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     " Even just thinking about the forest level I can smell the mounds of monkey feces... oh wait (sniff sniff) I better go put on some deodorant. "

      Title: Dark Cloud by Sony

      Format: Action/RPG for PS2

      Reviewing Monkey: Simi N.

      The Hype: Embark on an epic journey to save the world from the Dark Genie. Build your world and then interact with it. Real-time weather and daytime-nighttime system. Use six characters to help you get the job done right.

      What This Monkey Thought...

      Graphics: For the most part this game looks very good. The animations are smooth, there are no jagged edges, and the texturing is great. But games these days need to be more than just be good. Now that the PS2 is out companies are trying desperately to think of new ways to make their games one of a kind. In this game one of the features was that every time you enter a dungeon, the floors are generated right then, so you will never see the same level twice, no matter how much you play. The drawbacks of doing something like this are that it limits the amount of variety in the surroundings. This game surprisingly pulled it off well (except for the first cave, which is very bland). Its not that each room is vastly different from the last, but there is so much to look at in the lush surroundings that you won't notice everything unless you purposely stop study it. 4 of 5

      Sound: The first thing that you will notice about this game is how cutesy it is. Many of you are probably not expecting this, and the sound only adds to the feel. That is not really a problem however, because it fits the feel of the game. There are a huge variety of sound effects that you will encounter. From flowing water, to a turning windmill, to your sword striking an enemy sound is always present and always crisp. Especially cool is the detail added to your weapon: depending on the attribute you have selected for your weapon (water, fire, holy, etc.) it will make a different noise when it strikes the enemy. The music is good and is mostly used to warn you that an enemy is within striking distance (great for those of us who sometimes get easily distracted). 4 of 5

      Game Play: Normally I would avoid the obvious comparison of this game to Zelda, but they are so similar that it would be foolish. The game is all about exploration and killing enemies. This game has the lock-on feature similar to Zelda and Soul Reaver, but unlike Soul Reaver, some of the enemies are still really difficult to hit even when they are locked onto. One thing that separates this game from Zelda is the ability to rebuild all of the towns that you visit by collecting the separate parts in the dungeons and putting everything back together. The best part is that they way in which you put the towns together actually effects some important aspects of the game. For example, my friend and I both put the first town together and satisfied the citizen's request 100%, but because of the order in which we put the town together I was able to buy more and better items from the town store. By far the most intriguing aspect of this game is the customizing and leveling up of your weapons. Like in Zelda your character gains life by finding items (like the hearts in the original Zelda), but this game has a truly RPG edge to it, involving the weapons. In the game you are constantly leveling up your weapons to get them to the point where you can upgrade them to an entirely different weapon! Eventually if you are lucky and choose the right path you will end up with the best weapon in the game. But this takes a lot of time and patience and revisits to the already huge amounts of levels to do. Many people will find that constantly reentering dungeons to fight monster after monster just so they can get their weapon to a point where they won't have to spend so much time in dungeons killing monsters is an activity that will make them bang their heads into the wall until their brains cave in. 4 of 5

      Level and Environment Designs: As I eluded to in the graphics section of this review, the environments are carried off very well despite the fact that they are randomly generated each time you enter a dungeon. In fact the dungeons look so nice that even just thinking about the forest level I can smell the mounds of monkey feces... oh wait (sniff sniff) I better go put on some deodorant. The towns could have use a bit of work in that the pieces you assemble don't ever end up looking like an original part of the landscape. This is especially true of the streams, which are always perfectly square units. But again the amount of detail put into all the buildings and fountains and windmills more than make up for it. 4 of 5

      Multiplayer: Nonexistent.

      Replayability: This is where the game starts to loose its edge. In essence the problem here is that the game is long and very repetitive. There are many dungeons to go through, and they all have at least fifteen are more levels. There is even one dungeon (sort of an extra one) that has one hundred levels. By the time most people beat the game they will have had enough of it for a good while. The chances of someone replaying the entire game again after completing everything the first time around are slim. 2.5 of 5

      Story/Dramatics: A general awakens an evil from 400 years ago from a different continent in order that he might take over the world. The Dark Genie sealed long ago by the moon people is loose once again in the world. Upon the genies initial assault on humanity the Fairy King sealed all the different parts of several towns in orbs called Atla so that they might not be destroyed. Now it is your turn to undo the damage and get rid of the threat of the Dark Genie. The story is cool, but for most of the game is very cutesy. I mean come on the Dark Genie looks like Dom Delouise painted purple, and do I even need to mention the Fairy King? But somewhere around 3/4 of the way through the story gets and added twist that is dark and quite cool. I don't want to spoil it for you, but you will be glad you stuck with the game long enough to get to it. 3 of 5

      Instructions and Learning Curve: Not only are the in-game instructions very thorough, they are quite amusing as they are delivered and a comic-like layout with little 2-D depictions of the characters. The instructions will prepare you for just about anything in the game, except for the fishing parts. Here the instructions actually lead you wrong way. They tell you to press the button to reel in a fish after timing the bites, when in reality all you have to do is wait until your float goes below the surface of the water (nice job boneheads). Other than this little flaw the learning curve is very short, but with the constant addition of new enemies, you will always have to think up new attack strategies. 3.5 of 5

      Installation and Real System Requirements: This game definitely uses a lot of the PS2s potential. It doesn't utilize the analog buttons (not to be confused with analog sticks), but it does check both memory card slots for saved games. A normal save doesn't even take up a lot of memory card space, but there is a problem here. The game allows a person to save multiple games in the same block. With each save more room on the memory card is taken up, and there seems to be no way to erase any of the saves without erasing them all. So if you can avoid it don't save to multiple slots in the same game. 3.5 of 5


      The Verdict:

       This game delivers in almost every way. There are a few flaws in it as with the instructions, but some of the drawbacks of the game are necessary to making it as cool as it is. For example for a game to have a quest as epic as this one repetition is a must. That will always detract some from the replay value, but when you do play it you always have fun.

      The Good: : Sweet graphics, cool weapons system, six different playable characters each with their own unique abilities, and a chance to rebuild the world and make it better than before.

      The Bad: Repetitive, oo many dungeon levels, the weapons take too long to upgrade (especially if you go all the way with all six characters), and the instructions give you the wrong instructions for the fishing game.

      The Overall Ugly: This game is a must for adventure, gamers everywhere. Despite its few flaws the game is extremely fun and will keep you entertained for days on end.

      What it's Worth: Market.

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