Radical Dreamers: Nusumenai Houseki ("The Jewel That Cannot Be Stolen") is a "visual novel" game developed by Squaresoft and released by St. GIGA in Japan in 1996 on the Super Famicom Satellaview download service. Like most games released via the Satellaview system, Radical Dreamers has never been released outside of Japan.
The game was originally intended to flesh out and extend the story of Chrono Trigger, but due to writer/director Masato Katou's dissatisfaction with the work, the game was struck from the Chrono series continuity. However, many elements of Radical Dreamers would go on to be integrated into Chrono Cross, the official sequel to Chrono Trigger.
The text-based adventure gameplay experience is enriched with art by Yasuyiki Honne and a score composed by Yasunori Mitsuda. The story of the game was largely penned by Masato Katou who also contributed to the stories of Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross.
The gameplay in Radical Dreamers is very reminiscent of "Choose Your Own Adventure" novels and older text-based adventure games. The story is told in a first-person style through the eyes of the protagonist Serge. In the tradition of the text-based adventure game, the player is presented with choices about what actions to take at many points in the game. These choices often involve deciding on which direction to travel, what actions to take during enemy encounters, and miscellaneous interactions with the environment.
The gameplay is fairly relaxed with most scenarios allowing the player to proceed regardless of what actions are chosen for Serge. In certain situations though, primarily enemy encounters, not responding within a certain time or making a bad choice can lead to Serge being injured or dying. HP is tracked by the game, but it isn't displayed in any sort of meter. Instead, Serge's condition is revealed by the way he describes how he feels and any injuries he has incurred after each combat scenario. Serge's HP can be restored at several points by doing things such as finding a potion or being licked by the "Mouth of Truth". Kid's relationship with Serge is also tracked throughout the game, and it plays a major role in deciding how the end of the game plays out. Serge's relationship with Kid can be improved by doing things such as being decisive and protecting Kid in battle, and the relationship can be damaged by acting cowardly and just in general doing things that upset or embarrass Kid.
Random encounters, a mainstay of most Square RPGs of the era, were carried over into this title. At many points, Serge and his party will happen upon random enemies such as gryphons, goblins, and skeletons. In addition to this, there are many boss style encounters throughout the game.
After beating the game once, there are six additional scenarios that can be played through. Most of these stories are just for fun and are intended to brighten up the otherwise dark and serious tone of the game. A number of these scenarios also feature allusions to Chrono Trigger. Additionally, a Music Test also becomes accessible after the first playthrough.
Plot (Main Scenario)
In the opening of the game, a young child is given an old dusty notebook that his mother found while cleaning out closets. The child begins to read the book and discovers that it is actually a journal that belonged to his long-lost grandfather in which he chronicled his adventures. From here, the player is thrust into the role of the boy's grandfather, Serge, as he and his partners in crime, the young street smart Kid and the mysterious mage named Magil, together known as The Radical Dreamers, stealthily approach the famed Viper Mansion under the light of the full moon. Deep within the mansion lies a legendary treasure known as The Frozen Flame which is said to have the power to grant wishes. However in order to get to it, the gang knows they will have to get past the estate's proprietor, Lord Lynx, and whatever traps and baddies he may have deployed throughout Viper Mansion's labyrinth of corridors.
Many years prior to Serge and his fellow thieves' attempts to plunder the mansion, it was home to a man named General Zorander Viper, ruler of the western lands of Gerzbuehle, along with his lovely daughter Riddel. Along with his personal guard known as the Acacia Dragoons, General Viper made many military conquests, including a victory over the state of Guardia where he came into possession of The Frozen Flame. Sir Lynx, then a powerful aristocrat, befriends Viper and moves into his mansion. Once there, Lynx and a traitorous member of the Acacia Dragoons stage a violent coup which ends in the death of General Viper and all of the Dragoons. Lynx proceeds to throw the Acacia Dragoon's traitor that helped him seize power into the mansion's dungeon. Lynx also begins to forcefully court Riddel, keeping her locked away in her room so that she can't escape. Wary of attempts to infiltrate the mansion, Lynx enlists an army of assorted demons and goblins to defend the grounds. It is roughly ten years after these events when Magil, Kid, and Serge decide to attempt their incursion of the manor to obtain The Frozen Flame.
While exploring Viper Mansion, the Dreamers come into possession of an ancient sword that Magil recognizes as The Einlanzer, a holy sword forged alongside the demonic Masamune by the great blacksmith Melchior. The sword later saves the crew from a spiked ceiling closing in on them in the mansion's torture chamber. The party also meets Vera, an old spy from the southern region of Porre that infiltrated the Acacia Dragoons long ago but was driven to hiding in the mansion's clock tower when Lynx began his coup. She says that her homeland had been planning an assault on Viper estate for a long time, and that it's very likely that they still plan to assault the mansion at some point.
In the mansion's prison, Serge and the party discover the man that betrayed General Viper many years ago, (who bares some striking similarities to Radius from Chrono Cross) barely alive after years of neglect in his prison cell. In an attempt to atone for his wrongdoings, the old man informs the party that Viper's daughter Riddel is still alive and being held in captivity. In addition he also informs the Radical Dreamers about the secret passage that leads into the lower chambers of Viper Mansion where The Frozen Flame and Lynx are both likely to be found.
Throughout their adventure through the mansion, minor bits of info about the pasts of the members of The Radical Dreamers are revealed. Kid was left orphaned when she was young and took to stealing to survive. Magil and Kid met up while she was still very young, and he has served as her protector and fellow thief for many years. Serge was just a wandering musician struggling to get by prior to meeting up with Kid and Magil.
Serge discovers that Kid is driven by a deep seeded desire to exact revenge upon Lynx, but the reason remains unclear to him early on in the quest. Magil also remains an impenetrable blue-haired white-skinned enigma for most of the adventure.
Continuing through the mansion, the crew find Riddel locked away in her chamber. She tells them about the origin of the old man in the prison cell and some other useful information about Viper Mansion. Fighting their way through the mansion's elite Goblin security force and the mansion's many traps, the Radical Dreamers eventually make their way into the lower chambers of the mansion where they discover the ruins of an ancient city. Among the ruins, the team encounters Lord Lynx, who is in possession of The Frozen Flame.
Lynx explains to the party of thieves that they are standing in the ruins of the Kingdom of Zeal, a magical ancient city which fell from the sky many millenia ago due to the awakening of the immensely powerful Lavos. Zeal's Princess Schala survived the destruction of her Kingdom and came to feel a great sense of guilt over the event. She felt so guilty that she wished that she were dead. A shard of Lavos, which would later come to be known as The Frozen Flame, granted Schala's wish by scrambling her memories, turning her into an infant, and transporting her thousands of years into the future. In the modern era, this infant version of Schala was adopted by a woman named Lucca who named her Kid. Lucca bestows upon Kid a mysterious artifact known as a Time Egg. Lucca also tells Kid about her desire to one day find the lost Frozen Flame and bury it with one of her old friends (this may refer to Crono).
When Kid was around 10 years old, Lynx burned down their entire village and killed Lucca in an attempt to locate the Time Egg. Ever since then, Kid's main goal in life has been to avenge Lucca's death and fulfill her wish of burying The Frozen Flame with her old companion. One can also infer some possibilities about Magil's identity from this information as well. It is possible that given his strikingly similar appearance to Magus, that Magil actually is Magus, who discovering the fate of his sister Schala decided to time travel to the modern era and watch over her.
Lynx reveals that the reason he sought the Time Egg was because by combining it with The Frozen Flame, he would be granted control over all of history. A great battle ensues between the Radical Dreamers and Lynx for control of The Frozen Flame and Kid's Time Egg which she wears on a string around her neck. Just before being struck down by Lynx, Kid passes the Time Egg to Serge, and it explodes in a great light which transports Serge into a dimension outside of time where he sees his entire lifespan spread out before him. He springs back to reality just as Lynx is about to deliver a death blow to Kid. However, by pure chance, the Porre army storms into the ruins at that exact moment and Lynx retreats and disappears. Magil uses his magical abilities to envelope the ruins in darkness to provide cover for Kid, Serge, and himself to escape.
Upon escaping, Kid reveals that all of her memories as Schala had been restored and that she was unsure about what to do with such a huge revelation about her past. Kid and Serge share a moment and then part ways with Kid and Magil wandering off together into the darkness leaving Serge alone. He records the occurrences of that night in his personal journal which many years later would be discovered by his grandson.
After beating the game once, there are six additional scenarios that can be played through. Most of these stories are just for fun and are intended to brighten up the otherwise dark and serious tone of the game. They are not meant to expand the fiction in any way and should not be considered as canon. The scenarios are all accessed by starting a normal game and then deviating off of the main path in a very specific way.
Magil: Caught Between Love and Adventure
Accessed by falling asleep in the woods, following Kid to the mansion, examining the desk in the study, and then going to Riddel's room.
In this scenario, it is revealed the Magil is actually a man named Gilbert that fell in love with Riddel many years ago and exchanged vows with her. Upset to learn that Riddel has seen suitors in his absence, Magil throws Riddel over his shoulder and runs away with her. All of the occupants of the mansion, including Lynx, meet them out in the courtyard and exchange a teary eyed goodbye.
Kid and the Sunflower
Accessed by falling asleep in the woods and then checking out the sound in the woods.
Kid insults an old sunflower that spitefully turns fuses her body with a Mandora Monster. Serge is faced with several choices on how to deal with the situation each of which result in a different ending. By kissing Kid, she reverts back to her normal form and the monster part of her turns into an immensely valuable seed which Kid destroys out of anger because Serge kissed her. Serge can also stab Kid with a magic dagger that transfers Kid's soul into a white gem. The reverse is also true, Kid can stab Serge with the same dagger and transfer his soul into the gem. In either case, the person in the gem then begins to contemplate what new body they would like their soul to inhabit.
SuperXtreme Alphacosmos Police Case EX Ultra
Accessed by falling asleep in the woods, following Kid to the mansion, and then looking at the painting in the study of the Martian landscape.
Words can barely describe how bizarre this scenario is. Magil is actually a Universal Detective named Mick Van Jovi who for the past 500 years has been trying to track down Lynx who in reality is an infamous Martian criminal in disguise. Mick pulls out a guitar and portable amp and starts wailing on it to lure out Lynx who reveals that he crash landed 500 years ago and has been trying to repair his ship's fusion reactor, The Frozen Flame, ever since then. Mick transforms into a mech and tries to capture Lynx, but Lynx is able to pin Mick under a giant boulder. Mick instructs Serge to use a weapon known as a "Martian Forest League Concealed Lesser Armament Bunny" to destroy Lynx's ship. Unfortunately, Lynx is able to get away on his pedal powered escape pod, but Mick and the rest of the Radical Dreamers are dedicated to pursuing him wherever he goes.
Homecoming: Shea's Light
Accessed by falling asleep in the woods and then investigating the light in the entrance to Viper Mansion.
The Radical Dreamers notice a strange spirit seems to be wandering around in the mansion. They discover a secret passage that leads them straight to a chamber holding the Frozen Flame. After obtaining it though, they become trapped in the mansion. The Dreamers stumble upon a room where Lynx is surrounded by a ring of light. He says that he was murdered by an assassin long ago and sealed his soul in the Frozen Flame and asks that Kid return it to him. A spirit named Shea reveals herself and explains that the ring of light is actually a prison that Lynx has been sealed in to prevent him from devouring any more souls and that the only way to kill him is to destroy The Frozen Flame. Magil uses his magic to destroy the Frozen Flame and finally defeat Lynx.
The Enigmatic Gigaweapon: Paradise X
Accessed by falling asleep in the woods, following Kid to the mansion, entering the store room, trying to enter the vault, inquiring about the key in Lynx's quarters, and then immediately returning to Lynx's quarters after getting the key and pushing through the wall.
Kid and Serge get sucked through a hole in the wall to a dimension created by a mage named Gange. Kid is transformed into a cyclops and Serge is transformed into a gladiator, and they are forced to fight in a Colosseum style sporting event. Magil is eventually able to pull the two of them back into the real world, and they continue exploring the mansion until they find themselves in a final battle against Mecha-Lynx. Gange helps Serge, Kid, and Magil by giving them the ultimate weapon, Paradise X. Magil unleashes the ultimate attack of the Paradise X, the Infernoblast, which defeats Lynx. The crew leave the mansion together to pursue other treasures.
The Shadow Realm and The Goddess of Death
Accessed by falling asleep in the woods, following Kid to the mansion, and then looking at the bookshelf in the study.
As a joke, Kid writes Lynx's name in a book in the study labeled "The Book of Death". This inadvertently has two effects. First, it kills Lynx and solidifies his soul into The Frozen Flame. Second, it summons Lilith, the goddess of death, back into the physical realm where she is free to terrorize the world like she did several hundred years ago. Magil orders Lilith to return to the Shadow Realm, but she refuses and the two begin an epic struggle. Kid and Serge manage to escape from the foray, leaving behind Magil and moving on to new adventures.
Relevance to Chrono Series
Radical Dreamers isn't officially part of the Chrono series, but it should be clear to anyone that plays it that it has strong ties to both Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross in many ways. Radical Dreamers was originally intended to tie up some of the loose ends from Chrono Trigger, particularly the fate of Schala. In addition to Schala though, many other characters from the Chrono series are referenced. Serge and Kid, two of the main protagonists of Radical Dreamers, are also two of the main characters in Chrono Cross. It is suspected by some that Magil is in fact Magus, however this is a source of some debate as the evidence is rather circumstantial. Purely based on aesthetics though, Magil and Magus look nearly identical. Chrono Trigger's Lucca is said to have been Kid's foster mother. It is also stated in the game that Lucca gave Kid a Time Egg (also known as a Chrono Trigger) as a gift when she was young. Lynx, who serves as the main antagonist of Chrono Cross, fills the same role in Radical Dreamers.
In addition to character references, several places and events are also referenced that tie the game to the Chrono series. Porre, Acacia, and the Kingdom of Zeal are all referenced in Radical Dreamers. In addition, it is mentioned that the Kingdom of Zeal was responsible for the awakening of Lavos who proceeded to destroy the Kingdom which is consistent with the events of Chrono Trigger. Viper Manor, where the main scenario of Radical Dreamers takes place is also a location featured in the main plot of Chrono Cross.
While Radical Dreamers was struck from the continuity of the Chrono series, certain aspects of it were used as inspiration for the offical sequel to Chrono Trigger, Chrono Cross. Serge, Kid, and Lynx all appear in similar capacities in both Radical Dreamers and Chrono Cross. The infiltration of Viper Manor to retrieve the Frozen Flame, essentially the entire plot of Radical Dreamers, is also a significant plot point in Chrono Cross. As a nod to the game, the band of thieves that Kid belongs to in Chrono Cross is called Radical Dreamers. Also, many of the songs from Radical Dreamers were adapted for use in Chrono Cross. In addition, the final theme of Chrono Cross was titled "Radical Dreamers" as a tribute to the game.
Following the release of Chrono Trigger, Masato Katou penned the script for the main scenario of Radical Dreamers in the hopes that it might serve to tie up some of the loose ends left at the end of Chrono Trigger. Katou also drafted the basic concepts for the additional scenarios, but the responsibilty of completing them was left up to others on the game's development team.
Due to pressure from the publisher, Radical Dreamers was completed on a rushed time table in only three months. Katou later stated in interviews that he felt that this had a severe impact on the quality of the final product. There were plans to re-release Radical Dreamers as a hidden bonus in Final Fantasy Chronicles, but Katou insists on calling the game "unfinished" and has refused to let the it be re-released in any capacity.