Sunday, May 3, 2009

Klonoa (Wii) Review

This is a special occasion here at SuperPhillip Central. This is the first time I've reviewed a game that came out before the release date. We're movin' on up, Weezy! Here's my enthusiastic review of Klonoa for Wii.

Get Ready to Wahoo All the Wahey

It's been over a decade since Namco-Bandai's floppy-eared feline, Klonoa, had his first foray into gaming with 1997's Klonoa: Door to Phantomile. Since then, Klonoa had a wonderfully delightful sequel on the Playstation 2 known as Lunatea's Veil (2001). Fast-forward to 2009, and Klonoa's debut has been remade with a more sophisticated graphical makeover with the simply-titled Klonoa for the Nintendo Wii. The visual touches are just part of the new budget-priced package, but have the years been kind to Klonoa's original adventure?

The mystical ring known as the Wind Bullet.

Klonoa features a story that anyone can get into and enjoy. The land of Phantomile is fueled by dreams. Our hero, the precocious adventurer Klonoa, dwells with his grandfather in a countryside wind village. When an unknown spaceship crashes into a nearby mountain, Klonoa and water blob friend Huepow, charge off to investigate. The rest of the tale revolves around a sinister being known as Gladius whose motive for searching for a moon pendant is unclear, but it's undeniable that he's up to no good. It's up to Klonoa to right the wrongs caused by Gladius and his flunky, a jester named Joker-- whose only trick with a pencil is drawing horribly. I must add though that the ending of Klonoa is very much a downer. Great way to spoil my overly cheerful mood, Namco!

Klonoa and Huepow.

The tale of Klonoa is stretched over thirteen themed levels. At the climax of each second level is a fun-to-face boss fight. These, for the most part, take place in circular arenas where you have to chuck an enemy at the foe's weak point in order to damage it. Each level has a different locale to it from the humble beginnings of Klonoa's wind village to traversing the hallways of a castle in a starry sky. There's enough variety in the level design that you'll play for two hours without even knowing it. Klonoa's heroic undertaking is very long, however. The story can be played through in about three or four hours. Regardless, this is one of those beauties like Super Mario World or Sonic the Hedgehog that just begs to played over and over again just because it's an uproariously good time.

Everything is more full of life in this remake.

What makes the remake of Klonoa easy to breeze through is that you have five hearts to work with this time around. You can get hit ten times before you finally kick the bucket. What strengthens the elementary challenge of the main story mode is that there's a multitude of 1-ups available for snatching either from silver and gold coins to collecting 100 dream shards. That isn't to say you won't die or ever feel challenged, however. There are plenty of tricky and troublesome spots that request your full platforming prowess as well as six captured villagers to rescue in each stage-- 72 in all, so there are some optional goodies to go after while you're not chipping away at Gladius' master plan.

After beating the game, you unlock the bounty of bonus content promised with this Wii remake. There's a character viewer, movie viewer, new costumes for Klonoa such as his garb from the Door of Phantomile sequel, Lunatea's Veil, as well as a special bonus level and mirror versions of the game's various visions. For those who stockpiled 1-ups throughout the original story, be prepared to gradually lose them all as the challenges within the bonus level-- a tower stage, and the hidden bonus rooms within the mirror levels are insanely difficult. These rooms force you to perfect chaining double-jumps from floating enemies or else face the wrath of the lava pit below. It's a severely sharp difficulty spike when compared to the abundantly accessible story mode, so perspective players may want to stock up on patience and anger-management pamphlets. I would have liked having the original Playstation code of Door to Phantomile somewhere in the package, but it's nowhere to be seen. Who knows? Perhaps besting the challenge rooms will do something, but I was too weak in spirit to complete them all.

Klonoa: Door to Phantomile was heralded for having an innovative approach to its game design. It was one of the first games to mix between 2D and 3D gameplay, thus creating the lovely "2.5D" moniker. The game was also more than your run-of-the-mill platformer, and that has all to do with how Klonoa handles. Klonoa's weapon is the gold, melon-sized ring known as the Wind Bullet. When used, it shoots a gust of wind a few feet away from Klonoa which can pick up small enemies. Once grabbed, Klonoa holds the enemy over his head. Now our hero can toss his vulnerable baddy into another enemy to vanquish two metaphorical birds with one stone, or he can use the enemy in order to perform a double-jump. This allows Klonoa to reach higher places when an ordinary jump just won't do. Like a certain dinosaur from the Mushroom Kingdom, Klonoa can float in place to make it over chasms and make it to platforms otherwise unreachable.

Nifty little 3D tricks like this make the
game's levels play awesomely.

Grabbing enemies is the core of Klonoa's gameplay. There's plenty of areas where the furry protagonist will have to use an enemy to solve one of the game's many environmental puzzles. These range from tossing creatures to the background or foreground in order to hit a faraway switch to chaining multiple mid-air grabs to reach a high platform or face certain death. It's these challenges and the vast variety of them that really make the game design in Klonoa shine. There's multiple moments where you'll just sit back and be amazed that the designers could fit so many unique challenges in a game with only a handful of moves.

Bosses require you to slam an enemy into them,
but their weak point only pops up occasionally.

Compared to the original Playstation game, Klonoa for Wii is vastly improved. I particularly enjoyed how the cut-scenes are in-game. This means that the game seamlessly transfers from cut-scenes to gameplay without a hint of a loading screen. It's very cool to go directly into a boss battle or puzzle. As for backgrounds, these are are less empty when contrasted to Door of Phantomile and are now full of life. Additionally, everything is much more fluid whether it's Klonoa's animations or the little graphical nuances in each level like falling leaves or beams of light. New voice work has been added, and most of it works rather well. Klonoa's new voice in particular is superb whereas Joker's delivery is a tad on the off-side. A cool bonus is that if you don't like the new cast or prefer the past cast, you can always switch to the Phantomile voices.

For thirty dollars, there's hardly a better deal for a fantastic platformer on any current platform. There's enough bonus content after the story mode is completed to boost the longevity of the game severalfold. If you're like me and never had the chance to play Door to Phantomile, get ready to be wowed. Those who have had the chance will be stricken with a brand new case of nostalgia-- running through familiar stages in a brand new coat of beautiful paint. Either way, there's enough here for beginning players (the accessible main mode) as well as veterans (the unyielding challenge rooms), too. Klonoa gets eight point seven five wahoos out of ten.

[SuperPhillip Says: 8.75/10]


Kyle said...

Great review Phil. Can't wait to pick up and play the game myself.

Val said...

Whoaaaaa! That game is ooooold!