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A bit of history for you. In 1996, Square Soft (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 Houseki (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 many, many 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 Magil is actually Magus from CT, on his search for Schala. Yasunori Mitsuda, who composed the much-lauded soundtrack to CT, also composed the music for Radical Dreamers.
Fast-forward four years to 2000 when Square's Play Station 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). The creators have said that RD is a sort of (yet another) alternate dimension to the Canon Chrono Cross. In fact, in Chronopolis the party can actually find a terminal that repeats the introduction to RD 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.
This visual novel provide examples of:
- A-Cup Angst: Never comment on how small Kid's breasts are or you'll suffer the consequences.
- Action Girl: Kid
- Aliens and Monsters: The SuperXtreme Alphacosmos Police Case EX Ultra scenario.
- Animated Actors: Again, part of the weirdness of the The SuperXtreme Alphacosmo... ah, that scenario.
- 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*
- The Atoner: Radius
- Canon Dis Continuity: Averted in an unusual way - due to the Chrono multiverse containing a nigh-infinite number of possible realities, Chrono Cross relegates the events of Radical Dreamers to an alternate dimension.
- Couldn't Find a Pen
- 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 bids you goodbye and runs off in another direction.
- 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 combined powers allowed Kid to remember her life as Schala.
- Family-Unfriendly Violence: Many of the battle scenes are described in surprisingly graphic detail.
- Framing Device
- Gratuitous French: The title, and some of the in game menus are in french for no particular reason.
- 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. Radius has clearly lost his marbles, but he's not violent at all.
- In the Hood: Serge.
- Keep Circulating The Rom: A necessity for a game that was only released in Japan, for an obscure Super Famicom Add-on.
- 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.
- 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...
- No Export for You
- 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 importatly the Chrono Trigger.
- Painting the Fourth Wall: The SuperXtreme Alphacosmos Police Case EX Ultra scenario.
- Piranha Problem
- Plant Person: The Mandora monster.
- Plot Lock: Not even our infamous thieves seem to be able to open a locked door whithout the key...unless the particular scenario doesn't require you to look for the key.
- Plucky Girl: Kid
- 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.
- The Reveal: Kid is Schala and Magil is Magus.
- Schrodinger's Gun: To an epic extent in the alternate stories. Characters wind up being revealed as completely different people, etc.
- Satisfied Street Rat: Kid, to a degree. She's quite proud of her reputation as a thief.
- Shout-Out: One of the books you read in the library is Frank Herbert's Dune. Another is The Gunslinger.
- Star-Crossed Lovers: Kid and Serge, in the main story.
- Soul Jar: Magil's white jewel in the Kid and the Sunflower scenary
- Space Police: The Universal Detective Mick Van Jovi.
- Storybook Opening: It all starts with Serge's grandson opening his grandfather's diary. As other examples of this trope, it all ends with the diary closing too.
- 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.
- The Grim Reaper: Lilith and Magil, at least in the Shadow Realm scenario.
- Time Travel: Schala travelled to the current era as Kid. Technically, because she was turned into a baby and sent back in time by the power of the Frozen Flame, it could also count as both Reincarnation and Fountain of Youth.
- Treasure Room
- Two Guys and a Girl
- 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.
- Unobtainium: The Frozen Flame and the Chrono Trigger.
- What Do You Mean It Wasn't Made on Drugs?: The SuperXtreme Alphacosmos Police Case EX Ultra scenario. Seriously.
- Yamato Nadeshiko: Riddel
- You Killed My Sister: The reason Kid bears a grudge on Lynx.
- Yasunori Mitsuda