Namco’s ventures in the platforming genre are few and far between. We mostly know them for their Naruto and Katamari games, quality RPGs and card titles, fighters, and, of course, Pac-Man. Klonoa is definitely a more obscure franchise, though it had its share of critical acclaim back in the day. It started on the original PlayStation, but there were a few other installments on the PS2 and GameBoy Advance. Twelve years after the original game, Klonoa is back and ready to pick up the fame and recognition that was left behind. The Wii is definitely the best vessel for this affair, so hopefully people will be able to find in the game the same quality and amount of entertainment that I found.
This Klonoa is a faithful remake of the original PS1 game Klonoa: Door to Phantomile. Its visuals and overall presentation have been upgraded quite a bit to suit the Wii’s standards, though that’s not to say the game looks that much different. The environments look lush, vibrant, and very attractive overall, but most 3D elements and textures show their age. However, despite being somewhat outdated, this Klonoa revisit has a few things going for it. The level design is very original, the characters, wacky as they are, have a lot of charm, and the gameplay is very satisfying, even if not perfect.
When you start playing, you’ll find a strange similarity to Sonic and Mario games. The characters, including the big-eared protagonist, definitely have a SEGA vibe. Some of the villains are actually quite creepy, though innocent and cartoonish. The soundtrack and voice-overs also scream SEGA, exuding a childish style that will certainly make a few players hesitate before playing. Still, the interesting 3D level design and engaging 2D gameplay manage to separate this franchise from similar ones, giving it its very own flavor.
The story is not particularly interesting, and I found it even difficult to follow at times, though it’s actually very basic and typical of these games. Perhaps the voices were too distracting, and the dialog wasn’t all that great. But in case you wonder what this adventure is about, Klonoa and his little blue sidekick Hewpoe set off to bring back the world of dreams, once managed by the Moon God. Ghadius, the King of Darkness, wants to turn Phantomile into a world of nightmares, so Klonoa and his friends will have to bring together the other gods in order to finally defeat Ghadius and get rid of him and his greedy intents.
Taking on the role of Klonoa, you’ll advance through the 14 different levels by going from one platform to the next, using elevators, hopping on a spring, entering secret tunnels, finding keys and traversing doors, and ultimately, catching enemies and tossing them to eliminate or weaken other foes, activate switches, uncover hidden eggs, rescue citizens, etc. Using the enemies to your advantage is not exactly a new thing, but it certainly works at least as well as it does in Kirby games. Different foes are tackled in different ways. One has to be cautious not to be tricked by their fiddly moves, but that’s just part of the fun. The puzzling elements also add a little dose of challenge. Finding the right path is not always obvious, so you’ll have to use items and plan out some things in advance in order to find the final level exit.
There is one thing that drives me crazy, even though it doesn’t happen so often – having multiple path choices. I never want to miss an item because I found the exit too early, and sometimes I’ll find myself backtracking just to make sure I’m doing it right. Completionists will have a hard time with that, though the game is, for the most, not very challenging, so you’ll be able to find most things in the first play-through. On the same token, boss battles are not very taxing either, but they’re original and fun to play. When all’s said and done, there’s great variety in terms of gameplay, and even though most levels are easy and even slightly repetitive, players will have a good time.
Klonoa supports different control set-ups. You can use the Wii Remote by itself or combine it with the Nunchuk, attach the Classic controller, or even the GameCube one. They all work well, and, if you decide to use the Wii Remote, there are a few motion controls available that allow you to toss enemies in the air or even create a whirlwind to slow down those foes. All in all, the controls are very tight, and the camera follows you with surprising accuracy, never hindering your pace.
Once you finish the game, Reverse mode will be unlocked. This is a mirror mode that just lets you play the same levels but backwards. It isn’t a huge incentive to continue playing, but it is exclusive to the Wii, and since the game is short, playing these mirrored stages isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Also, players will be challenged to time trials at the end, but again, it’s more of the same.
Klonoa is truly an adventure worth experiencing. It’s undeniably charming, despite its somewhat outdated vibe. It plays great, and there’s enough gameplay diversity to keep players engaged throughout the entirety of the game. Therefore, I say it’s worth the $30. Most Wii players probably never got to play the original PlayStation version, and they might not even know about Klonoa at all! Thus, this is a good way to enter the mysterious world of Phantomile and dust-off those platforming skills you probably haven’t used for a while. This is certainly no Super Mario Galaxy, but it is a more than respectable entry in the platforming universe.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 3.9 Graphics
Bright and colorful visuals, with great level design and cool little characters. However, some 3D elements and textures show their age. 4.0 Control
Very tight platforming controls and multiple controller choices. Playing is for the most part a breeze. 3.5 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
SEGA-style soundtrack and voice acting. Childish music and voices plagued this otherwise very charming game. If anything, it suits younger players. 3.6
It’s a short game, but mostly short and sweet. Platforming is very fun, though perhaps a bit too easy and monotonous at times. Mirror mode can be unlocked for extra play.
3.8 Overall Rating – Good
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.