back to Alistel's capital; before leaving, Stocke is given a book called the "White Chronicle" by Heiss. The group are ambushed by Granorg troops, with only a severely wounded Stocke escaping. He is drawn into Historia, a realm divorced from time, and told by its overseers Teo and Lippti that he can use the White Chronicle to alter events. Stocke makes the mission a success, saving Raynie and Marco along the way.

Over the course of his adventure, Stocke follows two different timelines; one where he remains under Heiss, and one where he becomes part of a military unit led by his friend Roche. He uses skills acquired in each timeline to proceed further in each role, while also interacting with the Beastmen tribes, particularly the young shaman Aht and the sympathetic warrior Gafka. During his travels, someone wielding the Black Chronicle—a twin to the White Chronicle—is trying to interfere with his efforts. In both timelines he aids and is aided by Granorg's princess Eruca, who is capable of performing a ritual to stop the Sand Plague consuming Vainqueur with a sacrificed human soul. He also learns that Hugo, a prominent religious leader of Alistel, has formed a pact with Granorg to depose its ruling queen Protea and is manipulating the war for his own ends; and that Heiss is acting for his own agenda, playing both sides against each other, and has intimate knowledge of the White Chronicle.

In both timelines, Stocke successfully overthrows Protea and defeats Hugo. Heiss then attacks, saying that the sacrifices for the ritual are Granorg royalty who are killed, resurrected using part of another person's soul, then killed again to reunite the soul and stabilize Vainqueur's mana, slowing the Sand Plague. Stocke is revealed to be the intended sacrifice, Eruca's brother resurrected and given a part of Eruca's soul. Heiss, believing the ritual and the sacrifice's suffering to be pointless, intends to let the Sand Plague consume Vainqueur; he abducted Stocke, gave him his present identity, and has been using the Black Chronicle to try and show Stocke the futility of the sacrifice's mission. From Heiss and Teo and Lippti, Stocke learns that the Sand Plague was caused by a runaway spell intended to stabilize the world's mana and ensure the prosperity of the ancient empire. The empire's surviving royalty created the Black and White Chronicle to facilitate the ritual, allowing the Sacrifice to see hope in the future while the Caster meditated on the past; Teo and Lippti are the remnants of the sorcerer who created the Chronicles. Heiss was the intended Sacrifice, but escaped with the Black Chronicle, which ingrained his fatalistic views.

After thwarting Heiss' attempts to change history in his favor, Heiss transports the party to Historia, fusing with the souls of past sacrifices to become the monster Apocrypha; Stocke and his party defeat Heiss while destroying Apocrypha. In the normal ending, Stocke willingly becomes the sacrifice, allowing the ritual's completion and delaying the Sand Plague's advance. In the true ending—unlocked by completing all events across the game—Heiss willingly becomes the sacrifice in Stocke's place upon seeing Stocke's unshaken faith in the future, allowing Stocke to return to the world and live a full life. The other characters work to help Vainqueur rebuild, including beginning research into ways of stabilizing mana which will negate the ritual and the need for sacrifices.

Production

Development and release

Radiant Historia was co-developed by Atlus, a company best known for the Megami Tensei and Etrian Odyssey series, and Japanese studio Headlock.[10][11][12][13] The staff were made up of members from both Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey and Radiata Stories, a 2005 PlayStation 2 role-playing game developed by tri-Ace and published by Square Enix.[10][11][8] From Radiata Stories, original concept designer Satoshi Takayashiki acted as co-director and concept designer, while artist Hiroshi Konishi reprised his role as character designer.[10][14][13] Co-director for Atlus was Mitsuru Hirata, who had previously worked as a battle and field planner for multiple Megami Tensei titles. Radiant Historia was his debut as a director.[15] Field planner Tatsuya Watanabe, battle planner Sawao Kato, event planner Kenichi Takamori, and programmer Daisuke Yajima had all worked on earlier Megami Tensei titles; Watanabe and Takamori both worked on Strange Journey.[11] The lead 2D and 3D designers were Tomohiro Okuno and Yasuko Sumiya respectively.[13]

The concept for Radiant Historia was created by Takayashiki, who first pitched his proposal to Atlus in 2007. His initial concept was for a traditional RPG people would enjoy. Atlus was chosen due to Takayashiki's admiration for their past work. While the concept of the 3x3 grid-based battle system was conceived by Takayashiki in the initial proposal, many of the additional elements related to skills were contributed by Atlus staff.[14] According to Hirata, Atlus were intrigued at the collaboration as Radiant Historia was the type of project that would not have appeared within the company. When designing the gameplay, the Atlus staff kept the basic proposal intact while streamlining through refining the mechanics and simplifying sprite animations to quicken the pace of standard battles. The enemy AI was also adjusted to be less punishing while adding field actions to give players an advantage. The time-travel element caused problems for the team as they worked out how to depict the White Chronicle as a game mechanic, while also putting in frequent text updates so players would not forget the story despite the game's place on the portable Nintendo DS meaning interruptions were likely.[16] Atlus later described Radiant Historia as their most challenging development for the DS platform.[6]

Originally hinted at by a trademark in March 2010,[10] Radiant Historia was officially announced in July of that year. As reported by Japanese magazine Famitsu, the game was 80% complete at that point.[8] The game released in Japan on November 3, 2010.[17] A North American release was first announced in November 2010, localized and published by Atlus' North American branch Atlus USA.[18] Localization efforts for the game began in August 2010, with a large team including four translators for just the game's text. Editing of text was handled by Nich Maragos, Scott Strichart, Mike Meeker and Clayton Chan, while the QA team was led by Richard Rodrigues. During their editing sessions, Maragos and Strichart both alternated between different chapters and kept in constant communication to ensure character dialogue remained consistent. The English script's tone was inspired Queen & Country, a comic series written by Greg Rucka.[19] Speaking in 2015, Maragos later remembered Radiant Historia as his favorite localization up to that point, citing it as far easier than the majority of other titles he had worked on.[20] The game released in North America on February 22, 2011.[18] The game became a rarity following its release, but Atlus issued a reprint in 2012 due to fan requests. Radiant Historia was not released in Europe.[21]

Scenario and art design

The setting and world were created by Takayashiki, who consulted extensively with Konishi.[14] The main writer was Yoh Haduki, who had previously written the scenarios for Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor and Growlanser Wayfarer of Time.[22] Additional writers were Souzou Tonami and Kazuhito Okayama.[13] Takayashiki's initial idea was for a historical drama featuring alternate timelines, which Konishi said would require an extensive cast. While nothing else had been decided, Takayashiki was already toying with the idea of incorporating time travel. An early idea was to incorporate the theme of immortality, which resulted in the main protagonist being an ageless sword rather than a living being. Following talks with Atlus, Takayashiki was persuaded to make the protagonist a human time traveler. Their consultation also altered Takayashiki's original ending concept of a ruined world.[14]

Takayashiki initially planned for sixteen endings across four different countries, but Atlus convinced him that this was impossible. He managed to preserve the branching narrative by cutting down the number of countries by half, and creating the Alternate timeline. Creating the alternate timeline caused problems during the later writing stages.[23] The narrative retained the air of a historical drama from Takayashiki original proposal, creating a storyline where no-one was explicitly right or wrong. The game's title was created by Atlus staff: "Radiant" referred to Stocke's mission across time to restore the world's light, while "Historia" came from the word "History". It was one of many suggested titles carrying a similar meaning.[16] When creating the branching timelines, Takayashiki used Microsoft Excel to map out and keep track of the various timelines. The initial story was written over two months. Due the alterations and necessary adjustments to adjoining timelines, in addition to removing two of the proposed countries, it took six months to complete the final story and dialogue.[23]

Konishi designed all the characters, making sure each main character had a distinctive silhouette for players to identify.[23] Based on input from Atlus staff, Konishing made his character designs more refined.[14] Both Stocke and Eruca were initially designed to be supporting characters, as at the time the protagonist was still to be a sword. After consulting with Atlus, the characters were made the main protagonists. Stocke was originally a plain-looking assassin dressed completely in black, described by Konishi as an amalgamation of typical "cool" character traits. When he became the main character, Konishi changed his color to red, reworked his hair so it did not cover his eyes, and made his uniform more militaristic.[23] While it was considered to allow the player to rename Stocke, after multiple readthroughs of the script the team decided against it.[24]

Eruca was the first character Konishi designed, and proved problematic as he had trouble deciding what type of clothing she would wear. She was intended to have long hair typical of princess characters, but was eventually given short hair based on hardware restrictions and the wish to convey a unique look.[15][23] A different change was Stocke's initial supporting characters Raynie and Marco. Stocke was originally going to be accompanied by two expendable generic units, but as Hirata saw this would negatively impact the player experience, the new characters were added; they were designed to be contrasting personalities who would liven up the party during the opening segments.[16] The character Roche went through multiple redesigns during development, while Gafka was intended to leave an impression on players. The Beastkind designs reflected their in-world status as people of the forest. Several early Beastkind concepts were combined into those seen in the final game.[23]

Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology

Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology, an expanded remake of the original game for Nintendo 3DS, began development in 2016 following the completion of Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE, which Hirata directed.[15] A remake of Radiant Historia was originally in production for a different portable platform, but Hirata's commitment to Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE caused the project to be put on hold. When development on Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE was completed, development resumed. The 3DS was chosen as the remake's platform due to its large install base compared to other portable platforms.[25] Hirata had long wanted to return to the universe of Radiant Historia, and after completing Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE talked with Atlus and learned that Radiant Historia had a strong following both in Japan and overseas, prompting Atlus to agree to a remake.[15]

Hirata returned to the remake as producer. The character art was redrawn by Masaki Hirooka, whose previous work includes Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia. The new anime opening was created by A-1 Pictures.[26] Hirata's main goals were to update the game so that it would appeal to a modern gaming audience, with these involving increasing gameplay speed and adjusting the user interface. After that he decided to create a new scenario, discussing with staff how to implement it.[15] Haduki, who had worked on Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE, returned to write the new scenario based on Hirata's original concept.[27] Hirata's original idea was bringing back the original game's two discarded story routes, but he instead opted for preserving the established scenario. A new gameplay mechanic was the "Support Skill" system, where characters could perform follow-up attacks, a system inspired by a similar mechanic in Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE.[15] The remake was released in Japan on June 29, 2017.[26] It is set for a worldwide release in early 2018: Atlus is releasing the title in North America, while Deep Silver is the European publisher.[28][29]

Music

Radiant Historia Original Soundtrack
Soundtrack album by Yoko Shimomura
Released December 15, 2010
Genre Video game soundtrack
Length 1:14:40
Label TEAM Entertainment

The music for Radiant Historia was written by Yoko Shimomura, a composer best known for her work on the Kingdom Hearts series and Legend of Mana.[30] Shimomura acted as sole composer and arranger for the score.[31] Shimomura was first contacted about working on the project via email, and was shocked when she realized who had sent it, at first thinking it was a prank. When creating the score, Shimomura used her usual technique of matching the score to imagery provided by the production team. Due to the game's themes of time travel and its darker side, the score was predominantly sombre in tone. As the game was unconnected to any previous intellectual property, Shimomura found composing the score far easier than most of her other projects.[30]

The first track Shimomura created for the score were the Alistel theme "Mechanical Kingdom" and "Where the Wind and Feathers Return", a theme that played during various narrative points. The battle theme "Blue Radiance" was a track Shimomura took her time over as she did not want it to grow repetitive due to its placement alongside the most common type of battle. For the boss theme "The Edge of Green", she added a sense of weight by including a pipe organ. The use of pipe organ was also included to appeal to fans of her music.[30][31] In total Shimomura created twenty-five tracks, mainly using an orchestral style, with some tracks also utilizing pop music instruments or folk elements. The track number was double of what she initially planned, resulting in her tunes going over the DS music file limits.[30] The game used software developed by CRI Middleware to handle the sound and music environment.[31]

The main theme "Historia" was a vocal theme—an inclusion insisted upon by Shimomura—and was performed by Haruka Shimotsuki.[24][30] Shimomura's aim was to create an "emotionally heartrending song with a good tempo, but with parts that were both calm and graceful", resulting in her use of acoustic guitar, violin and accordion, alongside incorporating light piano into the entire track. Shimomura brought in Shimotsuki as they had met a few years before over choral work for another project. As the song required six voice tracks to be overlayed, Shimotsuki needed to sing a lot, but needed little to no direction from Shimomura about how to portray the song.[30] The violin was performed by Ayako Ishikawa, while the guitar work was by Hideyuki Yonekawa.[31]

The official soundtrack album, Radiant Historia Original Soundtrack,[c] was released through TEAM Entertainment on December 15, 2010.[32] Critical reception of the album was positive among music critics.[33][34] The game's reviewers also praised Shimomura's work.[35][4][36][2][7] Atlus produced a CD containing five piano arrangements of tracks from the game, including a piano rendition of "Historia". Titled Radiant Historia: Piano Selection,[d] it released alongside the game for the first printing.[37][38] The piano collection was suggested by Shimomura by Atlus. The core concept was for the tracks to be calm and soothing even if their original forms were more energetic.[30] The tracks were arranged for piano by Sachiko Miyano and performed by Febian Reza Pane.[39] The recording sessions were produced and supervised by Shimomura.[37] Reaction to the piano album was generally negative.[40][39]

Shimomura returned as composer for Perfect Chronology. In addition to keeping the original score, Shimomura composed a number of new tracks.[41] The soundtrack featured all the old and new music, in addition to arranged versions of multiple tracks including the original theme song "Historia".[42] A notable addition was the new opening theme "Falling Flower, Flowing Water",[e] which featured in the opening anime cutscene. Shimomura wrote both the music and the lyrics, while Shimotsuki returned as the singer.[41][43] The 2-CD soundtrack album, titled Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology Original Soundtrack,[f] is set for release on July 26, 2017 through Team Entertainment. A version of the soundtrack also came bundled with the game's Japanese "Perfect Edition".[41][42]

Reception

Reception
Aggregate score
Aggregator Score
Metacritic DS: 85/100 (30 reviews)[44]
Review scores
Publication Score
Destructoid 8.5/10[9]
Eurogamer 9/10[35]
Famitsu 34/40[45]
Game Informer 8.75/10[4]
GameSpot 8/10[3]
GamesTM 8/10[46]
IGN 8.5/10[36]
Nintendo World Report 9/10[2]
RPGamer 4/5[7]

The game was reviewed positively; on aggregate site Metacritic, the game received a score of 80 out of 100 based on 30 critic reviews. It was ranked as the third best-reviewed DS title of 2011.[44] The game's story received a great deal of praise for its handling of the time travel elements and dark tone compared to many other equivalent RPGs despite a few criticisms related to its handling of branching paths and the necessity of jumping between two timelines; Game Informer's Joe Juba said the narrative and its time travel mechanic "defies the predictability of traditional RPGs".[4] Its battle system was also generally praise for its mechanics and unique mechanics. A recurring criticism was the game's graphics, which were seen as low-quality for the DS hardware despite fitting the overall aesthetic.[g] Due to its premise and mechanics, multiple critics compared the game to classic role-playing games from the 16-bit and 32-bit eras, while also noting its bold choices compared to other recent RPGs.[9][35][46][4]

Sales

Upon its release, Radiant Historia debuted at #6 with 32,807 units, being the second highest new release following Fallout: New Vegas and selling through just under 44% of its initial shipment.[47][48] By the end of the year, the game had sold 56,540 units.[48] Upon its North American debut, the game reached the top of the Nintendo DS charts.[49] The following month, the game had dropped to #3.[50] Perfect Chronology debuted in Japan at #1, selling 21,429 units and pushing Nintendo Switch exclusive Arms to #2 after two weeks at the top of the charts.[51]

Accolades

In IGN's "Best of 2011" awards, the game was nominated for the "Best 3DS/DS Story"[52] and "Best 3DS/DS Role-Playing Game" awards.[53] Nintendo Life gave it an honourable mention for their Game of the Year award.[54] RPGFan gave it the "Best Traditional RPG" award (tied with The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky),[55] while editor Neal Chandran chose it as his pick for the "Best RPG" award.[56] Game Informer gave it the "Best Old-School Homage" award.[57] Samantha Nelson of The A.V. Club chose it as her staff pick for Game of the Year.[58] RPGamer chose the game as Third Place for the RPG of the Year award.[59]

Notes

  1. ^ Rajianto Hisutoria (Japanese: ラジアントヒストリア)
  2. ^ Rajianto Hisutoria: Pāfekuto Kuronorojī (Japanese: ラジアントヒストリア パーフェクトクロノロジー)
  3. ^ Rajianto Hisutoria Orijinaru Saundotorakku (Japanese: ラジアントヒストリア オリジナルサウンドトラック)
  4. ^ Piano Arenji: Rajianto Hisutoria (Japanese: ピアノアレンジ:ラジアントヒストリア)
  5. ^ Rakka Ryūsui (Japanese: 落花流水)
  6. ^ Rajianto Hisutoria: Pāfekuto Kuronorojī Orijinaru Saundotorakku (Japanese: ラジアントヒストリア パーフェクトクロノロジー オリジナルサウンドトラック)
  7. ^ Destructoid,[9] Eurogamer,[35] Famitsu,[45] Game Informer,[4] GameSpot,[3] GamesTM,[46] IGN,[36] Nintendo World Report,[2] RPGamer[7]

References

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  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Juba, Joe (2011-02-22). "Radiant Historia: Atlus Travels Back To A Golden Age". Game Informer. Archived from the original on 2011-02-25. Retrieved 2011-02-25. 
  5. ^ a b c Parish, Jeremy (2010-11-11). "Radiant Historia Gives Off a Distinct Chrono Trigger Vibe". 1UP.com. Archived from the original on 2012-12-10. Retrieved 2017-07-20. 
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External links

  • Official website (archived 2011)
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