ClaDun x2 Review

Ever wondered where all the traditional RPGs have gone this generation? Well, chances are if you’re are asking that question you haven’t looked in the right place. This generation, handhelds have received much more traditional RPG love than consoles. One of the best examples of this trend is the PSP game ClaDun x2, developed by Nippon Ichi Software. This game shamelessly embraces traditional RPG elements of old to deliver a deep, customizable RPG that reminds us why we loved playing those old RPGs in the first place.

ClaDun x2 begins with players creating a character who enters a mystical world known as Arcanus Cella and is told there is no way out of the world, leaving him/her stuck there for eternity. The good news is that this eternity comprises mainly of exploring dungeons, slaying monsters, leveling up, and gaining loot.

The main motivation for going through each dungeon is to find a way out of Arcanus Cella to ultimately uncover a way to go back home. This is fine and all, but the story is never well fleshed out and takes a back seat to the rest of the aforementioned dungeon crawling. Players learn things here and there as they progress through the game via various NPC conversations (with a dash of dark humor at times), but the narrative is not a major overlay like some of the best traditional RPGs. However, the rest of the game is so full of content that this may not be a major concern.

This game embodies everything classic about RPGs, right down to its 16-bit presentation. NIS takes advantage of this design choice by making almost everything one sees in the game customizable. Players can make as many unique party members as they like with any one of the ten classes, known as Sub Champions. Each Sub Champion, including the main character, can be fully customized,¬†from the details on their face to the armor they sport, via an in-game drawing tool. This extends even further to weapons, attack animations, characters’ personalities, bonds with other characters, and even the game music itself. The game even gives the option of listening to retro, 16-bit music or modern music. Even though these options are purely aesthetic, it gives the game a nice personal touch with a dose of nostalgia.

NIS claims that ClaDun x2 doubles the amount of content of its predecessor, ClaDun: This is an RPG! Given the countless hours of dungeon crawling and exploring what the game offers, not to mention the extensive customization options, they were right on the money. The game progressively gives more and increasingly difficult dungeons to explore, with new monsters to slay and new loot to be sold at the shop. As players progress, they are given the option to go into one of the randomly generated dungeons, called ran-geons, where there is a better chance of finding the best and most unique items the game offers in exchange for notably ramped-up difficulty. This means there is essentially an endless amount of content to be had.

When making a character, players are given a choice of seven different classes: Warrior, Wizard, Saint, Guardian, Ranger, Merchant, and Swordmage. Later on, three more classes can be used: Dragoon, Ninja, and Shaman. Each of the ten classes have differing styles, advantages, and disadvantages. Because the Sub Companion system allows (and encourages) players to use any one of these classes at any time, experimentation and replay value are significantly increased.

The battles themselves play out in real time. Characters attack, defend, jump, slide, and use abilities or magic (depending on class) at any point during the battle. Only one party member is used at a time, with Sub Champions serving to fill players’ Magic Circles.

One of the most unique and complex elements of the game are the Magic Circles. This system is one of the best and most strategic parts of the overall RPG experience the game delivers. Basically, the primary character is shielded by Sub Champions to buff health and other bonuses. Artifacts must be placed around the Sub Champions to connect tiles and receive the most bonuses for stats like attack, health, mana, experience, etc. The artifacts are connected to Sub Champions’ mana, so the more mana each has the better artifacts and thus better bonuses he produces. However, each Mana Circle has drawbacks, as well. This gives players more incentive to level up Sub Champions. Each character class has its own set of increasingly complex Magic Circles as character level up, with 215 unique circles total! While this carries over from the original game, the Magic Circles still provide a fresh and strategic system that is a foundation for the overall RPG experience that ClaDun x2 delivers.

Even though this game does not deliver a strong narrative like some of the best retro RPGs, ClaDun x2 still provides a core traditional RPG with the Magic Circle system and the countless customization options. This game gives what many of the great and traditional RPGs did: tons of options and limitless content.


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Author: Sean Mackey View all posts by

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