Review by darkmage0707077

Reviewed: 09/19/05

No gameplay, no graphics, But Still Manages to Be Awesome

First off, I just want to say that this is a text adventure game. I repeat, a TEXT adventure. Though the game does have some graphics (i.e. window-dressing). I feel it is ludicrous to judge a TEXT-BASED GAME on GRAPHIC APPEAL.

The game's back-story is thus: a child happens upon his grandfather's old diary/journal. Upon obtaining permission from his mother, he begins to read of the exploits his ancestor had back in his hayday. The grandfather's name is Serge, and this would also happen to be the person you will "direct". Apparently, Serge was something of a rouge-wannabe back in the day, and is the newest recruit of a band of thieves called The Radical Dreamers. Well, more like a group actually, what with there being only two other members and all. Serge is OK, but not overly great with knives, and has a knack of keeping his leader out of trouble more often then not. The leader of this "gang" is Kid, a brash, tom-boyish girl of 17 who's a expert knife-handler, master thief, and gourmet chef (though you never get to see this). Serge has a huge crush on her, but what with his being klutzy with feelings, and her being about as demure as an alleycat, it'll take some work to pull off. The other member is Magil, a dark, brooding sort who happens to be the party mage (black, of course), and also fills the roll of
"mysterious-character-who-knows-way-more-then-he-should" quite nicely. As thieves, you go plundering stuff, and tonight, your glorious leader has selected the old Dragoon Mansion as your place of opportunity, with your target being the fabled Frozen Flame, a one-of-a-kind gem with all sorts of magic power. And the fact that it's worth a huge chunk of gil doesn't hurt, either. The gem is owned by the castle's current proprieter, the evil Lynx. The story BEGINS with you having just made it past the magic shield that protects the castle from all outsiders, and you now prepare to actually enter the castle.

Whew. As you can see, this game is plot-heavy. Go figure, considering it's a text adventure, which basically makes it a book with sounds on a screen.

So...what makes this a game? Well...not a whole lot, truth be told. It's more like one of the old Choose-Your-Path story books, where you choose one alternative in a set, and then go on to see what the outcome is. Such is the case here: after reading through the plot / scene descritption, you then choose what you want to do, and are told the outcome of that choice. That's it. That's almost all the "game" entails.

Alright, now that the "basic" explanation is over...ahem...now we get into the actual rating.

Text (graphics): _9_ (3)_ Since graphics are not a huge part of a text adventure, I decided instead to rate the game based on word-choice, grammer and prose. And I must say, the words are farely well written. The translating team did a first-rate job on this game, as just about every sentence flows along like a good novel. There are some minor spelling issues which can detract, but otherwise nothing wrong. The few graphics that do exist are also pretty decent, considering it's a 16-bit system, though sometimes one is confused about what's going on in them when the graphics are moving. The only real problem is that, for those not used to Text-games, the constant flow of textual information needed to describe everything can sometimes feel overwhelming. I'm an avid reader, and I still had to take a couple of rests just to absorb all the information scrolling down at me.

Plot: _10_ Yep, perfect score. First off, this is actually a love story. You heard me, it's a love story. Between Serge and Kid, of course (and sometimes, Magil, as well as other characters). How many genuine Romance Games do you see on the market AT ALL (Hentai doesn't count)? The fact that Romance Games are hard to pull off without turning into porn probably didn't make this easier. So points for doing something bold and new. But what gets the points for this one is it actually SUCCEEDS at it! You truly get attatched to the hard-headed Kid, the bumbling Serge, and the ever-watchfull Magil. It's a testiment to how good the plot is when, at the end, you find yourself actually CRYING for the characters, not because it's a sad story, but because you find yourself attatched to these poeple, and you know that they're going away, like old friends who are moving to a distant state/country. The character devlopment is extremely intricate, and a real reward for sticking with the game. Of course, if you're not big on plot, you'll probably hate this game, but why did you start playing in the beginning, then?

Control: _5_ It's a text game. You select one choice out of several. Sometimes you save or reload (often with an emulator). That's it. Though at the end, there is a time limit for choices...

Sound: _8_ Another point that really helps this game. No game can truly have atmosphere without sound and music of some kind, and Radical Dreamers succeeds admirably at this. Yasunori Mitsuda of Chrono Trigger fame has come up with some very original and sometimes very moving pieces. In fact, many were do good, they were simply remixed and put in for Chrono Cross later on (Star Stealing Girl, being a prime example). The music brings out the emotion of the situations, and the different battle mixes really get the blood flowing. The sounds are sparse and forgetable, however, with most of the audio power going to the music alone. Not that it matters much, considering most of the sound is used only in battle areas, which leads to the major shortcoming of the game:

Gameplay: _3_ Ah, the point where I'm actually disapointed in the game. As a novel with music, this piece does excellent. As a game, though, it falls on its face. The same interface used for the plot areas and navigation is used here: you choose from a number of set choices, each with a random good or bad outcome (though some are better then others). That's all battle entails, and whethere you come out alive or not depends on either luck, or your abillity to strategically save.

Did I mention saving? Ah yes, you can save at any point in the game except combat and plot scenes. Of course, most US players won't use this function, since you can only get this game translated by using an Emulator, and most of those have the wonderful Save State function. Since saving right before making a decission is far less frustrating then having to backtrack 3 or 4 scenes to the previous save because of a botched fight, most will opt to do the save state instead. In fact, since the outcomes of combat are randomly decided on the exact moment of choice, it's a simple affair to save at the choice, choose, then go back and keep going until the outcome's what you want. This way, players rarely, if ever, die from loss of HP. So out goes the gamelplay with that little cheat.

What's really frustrating is that the possibility of a decent combat system was actually possible: there ARE stats in the game, HP (how many hits you take, until you die), and Relationship (Kid's affection to Serge, affects final ending and plot points). Which means they could have added more, like Skill with Knives, Magic, etc. It would have been far more satisfying to build Serge up from a bumbling morron at the beginning to a skilled fencer at the end of the game, instead of the fights being random from beginning to end. Also more realistic, less frustrating, blah blah blah. Sufice to say, you don't "play" this game for the combat, you play it for the story.

Replayability: _8_ Surprised? Yes, this game has very good replayability for one good reason: after the FIRST game is over, you can then go back and unlock/play through alternate storylines (alternate realities in game terms), where it's an entirely different Serge, Kid, Magil, etc with 6 more endings to play through, a couple with multiple outcomes. And it's usually fun to go back and try all the goofy "couldn't be right" options just to laugh at the results (Kid's Measurements, anyone?)

Overall: _9_ Sure it has poor graphics and gameplay. For any other game, this would be a killer right there, and I would review no further. But this isn't about playing the game, but furthering the story and seeing the outcomes of your choices. To this end, Radical Dreamers surpases most other Text-based games by including wonderful sound, and even attempting a random battle system (even though it fails miserably at it), as well as giving replayability with multiple endings. All in all, a classic for anyone who likes story and romance.
...OK, now that I'm done with that, let's do the obvious thing, shall we?

The reason I waited until the end to do the Chrono Trigger, Chrono Cross thing is 2-fold: 1) it's been done repeatedly in other reviews already and 2) I wanted to TRY and evaluate this as it's own game, instead of as "the sequal/half-sequal to Chrono Trigger". Having done so to the best of my abillities, we'll begin the debate here.

This game is for Chrono Trigger Veterans. You can play it if you want, but without CT experience (and we're talking beaten with at least a few extra endings), some or all of the "inside jokes" (which there are plenty of) will go over your head entirely. So if you haven't played CT yet, my advise is to stop, buy/download it (yes, the rom's acutally legal now), and beat it, then come back later.

Chrono Cross veterans will have already noticed how most of the names in this game are duplicates of CC, and that's because they are. Or rather, CC's names are exact duplicates of RD (can't say characters because of Serge, dang it!). Basically, when Square went to make CC, Radical Dreamers was a little known game that most people and Japan and nobody in the US or Europe knew of. So they just ripped most of the story, characters, and even music from RD into CC, made some tweaks to the plot to make it original, added the pretty graphics and combat system that DIDN'T suck, and voi'la: Chrono Cross was born.

Now the controversy rages: is Chrono Cross the true sequal to Chrono Trigger, or Radical Dreamers? Well, if you go by date-of-creation, RD is the clear winner. If you go by most direct links to Chrono Trigger, Chrono Cross wins (though only because the plot isn't as narrowly focused as RD). If you go by in-game plot, though...both win. "WTF?!! How can they BOTH be the sequal?!! ArE YoU oN CrAck?!!1!" Yes it's possible and quite plausible, even. There's a wonderful guide on Game Faqs under CC called the Storyline FAQ which essentially tries to take both CT and CC, put the events in chronological order, and fill in plot inconsistencies that are left, including where RD fits into these. Go read that if you want all the fun details (and a brain seizue or two trying to figure out all the non-linear linear timelines), but they boil down to this: Chrono Cross deals with alternate realities in which Serge and his universe were split into multiple parts of the same being in different instances (called Dimensions). Radical Dreamers has 7 endings where the same characters go through radically different events, and even have different charactersitics and backstories. So it stands to reason that RD might simply be MORE versions of Serge like those in Chrono Cross. So what happened to them? When the Dimensions were healed, the dimensions all mirged back together again. This would probably include all the ones in RD. So, like I said, both are in-game sequals because they both happen at the same time, but in different dimensions. (wee!) For more details, go to the above faq.

Simply put: this game is a great love story with many CT references and some "THAT's where that's from!" moments for CC fans. A must-play for any alleged fan-boy, so long as you're prepared to sit and READ (and IMAGINE) a story for the duration, instead of actually PLAYING a game.

Rating:   4.0 - Great

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