Review by Bkstunt_31

Reviewed: 02/06/13

Not what Chrono Trigger fans wanted, but a good read nonetheless.

Chrono Trigger and to a lesser extent, Chrono Cross, are huge games with huge fan followings. However, if you ask most of their fans if they know what Radical Dreamers is you'll likely get a blank stare. Not that there's anything wrong about that. After all, Radical Dreamers was only released in Japan in 1996 through the Sattelaview add-on for the Super Famicom. Man, that was a mouthful, but it explains why most American fans have no idea what Radical Dreamers is.

The Sattelaview had a bunch of Chrono Trigger items released for it. I say "items" because most of it was either mini-games or compendiums... not really games. Radical Dreamers was a game though, but not in the traditional sense. It was really a text adventure, or visual novel. Despite it being Japanese-only, it did receive a fan translation to English so we can all play it today if we wished. It should also be noted that Chrono Cross drew a lot of inspiration from Radical Dreamers and, with its own plot, pretty much guaranteed that Radical Dreamers isn't canonical. Anyway, enough of the history lesson, let me tell you what you can expect out of Radical Dreamers.

The story features a band of thieves out to steal a treasure from a place called Viper Manor owned by a powerful man named Lynx. This treasure is the Frozen Flame, a powerful artifact with ties to Chrono Trigger. The band of thieves is composed of a young, notorious thief named Kid, a powerful magician named Magil, and your character, Serge, who will be narrating and experiencing your entire adventure. It is evident early on that Kid has some sort of personal vendetta against Lynx and as you sneak around the manor you'll learn her motivations as well as how the story as a whole ties into Chrono Trigger.

Being a visual novel, the story is the single most important part of this game, as it should be. It should also be no surprise that the game is very text-heavy. Those who dislike reading shouldn't even think about playing this game. The level of detail in the text and descriptions is impressive though. Serge never hesitates to describe the atmosphere of his surroundings and always pays attention to details which helps turn the game from an adventure into an experience. I highly enjoyed the narration and script as a whole. I will say that due to the game play you will re-hash some of the script, but as a whole the story's quality is high and the narration is entertaining.

Radical Dreamers does have some game play to it, in a "Choose your own adventure" sort of way. As you sneak around the mansion you will randomly run into all sorts of enemies, ranging from goblins and demons to more paranormal enemies such as poltergeists. This is when you'll battle. During battle you'll have to choose from a list of things to do. Certain actions are better than others and may hurt your or the enemy, although I will note that even the results of the actions you choose are random. The game doesn't have a TON of enemies and as you play more and more you'll likely run into the same enemies over and over again, which of course includes the same text and actions. This just displays how random and variety often butt heads.

To beat the game (beat meaning hear all of the story), you will have to follow a certain sequence of events, which basically means you'll need to find certain items to get further inside the Manor. You'll also have rare instances throughout the game where your choices can increase or decrease your affection rating with Kid, which determines what ending you'll get. That's pretty much it for the game play. Very simplistic.

The game's graphics are also very simplistic, since they are mostly static screens. The screens aren't awfully detailed especially when compared to the amount of detail in the text, but they do their job well. There is some animation in the game, but it's pretty simplistic and doesn't match the action at all. Characters in the story are rarely seen. Graphics are obviously the least-worried about issue in the game.

The soundtrack to the game was composed by Yasunori Mitsuda, also known as the man who scored Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross. Those tracks are absolutely epic and are some of the best video game sound tracks out there, so it's no surprise that Radical Dreamers has some good tracks. Tracks like "Day of Summer", "The Girl Who Stole the Stars" and "Frozen Flame" are outstanding. However, the game as a whole doesn't have a lot of tracks (around 15 or so), and easily half of those are atmospheric pieces that play as you explore. I've found that atmospheric pieces as a whole aren't very memorable but one, "Under the Moonlight", really stood out to me. In the end the audio in the game was a treat and I"ll likely listen to Day of Summer for many years to come.

Radical Dreamers isn't awfully long. You could beat it in a day if you tried, although it may take multiple games if you play it in a trial-and-error fashion. Like Chrono Trigger, Radical Dreamers has multiple endings that you can check out once you beat the game. These endings are triggered by your choices on a second play through and often include humorous outcomes. The game keeps track of which endings you've seen. The re-playability is pretty impressive for such a short title.

Overall: 8/10

Overall, if the Chrono series is something you're into and you don't mind the Visual Novel style you should definitely check out Radical Dreamers. The story is interesting and impressively detailed while the music is fantastic. The graphics may be disappointing, but this is still a solid text adventure that the Chrono fan should not miss out on. Have fun and keep playing!

Rating:   4.0 - Great

Product Release: Radical Dreamers: Nusumenai Houseki (JP, 12/31/96)

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