Poor, poor Klonoa. The waking world was hardly fair to Bandai Namco’s Dream Traveler. The first one
Klonoa came out just when the world was getting tired of 2D platformers and games, and the second came out when side-scrollers were considered outdated. The numerous attempts at recognition – a 2008 remake on the Wii, a webcomic, even an aborted film – have all fallen through. Not a simple Scrimblo Bimblo, Klonoa yet faded into oblivion, his name a secret handshake between those who had been touched by his charming adventures.
Thank goodness he finally got a second chance.
The Fantasy Reverie Series collection combines both Phantomile Gate and Sail of Lunatea, with some minor updates and improvements, and the weather has been very good for both of these games. Originally presented as a “guided 3D” game, both Klonoa titles in this set are 2.5D side-scrollers: the primary axis of movement is along a two-dimensional plane, but Klonoa is able to interact with three-dimensional objects and paths, throwing things at first plane and in the background. Klonoa’s abilities are consistent: he can jump, float short distances by flapping his large ears, and shoot wind balls from his ring that can inflate enemies. These enemies are held by Klonoa when he moves, opening his radius of action and attack: by throwing the enemy, Klonoa can destroy obstacles or defeat other enemies. He can throw bloated enemies into the foreground or background to flip switches or find hidden treasure. Or, he can throw them down in the air to give himself a double jump – and experienced players can even chain capture enemies and throw them to extend Klonoa’s airtime even further.
That pretty much sums up Klonoa’s capabilities; in both games there are a few minor gimmicks in the levels like special switches Klonoa can grab to hang in the air, slides he can slide down, or guided segments where he rides large birds. But it’s still this: Klonoa just gives you a fixed list of abilities, iterating over their use to progress. For example, a level in
Sail of Lunatea had us throw enemies into a pendulum in the center of a circled path so it knocked down stone pillars across the screen, opening up a path forward. Other stages have simple progression puzzles, where players must figure out the right time to throw an enemy in order to get treasure, but it’s mostly a simple affair – not that “simple” should mean “insubstantial”. Each stage of both games includes 150 gems to acquire and six hidden characters to save. acquiring all the treasures requires a keen eye and a quick hand. Rescuing all the captives also unlocks a bonus level in both games, where your skills are truly put to the test.
And even if you’re not interested in diving into all the challenges Klonoa has to offer, the world itself is always a joy to explore. The bright and colorful scenes are a visual delight, the wandering Moo enemies are adorable, each character is cuter than the last, and the villains are sneaky and mysterious. It’s the capital C “character” playing here: Klonoa begins each stage with his signature “Wa-hoo!”, and dreamlike music breathes life into these vibrant worlds. Both Phantomile Gate and Sail of Lunatea have been retouched, visually, from their original versions: both have been given brighter colors to visually make their worlds stand out. While these games still look quite old on examination (their textures are quite visibly dated), their stylization is timeless.
Now, a few clarifications should be made: although this game is a collection of both Klonoa titles, it does not contain the original Klonoa: Gate to Phantomile from PlayStation. The version featured in this set is the 2008 remake on Wii. It’s a minor disappointment, but given the striking mix of 3D backgrounds with incredible 2D spritework, the 2008 remake is nonetheless given a new lease of life and ultimately comes across as a fantastic remake from the ground up. This is also an improvement over the 2008 port, as the US version of this game had a new voiceover recorded for it. It wasn’t a bad dub, but Eric Stitt’s take on Klonoa was misdirected, giving him a voice that was way too old. Instead, the
Fantasy Reverie Series uses the original PS vocal track. Although heavily compressed and showing its age, it runs brilliantly; Kumiko WatanabeThe “Wa-hoo!” It also serves to make the villain Ghadius much more menacing and weird.
Another improvement for the gameplay comes from the optional support mode: both Phantomile Gate and Sail of Lunatea have the option for a 2 player to give Klonoa an extra jump boost during gameplay. It’s on a timer so you can’t just jump over the whole level, but it’s a good way to jump. include a second player. It’s a good “little brother” mode, or a way to share the game with your kids. There are also options to skip cutscenes or fast forward them.
If I haven’t mentioned the history of these games, it’s because there isn’t much to say about them. Not that the story is bad: you have a fun and joyful adventure in two charming worlds. It’s just that they are crowned with intensely emotional climaxes that are best experienced on your own. Suffice it to say, Klonoa is a lot like Tezuka’s Unico: someone you want to be friends with, but who’s cursed that you can’t stay somewhere too long.
I’ve talked a lot about this game, but it’s because the Klonoa the games are so impactful. Of course, they’re not perfect: the platform is a bit sticky and you’ll find yourself dying from misjudging your jump distances. While it’s fantastic that both consoles Klonoa games are compiled in this set, since this game commemorates by Klonoa 25th anniversary, I expected more pomp and circumstance. Add the GameBoy and GameBoy Advance Klonoa titles, maybe even Klonoa Beach Volleyball. Let us unlock some design document or something. And if you’re someone who craves a challenge, these games won’t give you that: bosses are simplistic and enemies rarely do more than waddle around waiting for you to capture them.
But in the end, it’s okay. These days, many indie developers have helped us rediscover how fun it can be to explore charming and colorful worlds. The Fantasy Reverie Series gives us two games that harken back to when these fun, thoughtful platformers had a AAA budget injected. Don’t buy it Fantasy Reverie Series
because Bandai Namco teased a possible Klonoa 3. Buy it because, above all, it’s a fun game with a cute and flirty protagonist, and it’s sure to stay with you for a long time.