It's been a little under a year since NIS America gave RPGamers an opportunity for retro-looking hack-and-slash action in the form of Cladun: This Is An RPG on the PSP. However, feeling that there's more fun to be had, Nippon Ichi has returned to the world of Arcanus Cella and upped the customization options even further for yet more retro, handheld dungeon exploration with its sequel, Cladun x2.
"Nippon Ichi has upped the customization options even further for yet more retro, handheld dungeon exploration."
Cladun x2 sees players return once more to Arcanus Cella's miniature enclosed world, from where there is no escape expect into the myriad of dungeons that can be accessed through a special door. The sequel appears to have taken a simpler approach to the story, with more encouragement given for players to create their own characters. Details on the story are currently hard to come by, but the premise is that the main character has mysteriously wound up in Arcanus Cella, losing their memory in the process. After meeting some of the other inhabitants of the world, they are required to 'atone for their sins' by cleansing the various dungeons accessible from the world.
Players have the ability again to create and customize their own characters, going so far as to even let players draw their characters. The player can also decide on how the character is animated, albeit the animation is somewhat limited to three or so frames, as well as design the looks of their weapons and armour. While the original may have been a touch light on options such as weapon types or classes, Cladun x2 hopes to rectify that by introducing a good deal more of both. There are now ten classes to choose from, each of which has their own special class skill, such as the Merchant's Death Money skill that allows players to keep money collected even if they die whilst in a dungeon. Titles are also slated to make an appearance, however there is currently no confirmation on what effect they will have.
Also returning is the powerful, yet somewhat complicated, Magic Circle system. As characters become more powerful they unlock new Magic Circles, which surround the main character in a pattern and can be filled with sub-characters and artifacts to help boost the party's statistics. The sub-characters will also act as a human shield for the main character, taking damage for them if hit in same position as where the character is set. It's a system that is likely to require lots of experimenting to understand fully, but should allow players to create some incredibly powerful teams. One new addition to the Magic Circles is the Awakening Space. If the special Awakening ability is set there then all artifacts next to that space can be activated at once, massively increasing the abilities of the party.
Battles and dungeon exploration in Cladun x2 play out very much like the first game. The player moves their main character around the dungeon, attacking enemies as they progress. Damage from attacks to both the player and enemies is shown on-screen (displaying damage to two decimal points for those who like to go into proper detail about stats), with a bar showing the amount of HP remaining is displayed by each foe. When defeated, monsters will drop coins that can be collected and used at the stores back in Arcanus Cella. Dungeons have varied terrain that will affect movement, although like in the first game a lot of this can be bypassed by sliding over it, as well as traps that can either be a hindrance or aid to the player. These traps are invisible but come into view when the player gets close by and players should be able to figure out what each one does before stepping on it. Outside of the story, players will be able to challenge themselves in one of the three types of random dungeons: ran-geons, new-geons and tri-geons. Each of the three forms vary in their approach to difficulty increases as the dungeon is advanced through. Ran-geons randomly increase enemy levels and alter drop-rates, while new-geons give the player opportunities to influnce each of those things. Finally tri-geons have multiple paths that change the difficulty depending on which path is chosen.
Unsurprisingly little has changed on the graphical front, with Nippon Ichi utilising the eight-bit charm from the original Cladun once more. The charm remains in full force for the sequel, with the developers doing a good job at creating vibrant and interesting locations despite the enforced limitations. Admittedly the visuals are unlikely to make an impression on those who are not coming into Cladun for its retro charm. Cladun x2's music also keeps the retro theme going, with tracks that should appeal greatly to the nostalgic senses of those who grew up playing earlier RPGs. As with nearly everything else in-game, the music is also customizable, so those with one eye on composing will have an opportunity to see what they can come up with.
For those who enjoyed the first game, Cladun x2 promises to be very much more of the same. RPGamers yearning for some 2D dungeon crawling action, as well as those who may enjoy the large amount of customization on show, should have a good chance of finding something to enjoy. Cladun x2 is due to be released exclusively on PSN for both North America and Europe in August 2011.