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Radical Dreamers

Text Adventure
  • 1996
B+ 3 total ratings
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A Text-Based Gem

A Radical Dreamers review Author: Andrew Farinella Published: January 05, 2005
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Near the end of the Super Nintendo's run, Squaresoft put out a game for the Satellaview, a Japan-only add on to the Super Nintendo. While the game would only show up in Japan, and also only being but a simple text adventure, it would grow to be one of the most sought after games for Chrono fans around the world.

Holy crap it's text!
Radical Dreamers was the first ?sequel? to the beloved Chrono Trigger game. Though it did not directly feature any of the characters from the original, it referenced to them as the game progressed. This game would later be adapted into Chrono Cross, the outstanding sequel for Sony's PlayStation. With its ties to Chrono Cross, it's difficult to review the game without mentioning the inspired version. Since this is not a review of Chrono Cross, I will try to keep any mentions of the game to simply references, such as characters and places. I will try not to compare the two, as that would be unfair to both titles, for while they similar, they are also different in many aspects.

In Radical Dreamers, you play as Serge, Kid, and Magil, a trio of wanders who break into the dank and odious Viper Manor. As you twist and turn your way through the manor, you encounter not only monsters out to cause you serious physical discomfort, but some fairly nasty traps as well. Using only your wit and powers of observation can you progress through the mansion. Your efforts will not go unrewarded, however, as the secrets of the manor, its inhabitants, and your own party slowly become aware to you and your ties to the Chrono universe become apparent.

Since the game is text-based, there is a lot of reading involved, and numerous menus to deal with. Although none are very intimidating, it is not suggested for players who have strong aversions to that four letter word that starts with R and ends with ?ead?. Granted, the game makes a small effort to give the player something to look at by providing still images for scenes, albeit they are nothing to be impressed by or to stare at longingly, pondering how they could accomplish such amazing feats of graphical engineering on what seems now to be such a inferior machine. The game itself would be no better or worse without these little pieces of eye candy, though it does sometimes add to the atmosphere the game tries to create.

Due to the length of the game, you only encounter one aspect of what would later become Chrono Cross, the infiltration of Viper Manor. This is the entire scope of the game, while it is but a small portion of Chrono Cross. Your passage through this house will reveal the true character of your various party members, including the environment itself.

Look at the pretty moon.
The characters are just as strong as they are in Chrono Cross. Each character bringing their own charm to the game. Since the game is completely text driven, a lot of attention had to be directed towards the interaction between the characters, and it works nicely. With the game being relatively short, the writers do a good job of creating believable characters. This is accentuated through the multiple endings, which I will touch on later. However, the strongest character would probably be Kid. While Chrono Cross is much more Serge's story, a lot of attention is given to Kid in Radical Dreamers. Given this, fans of Kid from Chrono Cross will definitely enjoy the game, as you may or may not learn something new about the rambunctious character.

As I said before, your adventures, though not riddled with endless fighting, will put you up against some naughty foes who have a strong disliking for you. Using the same text-based approach, your battles will be little more than a ?Choose Your Own Adventure?, with wrong choices causing you harm, and right choices hurting your opponent. With a bit of quick thinking and even quicker selections, you can down any monster who foolishly decides to brandish their various weaponry in your general direction. Also, the observant will quickly become aware of the various patterns for victory, and be able to breeze through any fight unscathed. Since the fighting has little variety to it, it can be tedious at times, especially when you are wandering around the large mansion trying to figure out what to do next. However, battles are not as common as one would expect. You could also call the battles ?random battles?, since that is what they are in essence, but they hardly feel the same as Final Fantasy-esque random battles, as you will not encounter more than one in any specific area at any given time. This along with the simple patterns for absolute victory make the fighting nothing to really groan about.

In order to keep the size minimal to ensure quick download times for potential gamers, the length of the game can seem unsettlingly short, especially if you are good at solving puzzles and the such. To help alleviate this and to also go in stride with Chrono Trigger, Radical Dreamers features a number of different endings. Based on your decisions in the game, you will arrive at one of seven different endings. All endings are worth the time to unlock, as they either shed new light on the characters or are just interesting to see.

This doesn't look good.
One of the greatest aspects of Radical Dreamers is the soundtrack. For those of you who have played Chrono Cross, Radical Dreamers is like a trip down memory lane in 16-bit format. A lot of the songs can be found in Chrono Cross, including ?Star-Stealing Girl? (entitled ?The Girl who Stole the Stars? on the Radical Dreamers soundtrack), and others. While the production of the music is much less than that of the soundtrack of Chrono Cross, the songs don't lose any of the beauty or impact. They make this game much more powerful than it probably would have been without the right music.

Through its text-based action and dark-yet-short story, Radical Dreamers is definitely not for everyone. Its charm lies in its connections to the classic RPG series. As the so-called father of Chrono Cross, Radical Dreamers is a wonderful romp through Viper Manor and the minds of some of the more interesting characters ever created for a video game. Its strong musical composition along with the impressive story-telling creates a world for the player that can stand strong without the aid of fancy graphics or ground-breaking visual effects. Though short, Radical Dreamers is a game not to be so easily passed up by any RPG fan, or any Chrono fan for that matter. This hidden gem which was until recently hidden away from the English speaking fans of the world is worth the time to play. Should ever a compilation be made of the famed Chrono series, this game should be right there along it's two more famous brothers.
Editor's Grade
dotted line "While not groundbreaking, this solid text adventure is like a hidden surprise for fans of the Chrono series and RPGs alike."
B+ dotted line Average Reader Score (Based on 3 ratings) | Rate it Now
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Vapid Buttmunch
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Member since June 11, 2003
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