Old School RPG Corner: Dark Cloud.
(AfroGamers.com) The PlayStation 2 had numerous RPGs that kind of went under the radar. If you were serious about your RPGs, you didn’t miss many—although there are some you would’ve been better off missing. There is one RPG that was somewhat unique for its time when compared to the turn-based company it kept; Level-5’s Dark Cloud from 2000.
Dark Cloud: The “Oh yeah! I remember that game!” RPG
Released in the U.S. and Europe in 2001, Dark Cloud put you in the role of Toan, a young villager tasked with reviving whole towns after an evil genie—the Dark Genie—controlled by a corrupt colonel fails in its attempt to destroy them. Its failure came via the intervention of the Fairy King who sealed all the towns up to protect them.
The genie’s attack wasn’t a total bust as it manages to scatter the towns everywhere—but mainly into a bunch of dungeons conveniently located near these towns. As Toan, you enter these dungeons to get the different pieces of the towns and use a magical stone to restore them.
Overall, it’s a very simple premise but you’re going to have quite the adventure ahead of you.
So, Dark Cloud plays like your run-of-the-mill action RPG. As a matter of fact, you’re going to get quite the Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time vibe from it with all the sword swinging, dungeon crawling, bosses, and yes, fairies. I will say that Ocarina of Time is the better game of the two, Dark Cloud gives you a little more to do.
You’ll face off against different monsters with specific ways to defeat them. There are chests to open and weapons to find. One thing you’ll want to keep an eye on while exploring dungeons is your thirst meter. Being thirsty doesn’t eventually kill your character but the health bar will start to take hits quickly.
Also, Toan doesn’t level up through play but your weapons will through use. You can increase stats with different items you’ll find in dungeons. If you have a weapon that you’ve really grown attached to, you might want to be selective in how much you use it since they can wear down with use.
For the most part, there’s a zero-to-small learning curve in the action department of the game. The game explains the thirst meter and once you’re aware of it, you’ll almost automatically prepare for the dungeon for leaving town.
After restoring Toan’s hometown, you’ll go to other towns to do the same and pick up new allies to take into the dungeon.
Sim City Super Lite
The real challenge in Dark Cloud comes in rebuilding the town. If you’re familiar with the Sim City, this is a double ultra-condensed version. You’re not building infrastructure or any of that. You just have to place the houses, buildings, and other things somewhere in the town map area. Once you do, you’ll be able to visit that location.
But that’s not all, villagers have needs—or demands—for where their house is located. For instance, someone might want their house near the river or next to the store. Meanwhile, the store wants to be near the river. You’ll want to meet these demands if you want bonus rewards for a 100-percent restored town.
This was one of those fond games I enjoyed on the PS2. It gave hours of fun just like Ocarina of Time did and gave me a challenge that wasn’t puzzles upon puzzles and one disrespectful Water Temple. I really hate water levels and that Temple and the drowning warning theme from Sonic the Hedgehog 2 truly sealed that.
If you’d like something like Ocarina of Time on PlayStation, Dark Cloud is on the PlayStation Network! While it did get a sequel two years later in Dark Cloud 2, I always felt it should’ve had more entries in the series. It was a game with that much potential.
RATING: 9 out of 10 (Highly Recommended)
Staff Writer; M. Swift
This talented writer is also a podcast host, and comic book fan who loves all things old school. One may also find him on Twitter at; metalswift.