Klonoa; everybody’s favorite hat-wearing, dream-travelling, wind-bullet-shooting cat-rabbit-thing is back for two colorful adventures in one. After a mighty long time in IP limbo, he returns to the Switch looking to have some fun!
Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series packages and remasters the classic Namco (now Bandai Namco) games Klonoa: Door to Phantomile and Klonoa 2: Lunatea’s Veil, initially released for the PS1 and PS2 in 1997 and 2001. Following a Wii-make (a remake on the Nintendo Wii) of the first game in 2008, Klonoa has been largely absent from the video game landscape, but given the current platforming and remaster renaissance, it was about time he popped back up!
Developers Monkey Craft have taken the reigns on the Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series, the team that looked after Katamari Damacy Reroll in 2018, and they’ve done a stellar job. They’ve revitalized the duo of classic games, all while retaining that colorful quirkiness unique to the turn of the century platformers we all know and love.
Klonoa cleverly combines 2D and 3D elements, bridging the gap between the two innovatively. As a new generation of 3D consoles came about in the mid-90s, many developers got in way over their heads as they rushed into an additional third dimension (see Bubsy 3D released in 1996 if you don’t know). Klonoa, on the other hand, finds an elegant middle ground. The games see the player jog along a 2D plane as they twist and turn through sprawling 3D environments, occasionally spiraling back on themselves. It’s a harmonious union of dimensions that uses the tried and true 2D platforming staples with a splash of exciting, new 3D technologies. Klonoa didn’t invent the 2.5D, but it sure as heck owned it! And in 2022, it’s amazing to look back on.
Klonoa: Door to Phantomile sees you playing as Klonoa, dashing about, hopping and hovering over chasms, blasting baddies with wind-bullets, and collecting Dream Stones and more. The second title also adds in some very 2000s 3D board-riding segments for good measure, but is otherwise pretty similar to the first. Klonoa hasn’t got any abilities beyond hovering and shooting, but hitting an enemy with a wind-bullet will grab them, letting you toss ’em forward or into the foreground or background, or even use their unique powers depending on who you’ve grabbed. On your way to save the day you’ll be traversing towns, meeting the citizens, solving puzzles and battling bosses, all of which are full of charm and life. Especially those 2.5D boss battles – chef’s kiss!
As a whole the game handles great with some amazing ideas to boot, but Klonoa’s movement seems to be a little on the sluggish side. Or maybe I’ve been spoiled by the countless fast and fluid platformers released in the past two decades. If I’d played Klonoa back in the day I’m sure I’d be into it more, but that slow movement doesn’t quite do it for me – no offense Klonoa fanboys.
In terms of the remaster itself, Monkey Craft have done a great job breathing new life into this recently stale franchise. The new HD graphics look wonderful, especially after going back for a look at the original PS1 title, and the music is as bubbly as the lands of Phantomile and Lunatea are vibrant. Now I could be wrong, but it also seems as though some, if not all of the original dialogue audio was used in the remasters. This is especially apparent when listening to the first game’s villain Ghadius who sounds particularly compressed. I personally love the choice if that’s the case, but I can see how it might be jarring to some.
Monkey Craft has also added a few new features for the Klonoa remaster. There’s some quality of life stuff like a fast-forward option in addition to a skip button during cutscenes now, and a new difficulty setting with reduced damage and such. There’s also a new ‘Support Mode’, which lets a second player jump in. This is unfortunately just a helper character which can give Klonoa an extra high jump, and little else – definitely just for the kid in the room at the time.
Altogether, the Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series is an awesome little package. Monkey Craft were expertly able to resurrect Klonoa after an extended hiatus with flying colors – a lot of colors in fact. This game is sure to be a hit with long-time fans of the series and young kids looking for a bright platformer full of charm. Go Klonoa!