As massive fans of the original releases in the PS1/PS2 days, we had been eagerly anticipating the release of Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series. Here are our thoughts on the PS5 version of this bundle of classics.
When the Klonoa games released, the platforming genre was really starting to embrace 3D technology in full force, with franchises like Crash Bandicoot, Spyro and Ratchet & Clank all appearing on PlayStation. Klonoa perhaps didn’t become a household name like those titles, but it stood out for combining fancy new 3D graphics with traditional 2D gameplay
Another title that did this was Pandemonium, but where that game really wanted to show off its 3D elements with swirling cameras, Klonoa feels much more like a classic 2D platformer – something that had become rare when it launched. It also sticks to the popular mascot formula of having cute and colorful characters, so this bundle is a lovely throwback for a number of reasons.
Included here are both the original game Klonoa: Door to Phantomile (in its later Wii incarnation rather than the original PS1 version) and its sequel, Klonoa 2: Lunatea’s Veil. Over twenty years have passed since they launched, but where early 3D platformers look very rough by today’s standards these two have aged relatively gracefully. Klonoa 2 is a more polished experience (it made use of the PS2’s additional power), but both games have a decent campaign and together they’ll last you about fifteen hours to complete.
As mentioned, Klonoa is a ‘cute’ platformer, so the storylines in these games are very ‘fluffy’ and lighthearted in nature – lacking the dramatics of recent games in the genre like in Rift Apart. The gameplay won’t blow you away either, as these 20+ year old games rely on familiar tropes, with the most interesting mechanic being Klonoa’s ability to grab enemies and then use them to either launch your cat-like body into the air by jumping on them or launch them as projectiles at other enemies.
Other than that, it’s standard stuff like picking up gems, finding the occasional secret, rescuing friendlies and fighting a few boss characters. The gameplay is well polished though, and it’s part of why these games have both aged well – solid mechanics and tons of charm. They went easy on the ‘remake’ factor though, essentially going for an “HD” look with higher resolution graphics and more color rather than something you feel couldn’t have possibly run on, say, a PlayStation 3. Staying close to the original look seems to be a conscious choice though, as you can even turn on a ‘pixel’ filter to make things look even more like the originals you perhaps once played.
Modern conveniences include an option to play with unlimited lives (Klonoa 1 launched in the days of memory cards with a whopping 1 megabyte of memory) and the option to have a second player assist you for more of a shared experience, but ultimately this is a fairly risk-free adaptation of two classic but too-oft-forgotten platformers. If you’re a fan of platforming and never got around to playing the Klonoa games then this is a great opportunity to catch up, and if you’re feeling nostalgic about them then it’s wonderful to have them back and available on modern consoles after so long.