By Raymond McCrum
Originally released for the Sony PlayStation (PS1) in 1997, Klonoa: Door to Phantomille has now been remade, and released for the Nintendo Wii. I’m not a fan of remakes, but Klonoa is an exception.
If you’re a fan of the original PS1 release you’ll feel right at home. Klonoa captures the real charm of the original release. English voice acting has now been added, but the option to listen to the Phantomille (the language used by Klonoa and friends in the original) voice acting is still available. I personally prefer the Phantomille setting, though some of the voices may seem a bit overly high pitched or childish with this setting.
Klonoa is a 2D/3D hybrid platformer, and by that I mean it’s a side scroller, but Klonoa is able to face four different directions at any time to manipulate objects, or enemies that may appear behind, or in front of him. The gameplay is rather standard platforming, but the hook here is that Klonoa can use his ring to draw in enemies which he can then throw to attack other enemies, or jump off their heads mid-air for a greater height.
What I find most impressive about Klonoa is the level design. There are many instances where the camera will shift revealing a different path once Klonoa reaches a certain platform or point. There are also many puzzles involving switches, or platforms that may appear out of reach which require you to master the use of snatching, and jumping off of enemy heads. Some of the later levels appear to be non-linear, but in reality the level design is just so well done that you’ll actually progress in a linear fashion without knowing it.
The boss fights are another strong point. Most take place with Klonoa running around the boss on a circular platform, or with the boss appearing far in the distance. They’re simple, but usually unique, and sometimes a hidden lesson on a future gameplay element.
The visuals have been updated to meet the standards of the Wii platform. If you have ever played the sequel, Klonoa 2, you’ll know what to expect. Thanks to the added horsepower, every FMV is now recreated in-game, and the rest of the scenes offer more dramatic camera angles. The added option to toggle anti-aliasing is also appreciated for those who hate jaggies.
Other non-visual additions include extra costumes (including Klonoa’s original shirtless, big collar design, along with Klonoa’s blue outfit from Klonoa 2), as well as a mirror mode, which in my own opinion, feels unnecessary. Altogether the extras are a nice touch, but fairly useless, and certainly not something that would convince me to go out to buy the remake.
That’s really part of what makes Klonoa a better remake than most. It sticks to the original game, without tweaking gameplay or adding too many additional features. It truly feels like you’re playing an old PlayStation release with a new fresh coat of paint.
As far as length goes, this game may disappoint. The game consists of six, two-part “Visions”(levels/stages), none of which are terribly long or difficult. You could probably blow through the game in a single weekend.
Another area the game may disappoint is the story, you’ll find the story fairly childish, and simple. The ending, however, is classic, and probably one you’ll be remembering for quite a while. The cutscenes are well done, but if you’re the kind of guy/girl who’s annoyed by “off” lip-syncing, these scenes will drive you crazy.
In the end, Klonoa is a very worthy purchase. The $30-$40 price tag makes up for the short length, and really every console collection deserves a few good platformers. This is one of those platformers that should be sitting up on your shelf alongside Super Mario Galaxy, and if you ask me it deserves every right to be stacked up next to that game. If you’ve been craving some great old-school platforming for the past very-platform-dry decade, I suggest you pick this one up. You’ll thank me for it.
About the Author: Raymond McCrum is a collector of classic video games and a lifelong gamer. His collection currently consists of over 300 classic video games and around 20 video game systems.
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Published by: Namco Bandai Games
Developed by: Paon
ESRB Rating: E10+
North American Release Date: May 5, 2009