ClaDun X2 is the sequel to Nippon Ichi Software’s retro dungeon crawling RPG, ClaDun: This is an RPG! Cladun X2 takes place in the world of Arcanus Cella. It follows in its predecessor’s footsteps with charm and is currently available for download on the Playstation Network for the PSP gaming system.
Let’s review the HOTS and NOTS of Cladun X2.
Character creation and customization
As soon as you start a new game, you are prompted to create a character to play as. Characters can be chosen from a base set of pre-made avatars. At first, the only changes a player can make are the character’s complexion and hair color. After creating your character, you can change that character’s name, enter a brief description, and even create a dialogue tree. Later, you are given the ability to customize the appearance of everything from your character’s face to his clothes/armor and weapons. Players can even save their character, weapon, and armor edits to their PSP’s memory as a template. All the characters you make can be found in your tavern. You can connect to other players and explore their tavern and copy or save their character edits! You can even create your own background music by accessing the jukebox in your tavern.
ClaDun X2’s core gameplay is very simple and may remind some gamers of Secret of Mana or Terranigma. Players can defeat enemies with normal attacks, jumping attacks, special attacks, and magic. Some weapons have default charge attacks like blunt weapons (which includes axes for some reason) and bows/arrows. Performing magic attacks and special attacks consumes SP. Movement is set as default to the D-pad, so if you prefer moving with the analog stick, you’ll have to look through the options menu.
Players will explore a multitude of dungeons within the world of ClaDun X2. While defeating every enemy and finding every treasure in a dungeon will take a few minutes, many of the levels can be completed in less than a minute. Many of the early levels have a time trial or “target time” goal of about 30 seconds. This means that multiple plays of each dungeon are required to meet the target time and discover all of the secrets. Be sure to watch your enemies’ levels! Some low level dungeons have passages or portals to fight powerful bosses. Players can usually discern these areas because they are often lined with enemies who are much more powerful than the others within a dungeon.
Beyond the core gameplay, Cladun X2 also features the Magic Circle mechanic from ClaDun: This is an RPG! The Magic Circle allows players to strategically place more of their created characters in a battle formation around the main character. Unfortunately, your party is not visible during gameplay and is only represented in a small display in the upper right corner. Your controlled character does not take any damage until all of the support characters have fainted. When a support character falls, a notification appears on the bottom of the screen.
The main character can be changed at any time outside of dungeons. Each characters’ Magic Circle remains intact when the main character is changed. Besides placing your friends around you as a shield, your friends can use their mana to bolster a main character’s stats. Mana only comes into play as a support character. The character actually being controlled does not use mana. Support characters’ mana can be used to equip “artifacts” which boost the main character’s stats. Take care to examine each magic circle because some have unique effects. Some magic circles have spaces that decrease a character’s HP or defense once an artifact is equipped. Other magic circles have the “fatemate” condition which causes all partners to die when one dies. Others still have spaces that take mana from one support character and give them to another.
Characters can share weapons and equipment. In other words, if you have one sword, all of your characters can equip that sword at the same time. Weapons and equipment can be purchased from the shop.
ClaDun X2 was made to instill nostalgia in players. From the pixelated character designs to the option of converting the entire game’s soundtrack into chiptune, ClaDun X2 hits all the right notes as far as nostalgia goes. If you’re looking for a game with sleek, modern graphics, this isn’t it, but at least it was deliberate. I found the game to be utterly charming, but others may not.
ClaDun X2 is lacking when it comes to the story. When the story begins, your character wakes up in the middle of a dungeon. The dungeon is connected to a mysterious world known as Arcanus Cella by way of a magical door. This magical door connects to random dungeons that become increasingly difficult. Apparently, if you die in a dungeon, the door spits you back out at Arcanus Cella. The story is very simple and straightforward. Your character is searching for a way home which is your character’s motivation to clear dungeon after dungeon in hopes that a way home exists. You meet some interesting characters, but overall the story is weak.
As soon as I was given the option to create more characters, I tried to create my friends. Unfortunately, there are only three options for complexion: Ghostly pale, pale, and slightly tan. I had to manually color each pixel of my characters’ faces with another color to make a fitting representation of my friends with darker complexions. Even after accomplishing this, the characters’ hands are still light colored. The only way around this is to create an armor overlay. The unfortunate side effect of this is that the armor overlay is applied to anyone wearing that specific piece of armor. Early in the game, armors that can be edited are scarce. In addition to these complaints, the customization menu can be cumbersome and takes some time to get used to. If you aren’t careful about saving or applying the changes you’ve made, you might accidentally lose some of your work.
The core gameplay is very similar to other games, so entering dungeon after dungeon after dungeon can become stale. In the world of Arcanus Cella, there are few places to explore outside of dungeons. There is the town shop, a mysterious ship (which is just one room where some bonus material can be found), a few houses, and your tavern.
The multiplayer connectivity in ClaDun X2 is extremely disappointing. The only way you can interact with another player is by exploring their tavern and saving their character edits. This is a neat feature; however, ClaDun: This is an RPG! featured a limited cooperative mode. Players could explore certain dungeons together with a choppier-than-usual framerate. It wasn’t great, and it was rather limited, but it was still nice to have the option for cooperative play. There is absolutely no cooperative mode in ClaDun X2.
ClaDun X2 is a fun game that thrives on its nostalgic formula and charm. The game quickly becomes repetitive; however, and this charm can only get you so far. The level of customization available is wonderful, but falls short in some areas or becomes extremely tedious to adjust to your liking. If you are looking for a trip down SNES memory lane with some new tricks, look no further than ClaDun X2. If you are looking for a game with an engaging story and innovative gameplay, look elsewhere.