Some ClaDun x2 Impressions

As some of you may already know, I’m reviewing the latest NIS America import for the PSP, ClaDun x2. Though my review won’t be live for another day or two while I finish up my playthrough, I thought I’d take the opportunity to post some nifty screens I took of my characters in action and tell you all what I think of it so far! 
One of my characters getting pummeled while I try to figure out how to take a proper screenshot
First, a confession: I have not played ClaDun: This is an RPG!. I do, however, consider myself rather well-versed on the title, and have made sure I’ve caught myself up to speed before playing ClaDun x2, largely due to the help of one of the most fabulous gamers on the net, Bryan Ochalla of The Gay Gamer. From what I understand, there are two trains of thought when it comes to ClaDun: people either love the customization and the endless dungeon crawling, or they hate it and its steep learning curve and graphical style. ClaDun x2 is more of the same but offers expanded options for virtually everything: there is more customization, more random dungeons, more character classes, weapons, you name it. 
I don’t want to spoil my upcoming review, but I will say this: if any game needed an instruction manual, this one would be it. Unfortunately, ClaDun x2 is only available as a PSN download, and the very short tutorials and in-game dictionary just don’t cut it. In all honesty, I still don’t know some of what I’m looking at on that HUD (namely the negative number next to SP in the bottom left corner. Someone please tell me what it is and why it is negative!). People who don’t want to spend the first couple of hours in over their head will probably not be willing to stick things through long enough to get the hang of the game’s magic circle systems and numerous customization options, which is a shame, because I found that once I stopped worrying about whether or not I was playing the game “right,” I found myself quite enjoying the experience overall.
For those of you who are not familiar with the game, ClaDun x2 is an action RPG focused on lots and lots of dungeon crawling. You control one character at a time, who is your “main character,” and all other characters can be equipped to your main character in order to enhance his or her stats via a system called “magic circles.”  You’ll pick up various items in the dungeons to boost your character’s stats in the magic circles, and in order to maintain a well-rounded party it is important to switch main characters every couple of levels and update your magic circles as you unlock new ones and obtain better items. While this may seem daunting at first, especially without much guidance, I found that after experimenting a bit it really wasn’t as intimidating as I previously thought. 
My 1st character, Apricot, is an ass-kicking guardian.  You can see my sub characters acting as human shields in the top right corner. This is one of the randomly generated dungeons, or Ran-geons. 
With all the character customization and equipping/magic circle swapping, you may quickly find that you’re starting to spend a lot of time in menus and not so much time fighting beasties and nabbing sweet loot. This is one area where I really felt the game could have benefitted from better instruction, so that rather than staring at the screen and wondering what the hell you’re looking at, you could actually be playing the game. But really, your ClaDun x2 experience is what you choose to make it, and once the Ran-geons opened up to me, I quickly lost myself in the superior loot and difficulty they offered. 
It is worth noting, I think, that if you’re looking for the 3 new classes (ninja, dragoon, and monk) you’ll have to replay the pre-made dungeons and beat them within the time allotted in order to gain fame, which will net you various items and unlock a number of important things in-game. 50 fame is what it takes to get the new classes, and even then you’ll need to pay a significant sum for them, so it’s worth doing this early on if you wanted to try the new classes in particular. There is no penalty for creating characters, so it’s up to you to experiment! As of now, I have 6. 
My newest character, a dragoon, getting bashed as I try to take an epic “in action” screenshot for you all
ClaDun x2 is shaping up to be a great retro-style dungeon crawler for the PSP, and bite-sized dungeons make it perfect for a handheld. The lack of story may deter some, but I think it fits well with the style of gameplay, making this a good candidate for short commutes or an hour-long plane ride. Virtually limitless customization options allow you to create music, characters, and weapons if you so choose, and the whole experience can really be catered in such a variety of ways that I think a lot of people who might not even consider picking up this title in the first place could find a lot to like here. That said, many will probably be deterred by the lack of explanation of the game’s systems, and might not be able to stick with it long enough to really begin to enjoy the experience. 
Please look forward to my full Video Game Writers review! 

About Anne Lee

Also known as apricotsushi. Anne can be written with the kanji for apricot (杏), and sushi was the most quintessentially Japanese thing I could think of when I was 13, resulting in my goofy, albeit memorable, nickname.