BY MEGAN MCAMIS: The first time I picked up a PlayStation 2 controller and played Dark Cloud, I thought I wouldn’t like it. I had been obsessed with The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time for so long, I didn’t think I would enjoy anything else. And yet, I took to Dark Cloud like a fish to water.
If you’ve never played it, the best way I’ve heard it described is “what would happen if I crossed SimCity and a dungeon crawler.” You play a boy who goes to different villages, opening up these capsules that hold the buildings and people from these villages and rebuilding them to the villagers’ specifications, all the while fighting off monsters brought on by an evil genie. This was my first experience with an RPG, and one of the first with a city builder. And I fell in love. The game let me kill the monsters and feel like a hero, and it let me be creative and rebuild a city to the praise of the loving NPCs.
To me, the best part of the game was the creative aspect; as a shy, nerdy 10-year-old in a new school, this game gave me an outlet I didn’t see anywhere else. It allowed me to feel connected to someone, even if that someone was just pixels on a screen. It also allowed me to build hand-eye coordination and critical thinking skills that I hadn’t developed anywhere else. It also later gave me a boost with some social skills. When I finally started meeting people who had similar interests, ones I didn’t share with my siblings, I had a head start on things to talk about; I even had the privilege of taking my partner by surprise when they found out I not only knew what Dark Cloud was but that I had beaten it by myself in a few days of picking it up.
Dark Cloud let me do so many things, but more than anything, it helped build my confidence over the years.