Although role-playing fans – myself included – will often opine the loss of turn-based, traditional gameplay, the retro phase is still alive and well in the digital download and handheld realms. A perfect example of this is Cladun: This is an RPG, a game with an absolutely glorious title that will make old-school fans of the genre go, “yeah, this is an RPG! Or at least, what I remember as being an RPG…” So if you want to take yet another trip down memory lane with a pixilated homage to the golden age, NIS once again has you covered. Cladun is an action/RPG that features a classic 8-bit soundtrack, and it’ll probably remind you of Atlus’ throwback gem, 3D Dot Game Heroes. With its extremely dated yet extremely recognizable and beloved 2D sprite-based graphics, multiple dungeons to explore, and even the option to create your own hero from the ground up, it’s actually everything role-playing fans wanted out of their archaic games way back when. And when it comes to the PSP and PSN soon, you might just have to give it a whirl.
The world you inhabit and in which you adventure is called Arcanus Cella, and there are many deep, dark secrets to discover. You will have to create a hero worthy of such a quest, so when you start, take some time and generate your character; you’ll even be able to select the type of animations you will see on the screen. Your choices for customization include hero class (Warrior, Dragoon, and Merchant, among others) and as you progress through the game, you will find literally thousands of items and pieces of equipment that can be affixed to the noble wanderer. You will use artifacts to power up your skills and abilities; there are over 100 of these to be found, and oh yeah, there are over 2,000 various pieces of equipment, too! This isn’t even counting regular items and other tools and objects that may be required on your travels, so the depth is certainly here. Veteran RPGers just love their micromanagement!
But remember, you won’t have to brave the terrors of Arcanus Cella alone. You can actually create a posse of up to nine aides that will form around your hero; they aren’t individually controlled (or even seen on the battlefield), but they are “magic circles” that boost your hero’s stats. Exactly how your stats will be affected depends on the choice and positioning of those friends, so here’s where some battle strategy comes into play. Now, nine sounds like a lot but as I just mentioned, they won’t be seen during the action; they will assist from the background, out of sight but not necessarily out of mind… Now, if you want some real characters around you, you’ll have to recruit some friends. Up to four players can help each other through an ad-hoc connection, which sorta contrasts with the old-fashioned premise of the game. Back in the day, “multiplayer” consisted of little more than a buddy sitting beside you on the sofa.
The dungeons in the game will be randomly generated, so every time you enter, there will be a different route to victory. It’s an action/RPG so you will be hacking and slashing your way through; you’ll have your trusty weapon, a shield, and the ability to jump and sprint when necessary. With every enemy you cut down, experience will be gained and this is how your hero will get better and better. This premise lies at the very core of role-playing and although this game may appear simplistic on the surface, it really should satisfy the retro lover in you, who misses the old days and requires a dose of yesteryear every now and then. The screenshots alone might be enough to entice you, friend of the RPG.
8/5/2010 Ben Dutka