If you ask someone who grew up on the first two PlayStations, “What’s your favorite platformer series,” most will likely answer series like Crash Bandicoot, Spyro the Dragon, Ratchet & Clank, Sly Cooper, or Jak and Daxter. These series are arguably the most famous, but the selection of decent platform games on PlayStation was certainly bigger than that. One of the lesser-known franchises that still has loyal fans is Klonoa, where players control the titular dog-rabbit hybrid character with the power to pick up enemies with her wind ring to solve puzzles and platforming challenges.
Namco’s (or Bandai Namco Entertainment as they’re known today) series of platform games offered a lot of charm and surprisingly good game mechanics, but Klonoa previously only got two main titles and a few handheld spin-offs so it doesn’t go quiet. The last game released in the Klonoa franchise was the 2008 Wii remake of the first game, nearly 15 years ago. This makes the Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series release even more special for fans, where Bandai Namco is now re-releasing Klonoa: Door to Phantomille and Klonoa 2: Lunatea’s Veil to celebrate Klonoa’s 25th anniversary. Given that Klonoa 2 has been locked to PlayStation 2 since its initial release in 2001 (which, of course, makes the game even more expensive on the pre-owned market), this re-release will most likely be well-received by fans. the series. Ideally, this collection should feature the franchise’s handheld games, especially since most of them were never released outside of Japan in the 2000s, but understandably the focus is on the two main titles. After all, they are the most trusted and similar enough to create a unified whole.
This is an ad:
There’s a story in Klonoa games, but it’s so disjointed and cluttered that it serves more as background noise than engaging stories. Basically, our hero Klonoa grabs a special ring that can blow gusts of wind, and this ring takes him to different worlds that need his help. There is potential for good storytelling in these games, but Namco didn’t consider it a priority at the time, or the details that would make sense were lost in translation.
What Klonoa games lack in story, they make up for in charm, something you’ll find plenty in this collection. The characters have a whimsical design that will entertain nostalgics and new players alike, and you get plenty of fun, fresh scenes with a bright, light color palette to tackle. The games also come with dialogues in a fictional language, and while that can be a little annoying at times, it’s also an irreplaceable part of the series’ charm. Well, mainly because in some cases the voices of the characters are so terrible that they give you a headache every time they open their mouth. Huepow, Klonoa’s sidekick in the first game, is by far the worst, and his squeaking noises make him the worst sidekick in video game history, surpassing even fan favorites like Navi and Fi from the Zelda games. † However, despite characters like Huepow, you get a collection full of joy and fun. Combined with creative set design and the use of camera angles (especially in Klonoa 2), it’s easy to return to that bundle of old platform fun. We’re not talking groundbreaking platformers here, and some elements haven’t gotten as old as others, but the overall collection is still well executed.
However, some of the visual charm and distinctiveness of the series has been lost in the transition to new platforms. This re-release gives you remastered versions of Klonoa 2 from PlayStation 2 and the 2008 Wii version of the original 1997 PlayStation game, a choice that makes sense since the Wii version was created to give players a Klonoa 1 experience that closer to the experience they know from Klonoa 2. Not only will this decision fall on those longing for the classic style of the original PlayStation game, but those longing for the cel-shaded style of Klonoa 2 will also be somewhat disappointed. as the remasters are a more recent one with smooth textures. The problem is that this style feels impersonal, dull and without any sort of distinctiveness, a “dime-in-a-boxes” style we’ve seen in several low-budget platformers over the past decade. The new graphical style gets the job done, and it’s positive to see the developers staying close to the original level design and background details, but the uninspired and cheap presentation makes you long for the ability to switch between the old and new look. , such as what’s seen in digital remasters of previous LucasArts point-and-click games.
This is an ad:
Another factor that makes the collection a bit cheap is the limited settings in the options menu. For example, you can customize button configurations, but only to the four main action buttons and not to shoulder buttons or triggers. In one of the stages of Klonoa 2, the player must ride a hoverboard through a dark cave, collecting diamonds along the way, a task made much more difficult by the fact that the diamonds are the same color as the track. I can imagine this must be a nightmare for colorblind gamers, so more accessibility features would have been appreciated. Worst of all is the Pixel Filter, which tries to give games a certain retro feel, but ends up making the screen blurry and smudged, where colors swirl into each other like oil on water. This filter doesn’t match any of the games, and the execution is so awful that I’ve never seen a worse attempt at giving a modern game a retro-pixelated feel.
Despite these minor flaws and issues, you also get some useful additions to the collection. Both games can be played in co-op mode, previously only available in Klonoa 2, which will help nostalgic parents share the Klonoa experience with a new generation of gamers. In addition to the new visual style, the audio has also been tuned and especially the music of Klonoa 2 is surprisingly good and deserves a lot of attention. You can now also adjust the difficulty, and sprinters will appreciate the Stopwatch mode for an extra challenge.
Perhaps the biggest new feature is the ability to play the games in 4K resolution and 60 frames per second, something offered on next-gen platforms. The PlayStation 5 version is well suited to the task, and aside from a small framerate drop every time a boss is beaten in Klonoa 2, I didn’t notice any technical issues during testing. The collection also comes with incredibly fast load times, so fast you won’t have time to read the helpful tips on the loading screen in the first game (load times are just a few seconds from more in Klonoa 2). On Switch, however, the technical situation is different. This version comes with a lower resolution, longer load times and no HDR support, but it’s all as expected from a console with less firepower than a PlayStation 5. The performance issues, on the other hand, are harder to accept. The Switch version consistently runs below 60 fps (usually close to 50 fps) with noticeable response time issues, something you may already notice in the first phase of Klonoa 2, where frame rate and response time take a serious hit. The collection is still playable on Switch, but performance issues make the experience less enjoyable than on next-gen consoles.
While some of the charm of the original releases has been lost over the years, there’s plenty of platforming fun to be found in Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series. It’s not hard to see why this dog-rabbit creature still has a loyal fan base, and despite some outdated elements, the level design holds up well enough to provide players old and new alike with several hours of fun during the lazy summer.