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Klonoa: Door to Phantomile Review

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  • PS3N

The Wii remake of Klonoa is bright, colorful, and a lot of fun.


Klonoa takes place in a bright, beautiful world.
Klonoa takes place in a bright, beautiful world.
Klonoa: Door to Phantomile got its start as a PlayStation game, originally released well over a decade ago. While it garnered enough of a following to generate a sequel and few other releases, the series never really caught on in a huge way, relegating this cute platformer to cult status. But there's nothing about the game itself that feels inaccessible or terribly deep, which is why it's cool that the original game is getting a second chance at life via a straight-up remake on the Wii. This new version recreates the levels and story of the first game, throws in some upgrades where appropriate, and sticks close to the 2D/3D formula of the original game. Really, the only bad thing I could say about Klonoa is that standards for gameplay and difficulty have changed over the last decade, so some players might find the game to be both too easy and too short to capture their imagination for more than a weekend.

Klonoa: Door to Phantomile is a 2D, sideview platformer with polygonal backgrounds that twist and turn behind you, giving the game a 3D look and feel. Klonoa himself is a long-eared cat-like creature who rolls around with a gigantic ring. Inside the ring lives Huepoe (retranslated from Huepow in the original version), a wind spirit who gives Klonoa some additional powers and typically hangs out in cutscenes. Klonoa's main ability is a wind-based attack that grabs enemies at range and reels them in so he can carry them around. When holding an enemy, you can toss it at other enemies or objects, or you can double jump by shoving the enemy down at the ground in mid-air. Klonoa can also flap his ears for a second or so of hovering. So at its most difficult, you'll be using enemies to double jump, then perhaps catching another foe for another jump, then hovering over to a platform. It gets a little technical in spots, but for the most part, the game leaves the difficult jumps for optional collectibles and not the main level progression.

For comparison's sake, here's the PlayStation version.
For comparison's sake, here's the PlayStation version.
Generally speaking, Klonoa is light-hearted fun. The levels aren't especially long, though the 3D perspective makes some of them a little tricky to follow. You'll get plenty of platformer-style boss fights along the way, too. But the only serious challenge comes from trying to go back through a second time and collect every gem in every level. The game lets you take on the action with one of several different control schemes, ranging from one that lets you use the Nunchuk, to holding the Wii Remote sideways, to using a Classic or a GameCube controller. Since there's no real finesse or analog movement to Klonoa's control, using the Nunchuk feels totally unnecessary, but any of the other styles works great.

The game's primary weapon is its cuteness. Klonoa's style is very much of its time, and its cheery demeanor and blue, blue skies stick out when set against today's brown, post-apocalyptic releases. As such, it's easy to take Klonoa as a game that only kids could love. The new voice acting doesn't exactly steer away from that feeling, either. Originally, the characters spoke in a non-language reminiscent of Star Fox or Banjo-Kazooie. While you can go back to that if you like, the game defaults to English, with the sort of character voices and script that give the game an even sweeter edge. The kids show vibe made me feel like one of the characters was going to break out into some sort of song about numbers or the difference between near and far or something. Of course, that's not necessarily a bad thing. The voices are well-done, but depending on your personal taste (or how much of a Klonoa purist you are), you might want to disable the English voices. Said purists might also bristle up at the new in-engine cutscenes, which replace the pre-rendered video found on the PlayStation. Personally, I always thought the old video version of Klonoa looked sort of evil with its overtly cat-like eyes and tiny fangs. I prefer the new in-engine stuff, but again, that's a pretty minor thing.

The best part about this new remake of Klonoa is that it's going for the discounted price of $29.99. Considering the game won't take you an especially long time to finish, that's a great price for a classic platformer that still has some appeal for modern players while also being charming enough for younger kids to get into, as well.
Jeff Gerstmann on Google+