Friday, May 1, 2009

Klonoa 2: Lunatea's Veil (PS2) Retro Review

Klonoa (Wii) officially comes out next week despite some stores already selling it (thank you, Gamestop). This past week I played through Klonoa 2: Lunatea's Veil (PS2) in anticipation for the game. Here's a quicker-than-usual review.

A Magnificent Adventure Unveiled

Do your ears hang low? Do they wobble to and fro? Can you tie them in a knot? Can you tie them a bow? Can you throw them over your shoulder like a continental soldier? Do your ears hang low? There's only one video game mascot which could answer "yes" to all of these questions, and that's none other than Klonoa, back from vacation and transported to the dream world of Lunatea. Does Klonoa 2: Lunatea's Veil play like a dream, or is this a game you'll get nightmares over?

Klonoa 2 takes our droopy-eared hero straight from his homeworld to that of Lunatea. Like four table legs, Lunatea's four harmony bells maintain stability in the world. However, a ragtag pair of adventurers want to summon a fifth bell, the Bell of Sorrow, into the world, destroying the balance currently held within the perpetually peaceful planet. It is up to Klonoa to keep Lunatea away from the impending doom and gloom, but he won't be alone. An amateur priestess named Lolo and Popka, the token wise-cracker, are on his side and are along for the journey. Despite the cute appearance of the cast and world, Klonoa 2 isn't all sunshine and rainbows. The story gets somewhat melancholy as Lunatea slowly slips into sorrow.

Klonoa 2: Lunatea's Veil is a 2-D platformer at heart. However, there's loads of 3-D used in the game from walking along a curving path that curves the environment with you to cannons that shoot Klonoa from the background of a level to the foreground. It's a very cool effect, and there were many times where I just sat with a smile on my face feeling impressed at these nifty tricks. Levels are expertly-designed. Most are your traditional Klonoa running and jumping while others give Klonoa a snowboard as he maneuvers down an icy mountain, across narrow pathways, and leaping over giant chasms. The more traditional levels utilize all of Klonoa's repertoire, and the puzzle elements in the game are much more prevalent than in Door to Phantomile.

Speaking of Klonoa's set of moves, there's a small amount of things that Klonoa do. He can run, jump, and float in the air for a couple of seconds, but what sets Klonoa apart from other games of the genre is the inventive way the series' titular character can dispatch enemies. Klonoa can grab hold to an enemy, carry the baddie around, and then toss it at an out-of-the-way switch or use it as a way of getting a high-flying double jump, one that's higher than Klonoa would be able to jump by his lonesome. The developers were clever in constantly thinking up new ways for you to use Klonoa's jumping and throwing abilities. There's also a fair amount of new abilities for Klonoa that are performed by capturing certain enemies in your hero's grasp. The kiton is a helicopter-like enemy which can be used to reach higher places in a jiffy, but it has limited mobility. The boomie is a bomb which can destroy blocks that otherwise are impassable. They can be picked up and thrown as many times as possible, but they'll explode after a set amount of time. For example, one room may need you to toss a boomie through a narrow pipe that Klonoa can't fit through, and you have to quickly make it to the boomie and throw it at the destructible block before your boomie explodes.

Lunatea's Veil isn't very long. It's sixteen full-featured levels plus additional boss levels. The entire story will last most players six or seven hours. However, there's two bonus levels that are unlocked by finding six special items in each level, and this duo has some of the most difficult platforming elements ever embarked on by Klonoa. There's also a scrapbook that gains pages as you collect 150 dream shards in a given level, but it's more for the challenge of the task than the actual reward which is mediocre at best.

Just under nine years later and Klonoa 2 is still an impressive-looking game. It's just goes to show that tremendous art design will always be more important than pure tech. The multitude of backgrounds in the game are full of life and boast impressive effects, and the characters are given a cel-shaded touch, making them stand out wonderfully. The game is very fluid and smooth when in action with little chugging going on. The music is nothing that you'll want to crank up your stereo speakers for, but in the game's context it works well and there are plenty of tracks with soothing, enjoyable melodies. Voice work is typical Japanese-fare which is rather grating, but this can be skipped.

Klonoa 2: Lunatea's Veil is an excellent platforming game with a terrific style to it. There's a considerable amount of challenge to the game and a bounty of nooks and crannies to explore. If you can track down a copy, Klonoa 2 is a welcomed addition to anyone's ever-expanding Playstation 2 library. Wahoo!

[SuperPhillip Says: 8.5/10]


Kyle said...

Nice review.

I can't wait to pick up Klonoa for the Wii, it looks great. I hope it does well sales-wise so they can bring Klonoa 2 to the Wii.

Unknown said...

I'll probably have the review for that tomorrow. I've gone through nearly everything in about 4-5 hours.

Kyle said...

So, is it a fairly short game (the Wii one)? Or did you pretty much fly through it?

Unknown said...

I've never played through the original Klonoa. My first game was Lunatea's Veil, and I had just started that last week.

Lunatea's Veil has 16 main levels and some boss battles.

Klonoa has 12 main levels with a boss battle in every second level.

Having five hearts (for basically ten hits til you died) made the game easier to go through. I didn't fly through it, but I didn't have too many problems. It was fun the whole way through, and I look forward to running through it again like Super Mario World or Mega Man X.