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The Dreamers is TTL's version of Rareware's vaporware game Project Dream, mixed with elements from OTL's Banjo-Kazooie. The game can be described as “OTL Banjo-Kazooie heavily impacted by the success of Tales of The Seven Seas”. In that sense, the success of Tales Of The Seven Seas, along with the increased technical capabilities of TTL's Ultra Nintendo, led to the game being much closer to Project Dream than it ever was in reality. The game's production values are exceptionally high, the graphics are noticeably better than Super Mario Dimensions and Goldeneye 007, and at the time of its release is considered the best looking console game ever made. The music, composed by David Wise and Grant Kirkhope, is a mix of whimsical themes and epic instrumentals, and is considered one of the best soundtracks ever featured in an action game. The game features full voice acting in gameplay and in cutscenes, and though the cast is largely comprised of mostly British unknowns (of the cast, only Parminder Nagra, who plays the voice of Madera, goes on to do anything else major later on), the voice acting is also highly praised. The game is focused less on collection and more on action and combat and exploration, with larger, more open worlds and a more open mission structure. You still have to collect items like puzzle pieces to advance in the game, but instead of collecting a bunch of them over the course of the entire game, you collect a few at a time to advance from mission to mission. The combat system is much more complex than OTL's Banjo-Kazooie, and is in fact closer to OTL's Kingdom Hearts (though with much less RPG elements and without a lock-on system). Essentially, the main character of the game, Edison, travels primarily with two other characters: his friend, a girl named Madera, and then another character, an animal companion. While Edison and Madera fight conventionally with swords and other weapons, the animal companions have different fighting styles depending on who you choose. Tiptup the turtle is more defensive, Banjo and Kazooie fight with a more melee style, Dinger the dog is a quick attacker, Pipsy casts shields and heals, etc. Also, each of the game's eight animal companions has a special ability that can help you advance in the world, some can smash barricades, some can unlock doors, some can steal items, etc. Madera can imprint three of these abilities at once, and your animal friend has one more, leaving you at any time with half of the various abilities. You'll need to find a special hub to switch Madera's abilities or to switch your animal buddy, but these hubs are frequent and numerous and you're never stuck at a puzzle without being able to switch to another buddy. Also, in most areas, you'll only need four or less abilities at once, so you can imprint the ones you need on Madera without needing to switch back and forth at all. In combat, you can fight with normal sword slashes, melee attacks, or with specials. These specials are learned as you progress through the game, similarly to the abilities in OTL's Banjo-Kazooie, and can be activated with different button presses. You have a “special” meter that can be replenished with items (or it replenishes slowly on its own), so you can't use specials all the time in battle. You can usually switch back and forth between controlling Edison and Madera. Your human companion and animal friend each have their own life bars, but when one or both are knocked out, you can continue journeying alone. They'll eventually revive and heal on their own, or you can find an item to revive them more quickly. However, if the human character you're controlling is knocked out in battle, you lose a life and have to restart from the last checkpoint.
The plot of the game begins three years before, with a teenage boy named Edison and his little sister Ella on an island with their parents. They were shipwrecked there, and the waters surrounding the island are too stormy to try and venture back out to sea, so the family has lived like the Swiss Family Robinson, trying to make the best of things on their new island home. However, another horrible storm comes, and the two parents are killed and their island home is shredded. Edison tries to take care of Ella as best he can, but then another storm comes and very nearly kills the two of them. Edison realizes that if he doesn't get himself and his sister off the island, they'll both be killed by the relentless storms. Edison builds a raft to sail himself and his sister to safety, but sure enough, another storm hits the raft and nearly sinks it. Edison washes up on shore, while Ella goes missing and is presumed dead. Edison is found by some anthropomorphic animals, including Banjo, Kazooie, Tiptup, Bumper, Dinger, Pipsy, and three others, and they nurse Edison back to health and show him their village full of animals who live peacefully there. That is where the game begins.
The Dreamers is divided into eight gameplay chapters, not necessarily by the region of the world. There's a ninth, epilogue chapter, after the first eight are completed and certain conditions are met. Once you've completed a chapter, you can easily revisit prior areas to get collectibles you missed and to replay missions.
Chapter One: Protecting The Village
Edison learns how to survive and makes new friends in the village of animals who help him after he washes up on shore. He is determined to find Ella, who he refuses to believe is dead, but must first help his new friends free themselves from the tyrannical reign of the pirate Captain Blackeye.
Chapter Two: The High Seas
After defeating Blackeye, Edison takes his ship and tries to find Ella, but is captured by the adventurous girl Madera, who thinks that Edison is a pirate himself. To prove his worth, Edison must help Madera with her own mission on a series of islands she calls home.
Chapter Three: Forest Of Fear
Edison reunites with his animal friends as he and Madera go ashore. This is when they encounter the evil witch Gruntilda and must escape from her forest if they wish to continue their adventure.
Chapter Four: All Hail The King
Edison and Madera come across a kingdom ruled by a seemingly benevolent king. But all is not as it seems as they go on a series of missions in this strange and confusing place.
Chapter Five: Ella Is Alive?
After liberating the kingdom from danger, Edison is given a clue as to where his long-lost sister Ella may be. But Gruntilda is always one step behind, and Edison, Madera, and their friends will need to use everything they've learned to find Ella and save her!
Chapter Six: Respite
After the events of chapter five, Edison and Ella are reunited and they emerge through a mysterious portal into a place that resembles early 20th century London. They are adopted by a wonderful family and their adventure seems to be over, but strange occurrences are happening, and when Madera arrives to tell Edison that her world is still in trouble, the boy must choose between staying in his dream life with his new family or returning to save Madera and his friends once and for all.
Chapter Seven: The Meaning Of A Hero
Ella is kidnapped by Gruntilda, but tension arises between Edison and Madera. Edison blames Madera for Ella being taken, and Madera thinks Edison is a coward. After a series of harrowing missions, the two draw closer than ever, and on a starry night, the two realize their feelings and kiss under a beautiful moon. Not long after that, Gruntilda strikes and the two face off against her most deadly beast yet. After the fight, Gruntilda kidnaps Madera, and Edison and his animal friends must make the journey to Gruntilda's castle to settle the score once and for all.
Chapter Eight: Gruntilda's Castle
The last few missions involve getting into Gruntilda's Castle, you'll have eight missions in all, each involving one of the eight animal friends from the game. The final mission is a board game (like in Grunty's Furnace Fun in OTL Banjo-Kazooie) where Edison must use his knowledge of everything he's previously done in order to win the “prize” at the end: Ella and Madera. But to his dismay, Edison realizes that he must choose between the two of them. He agonizes over the choice, but he and Madera both agree that Edison must choose to save Ella. Gruntilda takes Madera's youth and becomes a beautiful and powerful sorceress, leaving Madera as a shriveled up old maid. But now that Gruntilda has her beauty back, she no longer has any desire to cause any more trouble to anyone else (for the moment, at least), and she leaves. Edison realizes that while he wasn't able to save Madera, he was able to help Banjo and the people of the world, and he goes back to his new home and new family with Ella, his adventure over.
...or is it?
If you've completed a suitable amount of the game's optional missions (about 85% of them, not QUITE the level of completion to complete Banjo-Kazooie for real IOTL, but still quite a bit of the game), the real final mission opens up...
Chapter Nine: The Gift Of A Friend
Edison is at peace in his new life. He's going to school, he has new loving parents, and his sister Ella is safe and happy. But Madera's fate and the fact that Gruntilda “won” still gnaw at him, and Ella can see it. She convinces Edison to return to the other world to get Madera's youth back and defeat Gruntilda. You must go back through all of the regions and open up secret areas with Ella's help (IOTL in Banjo-Kazooie, there were certain things, like a hidden key, that could only be accessed by linking the game with the sequel, Banjo-Tooie. Here, in each chapter, there are hidden things like that, eight in all, that you need Ella as your companion to open up.) to collect special items. Take these eight special items to Gruntilda's Castle and a secret warp will be opened up to Gruntilda's Summer Villa, the true final level of the game. There, on the rooftop, Edison, Madera, Ella, and Edison's animal friends will confront Gruntilda, who is preparing to once again conquer the world, now with her power and beauty. In the first stage of the fight, you'll need to sap Gruntilda's youth a little bit at a time. Hit her six times and Madera will be fully restored, while Gruntilda is once again reverted to an ugly witch. In this second stage of the fight, which is tougher than the first, Gruntilda turns all her power and fury against you. Edison, Madera, Ella, and all the animal friends will each be involved in this final clash. Once Gruntilda is defeated, she is blown off the roof of the villa and into her moat, full of acid and sharks. Now that peace is truly restored, Edison gets a big kiss from Madera, and promises to visit her often as he and Ella finally return to their new, peaceful life once and for all.
Released for the Ultra Nintendo in North America on June 15, 1998, with a Japanese and PAL release later in the month. The game is extremely well reviewed, and in time comes to be considered a sort of “bridge” between Super Mario Dimensions and The Legend Of Zelda: Temple Of Time. Sales are extremely good, though still a bit of a disappointment for Nintendo and Rare, who expected the game to be as big of a smash hit as Goldeneye 007. Indeed, the game isn't even the fastest selling game of the month (in first-week sales, the Sega Saturn version of Quake outsells The Dreamers by a few thousand copies). Later on, Aeroboy and Grant Hill's Ultimate Basketball would disappoint in sales as well, making what was supposed to be a huge month for the Ultra Nintendo turn out to be somewhat lacking in luster. Make no mistake, however, The Dreamers still goes on to be one of the Ultra Nintendo's best selling games, and as of 2015 is still mentioned fairly frequently on top-100 all-time lists.