Chrono Cross Remaster deserves a review, but don’t skip the radical dreamers

More than two decades after the original PlayStation version, Chrono Cross is finally seeing the light of day again with Chrono Cross: The Radical Dreamers Edition. It’s a great tech-level remaster, offering an exact copy of the original but with the option to play improved visuals including clearer text, revised visuals, and new portraits. The rest seem to have jumped straight from 1999 into our fancy 4K TVs, giving them the look objectively appropriate for a momentary vagrant.

Chrono Cross, despite its age, is worth playing today for a number of reasons – among them She got an amazing IGN score in 1999. The praise that our review then gave for elements like the thrilling story and the great combat system almost held up fully with the remaster, save for a few performance issues that can be overlooked on the Switch. As a classic RPG from Square Enix greats Masato Kato (Chrono Trigger, Xenogears, Final Fantasy XI) and Yasunori Mitsuda (Chrono Trigger, Xenogears, Shadow Hearts, and tons more), Chrono Cross is definitely worth a visit or revisit all on its own, especially because It wasn’t easily available without access to an old physical copy or PlayStation Classics. But the real jewel in the Radical Dreamers collection’s crown is the one that can be ignored despite being in the title: Radical Dreamers itself, the text-based adventure bridge game between Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross.

Radical Dreamers are a mysterious beast that’s somehow out of place and time than Chrono Cross, and their inclusion in this 2022 re-release is a pleasant surprise, because its existence isn’t something you’d likely know about, unless you’re a die-hard Chrono fan online. Radical Dreamers is a text-adventure game originally released in 1996 for Satellaview, a Japanese-exclusive Super Famicom terminal game for downloading games and other media through satellite broadcasting. satelliteview Their channel seems to have around 100,000 subscribers sometime around 1997, a great number for the satellite company behind it, Saint Giga, but it’s a minuscule number for Nintendo, which was producing it. This means that perhaps less than 100,000 people in Japan have played the Radical Dreamers game in its original form, a dwindling number compared to Chrono Trigger, his venerable predecessor who It said It sold two million copies in its first two months and went on sale in Japan.

The Chrono series as a whole has had a strange life since SNES. Chrono Cross was well received when it first launched on PS1, but it wasn’t a direct sequel to Chrono Trigger, and many fans still hope it will. His ties to Chrono Trigger are odd, with many fan-favorite characters receiving implied off-screen endings and some not mentioned at all. Chrono Trigger fans wanted a clearer connection between the two, which is exactly what Radical Dreamers offered… if they could get their hands on it, which many of them couldn’t easily do. Which is why releasing it along with the Remaster is so exciting.

An incomplete dream of another world

The story of The Radical Dreamers follows three thieves: Serge, Kid and Magil, trying to infiltrate the maze-like Viper Manor and steal a strange jewel called Frozen Flame. The gameplay is entirely based on choice, as the characters can decide the actions for the Serge as the trio encounters monsters, traps, and other obstacles throughout the mansion. Certain paths will take Serge into the game, and after defeating the Radical Dreamers there are multiple alternate endings to unlock in the true Chrono spirit.

For those who come to the radical dreamers of Chrono Cross, it may come as a surprise to discover that Serge and Kid’s characters and backgrounds differ greatly from their more common appearances, particularly with the ways in which Kid’s story again relates to Chrono Trigger more vividly than in The Cross. . In fact, Radical Dreamers’ links to Trigger events and characters such as Schala, Lavos, Magus, and Lucca are more straightforward and different in degree than the results of the more popular sequel.

Such a short, unfinished business as Radical Dreamers ever released is astonishingly rare in the industry.

But even in providing some clarity to the story, According to director Masato KatoThe Radical Dreamers were, in and of themselves, an unfulfilled dream. Cato says it initially came out almost like a standalone movie, put together in just three months. Although initially not intended to be a Chrono Trigger follow-up, Kato eventually chose to continue the story of Magus and Schala, in order to “correctly tie up the loose ends”. But Kato considered the work half-finished, and went further Suggests he stopped it It was included alongside the release of the Chrono Trigger DS in 2008 as a desire to review it. Such a short, unfinished business as Radical Dreamers ever released is an amazing rarity in the industry, with games being canceled so frequently and easily for so much less.

[Some spoilers for how Chrono characters do and don’t appear throughout Trigger, Cross, and Dreamers are referenced below, skip ahead to the next paragraph if you don’t want to be spoiled!]

Although Kato did not return to reviewing dreamy radicals, he did revisit some of the unfinished plot points again in Chrono Cross, particularly those relating to the nature of the coveted Frozen Flame gem at the heart of both Radical and Cross plots. But characters like Kid, Serge, and Lynx undergo massive transformations between the two. Magil, which provides an important link between Radical Dreams and Chrono Trigger, has been seemingly erased in favor of the elusive but relatively occasional Guile in Cross. Shala herself almost completely disappears to the ends although the entire plot of the three games, technically, revolves around her role. Chrono Cross may be the complete dream (Or closer to it, anyway) was conceived in Radical Dreamers, but without the context of Radical Dreamers, much of his plot seems like a strange diversion for a straightforward sequel.

Not over as Cato felt, these story gaps left fans hungry for more Chrono, and Radical Dreamers delivered it during the Satellaview era…and beyond. Distributed from the Demiforce ROM hacker group on the web, the comma ROM with fan translation is easy enough to get loyal fans looking for more from the Chrono universe, but not obvious enough to be mainstream. As a text-based adventure, Radical Dreamers might have struggled to gain mainstream attention had it been more widely disseminated, however, as the genre was already dwindling by the late 1990s in favor of more visually-aware worlds.

Chrono Cross: The Radical Dreamers Edition Screenshots

But perhaps it was precisely this evasiveness that made it so attractive to a quieter distribution. By reading the latest rumors about an upcoming game for Chrono fans, searching wikis awash with Chrono lore, or staring longingly at Square Enix’s latest trademark filings, an unsuspecting adventurer might eventually find his way to downloading Radical Dreamers. Its haunting and retro maze will fill in the strange gaps between Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross while also promising a solution that Cross never offered. With the years going by and no official re-release ever coming out, Radical Dreamers has almost become a strange ARG, or hidden secret with a fan game aura – baffling and mysterious in a way that could captivate Chrono fans who seemed hard enough for it.

Now, in 2022, it’s finally real and available, even as a physical copy, ensuring that it can’t easily disappear into Internet rabbit holes again. The catchy and mysterious quality it once held may have waned now that it’s earned Kato and Square Enix’s blessing to appear on a box cover, but Radical Dreamers are no less important to Chrono fans as a result. Where Chrono Cross disappointed some by not being the straight-forward sequel many fans wanted, Radical Dreamers was always meant to be and is embraced as the uncanny proposition that it was and still is. It exists both as a satisfying puzzle piece missing from Chrono Trigger while also raising a lot of questions itself, making Chrono’s world more appropriately mysterious than it used to be. Kato may never have revisited it properly, but the additions he still makes to the Chrono universe are great in their own right.

Chrono Cross has long deserved itself as a remaster to keep the classic, critically acclaimed game playable for as many as possible on current platforms. But playing Cross without Radical Dreamers when they are both readily available again is an imperfect experience. Historically, chronologically, and narratively, there is no Chrono Cross without a trio of Radical Dreamers, and it’s a victory for game-keepers and Chrono fans alike to see their full story finally be celebrated with the remaster’s release.

Rebecca Valentine is a news reporter for IGN. You can find it on Twitter Tweet embed.