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[8/1/08] Dark Cloud

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Publisher: SCEA

Developer: Level 5

Genre: Action Role-Playing

Release Date: May 29, 2001

Players: 1

Region: NTSC


Dark Cloud is an early strategy/adventure game released exclusively for the PlayStation 2 video game console. It was labeled by Sony as being a direct competitor to the Zelda franchise, because of the similar elements shared between both games. The game's flow is repetitive and a bit uninspired. Since the game was released in 2001, its age is an excuse for some of its flaws. Playing it in the year of 2008 as opposed to the year of 2001 can bring about higher expectations of the game. If a person were to play this game around the time of its release, it would be praised more than it would be in this day and age. This game is similar to ActRaiser due to its city restoring, constructing, and building elements.


In Norune Village, a young boy named Toan is charged by the Fairy King with the duty of restoring the world back to its original state. The Fairy King gives Toan a magic gauntlet called the Atlamillia, which is used to gather scattered pieces of landscape, abiotic objects, and people who inhabit the land around various dungeons. The antagonist of the game is Dark Genie; it was released by Colonel Flag. Colonel Flag is a military commander who desires to conquer the land of earth. The Dark Genie has control over Dan who is the guardian of Norune Village. By the end of the game you will have the world restored 100%, each house and piece of land you restore adds percentage to your Georama meter.




Like most RPGs, the game allows you to rename each character as they are introduced. When dungeon crawling you are able to have several different people on your squad, of course, your squad expands the more you progress throughout the game. It composes of repetitive dungeon crawling, and annoying limitation type stages. Each dungeon met by the character always has more than 10 different levels. They all look exactly the same with different arrangements of tunnels and ponds. When in dungeons you are aloud to return to town at any time. In treasure boxes pieces of land and whatnot can be found and are stored in the Atlamillia. While in town you are free to enter Georama mode. In this mode it is similar to create a skate park, for the people who are familiar with Tony Hawk video games. Within this mode, you have many different options such as removing and deleting objects, adding trees, rivers, ponds, roads, etc. and adding houses, people, stores, and other types of buildings.


Each house has its own block, in each block there are empty spaces and the game tells you what is supposed to go in those empty spaces by using easy to understand hints. If a person lives in a home that you just placed on the map, you can ask that person what he or she prefers to be done to their home. Once you get that information, it is strictly your job to fill their request. After objects are added to a certain venue, (cabins, benches, objects of that caliber), the block will then turn orange, and the person who inhabits that area will give you a reward for your god-like work. After a home is established, people will start to walk around town. Not only houses can be constructed, but shops and other miscellaneous things like Windmills as well. You are able to arrange the town in anyway you like, but it is best to arrange the town in how the people prefer it to be arranged. Everyone has their own preference, as to exactly what should be near their house and such. There is also time, and the game transitions from morning, afternoon, dusk, and night. But it doesn't really matter because the shops are still open, and you can fish when you want to.




Back to the dull dungeons, in the first 5 dungeons the Fairy King will lead you into some tutorials, and more times in the future on occasion. The silent protagonist, similar to Zelda, only makes expressions that are expected to be seen as reactions to situations. Throughout dungeons there will be different monsters, treasures, keys, village objects, and weapons. When encountering a new weapon, you can add attachments to them, which are obtained by killing monsters with items. Attachments are used to enhance a weapon, they act as temporary augmentations. You have your elemental enhancements and statistical enhancements like endurance 1 and so on. When having these attachments equipped onto a weapon as it's being upgraded, the upgrade is enhanced and it will make your weapon stronger as opposed to it having no attachments when upgrading. Some annoying meter called the WHP meter decreases after you strike a monster with a weapon. When this meter reaches zero your weapon will break. So you will have to stock up on repair powders, which restore WHP meters. When you weapon upgrades the WHP meter increases, allowing you to use a weapon for a longer time before the wear and tear of it gets to you.


Along with this meter, you also have the realistic but unnecessary meter, called the thirst meter. It decreases over time, and when it decreases it means that you are closer to dieing of dehydration. If you dehydrate your health will start to deplete if you don't eat something in time. It's like poison, and it keeps depleting until you drink some water. You can either buy bottled water at the shop, or lucky run into some ponds within the dungeons which automatically restores both your health and your thirst meter. There isn't animation present that shows your character reaching into the water in drinking; there is obviously just some automatic sequence that occurs when you touch the water. I'm guessing the water is magically specialized to hydrate you through your clothing.






This game closely resembles the Zelda games that were released for the N64. Even the battling system is somewhat similar, but it's a bit lack luster in the depth department. You are able to lock onto en enemy, and while locking on you can maneuver side to side but not exactly around the enemy. There isn't a dodge roll or anything like that here. There is just lock on, and block. There is also a charging ability, where you can charge your attack before striking which guarantees higher damage when landed. There is an easy strategy to learn while fighting monsters, they repeat the same movements, and if you back them into a corner their repetitive movements can cause them to stay in one spot. Expect to see many Skeletons with swords, beastly creatures with weapons, dragons, walking whales, bats, rolling rock creatures, and the list goes on. It does contain different boss battle tactics, allies are the key to survival and victory. Each has their own independent category and defense mechanism. Such weapon enhancements exist that are specifically made to cause more damage on a certain type of monster.




Here is another annoying feature called the Limited Zone. This happens randomly in dungeons and cannot be avoided. The game automatically generates a random limitation, (cannot use allies, using weapon decreases its upgrade points). Some of these limitations reek of disliking. Some allies’ attacks take off less damage than Toan's attacks, and when you are limited to one ally it takes much longer to kill enemies. This is really dangerous when the key to the door to advance to the next floor or level is within a monster. So instead of the key being in a treasure box, you will have to defeat monsters until the key decides to appear as a drop item. So, there is illogical and excessive work to do. If you run out of repair powder you will have to come back to town, and buy more powder, just to come back to the dungeon where all of the enemies and items reset. You yourself never get stronger; it's only your weapons that get stronger. There is no independent progression at all. To sum it all up, the dungeons are reiterative, desolate, phlegmatic, and frustrating, some limit zones limit the most needed things.


Level 5 succeeded in being too much like Zelda, this game looks and feels as if it were an early game originally made to be released for the Dreamcast. This game could be dumbed down visually to be ported to the N64. The game uses little of the PS2's power, and it's not surprising considering the time of its release. Zelda has much more depth in the fighting system, and was less repetitive. In Zelda you also weren't that limited in world exploration. These graphics are so basic, and there aren't any FMVs, not even in the introduction sequence. The game requires you to sit through all of this gratuitous gameplay.




Gameplay - 7.5

Graphics - 6

Sound - 7

Story - 6

Controls - 8


Overall: 7

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I agree with this review for what little I've played the first game. Dark Chronicle/Dark Cloud 2 is much more enjoyable, and improves upon the first dramatically, although the longish dungeon sections aren't for everybody. Plus, the thirst still returns (IIRC) in the sequel, but I don't remember it being so much of a pain as it is in the first game.

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I almost got this game before I got my PS2 but instead got Twisted Metal Black. When I did finally play it I thought it was alright. Weren't the dungeons random?

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Many of the annoying features in Dark Cloud were not brought over to Dark Cloud 2. Along with that, the game has voice acting and a more interesting story, the graphics are in every way more impressive, using cel-shaded graphics instead. But still, this game can still be annoying, I don't really understand why someone would rate this game a 9/10. I can't live with a RPG not being able to level up yourself and your weapons. How could you go throughout a game and complete it, when your health capacity isn't increasing? Wouldn't it make more sense for the character to level up with the weapons?


And why do we need to have this Repair rubbish? Is it really that much better for the player to continuously repair and replenish the health of a weapon?

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Dammit Fatal, GET OUT OF MY HEAD..


But Man, I remember going to Sony Metreon months prior to the PS2 launch, I saw footage of this and the first thing hit me is a Zelda clone? It's almost like a Zelda on a PS2 but until I got the game, things were completely different but not by a huge stretch. It's a classic no doubt, I was thinking they should make the 3rd on PS3 by now.

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