NuMetalManiak Reviews: Radical Dreamers and Suikogaiden

NuMetalManiak
So at the end of RPG Review #44 I said I was gonna look at some visual novels or something. Well, here they are. Two of my favorite RPG series, Chrono and Suikoden, have these two visual novels, both Japan-only releases, so of course I look for the fan-translations. But I say it's worth it for some interesting stories. Now for those that are not familiar with visual novels, especially these ones, is that there barely is any gameplay at all. So there's not a whole lot of stuff to actually do, as the narration and dialogue take their course. These two visual novels are more of the "Choose Your Own Adventure" type of game, especially in the case of Radical Dreamers. There are often branching paths between the routes taken.

Radical Dreamers: The story in Radical Dreamers is a side story to Chrono Trigger, which ended up being a major inspiration from Chrono Cross. In fact, key characters from Chrono Cross make their appearances here. This visual novel for the Super Famicom was supported by a peripheral known as Satellaview, which I didn't really care for when playing. This game actually does have random encounters like some RPGs, but the actions your character takes are text-based, so with knowledge they are flawlessly beaten. Your character has health points, and CAN apparently die in a battle if he takes too much punishment.

Plot: The main plot has three characters: Serge, Kid, and Magil, all infiltrating Viper Manor to get the Frozen Flame from Lynx. Sounds real familiar doesn't it? Serge and Kid eventually become characters in Chrono Cross. Serge in Radical Dreamers is significantly different, as he's no silent protagonist this time around. He's dressed like some apprentice wizard or something and is a goofball at times. Kid is the same thief, except she wears green. The new guy, Magil, is a stoic fellow with a cape and a mask. He's implied to be an amnesiac Magus, and any Chrono Trigger fan loves Magus.

So the main plot plays out, and the player guides them all looking for clues for the Frozen Flame, getting into some trouble along the way. It's sort of like those point-and-click adventures in that it's just characters moving to and from places to solve puzzles. The trio does eventually fight Lynx at the end of this, only for an army of Porre to come in looking for the Frozen Flame too. Everyone withdraws, and it's basically a written story. But then again, this being a Chrono game, there are multiple endings! And I had the time to do them! A lot of them are joke scenarios though.

Some of them include Magil being known as Gilbert and a long-lost lover of Riddel (different Riddel than the one in Chrono Cross), in a lovey-dovey scene, an ending where Kid insults a greedy sunflower and gets more than she asks for (three endings available for this scenario), a totally not serious rockin' scene with giant octopus aliens, bunnies, and Magil being known as Mick Van Jovi, a very gruesome ending involving killing Lynx entirely, a weird mage known as Gange with a secret weapon which results in an epic robot battle, and a Goddess of Death intervening. Really strange stuff. There's even a few bonus content as well. I wanted to make sure to see it all. Overall though, Radical Dreamers is quite an interesting visual novel, good for the Chrono Cross fans, although the gameplay may not be of the type.

Suikogaiden: Obviously, this is a side-story to the Suikoden series. It takes place during and after the events of the popular Suikoden II title, but before the events of Suikoden III. Suikogaiden is split into two volumes, volume 1 is Swordsman of Harmonia, and volume 2 is Duel at Crystal Valley. The main character from both is Nash Latkje, one of the usable characters in Suikoden III. He is an improvisational mastermind, able to use what he has at hand, very slyly too. His main weapon is Grosser Fluss, two very unique snake-like swords, but he tries not to use them in that he can't distinguish his targets when he does. The way this visual novel plays out is entirely storyline, with several points awarded based on branching choices, which can impact future prospects for Nash. This game also utilizes previous save game data, so I loaded my Suikoden II save for Suikogaiden Vol 1., then when I finish that, I load my Suikogaiden Vol 1. save onto Suikogaiden Vol 2. There are a ton of cameos of previous characters and I'll name them in bold along the way.

Plot: Suikogaiden Vol 1.
Chapter 1: The Visitor
Nash's main companion here is Sierra Mikain, the keeper of the Moon Rune. Nash himself is on a mission from Harmonia to find out about the true runes (those runes that are heard oh so often in the entire series, especially in III). They come across an eerie mansion and stay the night, but have to fight the undead to get by. Nash spars off with either the katana-wielding maid or the Wolverine-like butler depending on the choice picked here. Sierra and Nash reach their destination where Sierra tells Nash of Rean Penenberg, a dying man whom Sierra turned into a vampire. At this destination, they confront and eventually remove the life out of Rean, and Sierra leaves off.
Chapter 2: Reasons
Now Nash is at Muse, sharing a room in Leona's inn with Templeton and having a drink with Viktor and Flik nearby. Around this time, the city is on edge because the Suikoden II heroes attempted to enter the city illegally, but Nash is fine. A number of cameos can occur here, meeting Kinnison, Shiro, Clive, Hauser, Annallee, or Hanna depending on progress. Then Nash meets the mute Pilika and Nanami. He figures out what to do to infiltrate highland, and yet at the same time, Riou and Jowy also do their mission in a strange coincidence. After a possible cameo from Maximillian, Nash is posing as a soldier at the Highland camp, trying to learn of secrets when the commotion that Riou and Jowy become a part of happens. At this point Jowy is captured while Riou escapes, as per the events in Suikoden II. Meanwhile, Nash encounters Jillia Blight in her tent, then the mad prince Luca Blight comes in to bicker. Then Rowd comes in with Jowy and Luca entrusts him with a dagger, which explains how Jowy ended up killing Anabelle in Suikoden II. Nash closes the chapter by freeing Jowy and receiving more information.
Chapter 3: A Place to Return To
So Nash is now wanted by Highland and Seed and Culgan, two of Highland's generals, are after him. Two possible branching points here, the most common one involves not jumping a bridge. Here Nash duels with Elza, who for those familiar with Clive's story, is his main target. Nash pulls a folly to avoid anyone dying, then they confront a golden wolf from the Beast Rune. Afterwards, Nash fights Seed and Culgan again, and it ends in a draw. The other path involves hopping the bridge (taking up all the luck points). Hoi offers Nash a horse and Wakaba becomes his traveling companion. A lot of forks here, and a ton of cameos, such as Ayda, Hix, Tengaar, Badeaux, Mazus (called Mathers for some reason), Adlai (his elevator invention is just these giant dudes raising a big platform, haha), Shilo and Gaspar playing a somewhat violent game of Chinchirorin, Raura, and Bob in werewolf form. A silly little branching point.
Chapter 4: War's End and Beginning
Eventually Nash finds himself in Greenhill, well before the main hero of Suikoden II ever got there. He meets the innkeeper Yuri, and is set to meet Teresa. While doing so, his main antagonist, Zaj, is after him, and has him locked in Greenhill for the time being. Therefore, he helps Greenhill out as a military commander (a false ending can be achieved here if he does not do this). He gets the entire civilian population in on the act, with help from Shin, Nina, Emilia, Jeane, Jude, and Connell. Some cameos from Kahn Marley, Stallion, and Georg Prime can happen here. Although fending off Rowd's initial highland attack, the rescued Muse soldiers come in and screw things up by begging to be treated right. This sets up the stage for what the main hero will see once he gets there in Suikoden II. Nash eventually leaves, but not after allowing Teresa to go into hiding.
Suikogaiden Vol 2.
Chapter 1: Pride
On his way back to Harmonia Nash ends up in a village with the circus trio; Rina, Eilie, and Bolgan; the Lampdragon Trio; Gijimu, Lo Wen, Koyu; and the knights Camus and Miklotov. They all work together to fend off the leader of the Keepers of the Flame, or as Suikoden III players would know, the Fire Bringer. But this Flame Champion is a fake though. They tend to Camus's wounds with a childhood friend Maki, while they fight off this fake guy, and Gilbert makes a cameo. The fake guy is revealed to be former Matilda Knight Clant.
Chapter 2: Caleria
In this town that will be known in Suikoden III, Nash is arrested by Lena Suphina, and to be summarily executed by acting commander Barge. Of course, Nash will not have this, and comes up with a plan to sneak out. He may or may not get food along the way and may or may not give it to a kobold slave. Either way, once he gets to his equipment, he fights Wang, a.k.a. Joker, at the end.
Chapter 3: Wild Dragon
Another major branching path. The normal one involves Nash seeing Bright and being introduced to Futch and Humphrey. A wild black dragon attacks the village but is fended off by Oulan. Sheena comes in and asks for the rescue of a girl named Jonah, and they all go to slay the dragon, much to Futch's chagrin. The dragon does survive though, so it's not as bad. The other path requires all of Nash's luck, and has him meet Meg, Millie, and Gadget in the forest, lost. Viki falls from the sky and tries to teleport, leading Nash all over the place seeing more Suikoden cameos. Including Tony, a grown-up Yuzu, an older version of Meg, the narcississt group (not gonna bother with their names), the main heroes from Suikoden II (Riou talks!), Valeria and Anita, Lorelai and Killey, Tir and Kasumi, (Tir talks a lot too!), Sheena, Apple, and Oulan in another forest, and the younger Viki. It's a ditzy side-adventure all thanks to Viki sneezing, and Nash has had enough.
Chapter 4: The Final Truth
This last episode has Nash finally returning to the capital of Harmonia, Crystal Valley, where he tells Lena his story of him and Zaj, before he ends up dueling Stella, a young messenger. After immobilizing her, he confronts Zaj and his gunners at an old church. Getting past the henchman, he finds Zaj tougher than he realizes, but thanks to Lena and her information that she received from Julia (Nash's sister), plus a cameo from Sasarai, Nash is able to defeat Zaj once and for all. Unfortunately, Nash decided not to come home to his sister after all.

Well I gotta say, this certainly is a fun side-story to the Suikoden franchise, one that even ties up some loose ends. That's especially true for the first volume, the second volume basically sets the stage for the rest of Suikoden III's plot. A fun two visual novels if I'd say. Now I should get back to the RPGs.

Comments

Nice review. Have you heard about the visual novel Fate/stay night? - ModernSpongeBobSucks

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