Nippon Ichi has brought us a retro dungeon crawler you can carry in your pocket. Cladun: This is an RPG! is now available on your Playstation Portable. Those familiar with Atlus’ recent release of 3D Dot Game Heroes will have a good idea of what to expect from this new title. It is your portable 8-bit retro, hack ‘n slash, dungeon crawler with equal parts Zelda and comedic dialogue/situations reflecting game cliches. The title itself, Cladun: This is an RPG!, immediately makes a statement. This is a game that doesn’t take itself too seriously while simultaneously offering RPG fans what they would expect from the genre.
Cladun: This is an RPG! starts off with Souma and Pudding heading into an unknown area. From the start the dialogue is noticeably filled with humor. One of the first statements pertains to 15 being the proper age to be labeled an adult in video games. Other moments are more forward. For example, Souma calls Pudding a “skanky psycho” very early on. Not long after they find themselves falling down a huge pit. The other end of the hole lands them in a place called Arcanus Cella. Souma takes a stand as very reserved on the idea, but Pudding is very firm in her belief that they should stay and find treasure. Souma gives in and, thus the adventure begins.
The first thing that you’ll notice are the graphics. The game is designed to be a throwback to the 8-bit era of gaming. They are heavily reminiscent 0f old Zelda games that will provide a much welcomed feeling of nostalgia. We are in a time where games constantly exchange the crown for graphics king, but games like this help us remember our roots. Not only does the game allow us to reminisce of simpler times, but it helps us appreciate the level of detail and animation present in games such as Killzone or Gears of War.
RPG lovers rejoice. There are endless amounts of dungeons for you to explore and loot. The wonderful thing about Cladun is that dungeons are randomly generated. That means layout, enemy presence, rare items and so on. Revisiting the same dungeon time after time rarely brings the sense of deja vu. As the game progresses you will reach dungeons with 99 levels! Only the most seasoned RPG fans will attempt to complete these fully. This aspect helps promote multiple playthroughs which keep replayability high.
Cladun sets up enough of a story in the beginning to give the player enough of a reason to go treasure hunting. After the initial dialogue its mostly up to you. Sure, you’ll meet characters along the way (most of which are playable) to add to your group or who will provide more narrative, but the player is free to split off and create their own character. That’s right. Much like 3D Dot Game Heroes you are able to edit the pixels to craft whatever 8-bit hero your heart desires. Granted, you can only edit the face. The body is chosen from a substantial list of presets so it isn’t a major drawback.
Customization also comes in the form of weaponry and apparel. What kind of RPG would this be without new items to try out? As you explore dungeons you’ll come across new weapons to slaughter your enemies with and better armor to protect yourself from some of the more savage opponents. All these weapons have their uses as well. Swords have a swift combo going for them, whereas other weapons like war axes are given blunt properties. This property causes a slower swing, but it is able to crush certain barriers giving you access to new areas or even trapped treasure.
One of the best uses of customization has not yet been listed. The game allows you to piece together the final boss you will fight. The boss adjusts his level to be competitive with yours so it will be challenging. The idea of creating the final fight is enough to excite many fans as they can let their imagination go wild. They may build a zombie character for themself and make a robotic beast to fight against at the end. The options are there for the player to enjoy at their leisure and it is a new concept I’m sure we can all get behind.
Party systems are no stranger to RPGs. Cladun needed to stand out from the crowd so it took the system a little further. It took a silly game and added an in depth and complex part system. This is known as the “Magic Circle”. The “Magic Circle” has a primary character at the center and other players surrounding him providing HP acting as human shields. So if you are hit in a dungeon the damage goes to the sub characters that aren’t physically there. Defense, attack and other properties can be tacked on to the sub characters to further aid the primary person. The interesting and strategic part of this circle is that upon completing a dungeon the primary receives boosts in Hit Points and Defense, whereas sub characters are rewarded with increase in Attack and Strength. In order to make a strong main fighter it is crucial to use him as a sub character in the beginning. This will ensure that when you switch him to the primary slot he will be strong enough to take on later enemies.
A common feature absent from RPGs is a cooperative component. Most RPGs focus so heavily on the single player that they omit any form multiplayer. Cladun doesn’t have this issue since there is barely any story present to focus on. Treasure hunting throughout endless amounts of randomly generated dungeons with up to 3 friends is truly an enticing feature.
The title says it all. This IS an RPG, but its also one that knows how to poke fun at the years of gaming’s evolution and social trends that have come and gone. It’s hard to be put off by this game’s minimal graphics and simplistic combat when it constantly makes fun of itself. If the game doesn’t take itself seriously, then why should you?
Cladun isn’t exactly a tough game in terms of raw difficulty. It’s the excessive use of the trial and error tactic that is a must at certain points. Early on when you’re a low level this may become the tactic you solely rely. As long as you invest in the Magic Circle properly hopefully you can avoid this annoyance. For the rest of you, let’s hope you can hold back from raging.
Combat can sometimes delve into repetitive cycle which can also become an issue throughout the game. Battles can take the same route in rapid succession. Upon entering dungeons the common tactic is attack, defend, attack, defend, etc. A one hit strike followed up by an immediate, pre-emptive block is usually the case here. Unless you get the drop on a foe the combo attacks are not able to be executed without enemy interruption.
Cladun: This is an RPG! provides some deep gameplay while entertaining the gamer with its classic comedic dialogue. The Magic Circle is a nice twist on the current party system that is abundant in RPGs these days. The visual style and audio offerings provide a level of nostalgia that I’m sure many will find very pleasing. All in all the game is a solid portable title that’s pros heavily outweigh the cons. If you’re a fan of RPGs or are in need of some humorous material on your PSP go ahead and nab this game.Cladun: This is an RPG! Review,