Review by Koalyak
Reviewed: 04/18/03 | Updated: 04/18/03
A whimsical game for players with imagination.
Many players of the games Chrono Trigger and especially Chrono Cross will have heard of this side-story, previously available only through the Satellaview accessory for the Super Famicom. Thanks to the translatory efforts of a few people, many non-Japanese speakers are now able to experience this delightful game, and are in for quite a treat -- Radical Dreamers is one of the most captivating games I've played for quite a while.
Some players will be dismayed to learn that this game is driven entirely by text, with graphics consisting mostly of still pictures and small animations. Those graphics are quite good for their part, but nonetheless those who shy away from books will probably find little pleasure in this game. For the rest of us, it's an enjoyable change from the ordinary, and may be quite unlike any game you have encountered before. Events are narrated by the main character, Serge, who, while long-winded at times, usually offers a sufficiently interesting storytelling to keep the player reading and not simply skipping through text. Choices made by the player range from mere navigation (''Enter the right passageway'') to much more detailed interactions with other characters, objects, and so on. If you've ever read one of those choose-your-own-adventure books, you'll have a pretty good idea of what this game is like.
The story ties in with both Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross -- not very closely, but there is a number of characters and elements from both games. The main protagonists include Serge and Kid, both central to Chrono Cross, as well as the mysterious Magil, who is said to have a relation to a certain character in Chrono Trigger. Most of the game takes place in the Viper Manor, which should be familiar to any player of Chrono Cross. It's important to note that the game is actually composed of seven different scenarios or adventures, six of which are unavailable until completion of the first. The first scenario seems to compose the main storyline, while the others are mostly just spin-offs or parodies, some of them being quite wacky. Each one is relatively short, but together they offer several hours of playing time, and each is interesting enough or amusing enough to keep you playing until completion. The game may be summed up as short, but sweet. A minor complaint is the fact that it can get repetitive to perform some of the same actions in each scenario, but it does not occur too often, and so is entirely excusable.
Though the game is not combat-oriented, battles certainly exist. The battle system, if it can be called that, is very unique: much like anything else in the game, the battles are narrated in great detail by Serge as they go on. Unlike most games, random battles actually tend to contribute to the story rather than breaking its flow. While none of the enemies are difficult, there may be some tense moments as Serge becomes cornered by a monster's relentless attack, usually to be rescued at the last moment by either Kid or Magil.
The game's music is composed by the legendary Yasunori Mitsuda, and thus it goes without saying that most of the tracks are very memorable, a few of them also appearing in Chrono Cross. Many of the story's more emotional moments are virtually upheld by the music, and it does a fine job. The sound effects, on the other hand, are nothing at all to brag about, consisting mostly of generic thumps and screeches. However, they are never annoying, but actually quite appropriate and even amusing at times.
Replay value can be considered high or low, depending on your viewpoint. On the one hand, many different choices can be made throughout the different scenarios, each of them having at least slightly different results. On the other hand, these minor decisions do not usually have a great impact on the flow of the game, and nothing truly new will be experienced by playing the same scenario over. Still, it may be worth it to play each scenario at least twice, just to see the characters' different reactions to your choices.
Overall, Radical Dreamers is a marvelous game, and certainly deserves to be played by anyone with an interest in its Chrono cousins. Unfortunately, those who are not fond of much reading will quickly lose patience. Otherwise, it's a worthwhile experience for anyone who can get his hands on it.
Rating: 4.0 - Great
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