Klonoa is back!
This was a special request for me. Most will know I was a Sega kid growing up who progressed to Xbox, but as someone who still owned a PlayStation 2 when it released, Klonoa 2: Lunatea’s Veil was one of my favourite games on the console and definitely my favourite platformer on it. I’ve been wanting a Remaster of these games for some time and when rumour spread that it was happening, my heart was a flutter. I didn’t manage to get a copy of the Wii Remake and eBay prices on it are completely out of control so this came at a great time.
While I have played both these games, it was a long long time ago so it’s possible my memory of them is clouded by nostalgia. As I no longer own my original PlayStation or PlayStation 2 to access those save files, there’s an element of experiencing these games for the first time to this, despite having technically played them before.
It’s the 25th Anniversary of the Klonoa franchise and after 25 years, do these PlayStation platforming classics hold up in 2022 on Xbox? Let’s find out…
Two games are better than one
This is an interesting game to review…for a few reasons. Firstly, these are really old games. Door To Phantomile came out in 1997 for the original PlayStation and Lunatea’s Veil for the PlayStation 2 in 2001. So even the “newer” title is still 21 years old so some may baulk at the near full price of this 2 for 1 package. So one aspect of the review will come down to whether this fairly simplistic (I prefer to use the term “classic”) platforming is still your bag in 2022.
The other consideration is, how much has gone into the Remastering efforts? On that front, I’d like to get out of the way that developer Monkey Craft has done what I feel is a fantastic job in bringing these games back for modern consoles. Door To Phantomile in particular has been beautifully redone when you consider it released on the original PlayStation. Maybe this is a bit of naivety or bias on my part, but Door To Phantomile borders more on a Remake than a Remaster to my ageing eyes. It looks clean, bright and colourful. While Lunatea’s Veil is still beautiful, the leap from original to Remaster isn’t on the same level as the first game. Which given the platform difference makes sense. But make no mistake, both games have both been remastered really well here and the gameplay has been left untouched.
Although I do suspect (I’d need to find out for sure) that Door to Phantomile is possibly based on the 2008 Wii Remake simply called “Klonoa” which would explain the boost in looks.
While I expect most people buying into the Klonoa collection will be long time fans like myself, there’ll obviously be those who are new to the series. What should you expect going in?
Klonoa is an anthropomorphic cat slash rabbit, type…thing and the star of a pure 2.5D (with 3D elements) mascot platformer straight out of the 90s. Now that’s going to have a different vibe depending on your perspective, but this really is a pretty simplistic platformer by most standards. I don’t mean that in a derogatory way, I love it’s simplicity myself, but it’s something people should know going in.
Klonoa is the Frankenstein’s monster of platformers. Character design elements taken from Sonic (with a nod to Pac-man), gameplay elements from Kirby and Yoshi and it’s all thrown together into this mish mash of disjointed design and thematic elements that somehow just completely works out because at the very foundation of it all, is a very easy to pick up and play, super solid and straight forward platformer. Even the Klonoa fandom wiki doesn’t really quite know 100% what the character and game is all about, but I really doubt anyone playing will care because it’s so cheerful and enjoyable.
Essentially, Klonoa uses what’s called a Wind Ring to grab enemies and use them to either attack other enemies (think Kirby and Yoshi spitting enemies out at other enemies) or use them to boost himself up further. Alongside his Yoshi-like floaty double jump he can access harder to reach areas of levels or grab collectibles. That’s it, that’s the core gameplay element of the series and as I said earlier, it works. Yes, some variety is thrown in with surfing, animal or mine cart riding and the like, but for the majority of the game, it’s your basic platforming fare.
Cute but deadly
But don’t be fooled by the cutesy looks and the initial chill vibes of the game. The difficulty increases as you progress, often aggressively so. I suspect Bandai Namco and Monkey Craft realised this, as indicated by the inclusion of new Easy and Normal Modes which are designed to make the game more accessible to new and younger players.
While these modes don’t fundamentally change anything about the game in terms of design to make the game easier, they provide tools to get you through the game with less blockades. For example, your bullets shoot further, you’re given more or unlimited lives and take less damage which essentially means you can brute force your way through harder parts without seeing a Game Over screen, at least on Easy mode anyway.
There’s also a new co-op focused “Support” mode where a second player will provide…support, by helping Player 1 out with a gust of wind to increase Klonoa’s jump height and length.
Long time fans who want the original experience can still opt for Hard difficulty which is unlocked after beating the game once and will give players the unfriendly reminder of how difficult these games actually used to get.
The good kind of nostalgia
Fans of the series will feel right at home. Monkey Craft has put together a really nice package to celebrate Klonoa’s 25th birthday and everything has been executed really well. Right down to the menu screens which are simple, convenient and logical to navigate. At any stage you can jump out to the title screen of the game you’re playing, then out to the main one and jump into the other game. It’s all pretty fast and smooth to do.
Newcomers to Klonoa’s world will find themselves two bright and colourful mascot platformers to sink their teeth into that hold up really well and don’t really overstay their welcome in the length department. Unless you’re a bit old school and crave the 100% collectible completion, both games are a very crisp 5-7 hours, which by “modern” standards may not be long for many, but perfect for this old man right here.
While Lunatea’s Veil doesn’t quite get the same level of improvement visually Door To Phantomile does, both games still look great, play as well as you remember and are an absolute must buy for fans of the series, particularly given this is the only way to buy these two games without paying exorbitant second hand market prices. Some may find the price of this collection somewhat prohibitive given the age of the games and level of remastering here, but your mileage will vary there.
Gamers who have been craving more mascot platformers should definitely give the Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series a shot. It’s a great little time capsule to a period where this was one of the dominant genres in gaming, in a franchise that I feel never got the recognition it truly deserved.
|Reviewed on||Xbox Series X|
|Available on||Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Game Pass, Windows PC, PS4|PS5, Switch|
|Release Date||July 8th, 2022|