Chrono Trigger was a role playing game for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System that exploded onto the scene in 1995, capturing hearts and critical acclaim while selling millions. As such, it only stands to reason that there would be those clamoring for a sequel — the executives at what was then a pre-Enix SquareSoft among them.
They would get it eventually in 1999’s Chrono Cross for the Sony PlayStation, at least on some level. Featuring a new cast and a theme involving alternate dimensions rather than time travel (which can be conflated, but that’s another discussion entirely), it proved to be somewhat divisive among fans, succeeding in providing a different experience while arguably not doing well to follow up on what some loved about the original game.
Before Chrono Cross, however, there was another sequel — or rather, a side-story — that was released in 1996 for the Satellaview add-on for the Super Famicom.
Chrono Cross is based on, or at least in some sense a remake, of Radical Dreamers: Nusumenai Hōseki (translated as “The Jewel That Cannot Be Stolen” or “The Unstealable Jewel”). It was made to complement the plot of Chrono Trigger, and wrap up some of the “unfinished business” in that game.
True to its name, the game is radically different from the somewhat more traditional role playing game which preceded it, featuring text-based visual novel style of gameplay, with the occasional instance where players will have to choose from a number of different decisions presented to them, ranging from something as general as “Fight” to something more specific, such as where on an enemy’s body you should attack with a specific weapon. Graphics and sound are minimal, while a musical score is provided by Yasunori Mitsuda.
At one point, it was considered for a retail release and for inclusion in the Japanese release of Chrono Trigger for the PlayStation as an Easter Egg, but those ideas were shot down by writer/director Masato Kato, who was unhappy with the quality of his work. Later, in Ultimania Chrono Cross, he would describe this work of addressing unfinished business as unfinished in itself, as it had been rushed through a brief and hurried three-month development cycle. As such, Radical Dreamers was effectively excised from Chrono canon by Kato, who seemingly feels that Chrono Cross is the idea done properly.
Radical Dreamers: Nusumenai Hōseki is an interesting bit of Satellaview ephemera, as it’s said to have not been designed to lock after a certain number of playthroughs, meaning anyone who downloaded and kept the files on one of the platform’s 8M Memory Packs should still be able to play it today. In addition, a group of fans managed to hack the ROM in order to provide an English translation that was released in April 2003, allowing the title to be playable for fans of the Chrono series to this day.