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Video Game / Dark Cloud

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A world with two moons illuminating the sky...
The many dazzling adventures of a young boy...
But whether or not this is a true story...
Do you believe in the story woven in the book?
Maybe it's a fantasy that only existed in a boy's heart...
Let me tell you this story.
This ancient book tells of a magical, and magnificent fairy tale...
And the hero of this wondrous tale, whose name is...
Opening Narration

Dark Cloud is a PS2 RPG developed by Level-5. It was released in 2000 in Japan, originally as a launch title, but it was delayed a bit and it was released at the end of 2000. It was released everywhere else in 2001.

Colonel Flag has had a dark ritual performed to release the Dark Genie, which he plans to use to take over the world. The ritual goes as planned and the Dark Genie is released, killing everyone in the temple except Flag. He uses its evil power to destroy several villages around the world.

However the Fairy King was aware of this evil plan. He seals away the various buildings, people and objects around the towns in spheres called Atla. He entrusts a young boy named Toan with the Atlamilla, a magical stone that he can use to open the Atla and restore the towns, houses and people. Toan must travel the world picking up new allies and visiting the dungeons conveniently located right next to the towns to gather the Atlamilla, restore the world and destroy the Dark Genie.

A sequel, Dark Chronicle note  was released on 2003. The orginal game was rereleased as a digital download for the PS4 in December 2015, complete with upscaled graphics and PSN Trophies. The Georama system also appeared in White Knight Chronicles I and II, making the games something of a Spiritual Successor to the Dark Cloud series in that regard.

Not to be confused with the Cloud of Darkness.

This game provides examples of:

  • An Ice Person: La Saia.
  • An Exterior Designer Is You: When you're not Dungeon Crawling, chances are you'll be re-building destroyed towns and replacing lamps on people's houses. Although it's not necessary to advance, fulfilling people's requests to achieve 100% Completion in a town will net you valuable rewards.
  • Anthropomorphic Personification: Dark Genie is the personification of evil.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: At the very start of the game, when it's just you and the mayor left in your town, he will supply you with supplies so you never run into a wall, most importantly being water. Once you unlock the town's merchant though, you are on your own.
  • Anti-Villain: Seda. His goals were good, his methods questionable, and he did his best to fix things.
  • Background Music Override: The Gallery of Time. Considering that a), it signals the game's tone getting much darker, and b), the standard marbles-thrown-at-xylophone battle music is replaced with a song that's half Drone of Dread, it's effective.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation:
    • The translation is very inconsistent and contains many Spell My Name with an S disrepancies. Muska Racka is referred to as Muska Lacka in the map, while both Mikara and Mikala are used to refer to Ungaga's girlfriend. Undead corsairs are instead named "Corcea", after the Japanese transliteration of the word.
    • There are also word salad problems, such as when "Osmond is now joined the ally," or plain awkward phrasing when your characters' stats increase. "Maximum Value of thirst meter of Xiao increased 1 point."
    • There are also multiple instances in the menus when the text wraps into places where it shouldn't.
  • Bonus Boss: The Black Knight Pendragon, who waits for you at the end of the Demon Shaft. He’s also a Sequential Boss with 2 phases and 90,000 hitpoints. He’s actually implied to be Toan’s father, given that his weapon resembles Aga’s [Toan’s father] Sword and using Steve the Slingshot will have Steve remark that “Toan should know this guy”.
  • Bonus Dungeon: The Demon Shaft, a massive Marathon Level of a dungeon that encompasses 100 floors and of course has a Bonus Boss waiting on the last floor.
  • Boss-Only Level: Most boss fights take place in a small level where you only battle the boss and no other encounters.
  • Boss Subtitles: The bosses all have a special title appearing in the subtitles.
  • Bragging Rights Reward: An Infinity +1 Sword won by essentially beating the game in its entirety.
  • Breakable Weapons: If a weapon breaks, it's lost forever, along with the hours upon hours invested into upgrading it. Every character's initial weapon is exempt, however.
  • The Call Knows Where You Live: The adventure begins with the Dark Genie wiping Toan's village off the map and the Fairy King saving him. He can start fixing things as soon as he's collected Atla from the first floor of the first Dungeon.
  • Camera Lock-On
  • Can't Catch Up: Very easy to invoke. Fortunately, you can avoid it by beating a monster to an inch of its life with a strong character, then having a weaker character finish it off. Unfortunately, it's very easy to kill a monster by accident if you're in the middle of a combo. This can be avoided through the use of Synthspheres.
  • Cat Girl: Xiao is a cat given human form by Toan's potion. Predictably, she has the ears, bell and tail.
  • Character Select Forcing: Several dungeons force you to use a particular character on any floor — the final dungeon has a whole stream of these. The Final Boss also REQUIRES you to have at least one ranged character capable of dealing damage to stronger monsters.
  • Charged Attack: Most of the characters have one.
  • Cherry Tapping: The default weapon for each character can still be used after it breaks to prevent the game from potentially breaking completely, but each strike will only do 1 damage. Certain bosses have been known to have been defeated by this.
  • Chest Monster: The Mimic and King Mimic will suddenly jump at you when you try to open the chests.
  • Cool, Clear Water: The mysterious Healing Springs that can randomly appear in stages. Stepping into them completely restores your HP and thirst, no matter how many times they're used. Monsters are incapable of entering them.
  • Cute Kitten: Xiao.
  • Cute Little Fangs: Xiao again.
  • Damage Over Time: If a character's "Thirst" meter runs dry during a crawl and/or a character gets poisoned, their HP begins to drain.
  • Day-Old Legend: Almost every weapon will do this upon building it up. Doubled in that they often have different, completely unrelated backstories for every upgrade. Somewhat justified, because you can find some of these weapons in high-level dungeons.
  • Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: The only penalty for death is being booted back to the nearest town with half of your money missing. Any other treasure and Atla you keep.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: La Saia, figuratively and literally.
  • Disc-One Nuke: It's possible to get ultra-powerful weapons very early in the game, sometimes even the final weapons. Partly due to a Good Bad Bug, you can do this for Toan.
  • Dramatic Irony: Sophia died for Seda, in hopes that he would be a good king for his people. Her death however led to Seda sinking into such rage, sorrow and hatred that the Dark Genie was born, and decimated Seda's kingdom and his people.
  • Drop the Hammer: Goro's weapon of choice.
  • Drought Level of Doom: The original Dark Cloud had a notoriously bad reputation for this. Whether your item broke, you ran out of repair power, had no antidotes (and thus had to wait in a healing spring until you were brave enough to leave) or water, the game did its best to narrow down your perishable items to slim to none.
  • Duel Boss: Several, especially when the character has a personal issue with the enemy.
  • Early Game Hell: At the start of the game, your water meter will be running empty constantly, making your drink water very frequently. Once you upgrade your water capacity, it goes from a constant concern to more of a general annoyance.
  • Eat the Summoner: Once the Dark Genie is free, it eats the person who organized the ceremony. The creature justifies this by saying that it hadn't eaten in 400 years and was hungry.
  • Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors: Almost every monster has some elemental affinity, and it's possible through careful crafting to attune your weapons to beat them easily. Some enemies take no damage from weapons with elemental attributes set to "on". Sorry, Ruby.
  • Equipment-Based Progression: You can increase your characters' Health and Thirst meters, but you can only increase damage by adding enhancements to their weapons and, eventually, building them up into bigger weapons. You do find new weapons occasionally, but after you've built up one weapon a couple times, even the mightiest new weapons start to pale.
  • Evil Weapon: The Dark Cloud, or so the legend goes. Other than looking really evil, that's just flavor text and has no effect on gameplay.
  • Evolving Weapon: Weapons can level up and turn into better weapons, which culminates in the so-called Terminal weapons, at the end of the weapon evolution branches.
  • Fanservice Extra: The lead curse dancer in the freeing ceremony at the start of the game.
  • Fan Disservice: The game has plenty of upskirt shots, unfortunately they're all of Goro, the fat guy from Matatakai village.
  • Fishing Minigame: While you don't keep the fish you catch, you get points depending on the type and the size. These points can be used to buy various items, attachments and weapons.
  • Forced into Evil: Dran and Master Utan.
  • Framing Device: The game's events are an in-universe fable written in a book that was found in some old ruins.
  • Game Gourmet: What few recovery foods this game features would not qualify alone, but it's clear that the developers had food on mind when all six playable characters each have a Trademark Favorite Food to increase their defensive power with, supplemented by gourds and Fruits of Eden that anyone can eat to increase other stats.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: Ruby is clearly shown to be able to float in her introductory cutscene, however she is not able to float over pits in the dungeons like Osmond.
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: In life La Saia was a kind and benevolent ruler. However after being jilted by her lover, on their wedding day no less, in death she has become the cruel and terrifying Queen of Ice.
  • The Good King: Seda intended to be this, and some of his darker actions, was done to protect his people, in particular Sophia. But after Sophia's Heroic Sacrifice, shielding Seda from the assassin disguised as her, the Deal with the Devil comes to bite him, as in his sorrow and anger, the Dark Genie is born. However after Toan, alters history for the better, it is heavily implied with this second chance, Seda, with Sophia as his Queen, will indeed strive to make his kingdom, and the world, a better place.
  • Good Morning, Crono: The game begins with Toan having dinner in his house and Paige coming over to pick him up. However, you don't even get control of the character before your hometown and civilization itself are wiped off the map.
  • Guide Dang It!: Hoo boy, it can border on Exaggerated Trope at times.
    • The Fetch Quest lasting through the majority of the game that rewards you with the special Sun weapon attachment requires you to get a Candy item from Claude in Norune Village by completing his house and initiating his event in the morning. Failing this, your last chance to get Candy is from Couscous in Matataki Village. Fail to do that, and the attachment is lost forever.
    • In Norune Village, completing Gaffer's Buggy before having Pike in the village will lead to Gaffer injuring himself setting up his sign. His shop inventory will suffer greatly as a result for the rest of the game (no attachments, for instance). While not that big of a deal much later on, it can be irritating in the early stages of the game, particularly since the next town to consistently sell attachments is Queens. The third town. So you have to beat two other towns before it.
    • While you can upgrade your weapons to stronger forms, some are blatantly better than others. For instance, without a guide, you could end up with a 'Sword of Zeus' (199 ATK at max) instead of a 'Chronicle Sword' (250 ATK at max). Or a 'Tall Hammer' (260 ATK max) instead of the 'Inferno' (350 ATK max). Nobody wants second best when putting a lot of effort into grinding a weapon, right?
    • You know those items you have been finding that increase your party's health and thirst gauges? They are limited in quantity, and there isn't enough to max everyone out. Hope you didn't use them all before your final few members join up, or else they'll be permanently crippled compared to your other members.
  • Heroic Mime: The main character never speaks, at least not in a way the player can understand.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Seda's fiancee, Princess Sophia, gives her life shielding Seda from the assassin disguised as her. Unfortunately this action is what led to the birth of the Dark Genie.
  • Hit-and-Run Tactics: Often the most sensible tactic to use. Mastering it can render some enemies laughably easy to kill.
  • Hope Spot: All of that effort building the Sun Giant has finally paid off! You've just beaten the Dark Genie in a DBZ-esque cutscene! Nope. The Dark Genie you've been working to beat this whole time was actually a rat trapped inside the urn with the REAL Dark Genie for many years, absorbing some of its power. The REAL Dark Genie has possessed Colonel Flag, who proceeds to effortlessly one-shot the Sun Giant.
  • Hyperactive Metabolism: Food and water are used to restore health and thirst. Naturally, you never need to go to the toilet.
  • In a Single Bound: Toan gets an impossibly long jump in the opening sequence. And that's only the beginning.
  • I Need You Stronger: Seda was putting those chests there for you.
  • Inexplicable Treasure Chests: As you continue to rebuild your cities, treasure chests with valuable fusion stones and your characters' favorite foods appear out of the woodwork. The game says that they'll be 'explained later'. It was in fact Seda who put them there. He explicitly tells Simba that he was watching you and placing them there to help you.
  • Informed Ability: The Dark Cloud. Despite being an evil weapon, it has no effect on gameplay in either game, other than being one of the better weapons.
  • Instant Awesome: Just Add Mecha!: Sun Giant.
  • Interface Spoiler: Both the save screen and character select screen tell you that there are six playable characters.
  • Invisible Wall: Everywhere. Some of which are just absurd.
  • It's Always Spring: There are no weather effects in the game.
    • This despite the game box advertising "Real-time weather and day/time display system".
  • Foreshadowing: Seda encounters you in the very first dungeon.
  • Killer Rabbit: According to one villager at Yellow Drops, Osmond became the leader of the village by killing the previous leader in his sleep.
  • Kleptomaniac Hero: Dibs on every treasure chest that magically appears or already is in every NPC's house.
  • Leaf Boat: Used in The Lost Woods dungeon to go to a hidden bonus dungeon.
  • Level-Map Display: The map has three levels of brightness to suit your needs. The sequel allows you to toggle between a small and large map overlay.
  • The Lost Lenore: Sophia for Seda, La Saia for Rando.
  • Mage Species: Humans can learn magic, but witches are defined as not human.
  • Magikarp Power: Even the lowliest baselard can become a powerful weapon given enough resources.
  • Marathon Level: The Demon Shaft. By this game's standards, even.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Seda's deal to mix his blood with the sorcerer's, eventually led to the birth of the Dark Genie, and the destruction of his kingdom. He chooses to use what little magic he has left, to travel through time in an attempt to find the one who can stop the Genie.
  • Named Weapons: As the weapons evolve, they cease having generic names and start becoming unique artifacts. Particularly, the Dark Cloud justifies the game's title.
  • Never Say "Die": Downplayed. Sophia is explicitly noted as dead during a cutscene near the end.
  • Ominous Floating Castle: Dark Heaven Castle
  • One-Man Party: Unless you have an unhealthy and masochistic obsession with level-grinding, the vast majority of your resources will go into building up Toan (understandable as he's The Protagonist) and a long-range combatant (likely Ruby).
  • One-Winged Angel: The Dark Genie in the third stage of the final battle.
  • One-Woman Wail: The Summoning Ritual at the beginning.
  • Out of Focus: Allies you recruit lose virtually all significance outside of dungeons. The only real exception is Osmond.
    • Goro gets two lines in a scene before you go to Muska Lacka for the first time. The Out of Focus part is amusingly lampshaded by the moon people.
      Mayor: Who was this again...?
      Theo: Not a clue...
  • Palette Swap: The game is very fond of it, but does manage to have unique enemies up until the end, even in the optional Bonus Dungeon.
  • Playable Epilogue
  • Power Of Hate: The Dark Genie flat out says this about itself.
  • Power-Up Food: Appears in the forms of "favorite foods" for each character that would raise their defense. Also, Gourds that increased the thirst meter and Fruits of Eden that increase the health meter.
  • Press X to Not Die: There are several segments called "Duels" where the player must input a specific sequence of buttons to win, and one wrong move results in failure. Unfortunately, most are required to advance in the story. Thankfully, you get infinite tries. Completing the sequence with perfect timing nets you a rare gem attachment for your skill. Or patience.
  • Randomly Generated Levels: Every dungeon floor not containing a scripted event or boss battle is randomly generated each time you play it. Sometimes the exit is even located right next to the entrance, although you still need to find the key to get out.
  • Redemption Equals Death: One could argue that this applies to one version of Seda.
  • Suck Out the Poison: Happens during Ungaga's backstory, when Mikara sucks out the venom after Ungaga is stung by a scorpion.
  • Summoning Ritual
  • Talking Weapon: Steve, a slingshot you can find for Xiao. He and his ultimate form Super Steve, provide commentary which sometimes lets you know of enemy weaknesses.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: The Ice Queen, La Saia, can freeze you even if you have an anti-freeze amulet on!
  • The End of the World as We Know It: Occurs when the game starts.
  • The Faceless: The Moon People look a lot like jawas. One removes its hood late in the game to reveal they are anthropomorphic rabbits.
  • Time Travel
    • Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory: Toan, Phil, and Xiao.
    • Stable Time Loop: Twice, mostly the final story dungeon and ending. Time travel Seda kills himself so Toan can travel back to before he unleashed the Dark Genie in an attempt to erase its origin point. Being the personification of hate (it says so itself), it exists outside of time and cannot be vanquished as long as human hatred runs pure (though its definition of "human" seems to include Moon People, i.e. its presence in the bonus dungeon in Chronicle). Despite failing to prevent its release, Toan and his friends are able to seal it back into non-Time Travel Seda. After bringing back Sophia's soul by sacrificing the Atlamillia, Toan and Xiao return to a version of their time line where the Dark Genie was never unsealed. In order for any of this to happen at all, there has to be one instance of Seda who did release the Dark Genie and use the Forbidden Spell to travel forward in time, creating an infinite number of Sedas who both do and don't time travel.
    • Timey-Wimey Ball: Figuring out how all this history rewriting should have worked, rather than how it actually did, will make your brain explode.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change: Several encounters are represented by a rhythm minigame.
  • The Unfought: Colonel Flag.
  • Unintentionally Unwinnable: Possible in Matataki Village. To get past the Level 9 dungeon level here, you need an Odd Tone Flute. To get it, you need to complete Cacao's house. However, it's entirely possible to finish other houses before that, locking the Georama pieces to them permanently. And since you can't get any more Atla because you're stuck at the Level 9 dungeon... well, let's just say you're completely screwed. Moral of the story: don't build ANYTHING until Cacao's house is finished. Placing rivers to revive Treant is fine, though.