Once again, you're stuck in the mysterious land of Arcanus Cella; but this time there's no way out, or so you're told. As you try to find an escape route, you'll explore the tiny island and its quirky inhabitants, eventually finding a portal that leads to neverending dungeons. The cheeky islanders tell you every exit leads straight back to Arcanus Cella, but does it? Are you prepared to dungeon crawl . . . forever?
Dungeon crawling that long would probably get pretty boring, but ClaDun x2 is far from a dull and tired game. Though the plot is flimsy - just as it was in the first game, a thin setting around the adventures in the dungeons is all you really need. With the the amped-up customization, the music editor, magic circles, and the dungeons themselves, you'll have more than enough to keep you busy on such a tiny island.
ClaDun x2 will appeal immensely to those who get the biggest thrills building their team.
Unlike the first game, you get to create your own character right out of the starting gate. Creating your character in the beginning involves selecting gender, class, personality, and then some pre-made sprites with the option of changing hair color. Afterwards, you are able to alter your character (and every other character you make) down to the pixel in the editing tool. And it doesn't end there.
Once you create your character(s) you can alter their weapons and armor to the last detail. This includes naming the equipment and even giving each piece a description. With the ability to customize the appearance, dialogue, armor, and weapons of each of your characters, the only limitations are those of your imagination. I could draw a chicken on top of my character's head and play that way. In fact, I think I will.
Once you create your perfect team, you can compose your own theme music with the game's music editor. The music editor has a very simple layout of note names, with the ability to raise or lower octaves or pitches by half steps. Knowing note names will help you recreate a classic tune or create your own jingle quickly, but your ear will do well enough if you have time to spend with trial and error. The music editor allows you to add up to three layers, or parts, to a song. That's a little too ambitious for me, but it's there!
The dungeons have pretty much stayed the same, but that doesn't mean they are any less great. You'll still have to watch your step for the hidden traps, avoid plugging along through mud or tall grass, and hope there's a puddle nearby when you get set on fire. The color of an enemy will give you an idea of how powerful it is, so you can opt to avoid it; however, some rooms will require all enemies killed in order to progress. Whether it's a newly unlocked dungeon or one of the randomly generated levels of the Rangeon or Tei-geon, navigating through them often goes by quickly. In fact, the time it takes for you to complete each level is recorded, allowing you to try to beat your own time. Get through a dungeon quickly enough and you may even be rewarded.
Dungeons are abundant in treasure chests containing magic artifacts, weapons, and armor. You might end up spoiled on spoils as I was a few times, led to my doom trying to access a few more chests locked behind a door.
The magic circles that offered a unique strategy system in the first ClaDun are still intact in x2, with many new and complex magic circles added. For those who haven't played the first game: magic circles are how party members are arranged, and basically how you approach each dungeon. While you take on the dungeon with your main character, the sub characters are boosting your attack and defense stats while also taking damage for you. These attributes are beefed up with artifacts and strategic character placement. You're encouraged to keep rotating your characters in order for their stats to develop evenly. This is great for allowing every character some face time, but it can be annoying for those who want to play exclusively with their main character. Well-rounded party members will make progressing in the dungeons a lot easier, though.
ClaDun x2 is almost a little deceptive in how simple it appears. The game is definitely easy to pick up and play, but a few of its numerous systems aren't explained in detail and are complicated to master. You will understand the basics of magic circles, but they will become much more complex than the simple ones that were explained to you. New options like recycling weapons and attributes or combining them with new weapons are also a little vague, and the advanced editor will take some time to learn on your own. You may be satisfied not delving into these options, but doing so will certainly add to the longevity of the game.
ClaDun x2 will appeal immensely to those who get the biggest thrills building their team, and one could easily spend just as many hours in the character and equipment editor as in the dungeons. The dungeons themselves are fun and go at a quick pace, but they become difficult enough to challenge veteran dungeon crawlers. With the humor and characters that Nippon Ichi is known for, you may not want to leave Arcanus Cella if you ever find the real exit.