|Radical Dreamers: Nusumenai Hōseki|
Title screen depicting the Frozen Flame
Radical Dreamers: Nusumenai Hōseki (Japanese: Radical Dreamers –盗めない宝石–, lit. "Radical Dreamers: The Unstealable Jewel") is a Japanese video game produced by Square (now Square Enix) in 1996 for the Satellaview add-on for the Nintendo Super Famicom. It is a text-based visual novel in which the player takes the role of Serge, a young adventurer accompanied by Kid, a teen-aged thief, and Gil, a mysterious masked magician.
The game belongs to the Chrono series and is a gaiden, or side story, to the 1995 game Chrono Trigger. It was released to complement its predecessor's plot, and later served as inspiration for Chrono Cross. It features text-based gameplay with minimal graphics and sound effects, and was scored by composer Yasunori Mitsuda.
Radical Dreamers and other Satellaview titles were planned to be released at the Akihabara electronics district of Tokyo. Square also tried to integrate it into the Japanese PlayStation port of Chrono Trigger as an Easter egg. Writer and director Masato Kato halted both releases, unhappy with the quality of his work. Though the game was never officially released abroad, ROM hackers completed an English fan translation in 2003.
Unlike many Satellaview titles, Radical Dreamers was not designed to lock after a certain number of play-throughs, so players owning an 8M Memory Pack onto which the game was downloaded can still play today. Due to the rarity of such 8M Memory Packs, however, the game is one of the most expensive on the Japanese secondary market - listed as 13th most expensive game in Akihabara by Wired Magazine.
Gameplay consists of text-based scenarios presented to the player through the narration of the main character, Serge. As the narrative progresses, the game presents a list of possible actions and the player must choose his or her course. Depending on the choices made, the player may enter a new area, be presented with a new situation or character, or have to choose again if the previous selection was incorrect. In combat with enemies, the player must select from options such as "Fight", "Magic", "Run", and often more complex situational commands like "Run my knife into the goblin's chest!" or "Quickly slash at its hand!". Some decisions must be made before an invisible timer runs out; in combat, hesitation results in injury or death. Serge's health is tracked by an invisible point count, restored by various events (such as finding a potion). The game also tracks Kid's affection for Serge, influenced by battles and scripted events. Her feelings determine whether Serge survives the story's climactic fight.
Radical Dreamers features minimal graphics and animation; most areas are rendered with dim, static backgrounds. The game also uses atmospheric music and sounds. Like other Chrono games, Radical Dreamers contains a variant of New Game + mode. Only one scenario is available on the first play-through; after finishing it and obtaining one of three possible endings, players can explore six others. These later stories often feature comical situations or allusions to Chrono Trigger.
Characters and story
Radical Dreamers features three protagonists—Serge, Kid, and Magil—who seek out treasure as venturesome, reputable thieves. The young adult narrator, Serge, is a drifting musician who met Kid by chance three years ago in a remote town. Serge enjoys adventure with a carefree attitude. Kid, only sixteen years old, is a renowned professional thief with a reputation for boisterous behavior. Possessing a turbulent history, Kid dubiously fancies herself as a kind of Robin Hood. Magil is an enigmatic, handsome masked man skilled in magic who rarely speaks and can fade into shadow at will. Crowned by flowing, blue hair, Magil accompanied Kid well before Serge joined the group. They seek the Frozen Flame, a mythic artifact capable of granting any wish. It is hidden in Viper Manor—the home of a terrible and powerful aristocrat named Lynx, who gained control of the estate after usurping power from and killing the Acacia Dragoons, a familial unit of warriors.
Following Kid, the group infiltrates Viper Manor on the night of a full moon. While sneaking through the corridors, they battle goblins and other creatures of legend while unraveling the history of the manor and its occupants. Magil explains that the Frozen Flame is a fragment of the massive, extraterrestrial creature known as Lavos, splintered off when Lavos impacted the planet in prehistory and burrowed to its core. The thieves locate Lynx and the Frozen Flame deep within an underground ruin of the Kingdom of Zeal—an ancient, airborne civilization destroyed after it awakened Lavos in search of immortality. Serge discovers that Kid is an orphan, hoping to exact revenge upon Lynx for killing her caretaker, Lucca. Kid attempted to find Lynx in her childhood after Lucca's death, but was stopped and saved from certain defeat by Magil, who accompanied her thereafter.
The trio battle Lynx for the Frozen Flame, and Lynx gains the upper hand after trapping Magil with a powerful spell. He plans to acquire Kid's special gift from Lucca—a Time Egg, or Chrono Trigger. With a Time Egg and the Frozen Flame, Lynx boasts that he shall achieve control over time. Kid lunges at him, but Lynx easily parries her attack and wounds her. She desperately removes the Chrono Trigger from her back pocket. The Trigger shatters and causes a localized temporal distortion, leading Serge to see various scenes in history. Kid learns of her heritage as princess Schala of Zeal, a meek girl who was coerced to help awaken Lavos with her magical power. As Zeal collapsed, Schala was wracked with anguish and guilt for her role in the incident. Nearby in the Ocean Palace, the Frozen Flame felt her grief and changed her to a baby, sending her to the modern era where Lucca found her. It is also circumstantially revealed that Magil is in fact Magus, Schala's wayward brother who searched for her after battling Lavos in Chrono Trigger. Once the distortion subsides, an army from Porre—a large nation in search of the Frozen Flame—storms the mansion. Lynx withdraws as Kid, Serge, and Magil flee. Kid tells Serge that she is aware of her true origin, and knowing that is a treasure which cannot be stolen. She bids him goodbye before disappearing into the darkness with Magil.
- "Magil: Caught Between Love and Adventure" – Magil is actually a lifelong friend of Riddel who courts her. When the manor is alerted to his presence, Magil throws Riddel over his shoulder and dashes off into the morning sun as her proud father Lynx tearily bids goodbye.
- "Kid and the Sunflower" – Kid insults a lecherous sunflower who transforms her into a malicious monster. Serge must kiss her to change her back, or use a special dagger to take her soul at risk of his own soul's capture. Three endings are available.
- "SuperXtreme Alphacosmos Police Case EX Ultra" – Magil is a space cop searching for Lynx, secretly a green Martian creature with tentacles. Magil's rock guitar forces Lynx out of hiding, and Serge assaults him with a Martian Forest League Concealed Lesser Armament Bunny.
- "Homecoming: Shea's Light" – Kid learns that Lynx and her caretaker Shea are trapped in a magical seal as part of Lynx's effort to escape a spirit prison. Shea selflessly instructs Magil to destroy the Frozen Flame, killing Lynx forever.
- "The Enigmatic Gigaweapon: Paradise X" – Serge finds an odd crystal inhabited by an entity named Gange, who tests his strength with gladiatorial combat. Using Gange's Paradise X mecha, Serge and Gange challenge Mecha-Lynx for the Frozen Flame.
- "The Shadow Realm and the Goddess of Death" – Kid accidentally summons Lilith, the Goddess of Death. She tries to take Kid's soul, but Magil intervenes. The outcome is slightly affected by Kid's affection for Serge.
The music of Radical Dreamers was written by composer Yasunori Mitsuda, the artist who scored Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross. The soundtrack includes several ambient pieces, including the sound of water running in a fountain and wind accompanied by strings. Players can listen to the game's songs by accessing a hidden menu in the "Gil: Caught Between Love and Adventure" scenario. The tracks were never officially named by Square, though Demiforce provided names for the Radical Dreamers fan translation. They include:
- Summer Day
- Under the Moonlight
- Strange Presentiment
- Sneaking Around
- Snakebone Mansion
- The Girl who Stole the Stars
- Far Promise ~ Dream Shore
- Requiem ~ Dream Shore
- Frozen Flame
- Portal to Open Grounds
- Final Confrontation
- Epilogue ~ Dream Shore
- Ending ~ Le Trésor Interdit
Several themes and musical patterns were later adapted for Chrono Cross on the suggestion of director Masato Kato; many appear unchanged except for new instrumentation. Appearing in Chrono Cross are "Gale", "Frozen Flame", "Viper Manor", "Far Promise ~ Dream Shore" (as part of "On the Beach of Dreams ~ Another World", "The Dream that Time Dreams"), "The Girl who Stole the Stars", and "Epilogue ~ Dream Shore" (as part of "Jellyfish Sea"). Mitsuda also titled the game's ending song "Radical Dreamers -Le Trésor Interdit-".
Masato Kato wrote Radical Dreamers after Chrono Trigger's release, feeling that Trigger concluded with "unfinished business". He composed the main story and drafted the concepts for the sub-scenarios, leaving them to be completed by his peers. He allowed Makoto Shimamoto to write the entire "Kid and the Sunflower" segment, later joking that he "avoided having any part in that episode," while Miwa Shoda was in charge of the "Shadow Realm and the Goddess of Death" segment. Kato remarked that his "savage feelings" from Chrono Trigger's hectic development manifested in Kid's "unusually nihilistic attitude". He explained his approach towards the project in 1999:
|“||...due to the fact that this was a text-based game, the contents of the game ended up being rather serious and emotional. The game itself was a real life-or-death kind of survival adventure game. I think there was a feeling somewhere deep in my heart that said, 'I wanna try making a horror game!' But soon after that, they came out with Biohazard, so I quickly got over that phase (laughs).
...the comical sub-scenarios were written to be extremely comical beyond any measurement, so I think it sorta' balances out...But I can say that since this game wasn't expected to be widely sold on the market, and also since there wasn't any profit on our part, there was a feeling that I wanted to make this game out of my sole interest. In a way, I think that 'Radical' helped me to find my own path...But then again, I guess you could say that I strayed away from the paths of normal people.
Kato's team completed Radical Dreamers in only three months under a rushed production schedule, prompting him to label the game "unfinished" in an interview for the Ultimania Chrono Cross guide. He regretted that the schedule hampered the quality of his work, and explained that the connections to Chrono Trigger were evoked towards the end of the project:
|“||When I originally started working on Radical Dreamers, I never thought that it would have such an ending. We only had three months for development, and I was just making up the story while inputting data. When I finally realized the connection of the identities of Kid and Magil near the final stage of development, I even amazed myself, saying, 'So, that's who they were!?' (laughs) Also, since there were issues with the media, the connections between Radical Dreamers and Chrono Trigger were intentionally left blurred in the background so that it'd only be recognizable by those who would understand.||”|
Fan translation and notability
In April 2003, the ROM hacking group Demiforce released a fan translation rendering Radical Dreamers in English. The patch works by modifying the ROM image of Dreamers used for playing console-based video games on personal computers through emulation. The ability to save games was not enabled with the first patch, and some minor typos were left in, later remedied by successive releases. On Christmas Day 2005, Demiforce and Radical R released the final version (1.4) of the translation, which fixed remaining minor bugs. The French team Terminus Traduction made a French translation patch soon after.
A reviewer for Home of the Underdogs lauded the game's excellent writing and the "superb" English translation patch, noting that the "interesting plot" would appeal to fantasy fans if they could stomach the limited interactivity. Having never played a Chrono game prior, the reviewer stated, "I was still able to follow the story and be drawn into the world of colorful characters." While praising the replay value afforded by the extra scenarios, the critic derided the random battles of Radical Dreamers, writing that "RPG-style random combat doesn't translate well to [a] text-only medium." The website awarded Dreamers "Top Dog" status, and the game maintains a voter score of 8.95 out of 10.
Radical Dreamers preceded Chrono Cross, a full role-playing video game sequel to Chrono Trigger. Masato Kato cited the desire to "redo Radical Dreamers properly" as the genesis of Cross, attributing the latter's serious atmosphere to the influence of Dreamers. Chrono Cross borrowed certain thematic elements, story points, characters, music, and objects introduced in Radical Dreamers—including the infiltration of Viper Manor, the Frozen Flame, the name Radical Dreamers for Kid's thievery, and the characters of Kid, Lynx, and Serge (who became a non-speaking protagonist). Though these characters and items were not presented in the same context, their general traits survived the transition. Gil, confirmed by Kato to be Magus, was also going to be featured in Chrono Cross. This idea was scrapped due to difficulties in representing the story of Magus among the game's numerous other characters; the unrelated, enigmatic magician Guile was created instead. Since the release of Chrono Cross, Radical Dreamers is considered an alternate continuity of the Chrono series. Chrono Cross addressed this through an easter egg hinting that Radical Dreamers took place in a different dimension. In the English version of Chrono Cross, this easter egg refers to Gil as "Magil". A new Chrono series game has not been made due to the difficulty of reuniting the splintered Cross development team, some of which continue to work on Final Fantasy XI and Final Fantasy XIV, while others left Square Enix (then Square) after the completion of Chrono Cross to form Monolith Soft. Composer Yasunori Mitsuda stressed that "there are a lot of politics involved" in the creation of a new game, and that Masato Kato should participate in development.
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- Square Co.. Radical Dreamers. (Demiforce (fan translation)). Satellaview. (2005) "Serge: Not a single moment after I leap back, the iron ball smashes into the stone floor! I can't rely on this little knife to parry those huge morning stars. There's no way I'll survive, fighting like that! / Run my knife into the goblin's chest! / Quickly slash at its hand!"
- Chrono Compendium staff. "Radical Dreamers Love / Point System". Chrono Compendium. Retrieved 25 January 2008.
- Square Co.. Radical Dreamers. (Demiforce (fan translation)). Satellaview. (2005) "Serge: It's been something like three years since Kid and I met. Back then I was a drifter, wandering wherever my music led me. During my stay in the remote town of Regiorra, I ended up running into a girl who later joined me, leading to the beginning of all this."
- Square Co.. Radical Dreamers. (Demiforce (fan translation)). Satellaview. (2005) "Serge: I take a good look at myself and wonder if I've got any of that adventurer's spirit still left in me. I sit and look at my trusty knife collecting dust on the mantle above my fireplace, and think to myself, my days of traveling can't be over just yet. That old, familiar feeling of wonderment ensnares me as I vow to pack my bags tomorrow and set out for some new, exotic land, letting fate once again guide me wherever it wishes."
- Square Co.. Radical Dreamers. (Demiforce (fan translation)). Satellaview. (2005) "Serge: Not even seventeen years old, already she's widely renowned as a top professional. To make matters worse, she's cute, devilishly stylish, and has a sparkling personality. And boy, can she cook... if you ask her, that is. Well, to be completely honest, she has her share of problems as well. She likes to think of herself as a kind of Robin Hood, stealing from the rich and giving to the poor, but that's just not the case."
- Square Co.. Radical Dreamers. (Demiforce (fan translation)). Satellaview. (2005) "Serge: The top half of his face is covered with a mask at all times. I've never even seen what he really looks like. At times, it seems as though I'm hanging around someone from another world—traveling with this pack is definitely an interesting experience. Kid's quiet about her past too, but it's like I know her entire life story compared to how little I know about Magil."
- Square Co.. Radical Dreamers. (Demiforce (fan translation)). Satellaview. (2005) "Serge: This is the first time I've ever seen his true face. Even for a guy like me, I'm taken aback by his looks. His hair sways in the moonlight, as his piercing blue eyes survey the environment below. His beauty is different than a woman's... there's some sort of a fierce, intrepid quality about him."
- Square Co.. Radical Dreamers. (Demiforce (fan translation)). Satellaview. (2005) "Serge: Tonight, our goal is Lord Lynx's most prized possession, a scarlet jewel known as the Frozen Flame. Besides being priceless, some say this beautiful stone harbors some sort of mystical power. They say many people have sought after the Flame, but none have been victorious in stealing it. Viper Manor has claimed many lives..."
- Square Co.. Radical Dreamers. (Demiforce (fan translation)). Satellaview. (2005) "Magil: The Acacia Dragoons. They were once an elite force serving General Viper, a powerful man who used to rule the western territory of Gerzbuehle. They were defeated more than ten years ago, by the very hands of Lord Lynx. By the looks of things, we have apparently found their resting place."
- Square Co.. Radical Dreamers. (Demiforce (fan translation)). Satellaview. (2005) "Magil: The Frozen Flame is more than just an object. It's not of this world. It descended from the heavens long ago, part of a huge meteorite. Once, there lived a people who sought to harness its power, hoping to tap into their yet unknown potential. And so, it became a treasure of great importance and dreams."
- Square Co. Chrono Trigger. (Square Soft). Super Nintendo Entertainment System. (1995-08-22) "Magus: Behold. Everything's at the bottom of the sea. Gone is the magical kingdom of Zeal, and all the dreams and ambitions of its people. I once lived there... But I was another person then. ... / Magus: Unimaginable is the power of Lavos. Anyone who dares to oppose...it...meets certain doom."
- Square Co.. Radical Dreamers. (Demiforce (fan translation)). Satellaview. (2005) "Lynx: Surely you remember, the one you received from your sister, all those years ago... the priceless keepsake you carry with you dearly, even now...The Chrono Trigger!"
- Square Co. Chrono Trigger. (Square Soft). Super Nintendo Entertainment System. (1995-08-22) "QUEEN: Schala, raise the power of the Mammon Machine to its limit! / SCHALA: ...... / QUEEN: Schala! You dare to disobey me?! / SCHALA: All right, mother..."
- Square Co.. Radical Dreamers. (Demiforce (fan translation)). Satellaview. (2005) "Kid: Long ago, in a far off kingdom, lived a girl. Because of her power, the kingdom had come to an end, crumbling under its own weight. Many became engulfed in the temporal vortex that was created, never to be heard from again......But not the girl. She lived on, enduring a much sadder fate... Running from her past and fearing her future, she wanted nothing more than to be swallowed up in the surging waves of the vortex of time...Hating what she'd done, refusing what she'd said or heard, to simply continue living was her curse. But the stone, It had other plans for her...Turning back the hands of her clock, scattering her memories, she was granted another chance. Since the precious stone was in her possession, she carried with her all its will and power. And so, she was born into this era, returning to reality as a mere infant..."
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- Square Co.. Radical Dreamers. (Demiforce (fan translation)). Satellaview. (2005) "Kid: Lucca's Chrono Trigger was lost... we couldn't even get our hand on the Frozen Flame... but, it's okay... it's all okay, because tonight, in my heart, a shiny new treasure was born, Serge... the single most valuable unstealable treasure in the entire world." / "Knowing who I am... It's bigger than all this... bigger than Lynx, bigger than the Frozen Flame... and, nothing can take that away... not as long as I'm alive...""
- Chrono Compendium staff (2006). "Radical Dreamers Condensed Plot Summary". Chrono Compendium. Retrieved 2 July 2006.
- Square Co.. Radical Dreamers. (Demiforce (fan translation)). Satellaview. (2005) "Riddel: Magil? You're Magil? ...Did you once go by the name... Gilbert? Serge: Hearing that name, Magil takes on a look of shock. "Riddel? Is that you?" he says in a surprisingly vulnerable tone."
- Square Co.. Radical Dreamers. (Demiforce (fan translation)). Satellaview. (2005) "Gil: Serge, listen to me. The Mandora Monster has fused with Kid. We must save her quickly, otherwise she'll be lost forever, consumed by her own hate."
- Square Co.. Radical Dreamers. (Demiforce (fan translation)). Satellaview. (2005) "Serge: Magil turns to me, staring into my eyes with relentless honesty. He holds the bunny (The Martian Forest League Lesser Armament Bunny, mind you) out in front of him, saying "I entrust this to you. Please, if anything should ever happen to me, use it as I have...""
- Square Co.. Radical Dreamers. (Demiforce (fan translation)). Satellaview. (2005) "Serge: "Kid," Shea continues, painfully overcoming Lynx, "thank you for remembering me... however, I cannot return with you. Please, hear me... the Frozen Flame must be destroyed. It is through this that Lynx is able to slowly resurrect himself... Please, destroy it, and save yourselves... I will restrain Lynx in the meantime.""
- Square Co.. Radical Dreamers. (Demiforce (fan translation)). Satellaview. (2005) "Serge: Lord Lynx hops into the Mecha-Lynx combat robot, Frozen Flame in hand!"
- Square Co.. Radical Dreamers. (Demiforce (fan translation)). Satellaview. (2005) "Serge: "I am the Goddess of Death, a servant of the Shadow Realm," she answers. "My name is Lilith. Although in my current state, I realize looks can be deceiving. Having been summoned here, I took on the form of this young lady, Riddel, for my latest hunt.""
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