Visual Novel: Radical Dreamers

A bit of history for you. In 1996, Squaresoft (now Square Enix) released Chrono Trigger, a phenomenally successful RPG for the Super Nintendo. A sequel to Chrono Trigger was in the works for a while, but not in the way people might have expected. Rather than another console RPG, the sequel surfaced in the Japan-only Satellaview add-on for the SNES. This little device allowed players to download content and games, in a remarkably prescient precursor to current trends for home consoles, over ten years later.

One of the games Square released for the Satellaview was Radical Dreamers: Nusumenai Hōseki (The Unstealable Jewel). This is actually a Visual Novel, with mainly ambient music and dark, mysterious background images. Although there are no controls other than hitting the A button to select choices, there is a sort of pseudo-battle system involved, where the player must select actions to battle enemies, despite not having any visible Hit Points. It is possible to die this way. (And other ways as well.)

The story involves a trio of bandits, the titular Radical Dreamers, consisting of Serge, the protagonist, who follows Kid, a young girl with a short temper, and Magil, a mysterious magician, as they break into Viper Manor, home of the imposing Lord Lynx, on a quest to steal a treasure called the Frozen Flame. On the surface, it has nothing whatsoever to do with Chrono Trigger, except that we later find that the adoptive sister Kid seeks to avenge is Lucca from Chrono Trigger. Yasunori Mitsuda, who composed the much-lauded soundtrack to Chrono Trigger, also composed the music for Radical Dreamers.

Fast-forward four years to 2000 when Square's PlayStation era was well underway. A full-blown sequel was announced for the PSX, called Chrono Cross. However, rather than being a brand-new game, it built off of elements from Radical Dreamers. This included plenty of shout outs, such as Viper Manor, Lynx, and the Frozen Flame, and lots of remixed music, including the main theme (which became the Alternate Universe theme, as opposed to the Chrono Trigger main theme which was the Home Universe theme). Despite the influence, Chrono Cross suggests Radical Dreamers is a (yet another) alternate dimension in the Canon; in Chronopolis, the party can actually find a terminal that repeats the Radical Dreamers introduction verbatim and the characters comment on it. In addition, the ending theme is called "Radical Dreamers: Le Tresor Interdit", a rough translation of the full title of the original.

RD contains one "main" story and, once it's finished, the ability to branch it off into seven wildly different stories which range from poignant to ridiculous.

Three years later, in 2003, a fan translation was created, allowing English-speakers to play Radical Dreamers for the first time on an emulator. The translators did their best to keep as many Chrono Cross aspects as they could, including the English names and Kid's Australian accent.

More info on The Other Wiki.

Radical Dreamers provides examples of the following tropes:

  • A-Cup Angst: Never comment on how small Kid's breasts are or you'll suffer the consequences.
  • Accidental Pervert: In the main storyline, Serge pulls Kid behind cover in the library as a guard approaches, accidentally feeling her up in the process and putting her face dangerously close to his for a few moments.
  • Action Girl: Kid
  • Aliens and Monsters: The SuperXtreme Alphacosmos Police Case EX Ultra scenario.
  • Alternate Universe: It is briefly implied in Chrono Cross that the events of Radical Dreamers took place in an alternate dimension.
  • Animated Actors: Again, part of the weirdness of the The SuperXtreme Alphacosmo... ah, that scenario.
  • Apocalyptic Log: What the book Serge is writing turns out to be if you get a game over.
  • Berserk Button: See A-Cup Angst.
  • Bishounen: Magil, as revealed in one of the side stories available in New Game+. Even the (male) protagonist is stunned.
  • Body Horror: The atrium in the Shea's Light scenario... *shrugs*
  • Broad Strokes: Replaced by Chrono Cross as the official sequel, but a Chronopolis computer implies the events still happened somewhere.
  • The Atoner: The imprisoned old man with an uncanny resemblance to Radius from Chrono Cross.
  • Canon Discontinuity: Averted in an unusual way - Chrono Cross seemingly relegates the events of Radical Dreamers to an alternate dimension (as stated by characters who inspect the monitor displaying a diary excerpt), and also believed due to the Updated Re-release of Chrono Trigger suggesting that the Chrono multiverse contains a nigh-infinite number of possible realities.
  • Continuity Cameo: Examining the purple book at the front of the library reveals a report of the Neo Epoch (or "Neo Silbird"), better known as the time machine used by Belthasar in Chrono Cross. Of course, Kid will think it's trash and scold Serge for not locating the book they need right away...
  • Couldn't Find a Pen
  • Creative Closing Credits: Depending on the scenario, aspects of the credits may change - the birds may become UFOs, or one or more of the heroes might be missing from the cliff shot.
  • Darker and Edgier: Significantly so compared to Chrono Trigger, paving the way for Chrono Cross to inherit a similar tone.
  • Death Trap
  • Dem Bones
  • Did Not Get the Girl: In the main storyline, Kid is grateful for Serge's help yet overwhelmed with the sudden rush of her past life's memories. Sensing that the forces of Porre (noted to be a fairly large country that governs the southern continent) are on their trail, she bids Serge farewell for now to keep him out of it, with Magil solemnly motioning not to follow them.
  • Dub Name Change: Not counting the Fan Translation, there is one official change in the Chrono Cross text cameo - Magil was originally simply "Gil" in the Japanese version (no relation to "Guile", who is instead "Alf" in reference to "Alphard/Alfador").
  • Easter Egg: The Fan Translation added two of them, accessible after beating the game and selecting a hidden choice in one of the alternate scenarios: a music test, and a hidden sequence reenacting the opening to Zero Wing.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Mandora Monster after it gets fused with Kid.
  • Everything's Squishier with Cephalopods: Lynx, in the scenario in which he's an alien.
  • Exposition Beam: The Chrono Trigger and the Frozen Flame's combined powers allowed Kid to remember her former self.
  • Family-Unfriendly Violence: Many of the battle scenes are described in surprisingly graphic detail.
  • Framing Device
  • Goblins
  • Golden Ending: At least two scenarios have their own, separate golden endings, alongside one to two other bad endings.]
  • Gratuitous French: The title, and some of the in game menus are in french for no particular reason.
  • The Grim Reaper: Lilith and Magil, at least in the Shadow Realm scenario.
  • Hand in the Hole: The Mouth of Truth.
  • Haunted Castle: Viper Manor. Hands down.
  • Healing Potion
  • Heartwarming Orphan: Kid.
  • Humongous Mecha: Mecha-Lynx from the Paradise X scenario.
  • Insane Equals Violent: Averted. The old man has clearly lost his marbles, but he's not violent at all.
  • In the Hood: Serge.
  • Lethal Joke Item: The Martian Forest League Concealed Lesser Arm...Arma..Armamen... uh, the bunny.
  • Locked Door
  • Madness Mantra: The old man in the jail kept mumbling and asking for forgiveness.
  • Magic Mirror: There's one in Viper Manor.
  • Magitek: The Hyper Magic Cannon.
  • Man-Eating Plant: The sunflower plant in one of the alternate stories.
  • Master of Illusion: Gange.
  • Naked Freak-Out: In one of the endings for the "Kid and the Sunflower" scenario, Kid ends up nude after being returned to normal. Although Magil puts a golden cape on her to cover her up, she realizes that Serge and Magil saw her naked, and loses her shit, beating the crap out of poor Serge (Magil having hightailed it out of there specifically to escape her wrath).
  • Nested Story: The stories you have to tell to Esmeld, which are told inside the Radical Dreamers story which is being read by Serge's grandson from his grandfather's diary.
  • Nobody Here But Us Birds: Too bad Kid doesn't know what a "heckran" sounds like...
  • Nonstandard Game Over: Verging on an alternate bad ending, though it doesn't unlock the other scenarios the first time through. If you fail to save Kid at the end of the initial scenario, rather than the usual ending theme playing over the credits, Star Stealing Girl is heard instead, and none of the three heroes will be standing on the cliff as the birds fly by.
  • Nostalgic Narrator: "Do you still remember...? How we first met, and all of our adventures since... It all seems like such a dream nowadays... You were a piece of a star that fell from the sky..."
  • Nothing Is Scarier: A lot of the atmosphere comes from this.
  • Ominous Pipe Organ: in the ballroom, accompanied with a music track special for it.
  • Orphan's Plot Trinket: Kid carries a couple of these, more importantly the Chrono Trigger.
  • Piranha Problem
  • Proper Lady: Riddel
  • Plant Person: The Mandora monster.
  • Plot Lock: Not even our infamous thieves seem to be able to open a locked door without the key...unless the particular scenario doesn't require you to look for the key.
  • Plucky Girl: Kid
  • Posthumous Narration: If you die in the game, Serge's diary ends with the words "And so, I died."
  • The Power of Love: This is the only thing that can reverse Kid back to normal in the Sunflower scenario.
  • Power Trio: Kid is the Id, Magil the Super Ego and Serge the poor guy trapped in the middle.
  • Relationship Values: One is kept for Kid, which you can gauge by how she reacts to Serge after battles.
  • The Reveal: Three or so, which tie this game with Chrono Trigger
    • Kid's adoptive sister who Lynx killed is Lucca.
    • Kid has the Chrono Trigger, entrusted to her by the late Lucca.
    • Kid herself is strongly implied to be Schala, reborn in Lucca's time via contact with the Frozen Flame.
    • Magil is similarly implied to be Magus, especially going by his intimate knowledge of the northern magical kingdom (most likely Zeal) and his unusual familiarity with the legendary Masamune (and his rocky relationship to its owner), although several of the Multiple Endings seem to go out of their way to contradict this.
  • Schrödinger's Gun: To an epic extent in the alternate stories. Characters wind up being revealed as completely different people, etc.
  • Satisfied Street Rat: Kid's quite proud of her reputation as a thief.
  • Shout-Out: The books in the library are full of them, with references to Dune, The Gunslinger, The Silence of the Lambs, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and others.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Kid and Serge, in the main story.
  • Soul Jar: Magil's white jewel in the Kid and the Sunflower scenery
  • Space Police: The Universal Detective Mick Van Jovi.
  • Storybook Opening: It all starts with Serge's grandson opening his grandfather's diary. As with other examples of this trope, it all ends with the diary closing as well.
  • Stupid Sexy Flanders: Magil under his mask, very much so, at least in the Kid and the Sunflower scenario. When Serge accidentally knocks the mask off he ends up being captivated by Magil's beauty for a minute, even though they're in the middle of a fight against what's probably the most powerful opponent in any scenario of the game with Kid's life in mortal danger.
  • Time Travel: Schala (or someone with suspicious similarity to her story) travelled to the current era as Kid. Technically, because she was turned into a baby and through time by the power of the Frozen Flame, it could also count as both Reincarnation and Fountain of Youth.
  • Treasure Room
  • True Love's Kiss: In the Sunflower scenario, this is one of the ways to stop the Kid!Flower. The other way is to stab her with a dagger that kills her, but preserves her soul. Play the battle just right (or wrong), and Serge gets stabbed with the dagger, but still manages to kiss her.
  • Two Guys and a Girl
  • Unobtainium: The Frozen Flame and the Chrono Trigger.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Some of the "joke" choices you're given make Serge do assholish things, like trying to stab Kid with the Einlanzer sword when you enter the torture room again.
  • Video Game Perversity Potential: Some other joke choices fall under this. For example, you can make Serge ask the Mirror of Whispers what Kid's measurements are note .
  • You Killed My Sister: The reason Kid bears a grudge on Lynx.
  • You Don't Look Like You: This game being a predecessor of sorts to Chrono Cross, the characters in the game look nothing like they do in Cross. Instead of being an actual anthropomorphic Lynx, Lynx looks more like a human with a cat-like facial features. What little we see of Serge and Kid is also entirely different from their designs in Chrono Cross.
  • You Lose at Zero Trust: The only things determining your survival at the end of the main scenario are how quickly you can press the A button, and if or if not Kid is fond of you.