Initial release date: July 8, 2022
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X and Series S, Microsoft Windows
Developers: BNE Entertainment, Monkey Craft, Monkeycraft
Genres: Platform game, Adventure game, Puzzle, Shooter game, Casual game, Adventure
Publishers: BNE Entertainment, Namco Bandai Games America Inc.
"Review Copy Provided By Bandai-Namco"
When you think of mascot platformers you normally think of the usual suspects being Mario, Sonic, Crash Bandicoot, and Spyro the Dragon as the primary characters that have respected franchises to their names that have defined generations. The 90’s and early 2000’s were the eras of the mascot platformer as we got everything from Gex the Gecko, Sparkster, Aero the Acrobat, Kamikaze the Squirrel, Banjo and Kazooie, Bubsy the Bobcat (yikes) all the way to Jak and Daxter and Ratchet and Clank. Amidst all those characters and their games was one mascot platformer that was not only charming but also incredibly fun and has garnered an ENORMUS fandom that has unfortunately had to sit on the sidelines for 20 years (not including a remake) for a new entry and that is for the Klonoa series.
The Klonoa series started 25 years ago and starred the titular character Klonoa as the platformed their way into the hearts of fans the world over in the PlayStation original Klonoa Door To Phantomile and it’s PlayStation 2 sequel Klonoa 2: Lunatea’s Veil in 2001. Except for 2 Gameboy Advanced games and a 2008 remake of the original game for the Nintendo Wii, Klonoa has effectively been a dormant franchise for the better part of 20 years and largely ignored by Bandai Namco. So, imagine the shock of a fan who gave up hope for a new release or remaster in the modern era when Klonoa games are insanely expensive to buy, and then Bandai Namco announces a collection of the first two games for the series’ 25th anniversary with Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series. Does this collection of the first two games hold up well in the modern era? Let’s find out!
Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series is a collection that consists of a remake & remaster of the Wii remake of Klonoa Door to Phantomile and Klonoa 2: Lunatea’s Veil. While it would be easy to assume that these are straight ports of the original games without any real changes; there are however several changes and overhauls made to these two games with three things in particular that stand out the most. Those three things that are the most immediately noticeable are
The English voice acting is no longer there and is instead replaced with the PSOne original’s voice acting.
The translation is different entirely in Klonoa 1 compared to the original and remake.
The graphics of 1 and 2 were altered. Klonoa Door To Phantomile uses the Wii version as a basis yet instead of using the redone character model from that game which was done to be more in line with Klonoa 2’s model for Klonoa, Phantasy Reverie Series instead gives Klonoa his original look from the PlayStation original along with other graphical changes throughout the game. Klonoa 2 drops the cell shading of the original and instead has its graphics redone with added bloom effects making the two games look like a natural progression from one to two instead of the different art styles originally used in 97 and 2001.
This isn’t exactly a bad thing at all given the fact that you effectively get two very similar looking games that still hold up incredibly well today that have higher framerates than their original releases and more graphically impressive and vibrant worlds. There is also an option to turn on a pixelated filter to simulate (sort of) what the original game looked like.
Gameplay wise, Klonoa Door to Phantomile is your standard platformer that utilizes 2.5D to incorporate the way the levels incorporate its 3D world as you will have some platforms that you will be on that will have the world moving as you move about taking you to different sections of the level. There are usually 2 or 3 routes you can take through a level that will lead you to different sections that will net you some neat goodies as this is ultimately a collect-a-thon platformer with every level having a certain amount of collectables for you to gather to 100% the stage.
Klonoa can jump, do a temporary hovering ability when you press jump a second time, and shoot his “Wind Bullet” from the ring that he has which allows him to capture enemies and shoot them in multiple directions. The controls are incredibly simple with you only having a jump and shoot button essentially and yet in that simplicity lies a good amount of depth such as having Klonoa shoot an emey to capture them and then jumping and then shooting downward to get a momentum boost upward and then using his hovering ability before falling. They game really rewards those who master its controls and find unique ways in which to explore the levels and find all the secrets that they can.
Boss battles are often simple encounters with you needing to capture an enemy and shoot it at the bosses weak spot roughly 5-6 times or so. These boss fights will have you not only dealing with the boss but regular enemies as well with you needing to figure out the pattern of the boss in order to see what their weakness is and then beat them.
Klonoa 2 is more of the same as the first game albeit with slightly better graphics and animations and a few additional mechanics added to the gameplay. One of the new mechanics is the board riding stages where Klonoa travels on a fixed path towards the end of the level with you needing to maneuver you way around stage hazards and enemies. You will still be collecting hearts to refill your health meter and also utilizing clocks at certain intervals in the stages as check points.
So, what’s new in this collection? In the settings of both Klonoa 1 and 2, you can select which costume you will want to use such as Klonoa’s outfit from the second game in the first game and vice versa along with a few other costumes such as a Pac-Man inspired one and more. You can now select what difficulty you want to play from Easy, Normal, and an unlockable Hard mode. There is now a 2-player co-op mode available in both titles that allow the game to be played with a friend with the second player able to assist Klonoa. There is a gallery mode also available for you to check out artwork from the games and concept art.
Are there any downsides? There aren’t any real downsides to other than the rather odd voice acting that is lifted from the original games without any enhancements making them sound incredibly scratchy in comparison to the excellent OST’s of both games. It’s rather jarring if I’m honest and s something I hope is rerecorded. Aside from that you get two of the most charming platformers ever made in one package. I will say that what I would’ve preferred is that they include the original 1997 PlayStation version of Door to Phantomile, the Gameboy Advanced games Klonoa Empire of Dreams and Klonoa 2 Dream Champ Tournament from 2001 and 2002 respectively, Klonoa Moonlight Madness from the Wonderswan (Japan only), Klonoa Dream Champ Tournament, and the sole RPG in the franchise Klonoa Heroes: Densetsu no Star Medal (which never made it outside of Japan) as that would be an entire collection of the franchise befitting of this collections’ subtitle.
All in all, Klonoa is back and that is a great thing as it could mean that we are one step closer to getting Klonoa 3 in the future and given how well this remaster of the original two games has done since release, I’m confident to say that the franchise is most definitely on track to return to its former glory.
Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series is a love letter to series fans and a welcoming entry point for a new generation of gamers to dive into this majestic franchise. With a magical world to get lost in, excellent controls, remarkably charming yet challenging gameplay, memorable characters, and being available on all current platforms for anyone to pick up and play make this a must own game for 2022 and a welcome return to one of gaming’s greatest series!