The staying power of platforming mascots isn’t solely relegated to their video game output. Their design, charm, and dedicated fans ultimately determine their relevancy throughout the ages, and thanks to those factors, the Klonoa series has seen another chance at revival.
In a twist I never could have even dreamt of, remasters of the first two Klonoa games have arrived on all platforms via Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series. This package offers veterans the perfect reason to revisit these titles and prospective fans the ideal avenue to navigate to experience these classic entries.
Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series contains two games, Klonoa: Door to Phantomile and Klonoa 2: Lunatea’s Veil. The first title follows Klonoa and his cherished friend, Huepow, on their quest to prevent the primary antagonist, Ghadius, from consuming the dream world of Phantomile into nightmares. On the other hand, the second entry features Klonoa with a new cast of characters to help save the world of Lunatea.
Premise-wise, these games don’t exactly thrive with their narratives, especially Door to Phantomile. However, there is an undeniable charm to Klonoa and the worlds he inhabits, with genuine senses of whimsy and discovery carrying the presentation. Additionally, particular crucial moments stand out in what some would otherwise consider forgettable stories. Their concepts and themes are incredibly compelling as well, to a degree where I believe many will overlook what is being told here and callously label them as nonsense. Still, those not desiring to witness the story at all can skip scenes, and fast-forwarding is an option too. I will admit that the pacing of line deliveries threw me off-kilter at points, so the fast forwarding was a neat inclusion.
Gameplay is where Klonoa is at its finest, and it sure does shine. Throughout both entries, players navigate a series of 2.5D levels filled with various obstacles and enemies. The use of dimensions here is significant since, while Klonoa can’t actively enter the third dimension, he can interact with it. For instance, Klonoa‘s primary gimmick consists of grabbing foes, who can be thrown backward, forward, or to the foreground or background. Enemies are also used as stepping stones for double jumping, providing inventive platforming design dependent on context. These design decisions innately grant more non-pun intended methodical depth.
Puzzles are another integral element of these experiences, and they tend to range in type, such as hitting switches in a set amount of time or adjusting throws to certain stage elements impacted by the dimensional divisions. Now, while the frequency of puzzles and necessitated patience may make Klonoa out to be leisurely and tedious, it’s quite the opposite.
Part of what makes Door to Phantomile and Lunatea’s Veil so magnificent and praiseworthy is how they’re instilled with near-perfect level design. Puzzles are masterfully paced, so they rarely overstay their welcome, and completing the solutions is consistently fulfilling. An impressively delicate balance is struck where each instance is so rewardingly implemented, being an absolute apex of the genre.
Levels also have collectibles worth looking out for, like eggs, dream stones, and residents, all granting unique rewards. Those yearning to see all of what these titles have to offer should definitely aim to obtain them all, and I highly recommend doing so since the collectibles are never out of the way. They usually require an extra step of puzzle solving or a brief platforming challenge, neither of which considerably disrupt pacing.
Moreover, Phantasy Reverie Series can be legitimately challenging at specific points, more notably in later areas where precision is paramount to success. Once again, similar to the philosophy of its puzzle design, both games in this package have well-illustrated difficulty curves that readily benefit platforming beginners and veterans seeking something more.
Yet another facet of these experiences that deserves praise is the boss battles. Unfortunately, platformers tend to be hit-or-miss when it comes to boss design. They can either be pathetically unchallenging and act utterly contrary to how the rest of the game plays or be infamous trials that leave sour impressions.
However, I wholeheartedly believe that Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series boasts some of, if not the best, boss design in the entire genre. These bouts all demand players to be knowledgeable of Klonoa’s simple but intuitive moveset, with creative openings and telegraphs that genuinely make one feel like they’re learning each and every second. It’s a rarity for me to honestly look forward to boss battles in platformers, yet Klonoa is the first time in years where that ended up being the case.
The soundtracks are also terrific, as they befit the aforementioned whimsical nature, which is equally embedded in the sheer conceptualization of dreams and the unknown. The locales correlate with the music, ultimately crafting an almost collectively melancholy tone that is powerful and memorable. It’s difficult to vocalize and is easier detected while playing, but these titles have this solitary atmosphere that helps one feel more attached to Klonoa as a character.
Lastly, while minor, a few oddities persisted throughout my time playing these games. Firstly, the audio balancing in Door to Phantomile was relatively poor. Granted, the story isn’t necessarily a focus, so it wasn’t a massive deal, but the characters’ vocals being randomly drowned out at points stood out as an overlooked area of polish. Further, the lack of content celebrating the Klonoa franchise was somewhat disappointing because of the nature of this package. Still, it’s worth iterating that these are both minute, non-disparaging points.
Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series is undoubtedly one of the best platforming collections on the market. Thanks to its enthralling level design, excellent puzzles, marvelous boss battles, and outstanding presentation, every platformer fan will assuredly fall in love with this mascot and series that has long deserved more attention.
Even when accounting for slight hiccups, such as odd audio balancing in Door to Phantomile, there are no significant obstructions to enjoyability present here. Performance on PlayStation 5 was also smooth, if that was a concern. I’m eager to see this highly-anticipated duology sell well, so Klonoa can potentially become a new fixture in the platforming pantheon.
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