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   Dark Cloud 2 - Staff Retroview  

Evil Clowns and Time Travel
by Derek 'Roku' Cavin

BATTLE SYSTEM
INTERACTION
ORIGINALITY
STORY
MUSIC & SOUND
VISUALS
CHALLENGE
Easy
COMPLETION TIME
40-100 hours
OVERALL

3.0/5

Rating definitions 

   A powerful evil has begun to erase his opposition in the future by eradicating their sources in the present. It is up to two heroes to travel through time and set things right before taking on the evil itself. Dark Cloud 2 features a number of improvements over the original Dark Cloud, but still suffers from some of the same problems its predecessor did. The greatest problem is its reliance on random dungeons. Though these dungeons have improved in quality since the last installment, there is a bit of monotony found in dungeons, especially towards the end of the game.

   As most of the heroes time will be spent in dungeons, battles will be a common occurrence. Battles are all essentially hack and slash, though each character has a different fighting style and a few special abilities. There is also a small assortment of items that the characters can use to heal themselves with or throw at enemies. A new addition is the ability for the hero to use a robot and the heroine to transform into a monster during combat. These additions allow them to target the weaknesses of certain enemies. It may sound interesting, but most enemies can be defeated with just a few hits, so most battles won't be especially exciting. Fighting several enemies at once or battling a boss monster is usually more fun.

   Since most non-boss enemies can be defeated in a few hits, Dark Cloud 2 certainly isn't a difficult game. It is very easy to generate ridiculously powerful weapons within only a few hours once some of the later dungeons have been reached. The more inventions the heroes make and minigames they play, the more bonus items they will receive for the purpose of becoming even stronger. Some bosses can inflict a significant amount of damage, but it's nothing compared to how much an inventory of healing items can recover. One thing that helps make battles even easier is the smooth play control.

Plenty of minigames to keep players busy Plenty of minigames to keep players busy

   Though it's far from being perfect, the play control and camera angles are both quite good this time around. There are a few problems such as difficulty performing the heroine's jumping slash instead of the forward slash, and a cancel would have been nice should the player accidently press a shortcut button that forces them to change characters, but the controls are still good overall. The menus are also arranged so the player will have little trouble finding what they are looking for. The localization also features few noticeable problems and is also good overall. No major problems here, but nothing special either.

   Though it borrows a lot from the original Dark Cloud and uses random dungeons, Dark Cloud 2 is still fairly original. While this is primarily due to the interesting minigames, inventions, and various bonus features that exist outside of the dungeon, they still make the second installment look a bit fresh and new. Aside from the robot companion and ability to transform into monsters, there is little that has been added to the dungeons themselves where players most likely spend the majority of their time.

Cel shading Cel shading

   A lot of time is spent in dungeons. Even if players completely ignore minigames and rush through the game, they will still end up spending about forty hours, most of which will come from wandering through over one hundred floors in the random dungeons. Should players wish to complete all the game has to offer, they will most likely spend twice as long, but most will be spent outside of dungeons playing minigames. As with the first in the series, there is also a lengthy bonus dungeon for anyone who wishes to complete it.

   Since most time is spent in dungeons and minigames, very little time is left for the story itself. While it does get off to a surprisingly good start, it is neglected towards the end of the game. To make matters worse, dungeons become even longer as each areas's story becomes shorter. While it is still an improvement over the original, the storyline suffers from poor pacing and is still below average as a whole.

   Like story, music is another thing that tends to suffer in games that focus on long repetitive dungeons. Luckily, this is one case where that doesn't happen. While the dungeon music still becomes slightly repetitive over time, the quality of these tracks is generally above average and certain other tracks such as boss music are very good. The sounds effects are also good, but they aren't particularly special either.

   Like the original, the visuals are the most impressive part of the game. Though a few enemies are recycled from the original, the visuals have been, for the most part, completely renovated for the better. Cel shading is the most apparent and effective change. Some enemies are recolored throughout the game, but the visuals fit together very well and are great overall.

   Dark Cloud 2 is a massive improvement over the original Dark Cloud. It has better design, implementation, random dungeon generation, battle system, story, and visuals than the original. It also features a wide assortment of minigames that will likely entertain the player for hours. Sadly, none of these is enough to make up for the long and boring random dungeons that really hold the game back. Overall, Dark Cloud 2 is a good game, but it could have been much better had more time been spent on the dungeons themselves rather than adding more minigames to boost playtime.

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