ClaDun PSP -This is an addictive game

ClaDun- This is an RPG

With the lack of new JRPGs on the main consoles (thanks NoA, NamcoBandai), I’ve been going back and picking up things I may have missed on the handhelds to try to fill the void. In doing so I’ve found some rather…questionable choices in gaming, but also some real gems!

ClaDun, is one of the gems for sure.  A NIS game for the PSP, PSN download only, I tended to brush it out as a quickie game since I tend to find DL only content to be..less than their UMD released. But, being a NIS game, this couldn’t be farther from the truth and it was easily worth the download.

ClaDun, short for Classic Dungeon, is an old skool dungeon crawler with modern mechanics, focused on leveling, customizing and loot. If grinding and loot aren’t for you, I can’t imagine this game would be as it’s light, light, light  on story, heavy on DUNGEONS AND LOOT. What story there is is full of NIS charm and light hearted silliness but it’s obviously not the main draw of the game and honestly I found myself playing as back-story-less custom characters more often than the MC as their stats were better for my play style.

Customization is integral to ClaDun, from creating custom character sprites (which is addicting in it’s own right as you can’t play the game without being tempted to recreate you favorite characters in 8-bit style) to finding titles for gear it’s really open for creative players.

The crux of the gameplay, and customization, revolves around Magic Circles and placing your comrades and upgrades on said circles. Each circle, with it’s own unique layout map, has places to assign your comrades to act a a sort of human shield to your MC. Meaning if you want to level up your HP, your best bet isn’t to just grind the main character you want to play, but to grind your comrades as well, as the total of all your HP will basically equate to what you have to spend. The same goes for all stats, which can further be enhanced beyond the group pool by placing artifacts on designated places on the circle which enhance individual stats.

There’s more to the Magic Circles than this, but it’s a system best tried to understand the complexities of it. Luckily for such a complex system it’s very intuitive and you really can pick up and play, learning more as the system opens up with gameplay. What would sound overwhelming in a  words-words-words review is actually great fun in-game.

Surprisingly the highlight of the game, for me, was the excellent soundtrack. The game music comes in both modern and 8-bit, which you can freely switch at any time in the game. The modern has some great battle themes, vocal themes and strange incidental music, but where it really shines is when it’s transformed to 8-bit. Classic game music never sounded so good. For being a NIS game the soundtrack strays away from their normal style and brings some new composers to the field and I, for one, liked the change up!Bottom line is I actually bought the soundtrack I liked it so much~

While not a heavy game, for achievement and stat freaks like myself, the game is a fun distraction that you can pick up and play for a dungeon run whenever you have the spare time.

The PSP is the ideal platform for the game and I can’t imagine it not being portable as playing it on the train after work is a great unwind. ClaDun 2 is coming out on the NA PSN at the end of the month and I’m really looking forward to the game after playing it’s predecessor. If the only thing they add in the sequel is a pause button, sorely missed in this one, I’ll still be a happy camper.

Final verdict: Great buy if you spend the time with it like I did, however with the sequel dropping so soon you might just want to jump for that.

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