Dark Cloud 2
Review by: SuperGamecube64
The original Dark Cloud was the second game I ever played on my PS2. my Mom got it for me on Christmas the same year I’d gotten the PS2. it was a fun, interesting game, although I found it too challenging at the time. I returned to it a couple of years later to find an enjoyable dungeon crawling experience. It was only about a year and a half ago that I got my hands on a copy of Dark Cloud 2(Dark Chronicle outside of the U.S.), and I’ve been planning a review for quite a while.
In Dark Cloud 2, you begin the game in control of Monica, a princess who is also a capable sorceress and swordsman. Running through the castle halls, you combat enemy soldiers. This section of the game teaches you the basic combat mechanics, and I found it quite hard the first time I did it, and even died. This game is definitely harder than the first one. Discovering her father murdered by a man named Gaspard, she sets out on a journey through time to fix it(sound like a certain popular Super Nintendo RPG?). You see, Monica is actually from 100 years in the future(or, Max is 100 years in the past depending on how you want to look at it.).
After this introduction, you take control of Max. Max is a young inventor who lives with his father in the town of palm Brinks. Max’s mother went missing when he was still just a child, and he has no idea what happened to her. While working in his friend and employer’s shop, he receives a ticket to a local carnival. While he is attending the carnival, an evil clown named Floatsam, who is also the circus ring leader attacks. Max’s mother gave him a necklace a long time ago, and though of great importance, Max has no idea – but Floatsam does, and he wants it. While running from the clown and his minions, a small boy named Donny tells Max he can escape through the sewer. This is where you will get a taste of the games dungeon crawler style gameplay.
Maximilian(Max), the games male protagonist.
Artwork of Monica, the game's female protagonist.
A map is displayed in the lower right corner of the screen to help you navigate. As you move through the sewer tunnels, you will come across various enemies. The game flows in real time, even in combat. Each character has a close range weapon, and a long range weapon. You got a taste of Monica’s swords and magic in the games opening, and now, as max, you have a gun, and a wrench.
After working your way through the sewers, you come out on the other side and make way for town again, warning everyone of Floatsam. He, his father and his friends board a train out of palm Springs for safety, but Floatsam attacks the train while it is still in motion. This is when Monica shows up and saves them, informing Max that 100 years in the future, the stone his mother gave him is being used by an evil emperor to destroy the past(Maxes time) so he can rule the future(Monica’s time.). Honestly that doesn’t make any sense to me. If something is destroyed, how can you rule it? It’s like saying “We’re gonna take your ship!” and then sinking it. From here out, you can switch between Monica and Max whenever you want in the dungeons.
After a while, you will get a robot you can pilot around the dungeons. It is really powerful, but it runs on limited fuel. Remember earlier when I said the game was harder than the first one? It’s harder by a LOT. The first game had plenty of strong enemies, but some of the enemies in Dark Cloud 2 are ridiculous. And yeah, you could hop in your little robot and kill them with relative ease, but let’s say you are completely out of gas for your little rust bucket. You are on the next to last floor of a dungeon (more on dungeon flow later on), and you are trying to find the key to the boss. You have killed every single enemy on the floor save for one, and that is a giant, formidable opponent that you avoided from the start because you knew you couldn’t take it. Well, now you’re screwed. That jerk has the key, and if you take him without your rock-em-sock-em robot, you’re gonna die. But wait! Battle bot is all out of fuel! See where I’m going with this? They could have just put a recharge on him or something, and still not made him over powered.
Monica fighting a monster in one of the dungeons.
As for the flow of the game, the over world is basically void, due to the past being destroyed. Inside the dungeons, you find “Georama”. Georama can be a person, building, tree, body of water, etc. Using the Georama, you rebuild the game world however you like. A pretty neat feature that I loved about the original, and that I’m glad returned. Inside the dungeons, you spend your time killing monsters in search of the floor key. To get the most experience, it is of course best to kill all the monsters you come by, but if you want to hurry, or for any reason just go to the next floor after you’ve killed the monster holding the key, you can. Each dungeon has a different amount of floors, and different enemy types. All the dungeons are randomly generated, like the Mystery Dungeon series, meaning each time you go in a dungeon, it is different. Honestly, Dark Cloud 2 suffers from this, and would have been far more interesting with a more Zelda style approach of a preset dungeon filled with puzzles. Killing hordes of enemies gets old after a while, and a few puzzles here and there would’ve benefitted the game greatly. There are the occasional “you need this time to proceed” quests, but they are as simple as beat the crap out of things until something drops it, or you find one in a treasure chest.
If you played the first dark cloud, you probably remember the duel battles. These fights, usually between one of the heroes and a main villain, were sort of like a cut scene; you had to hit buttons in time with things to keep it going. It was in a sense, DDR for your fingers. These fights were not only cool, and at the time fairly original (pretty much every other game has button sensitive scenes now). Well, Dark Cloud 2 has done away with them, and I really miss them. The fight between Toan and the giant snake is the one I remember most vividly. The fights were intense, and kept you involved. Getting rid of them was a bad move if you ask me.
Dark Cloud 2’s world is without a doubt influenced by steam punk. Technology mostly consists of gears and cogs, and steam (duh, can’t have steam punk without some steam.). The graphics are cell shaded, and have a nice anime feel to them. The original was also cell shaded, but in a different way, and had a more realistic look as opposed to DC2’s cartoony style. The main characters have a higher polygon count than the supporting characters, composed of 2500 to 3000 polygons as opposed to 1500 to 2000. This means that the main characters look better, and a lot more time and effort was put into them. This is understandable, and the supporting cast still looks fantastic.
I definitely like the music better than the first Dark Cloud. The sound track was composed by Tomohito Nishiura, and the music during events and cut scenes is very fitting and emotional. I found that the songs really made you feel that sense of anguish, or sorrow, whatever emotion was being conveyed. My only problem is the dungeon music. None of the dungeon music is really all that interesting, and it gets old listening to the same thing for several floors.
Overall, Dark cloud 2 is an action RPG that has some pretty glaring flaws. If you are willing to look past these flaws, you will find a charming, aesthetically pleasing game that has a lot of good points to make up for it’s bad points. It doesn’t look like
Level-5 is too interesting in a Dark Cloud 3, but if they do make one, I really hope they go the extra mile to fix the nuisances. In the end, it could’ve been great, but ends up being just a smidgen above average.