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(Detailed) Dark Cloud 2 Impressions


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Man this turned out longer than I expected, I added sections, so skim what you want. I think these are kind of well done though, so reading them all is worth it.

I've never played the original, as so many people told me bad things... But there was such a good buzz behind this one that I picked it up. I can't compare this to Dark Cloud, so I don't really know what is better by comparion and what is not. So I'll just talk about what I think about it in general heh. That said, there might be a lot of stuff in here that people might not even need to read, even if they wanted to.


Dark Cloud 2 basically is the story of a character named Max, and his adventures as he travels the world. The story begins with him going to the Folsam Circue Troupe show in his city, but he winds up finding that the leader is actually a bad guy bent on finding a certain stone that is in the city. Max winds up leaving the city with a few friends (the odd thing is that no one has been outside of the city for at least 15 years, the game explains why and I won't ruin all that), trying to find out what exactly is going on, why the stone is important... and also to find Max's long missing mother.

Now that that's out of the way... This game more or less plays like Kingdom Hearts, only it's actually fun (don't hurt me, but I hated that game heh). There are town areas you can run about, talking to characters and buying things and so on. When you get to certain points, you enter a dungeon. The first dungeon in the game is the Underground Water Channel that leads out of the town, and is made up of 6 areas or so (the next dungeon-ish place is huge and has at least three times that).

[b][u]Gameplay - Dungeons[/b][/u]

So this is how the first one is laid out: The first area is the entrance, which you basically just go through to have some story told to you. The next few parts are the actual "dungeon" itself, where you run around opening chests and killing monsters. The dungeons are randomly generated (which many people hate), but I've found that they actually wind up being pretty well done. After that is a miniboss, another dungeon area, a main boss and then the exit. Between most rooms a bit more of the story is revealed, which is surprisingly decent.

I feel the random dungeons make the game a bit less boring, especially if you want to collect medals. The medals are totally optional, but basically, in each section if you fulfill certain goals (they are listed before you start) you get a medal. You get something special for collecting so many, but I have no idea what that is. It's like an extra challenge of sorts, as medals generally require you to defeat all enemies in a certain time span or use only items to fight and not weapons, etc.

[b][u]Gameplay - Combat and Weapons[/b][/u]

The whole combat engine is very similiar to OoT or KH (again, no idea how the first was). You can lock onto enemies using Circle, and pressing it again lets you target another nearby enemy. X attacks, and depending on what direction you are pressing the attack will change (much like Zelda, forward+attack does a jump slash, sideways+attack does a side slash and so on).

You have a weapon in each hand... in the case of Max (there are more characters, I'll get into that in a sec), he has a large wrench in his right and a gun in his left. Holding down L1 and pressing X allows him to use the gun. After attacking so much with any weapon, it starts to lose its WPN power. When that reaches zero, the weapon breaks and must be repaired (in the case of guns and magic, each shot lowers it a point it seems). There is a little meter displayed that shows how much you have left, and it warns you when you are close to breaking. This doesn't happen that often once you strengthen your weapons and I've found it isn't a big deal. You can use repair powder to fix anything, and it's not that hard to come across.

To use items, you either go to the menu or you press Square to use the active item. You can equip up to three different items at a time (if you have like 10 bread loaves, that's counted as one equiped item). You can just use the d-pad to cycle between them.

While pressing R1 you can press X to pick things up as well. Boxes and such litter the dungeons, and you can throw them at enemies. They sometimes contain nice items (repair powder in particular), so they're worth breaking. Hitting an enemy with one makes them dizzy and vulnerable to attack.

I don't know that the game is hard, but I die somewhat often because I don't pay attention to how much life I have a lot heh. I use a lot of healing items otherwise, and block rather often. You can't expect to get very far if you just run and hit everything til it dies. There is a bit of thought in it.

[b][u]Gameplay - Item Spectrumizing and Weapon Synthesis[/b][/u]

The other thing involving weapons is synthesis. On your travels, you'll find a ton of different items. Each item has a property (flame, durability, attack, etc) that it can be changed into. All you need to do is go to the item screen, pick an item and choose spectrumize. You then choose how many of that item you want to convert, and it does that and creates a new item from it.

If you convert for example 10 of one item of the flame property, it will create one 10 point flame spectrumizer item. This will cost you 10 synthesis points to use on your weapon. However, if you only had like 3 available you're screwed and have to wait til you get more synthesis points. So if you're smart, you'd only do three at that time.

That new item can then be applied to a weapon to raise its stats (there are about 12 stats total). Like I said before, it requires synthesis points, which apparently you get from fighting. It takes a while to raise these, but it's obviously worth it to make your weapons stronger and less prone to breaking. There is a point where a weapon cannot take anymore synthesis anymore (it can, but its stats won't be raised) and the game will tell you this. You basically shouldn't waste anymore time on that item and should either build it up, buy a new one or spectrumize it and apply it to another item (which is what you should be doing, as this is the point of all this).

Each weapon can be built up like I just mentioned. If you go to the item screen, you can select the item and choose that from the menu. The game will show you your various options to change into, and what the stat requirements are. If you meet them, you can change your weapon and its appearance, as well as upgrade it's general power.

[b][u]Characters and such[/b][/u]

Like I said before, you can play as other characters in this game. Max is the main one, but you will meet a few others that you can play as instead. The main one is Monica, who appears on the box art. Once you get her, you can switch at any time by pressing L3. Monica is a bit quicker and uses magic instead of a gun (which can also be altered using synthesis).

I don't know what others you can fight of as instead... But if one member dies, you are allowed to play as the other. If both die, it's Game Over time.

There are other various supporting characters that you can have join your group (apparently the main use of this is so that they are with you when you reach the town building part - Georama). You can also bring one with you into the dungeons though. You can't fight as them, but they give you various benefits if you have them.

Max also gets a large riding robot named Steve really early on. Steve is incredibly strong (at least 4 times what you are at the start), but has his downsides. The main one is that he uses fuel. Walking around as him uses fuel (he is very slow compared to the other characters as well). That's not a big deal, but what is is that his fuel is also his HP. If he gets hit, he loses some. You have to worry about all this in addition to worrying about his weapon breaking. Luckily there are items to fix both of these (and a character will also fill him up free of charge).

[b][u]Inventions and More Steve[/b][/u]

Steve is introduced to you thanks to Cedric, your old inventor friend. However, Steve has some kinks to work out, so you have to invent something to keep him going... This thing turns out to be an Energy Pack.

Of course, how do you invent this if you have no idea what it is? Cedric hands you a camera and tells you take a picture of three different "components" of the invention (in this example, they are milk cans, a belt and some pipes). You have to run around the town and take pictures of each of these for an example.

When you have the pictures, you go see Cedric who explains the new Make option in your menus. Basically, anything you take a picture of (you can hold 30 in the camera) could be important and possibly could be used in an invention. If it can be, it will have a light bulb icon in the image you took. If not, well the pic is probably useless. You can then transfer those light bulb idea pics into your invention notebook and delete the photos (you won't ever need them again).

So after this, you go to your menu and pick "New Invention." You then pick the three ideas that make up the Energy Pack. It's now added to your invention list. Of course, it turns out you need parts to make the thing... So he gives you some money and you buy them at the store. You then can go in your Make menu and pick Energy Pack from the Inventions list and viola, it's done.

Upon talking to Cedric you are told how Steve works. In addition to what I mentioned already, he has his own experience points system. There is a little counter that adds up for each point you get, and you can cash those in for new abilities for Steve. Basicly you can totally customize the guys powers, and from the sounds of it add new additons to him later on (perhaps using inventions too, Cedric wasn't clear on that).

[b][u]More Camera Goodness[/b][/u]

This is actually an incredibly cool feature I think. You can take pictures of nearly anything, and most of them will turn out to be usable for ideas (trashcans, the river, bushes, barrels). You'll find notes around the town that will give you ideas on what materials will actually make an invention (of course, you can just get lucky guessing too). There are about 20 ideas in the first town alone.

You can also take pictures of enemies or friends. Any important character will strike a pose if you take a picture of them... Kind of funny, but apparently not useful. You can also take pictures of "scoops," however I don't know what that entails as I've yet to find one. Taking good pictures that give you ideas or scoops raises your photography level, which apparently will help you later in the game according to the book.


If anyone doesn't know by now, the game makes use of a sort of cel shading. It isn't quite like most styles of it, and is completely different from Zelda's approach.

The characters are still very detailed, but they also have a dark light brown line all the way around them that makes them look hand drawn. There are times when you can mistake them for 2D sprites because of this heh.

The worlds themselves are not celshaded, and are all rather detailed and well done (even the random dungeons surprisingly, but they do wind up looking very simliar after awhile). The framerate so far is fine, although I'm told there are some drops later on.

I've only notice two things that bother me. You may or not notice them, but I'm running the game on an HDTV and it makes any problem 10 times more obvious. The first thing is distance blur. It makes anything far off blurry, and clear as it approaches. Unfortunately the transition between the two is very sudden. Things pop from blurry to clear in an instant. The effect itself really just isn't that well done either (SMS did it better even). Thankfully, this option can be turned off, and is by default. I wouldn't even bother turning it on.

The second problem mostly seems to occur in town. If you run forward everything looks great, but if you run left or right the graphics seem to shake uncontollably in the background It's hard to explain, but is rather annoying.

Otherwise, the game looks wonderful. Animation and such are great.


The sound is also great. Sound effects are at times a bit overused, but they are all well done. The music all sounds orchestrated so far and is also very good. The songs in each area change based on different things (for example, there is different music when monsters are near or you're fighting, if all monsters are killed in that dungeon, etc).

The surprising standout is the voice acting. I didn't even expect any, let alone how much there is in this game. And the best part... It's almost all really damn good. None of the main characters are poorly done in my opinion, and basically are as well done as any popular cartoon voices I can think of.

I particularly like Folsam the clown, because he sounds really demented. Whoever did that guy fit the part perfectly and I was rather impressed.


So should you get this? So far, I'd say yes. I don't know what the problems are with the original Dark Cloud that make people hate it, but this game must be very differeny considering how good it has been for me so far. Everything about the game is very well done.

If you absolutely despise random dungeons I guess you should rent first. The game is more or less a dungeon crawler when it comes down to it. None of the levels are horribly maze like (and each has a map and an item that shows monster and item locations). I have found the layouts to be decent, and they remind me a lot of old NES RPGs that expected you to want to dungeon crawl all the time heh).

I'll add a bit more information on how other things work, such as georama, when I get to them. Perhaps they have changed that as well, but I'm not sure.

Edit - Pics are down.
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Man, I can't wait to get my hands on this sucker. I was surprised when you showed me the review--I didn't expect an evolution this great between Dark Cloud and Dark Cloud 2.

I'm still not a fan of the random dungeons, and I really wish that they were removed from the game, but the addition of time travel, inventions, and monster transformations should help balance everything out. A touch of innovation is just what this series needed. Aside from the town building ability, the first Dark Cloud came off as nothing but a weak Zelda clone.

It's a little disappointing that weapons still break too. Aside from the random dungeons, the flimsy weapons are what proved to be most annoying in the original game. Thankfully, the breaking has been toned down a bit.

The fact that I won't have to go maze crawling is neat too. I've always detested RPGs that had me crawling around dungeons forever. But, man, I hope you get some more replies to this thread. Once I pick the game up, it would be neat to get a little discussion going.
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Like I was saying to you, I don't find the random dungeons that bad. None have been horribly large so far, and they have all been set up pretty well. I don't mind running through them, as each floor introduces something new, such as a monster or whatever else. Plus, after almost every floor you get a bit more story (a lot of floors don't even have dungeons at all). It isn't so bad.

And like I said... Breaking weapons isn't a huge deal really. It doesn't happen that much, and as you raise your weapons stats it becomes even more uncommon. In terms of magic and guns... Well just pretend that they need MP or ammo. It works in the same way, you just repair it when it's empty.

There are a few minigames and such in here too. There is a nice little fishing game, set up very much like in OoT. The big difference is that there are many kinds of fish, and apparently later one you can get an aquarium and raise them.

There is also a golf minigame according to the book, but I've not tried that yet.

Georama has been introduced (it's fairly early on, I've been taking my time leveling up). It's pretty well done.
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I haven't progressed into the game [i]that[/i] much. But, it's safe to say that this is the best RPG I've played in a while--alongside Suikoden III.

The visual style looks very similar to Sly Cooper's--it's a dark kind of pseudo cel shading. It's a big step up from its predecessors' generic approach.

I've noticed what you mean about storyline elements sprucing up the dungeon diving. It really breaks up the monotony and motivates me to see what's coming up next.

But, I have a feeling that it's going to take forever for me to beat this game. It's super fun upgrading weapons and synthesizing items. I've noticed that combat isn't in the way like it was in Kingdom Hearts. I actually [i]want[/i] to destroy every monster and level up. And--unlike the last Dark Cloud, I don't think that your character can become thirsty. What a hassle that was. Heh.

So, have you collected any medals Sem? The requirements are pretty nasty sometimes. I'll probably level up before I take acquiring medals seriously.
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[quote]ElCrazyWhiteBoy: DCII is going strong
Rebel Cube 511: its you and semji
Rebel Cube 511: all alone
ElCrazyWhiteBoy: Join in. It's good company [/quote]


I went to IGN to see what else I could dig up on teh game but my rights were suspended for the day. Plus gamepro.com and gamespot.com take a long *** time to load on my dial up, so I guess I have to go with what you and Semji have said.

I agree that from the shots I have seen the graphics look impressive and unique as compared to the first DC's boring and bland graphics. I have played the first and I was bored out of mind, in short it was a horrible expirience.

I guess I'll rent it just to check it out, but I don't think I have the money to actaully buy the game. I'll post my thoughts on it when I rent it. (Which won't be for a whiel because I am grounded.) :p
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Yes, at least rent it. At this point it has already become my favorite game on the system, surpassing the almighty Frequency (the sequel, Amplitude is disappointing me the more I hear about it).

In terms of medals... I mentioned that somewhere in my giant post, so I can't expect someone to pick that out heh. I'll explain how I go about it though.

Your first time though any dungeon, it's more or less impossible to get any of the medals. As you've seen, the first medal is generally "Kill all the monsters in this amount of time." Well, with your start out weapons you'll get nowhere with this. After upgrading though, you should be able to take most of the early ones out in on hit (and at this point you can get a medal).

Later on there are ones like... Use only items to kill all monsters, use only Steve, only Monica's armband and so on. Once you learn to fish, you get medals by catching certain sizes as well.

So hmm... I think I have 6 medals. You apparently do get something for getting many of them (just like with the scoops), so I'd assume it is worth it.
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