|Publisher(s)||Sony Computer Entertainment Japan|
|Release date(s)||JP December 14, 2000
NA May 28, 2001
EU 20010921September 21, 2001
JP August 22, 2012 (PSN)
Dark Cloud (ダーククラウド Dāku Kuraudo ) is an action role-playing game developed by Level-5 and published by Sony Computer Entertainment It was released exclusively for the PlayStation 2 video game console on December 14, 2000 in Japan, May 28, 2001 in North America and September 21, 2001 in Europe. The gameplay of Dark Cloud combines action role-playing with elements of city-building games. A sequel to the game, Dark Chronicle (or Dark Cloud 2), was released two years later.
The game's story focuses on a group of adventurers who band together to fight against a being called the Dark Genie, whose attacks on their home villages has affected them all. The main protagonist is Toan, a boy who is given a magical stone called the Atlamillia by the Fairy King, which has the power to rebuild the destroyed lands.
The game was originally intended to be a launch title for the PlayStation 2 but was eventually released later in the year. The game was generally well received by critics who praised its blend of gameplay types and has sold more than 1 million units worldwide.
Dark Cloud is an action role-playing game in which the player moves through procedurally-generated dungeons, battling monsters and collecting items. Inside these dungeons, on random floors, the player may have the option of entering a separate area which contains stronger monsters and more valuable treasure. The player will sometimes 'Duel' an enemy. In this type of battle, the player must correctly press a sequence of buttons shown on the screen to win, similarly to a quick time event.
Another part of Dark Cloud's gameplay involves special items called Atla which are used to rebuild the world. These items, which are present in most dungeon levels, are large spherical objects and can be retrieved only by the main character. When removed from the dungeon, they become pieces of the world (trees, houses, villagers, etc.). These pieces must then be placed through Georama mode, an element similar to city-building games, in which the player can arrange the pieces of the world onto the landscape. After villagers have been placed, the player can speak to them to discover what their wishes are for the rebuilding of the village. As the player approaches the ideals concerning the village restoration and its villagers' preferences, their progress is recorded as a percentage of completion in the Georama menu. When the progress reaches 100%, the village is considered complete.
Unlike most action role-playing games, instead of the main characters leveling up, their weapons do. The player characters themselves can only grow stronger with the consumption of particular items. Weapons level up by killing enemies, but they wear over time, and it is necessary to repair them to avoid them breaking and becoming unusable. With the exception of the starting weapon, a broken weapon is immediately removed from the player's inventory. To upgrade a weapon, the player can attach stat-increasing items to it (attack power, speed, ability to kill different types of monsters, elemental attributes, etc.), but a single weapon can only carry a limited number of attachments. To permanently keep the extra statistics the attachements give, the weapon must be leveled up using absorption points, which are gained by defeating enemies. Weapons can be combined after reaching a certain level, giving the player a single weapon with the combined attributes of the two.
Dark Cloud features six different main characters each with their own playstyle; three ranged fighters and three melee fighters, each using a different weapon. The melee characters use a variety of blades, hammers and staves, and the ranged characters use magic rings, guns and slingshots. Each character also has a unique ability that helps them move through the dungeons (one character can jump across chasms, another can open certain types of door etc.).
Dark Cloud also features elements of survival games such as dehydration.
Dark Cloud is set in a fantasy world called Terra. The world is made of two main continents, referred to as the East and West. The eastern continent has a focus on technology, and the civilization is advanced, whereas the western continent is less so, and its people prefer to "live in harmony with nature."
On the western continent are the settlements that were sealed away by the Fairy King so as to protect them during the attack by the Dark Genie, and where the game primarily takes place. These settlements are Norune, Matataki, Brownboo, Queens, Muska Racka and a settlement on one of Terra's moons, Yellow Drops.
Dark Cloud features many characters, some of which are playable. Each playable character utilizes different weapons, fighting styles and abilities that aid in the exploration of dungeon areas. The main protagonist, a boy named Toan, fights with daggers, knives and swords. After the events of the prologue, he is tasked with the restoration of the world by the Fairy King. The main antagonist is the Dark Genie, an evil genie released by Colonel Flag, a second class military commander who wants its power to control the world.
During the course of the game, Toan meets new characters who can be chosen to explore and battle in dungeons. The player must accomplish in-game events for new characters to join. The available characters include: Xiao, a slingshot-wielding 'catgirl'; Goro, a hunter from Matataki Village who uses large hammers; Ruby, a magic-ring-using genie from Queens; Ungaga, a Muska Racka warrior using staves; and Osmond, leader of the Moon People, equipped with a variety of guns and blasters.
Dark Cloud is a fairy tale read from a book found in ancient, nameless ruins. After scholars translated the story, its significance and verity became debatable.
The story begins in a chamber called the Dark Shrine where a ceremony of dances is being performed to awaken the Dark Genie, a legendary creature of great power. Colonel Flag, who wants this power for war, watches while the ceremony's organizer, a priest of the shrine, explains the legend of the Genie. A large urn containing the genie's spirit billows black smoke and the Dark Genie materializes. It accepts Colonel Flag as its master, but devours the priest. Under Flag's orders, the Dark Genie then attacks the western continent, but the Fairy King casts a protective spell around the affected lands. This spell causes the buildings, objects and people to be sealed away in magical orbs called Atla, avoiding the Dark Genie's attack. However, the orbs are scattered throughout different parts of the world.
Toan, whose home is the affected Norune Village, is given a blue stone called the Atlamillia by the Fairy King and learns he must search for the people and objects in the form of floating orbs called Atla. Toan goes to a nearby cave and collects all of the Atla containing Norune Village and its people. In his exploration of the cave, Toan meets a man called Seda, who was possessed by the dark genie, challenges him to a sword duel. Toan loses when he tries to protect a cat that was accidentally caught in the battle. Seda throws Toan a changing potion as a gift for doing so. The potion is later used on the cat, which causes it to change into a half-human/half-cat named Xiao, who joins Toan on his quest. At the cave's bottom, Toan finds Dran, the god of all beasts and guardian of Norune. The usually peaceful Dran, however, is possessed by the Dark Genie and attacks Toan. Defeating Dran releases him from the genie's control and he suggests Toan and Xiao find the Moon People, directing the two toward Great Treant in Matataki Village.
As they move into Matataki, Toan is challenged by a boy named Goro. After being defeated, Goro runs back up to his tree house, dropping the magical earrings which allows one to understand the creatures of the forest, including the Great Treant. Goro eventually joins Toan's party. After speaking with Treant, who tells them where to find the Moon People, the group heads to the nearby Wise Owl Forest. There they face a giant possessed primate called Master Utan, the guardian of the forest. He attacks them, but as with Dran, by defeating him, they free him from the Genie's control. Toan and the others venture deeper into the forest, making their way to Brownboo, an unaffected village where the Moon People reside. There they are captured by the Moon People for trespassing. Learning of the Dark Genie, the Moon People release the group and together devise a plan to defeat the Genie permanently. The Moon People want to call the Moon Ship using the Moon Orb. To find the orb, Toan and party travel to the seaside village of Queens where they learn of a shipwreck, which may be where the orb resides. Queens has suffered the same fate as Norune and Matataki, apart from one shop run by a man named Rando, who tells them of the shipwreck. While searching the wreck for the orb, the party find and restores the city of Queens, and Toan finds a lamp that releases a friendly genie, Ruby, who also joins the group. The party also hears the story of the former queen, La Saia, who was abandoned by her lover at the altar, and who threw herself into the sea in despair. A shopkeeper who initially refuses the party entry to his store also tells them the local story of an orb that will grant immortality, but at the cost of whatever the owner most values, apart from their life. In the final area of the shipwreck, Toan and party meet with La Saia's ghost. After defeating her, her fiancée, Rando comes into the sanctuary and apologizes to La Saia, revealing that he was knocked out by the Life Orb prior to the wedding, in order to destroy what he most valued; his love for her. He then hands Toan the Moon Orb, and joins La Saia by destroying the Life Orb.
Still unable to summon the Moon Ship even with the Moon Orb, the Moon People send Toan and the others to the desert village of Muska Lacka. There, they find the Sun and Moon Temple and begin to collect the Atla to restore the village. At this point, Toan befriends a desert warrior named Ungaga, who later joins the group. After reaching the last floor of the temple, they face The King's Curse. When defeated, a passage opens that leads to the Moon Ship. With the help of the Moon People, the ship is finally activated. They travel to a moon city, Yellow Drops, where Toan meets Osmond, a Moon Person, who asks for help in collecting pieces of a giant battle robot called the Sun Giant. The Moon People, who have lost their magical abilities, believe they can destroy the Dark Genie for good by using this robot. After meeting Osmond, he too joins the group. Toan and party collect the scattered pieces of the robot by searching the Moon Sea. Toan collects the final piece, a powerful energy source, by fighting a giant Minotaur in a colosseum-like battle. When the Sun Giant is completed, Toan and party, with a crew of Moon People, pilot the Sun Giant towards the Dark Heaven Castle, where the Dark Genie now resides.
The group arrives at the castle and confronts the Dark Genie. However, after defeating him, they learn that they were actually fighting a rat that had absorbed some of the true Dark Genie's powers while sealed away in its urn. The true Dark Genie has in fact possessed Colonel Flag, and it now destroys the Sun Giant. The Genie's power proves too great for Flag's body, and he dies, leaving the Genie without a host. Toan continues to pursue the Genie and enters the castle where he again encounters Seda. He explains to Toan that it was his fault the Dark Genie was created. He reveals that he accepted tremendous dark power into his body in order to gain the power to defeat an invading army, and that this led to the Genie's birth. Seda opens a portal to the Gallery of Time to allow Toan and the others to travel back to the past to ensure the Genie is never created.
The Genie reappears, wanting to reunite with Seda's body, but Seda kills himself to keep the Genie from his power. The group travel through the years of the Gallery of Time to collect and view the memories Seda had infused into the Gallery, in order to learn the full story of the Genie's birth. It transpires that while the power Seda absorbed was necessary to create the Genie, the final cause was the death of his fiancée at the hands of an assassin seeking to kill Seda. Toan is unable to prevent the Dark Genie's creation, but he faces and defeats its true form. He then completely expends the Atlamilla's powers to revive Seda's fiancée, Sophia. Upon doing so, the group is returned to its own time, when the Fairy King informs them that the Genie is gone for ever.
Dark Cloud was the first game of the Japanese developer Level-5, lead by designer Akihiro Hino. Development of the game began when the company was founded in October 1998. When the PlayStation 2 was announced on March 2, 1999, Sony president and CEO Ken Kutaragi used a demo of Dark Cloud to show the capabilities of the platform, although many elements of the demo were not used in the release version of the game.
In 1999, Sony showed an early playable version of Dark Cloud at the Tokyo Game Show. This version focused on a character who needed to return a floating piece of land back to where it originally came from, but its location had been replaced with an evil kingdom. The world building parts were demonstrated in this version. At the Tokyo Game Show in 2000, a more complete demo was available, similar to the final version.
The English language release of Dark Cloud had additional gameplay features, including the ability to upgrade weapons, extra duels and an extra dungeon after completing the game, the Demon Shaft; this location does not appear in the Japanese version.
The Dark Cloud Official Soundtrack was released to the Japanese market in late 2001. The soundtrack, composed by Tomohito Nishiura, consists of forty-six tracks.
|Dark Cloud Official Soundtrack|
|3.||"The Village Festival"|
|4.||"The Destruction of Norune Village"|
|5.||"The Resurrection of Norune Village"|
|6.||"Open Your Eyes"|
|8.||"Divine Beast Cave"|
|9.||"The Spirit King"|
|10.||"Divine Beast Dran"|
|15.||"Legend of Hunter"|
|16.||"Wise Owl Forest"|
|17.||"Forest Guardian Master Utan"|
|19.||"Broken Promise (Orgel Version)"|
|22.||"The Ice Queen"|
|24.||"The Daily Life"|
|28.||"If You Strain Your Ears"|
|29.||"Sun and Moon Palace"|
|31.||"The King's Curse"|
|36.||"The Land of Hope"|
|40.||"The Gallery of Time"|
|41.||"Dark Heaven Castle"|
|42.||"Time of Destiny"|
|46.||"Main Theme (Bossa Nova Version)"|
According to Famitsu, Dark Cloud was the 15th best-selling video game during the week of its debut in Japan, with 19,615 copies sold. By the end of 2001, the game had sold 70,471 copies in the region. Level-5's Akihiro Hino stated Dark Cloud has sold over 800,000 copies worldwide. In 2002, the game received best-seller re-releases in both Japan (The Best range) and North America (Greatest Hits).
Dark Cloud scored 78.82% and 80/100 on review aggregator sites GameRankings and Metacritic. Reviews in general were positive, but in most cases the main criticism of the game tended to focus on the repetitive dungeons and battles and lack of strong story. The gameplay was often compared to The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time because it contained features and a main character that are similar, while also likened to Vagrant Story for its weapon system. IGN, GameSpot, Allgame and others praised Dark Cloud for blending different types of gameplay together successfully. GameSpot called it "one highly addictive and surprisingly cohesive experience." TotalPlayStation mentioned how the town building feature was unique, while GameSpot and IGN said it borrowed elements from ActRaiser. The battle system received mixed reviews, while some felt it was repetitive and monotonous in regards to the dungeon crawling, many positive points came from the weapon system and how it is easy to use.
Reviews of the plot were mixed. IGN and TotalPlaystation thought the story, while simple, was "good enough." Gameplanet thought the plot was "bland" and "negligible" and that it was one of the factors that brought the game down. Reviews of the game's graphics were more positive. PSXExtreme said it "has...some of the prettiest textures I can think of," while RPGamer and TotalPlaystation thought the visuals "don't slouch," but were not as good when compared to other games, like those made by Namco and Square. Absolute PlayStation and PlanetPS2 felt that most of the music was "mediocre", "not too inspiring and sometimes can get monotonous," but reviews of the ambient and general sound effects were positive. RPGamer felt the complete opposite and thought the "music does an excellent job of setting the mood," but some of the character sound effects were overused. PSXExtreme compared the soundtrack to the soundtrack from Chrono Cross which they said is "actually a very good thing."
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- Level-5. Dark Cloud. (Sony Computer Entertainment). PlayStation 2. (05-28-2001) Fairy King: Let me bless you with power. There, surprised? That's called "Atlamillia", it's a stone with a magical power.
- David, Zdyrko (05-30-2001). "IGN Review of Dark Cloud". IGN. Retrieved 01-01-2010.
- Level-5. Dark Cloud. (Sony Computer Entertainment). PlayStation 2. (05-28-2001) Ceremony Organiser: 400 years ago, the Genie of darkness appeared in the East, and with is evil power, the world was burnt away
- Level-5. Dark Cloud. (Sony Computer Entertainment). PlayStation 2. (05-28-2001) Fairy King:You see, just before the village was destroyed by that Genie, I saved the buildings and people by sealing them into spheres called "Atla".
- Level-5. Dark Cloud. (Sony Computer Entertainment). PlayStation 2. (05-28-2001) Fairy King: First conquer this wretched Divine Beast's Cave and find Dran's lair. That's your first goal.
- Level-5. Dark Cloud. (Sony Computer Entertainment). PlayStation 2. (05-28-2001) Seda: It's not that you couldn't dodge....You simply didn't dodge...Deliberately.
- Level-5. Dark Cloud. (Sony Computer Entertainment). PlayStation 2. (05-28-2001) Seda: I have a gift for you. Have that little one return you the favour.
- Level-5. Dark Cloud. (Sony Computer Entertainment). PlayStation 2. (05-28-2001) Xiao: Woah. I'm like, totally a human
- Level-5. Dark Cloud. (Sony Computer Entertainment). PlayStation 2. (05-28-2001) Dran: I don't have a clue just how powerful this Genie is, but it was powerful enough to control me.
- Level-5. Dark Cloud. (Sony Computer Entertainment). PlayStation 2. (05-28-2001) Dran:One you reach Matataki, first thing, visit Great Treant.
- Level-5. Dark Cloud. (Sony Computer Entertainment). PlayStation 2. (05-28-2001) Goro: Get ready, the hurt's comin'!
- Level-5. Dark Cloud. (Sony Computer Entertainment). PlayStation 2. (05-28-2001) Forest Keeper Masterutan
- Level-5. Dark Cloud. (Sony Computer Entertainment). PlayStation 2. (05-28-2001) Brownboo Village Chief: The orb of the moon is a sphere to move the Moon Ship.
- Level-5. Dark Cloud. (Sony Computer Entertainment). PlayStation 2. (05-28-2001) Brownboo Villager: Say, why not go to Queens to find the orb?
- Level-5. Dark Cloud. (Sony Computer Entertainment). PlayStation 2. (05-28-2001) Ruby: Okay, I've made up my mind! I'm in. I'll fight that Dark Genie with you!
- Level-5. Dark Cloud. (Sony Computer Entertainment). PlayStation 2. (05-28-2001) Rando: I'm sorry, Toan. Here, this is for you. <Moon orb acquired>
- Level-5. Dark Cloud. (Sony Computer Entertainment). PlayStation 2. (05-28-2001) Brownboo Villager: That's strange...it's not working
- Level-5. Dark Cloud. (Sony Computer Entertainment). PlayStation 2. (05-28-2001) Osmond: Listen Toan. The destination is Dark Heaven Castle.
- Level-5. Dark Cloud. (Sony Computer Entertainment). PlayStation 2. (05-28-2001) Colonel Flag: What you'd called the "Genie", that was this little one here. A lucky little rodent that found its way into the urn while I was still imprisoned. Its mere proximity to me allowed it to absorb tremendous magical power.
- Level-5. Dark Cloud. (Sony Computer Entertainment). PlayStation 2. (05-28-2001) Colonel Flag: I used this fool's body. The fool broke the urn's spell, blinded by greed.
- Level-5. Dark Cloud. (Sony Computer Entertainment). PlayStation 2. (05-28-2001) Seda: He was born here in this castle, long, long ago. This is where the 400-year nightmare began.
- Level-5. Dark Cloud. (Sony Computer Entertainment). PlayStation 2. (05-28-2001) Seda: I can't up this body...yet...
- Level-5. Dark Cloud. (Sony Computer Entertainment). PlayStation 2. (05-28-2001) Seda: Follow the Fragments of Memory I left in the Gallery of Time. They will show you what you need to do...
- Level-5. Dark Cloud. (Sony Computer Entertainment). PlayStation 2. (05-28-2001) Fairy King: Now is the time to use that hidden power! The power to bring a lost soul back!...It is not too late. Call out for Sophia's wandering soul!
- Level-5. Dark Cloud. (Sony Computer Entertainment). PlayStation 2. (05-28-2001) Fairy King: Toan!! so it's over now! That evil will never come to life...At least not for some time...Let's go home.
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- Dark Cloud at PlayStation.com (North America)