Have you ever been sitting around your house and thought to yourself “Man, I miss games like Secret of Mana and Alundra”?
Well you're in luck, my fellow gaming enthusiast, because ClanDun X2 attempts to hit all of those marks and more. NIS America is a company who likes to tickle our RPG nostalgia bone on a regular basis, and this entry throws a little DIY ingenuity into the mix as well. I didn’t know what to expect when I started, as I hadn’t played the firstClanDun and I’d have to say that for the most part I was pleasantly surprised.
The setup is simple and very straight forward. You are a new arrival to the world of Arcanus Cella, a mystical dungeon-filled world where its inhabitants believe their sins brought them there. All the characters say there is no way home and have a sin in their past that they believe is responsible for their exile to this land. As you move through the paper thin story about trying to find your way out, each of the supporting characters reveal their sins.
ClanDun is, for the most part, a hack-and-slash dungeon crawler where you just keep descending multiple levels of different themed dungeons. As you cast spells and swing swords, you gain levels and learn new spells to sling -- pretty routine RPG.
One of the creation aspects is for new characters; you can make one whenever you want. The reason why you want to create multiple characters is for the game's Magic Circles. At first you can only enter dungeons as your main character. You set up your extra characters on the Magic Circles to provide a hit point buffer on whichever side they are set up on, and depending on the mana this character has, different artifacts are equipped to improve stats like strength and HP.
The most interesting aspect of ClanDun is its creation system. You can pretty much customize each and every aspect of the game. Don’t like what your character's head looks like? Go into the character editor and use the builder to put whichever nightmare fuel you can think of on top of your character. Don’t like the music? There’s a freaking music creator in here too, not fucking Fruity Loops or anything, but you can throw down some mad 8-bit beats with this thing. Maybe you think the weapons are just a little generic? Me too, so I built "Bitchfucker," the seven-bladed sword of the gods forged from the blood of my enemies.
The character creation system is not super robust, but gives you the basics. You can make a male or female character, select class and personality, and then select from a group of premade character models. What is strange, however, is how you can set up relationship diagrams between all of your characters. Make your mage hate your cleric, or have you fighter fall head over heels in love with your ranger. Or, you can do what I did and make your characters people from your real life -- like all of us here at PPR -- and set up your relationships as they actually are.
While all of this stuff is great there are a couple of problems that muddle up the mix. For one, though this is a dungeon crawling action RPG, there really isn’t much here. With the story being so thin there's not much pushing you forward other than fooling around with the game's creation tools. The biggest problem I had is the engine itself; this game has a 16-bit style so it’s very pixilated on purpose, but on my three year old gaming laptop the game chugs horribly while in town. In dungeons it seems to do fine, but it shouldn’t slow to a halt like it does unless it’s using the Crysis CryENGINE in the background.
ClanDun X2 was a pleasant little surprise while it lasted. Normally I enjoy Nippon Ichi’s games for the writing alone, but this game's writing is so weak and lackluster that I just lost interest in it after about eight hours. The creation system was fun and easy to mess around with, and there are already websites with downloadable characters and weapons for you to import into the game. Those of you looking for a little old school flavor with huge amounts of customizability should check it out. However, if you're looking for an epic tale, please try elsewhere.
Three out of Five Hadokens