Dark Cloud 2
SCE Japan Studio
|Publisher(s)||Sony Computer Entertainment Inc.|
|Release date(s)||JP November 28, 2002
NA February 17, 2003
EU September 10, 2003
UK September 12, 2003
Dark Chronicle (ダーククロニクル Dāku Kuronikuru ), released as Dark Cloud 2 in North America, is a role-playing video game for the PlayStation 2 video game console. It was developed by Level-5 and SCE Japan Studio and published by Sony Computer Entertainment in November 2002 in Japan, February 2003 in North America and September 2003 in Europe.
It is the sequel to Dark Cloud, and features similar action role-playing and city-building game mechanics. Players control two main protagonists, Max and Monica, who come from the present and future, respectively, to stop the main antagonist, Emperor Griffon who wishes to destroy the present from the past. The game is an alternate reality that plays out following the conclusion of Dark Cloud set roughly 500 years before it.
Dark Chronicle is a third-person role-playing game in which the player moves through randomly generated dungeons, battling monsters and collecting items. These dungeons are periodically interrupted by set rooms/events where either a cutscene is shown or the player fights a boss. In the dungeons, the player will find various materials to use in item construction and Georama mode.
Outside of dungeons, the main focus is on the Georama system where the player is tasked with rebuilding particular locations to restore the future. By retrieving Geostones from the dungeons, the player is given guidelines for the town rebuilding, as well as plans to make objects (houses, bridges, shops etc.) required for fulfilling those guidelines. After rebuilding the infrastructure, the town must be populated with inhabitants by completing mini-games.
The goal of each Georama map is to complete as many of the ten objectives for that map as possible. While some objectives are requisite for advancing the plot, many are optional and provide bonus items when completed. The theme of rebuilding a decimated world is carried over from Dark Cloud, but unlike in the first game, Dark Chronicle uses a large machine named the 'Carpenterion' to rebuild the villages.
Three features of Dark Chronicle are fishing, spheda (a sport similar to golf) and Georama. Players can bring their fish to weigh-in contests, or raise them in a fish-tank and enter them in races. Other features include NPC recruiting, photography, an invention system and a powerful and customizable robot that can be used in battle.
Another notable feature of Dark Chronicle is the focus on weapon growth instead of the traditional focus on character growth. When monsters are defeated, they drop absorption points (ABS), which, when collected, raise the experience of the weapon that dealt the final hit. When a weapon accumulates enough ABS, it will level up and gain Synthesis Points. Synthesis Points are used to infuse a weapon with an item that has been "spectrumized," which results in the weapon gaining specific stats depending on the item(s) that were spectrumized. Almost every item in the game can be spectrumized and synthesized to weaponry. Weapons themselves can also be spectrumized, but, unless it is level five or higher, the resulting spectrumized weapon will not carry over much of its stats.
Weapons also have the capability to be "built-up." To be do so, a weapon must meet certain criteria. In most cases, a weapon needs to have at least a certain number of specified stats, while some weapons also require the player to have defeated particular types of enemies. Some weapons can be built-up into more than one new weapon. When a weapon is built-up, it gains strength, and starts over at level one. Built-up weapons are stronger than weapons that have not been built-up, and tend to earn more synthesis points when they level up.
Weapons also have durability. When a melee weapon hits a monster, or a ranged weapon is fired, the durability of the weapon decreases. If it reaches zero, the player can no longer use the weapon until it is repaired with an item, or for no cost from an NPC. When a weapon breaks, the ABS points it has accumulated drops to zero, and must be raised once again.
The player, controlling either protagonist, can recruit non-player characters into their team by performing different tasks. The characters are not controllable and do not appear in battle, but through the 'Characters' portion of the menu, the player can access a party member's special ability. Some party members also have an influence on the battle, for example increasing item drops or adjusting enemy behavior. Outside of dungeons (in the train and in Georama locations), some of these characters sell items.
Dark Chronicle, like its predecessor, is set in a fantasy world that is in some ways inspired by the steampunk style. Although never explicitly mentioned, it can be presumed it too is set on the planet Terra due to the same two moons but instead on the eastern continent due to the levels of technology present in it as described in the predecessor.
The game takes place on one continent, with many different settlements. However, due to the destructive ways of Emperor Griffon, most of the once civilized villages are now abandoned and empty.
- Maximilian (ユリス Yurisu ) (voiced by Megumi Kubota in the Japanese version and by Scott Menville in the English version) - a young aspiring inventor living with his father (his mother disappeared when he was younger). Max comes from a wealthy family, but has no interest in a privileged life, preferring instead to work with an elderly friend, Cedric (voiced by Paul Eiding), in his mechanic shop. After coincidentally overhearing Flotsam (Phil Proctor) - a homicidal circus ringmaster - pressuring the town mayor to produce a valuable stone, Max is soon caught up in a serious conflict, spanning both time and space. Working with Monica and other characters, Max must 'rebuild' the past to ensure a prosperous future. His weapons of choice are various wrenches, hammers and hand-held guns. He also has the ability to pilot the Ridepod, a steampunk-inspired mech named "Steve". Max has one of three special amulets, or Atlamillia, that enable travel through time, his red amulet allowing movement from the past into the future.
- Monica (モニカ Monika ) (voiced by Hiroko Taguchi in the Japanese version and by Anndi McAfee in the English version) - a young princess, adept at both swordsmanship and magic, who hails from 100 years in the future. After the murder of her father at the hands of an enigmatic figure named Gaspard (Rino Romano), she sets out on a journey through time to search for him. Her travels take her into the past, where she helps Max in a battle against the evil clown Flotsam, who, like her nemesis Gaspard, is a servant of Emperor Griffon (Mark Hamill). Afterwards, she joins Max on the quest to rebuild time and put an end to Griffon's scheme. Her weapons of choice are various swords and special brassards that enable her to use elemental magic. She also has the unusual ability to change into monsters using special badges, which gives her new combat options, and enables her to talk to other monsters of the same type. Monica has one of three special amulets, or Atlamillia, that enable travel through time, her blue amulet allowing movement from the future back into the past.
The story centers around Max, a young inventor who lives in the town of Palm Brinks. Working at Cedric's workshop, Max receives a ticket to the local carnival. While at the carnival, he is attacked by the ringleader, Flotsam, after overhearing a conversation between him and the mayor about the "outside world" and the Atlamillia stones. Discovering Flotsam has been bribing the mayor, Max flees from Flotsam and his clowns, who try to take the Atlamillia pendant Max has with him. Max escapes, concerned about Flotsam and the mayor's conversation about the outside world, a place of which he previously had no knowledge. He manages to get away from Flotsam's henchmen by hiding in the sewers, where he tells his friend Donny he believes this is an opportunity to see the outside world. By fighting his way through the sewers and escaping monsters, Flotsam's circus troops, and a huge robot named Halloween, Max quickly gathers together his mechanic partners and his mentor Cedric and boards a train out of Palm Brinks. Flotsam chases them down, and attempts to blow up the train, but is nearly killed by a young girl called Monica.
Princess Monica Raybrandt has travelled back through time after her father, King Raybrandt, was assassinated by the Dark Assassin Gaspard. Monica is much more informed about the situation than the less-worldly Max. She tells him that an evil emperor is controlling time by using his Atlamillia, the Sun Stone, and is also attempting to destroy the world of the past so that he can rule the future. Together, they journey through many towns, rebuilding each of them; Sindain, Balance Valley, Veniccio and Mount Gundor. Each area has a "dungeon" they must conquer and from which they must retrieve special stones.
Once all the stones have been collected, and the villages rebuilt, Max and Monica travel 10,000 years into the past to face Griffon. After a battle with Griffon in his palace, he steals both Atlamillia from Max and Monica and takes the Moon Flower Palace to Max's time. The only thing that can stop the Moon Flower Palace from destroying the world is the battle palace Paznos, which will not be completed until Monica's time. Max and Monica are able to trigger a chrono-union at the Kazherov Stonehenge, which allows Paznos to travel to Max's time, allowing the two to return to the Moon Flower Palace for another battle with Griffon.
However, using his own Sun Stone, coupled with Max's Earth Stone, and Monica's Moon Stone, Griffon has summoned the Star of Oblivion, a huge meteor, which will destroy the world. Upon defeating Griffon, Max and Monica discover that he is in fact an innocent young Moon Person named Sirus, who had been possessed by the Dark Element. Max and Monica engage in a battle with the Element, with Sirus sacrificing his own life to ensure they win. Then, using the three stones, Max and Monica are able to deflect the meteor in time to save the world.
After everything settles down, the mayor of Palm Brinks sends Max into the local mine to find some minerals to fuel the train for all of Palm Brinks to see the world. While in the mine, Monica enters the present to join Max. Later they encounter a semi-cyborg Flotsam who claims to be working for someone who is far more powerful than Griffon. After Flotsam is defeated, he self-destructs before Max and Monica could ask about his new boss.
As Max and Monica find the minerials, they encounter the Dark Genie, who reveals himself to be Flotsam's boss and had no intention to let the minerials to be taken. After the Dark Genie is defeated, he disappears from the mine. Max and Monica take the minerals and fuel the train.
Graphically, Dark Chronicle departs from the style of Dark Cloud completely by using cel-shading. The main characters have a higher polygon count than the supporting characters, composed of 2500 to 3000 polygons as opposed to 1500 to 2000 for supporting characters. The game's graphics were created with Softimage 3D. Event scenes utilized the same models that were used in the normal gameplay, both of which were generated in real-time. Because of this, even costume changes could be carried over from gameplay to events. Akihiro Hino, a Level-5 producer, stated that "smooth transitions between gameplay and event scenes help increase the empathy for the game." Soft textures were used to create a uniform feel for the visuals and minimize the computer generated appearance of the cel-shading. Texture mapping was also used occasionally to emulate lighting. The game's production took almost two years. The CG production and game development occurred concurrently.
The 2-disc Dark Chronicle soundtrack was released to the Japanese market in late 2003. The soundtrack, composed by Tomohito Nishiura, consists of seventy-seven tracks. In 2004, a tribute album was made, Dark Chronicle Premium Arrange, consisting of remixes of some of the more famous tracks from the game. Many Japanese video game industry composers worked on the recordings, from people like Chrono series composer Yasunori Mitsuda to Nobuo Uematsu's former band The Black Mages.
|Dark Chronicle Original Soundtrack|
|1.||"Never-ending Adventure (Rush's Theme)"|
|2.||"The Dark Battle"|
|4.||"Premonition of Something About to Happen"|
|12.||"At the Station"|
|13.||"Underground Water Channel"|
|19.||"Around the World"|
|24.||"Rainbow Butterfly Woods"|
|27.||"Tree Spirit Jurak"|
|30.||"Peace of the World"|
|36.||"Fire Approaches the Lighthouse"|
|38.||"Turning Toward Hope"|
|40.||"Calm Moment, Part 2"|
|41.||"Ocean's Roar Cave"|
|43.||"Lunatic Wisdom Laboratory"|
|46.||"Launch! Time Train Ixion"|
|47.||"Battle for the Future"|
|48.||"Time is Changing"|
|51.||"Time of Separation"|
|53.||"Flying Warship Death Ark"|
|56.||"Flame Demon Gaspard"|
|63.||"Moon Flower Palace"|
|64.||"Garden of Memories"|
|68.||"Giant Looming Shadow"|
|69.||"Dark Ruler, Emperor Griffon"|
|71.||"Spiral of Dreams"|
|74.||"Dark Genie (Dark Cloud Main Theme)"|
|75.||"Beyond the Aurora"|
|76.||"Time is Changing (Japanese Version)"|
|77.||"Time is Changing (English Version)"|
|Dark Chronicle Premium Arrange|
|1.||"Owaranai Bouken (Never-ending Adventure (Rush's Theme)) - Yasunori Mitsuda"|
|2.||"Gekka Kyuuden (Moon Flower Palace) - Shinji Hosoe"|
|3.||"Dark Element - Motoi Sakuraba"|
|4.||"Sun - Yoko Shimomura"|
|5.||"Moonlight Tango - Noriyuki Iwadare"|
|6.||"TenbinDani (Balance Valley) - Kenji Ito"|
|7.||"Hana no Teien (Flower Garden) - Yoko Shimomura"|
|8.||"Stella Mahou Jiin (Starlight Temple) - Kenji Ito"|
|9.||"Honoo no Majin Monster Gaspard (Flame Demon Monster Gaspard) - The Black Mages"|
|10.||"Ankoku no Tatakai (The Dark Battle) - Motoi Sakuraba"|
|11.||"Majin (Demon (Dark Cloud Main Theme)) - Noriyuki Iwadare"|
|12.||"Time is Changing - Shinji Hosoe"|
Upon its release, Famitsu magazine scored Dark Chronicle a 35 out of 40, and by the end of 2002, the game had sold 235,917 copies in Japan. It has been widely praised by Western reviewers, and received almost universally positive reviews. It has an aggregate review score of 88 at GameRankings and 87 at Metacritic.
GameSpot awarded the game a 9.0 out of 10, concluding that "Dark Cloud 2 is simply a class act all the way. Every element of the game, from the georama system to the weapon upgrading to the interaction with a large cast of characters, displays a polish and attention to quality that you find only in real classics. Level-5 and Sony should both be commended for turning a fair-to-middling old game into what will now be a series to watch with great interest. Dark Cloud 2 could very well be the PlayStation 2's Zelda, and it will appeal to fans of the action RPG genre for a long time to come." GameSpot would go on to name Dark Chronicle as the Best PlayStation 2 game of 2003.
IGN similarly lauded the game, also awarding it 9 out of 10 and giving it their "Editor's Choice" seal of approval. They particularly praised its graphics; "I can think of few games as visually impressive on the PS2 as this game. But what makes the game look so good is not incredibly high polygon counts or lots of extravagant lighting and particle effects. Instead, Dark Cloud 2 is a visual success due to its polished and graceful presentation, as well as its fantastic art design. While many games take the no-holds-barred approach and bombard the screen with as many effects as possible, Dark Cloud 2 heads down another path, full of subtle lighting effects and a crisp, fresh, and almost playful look. The overall effect is truly delighting to witness in motion. A large part of what makes Dark Cloud 2 stand out visually is its perfectly implemented use of cel shading. Rather than using a flat-shaded effect with heavy black outlines on every edge, Dark Cloud 2 uses a method that the developer refers to as "tonal rendering" where the polygons are given a soft, shaded look. Additionally, the use of black lines is used sparingly, but when it is, it's in all the right places, accenting and highlighting the wonderfully constructed character and environment models." They concluded that "Dark Cloud 2 is arguably the best looking PS2 game out there, period." They also praised the variety to be found in the game; "Even what's been mentioned here only scratches the surface of the joys you'll find in the game: the great (albeit somewhat easy) boss battles; the well implemented mini-games such as fishing and golf; the intricacies of town building and time traveling; the easy-to-digest story; the depth in upgrading and building your weapons; it's all there and then some." In 2010, IGN placed Dark Chronicle at #31 in their "Top 100 Playstation 2 Games".
Game Revolution awarded the game a B, praising the graphics and variety of gameplay, but finding the game became somewhat repetitive towards the end; "Dark Cloud 2 is very serial in nature. It's a game you can pick up and play for a few hours, stomping though a few dungeon floors, trying to solve a problem or two, but after a while it meanders towards repetition. In truth, the game is filled with innumerable challenges, likable characters and a high production value. But beneath the surface, the lightweight story and characters combined with the almost rigidly episodic game flow still hold it back. It's a marked improvement, but the standards have gone up as well."
GameSpy awarded the game 4 out of 5, praising the game in general, but finding it fell just short of being a classic; "There's no question in my mind that Dark Cloud 2 is one of the most solid RPG adventures for the PS2; but what I am sure of is that it doesn't quite live up to its potential. If Level-5 had worked out all of the kinks, it'd be one of my favorite games for the PS2. Sadly, it's not. While it has my grudging respect, there are many games that I prefer, thanks to DC2's idiosyncrasies. Although I have no doubts about its overall quality, I've lost count of the times I've let loose an expletive and rebooted the machine while playing the game, or even turned it off in frustration or temporary disinterest."
- "Dark Cloud 2 (2002) PlayStation 2 credits". MobyGames. Retrieved May 31, 2012.
- "Dark Cloud 2 - February 2003". LEVEL-5 International America. Retrieved May 31, 2012.
- ed. Rico Komanoya, ed. (2004). "Dark Cloud 2". Japanese Game Graphics: Behind the Scenes of Your Favorite Games. New York, NY: Harper Design International. pp. 98–103. ISBN 0-06-056772-4.
- プレイステーション2 - ダーククロニクル. Weekly Famitsu. No.915 Pt.2. Pg.82. 30 June 2006.
- "The Magic Box - 2002 Top 50 Best Selling Japanese Console Games". The-MagicBox.com. Retrieved 2009-05-25.
- Brad Shoemaker (February 18, 2003). "Dark Cloud 2 Review". GameSpot. Retrieved July 01, 2012.
- GameSpot Year in Review - 2003
- Kaiser Hwang (2003-02-14). "Dark Cloud 2 Review". IGN. Retrieved 2007-07-05.
- "Top 100 Playstation 2 Games". IGN. Retrieved 20012-11-16.
- Game Revolution Review
- GameSpy Review
- Gaming Target Review
- Official website (English) (Europe)
- Official website (Japanese) (archived from the original)
- Dark Cloud 2 at PlayStation.com (English) (North America)
- Dark Chronicle at Level-5 (Japanese)