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Platform

Wii

 

Genre

Platformer

 

Publisher

Namco Bandai Games

 

Developer

Paon

 

ESRB

E +10 (Everyone)

 

Released

May 5, 2009

 

 

- Puzzle based platforming at its most polished
- Wonderfully engaging setting and story
- Colorful visuals and sensational soundtrack

 

 

- Short length
- Easy difficulty
- 2.5D perspective sometimes confuses

 

 

Review: Punch-Out!! (Wii)

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Review: Sam & Max: Season One (Wii)

 

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Klonoa: Door to Phantomile

Score: 9.0 / 10

 

Overlooked games are a dime a dozen. With the flood of titles released each year, it isn’t surprising that same games fall under the cracks, even when given a shining endorsement by critics and curious players alike.

 

klonoa          klonoa


The original Klonoa, released on the PS1, is one such overlooked title; released at a time when the gaming market was flooded with 3D mascot-themed games in order to capitalize on the success of Mario 64, this 2.5D polygon/sprite hybrid offered one of the greatest sidescrolling and platforming experiences outside of a Nintendo system, but remained a cult favorite at best, even after releasing a cel-shaded

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sequel years later on the PS2.

Third time’s usually the charm, however, and a third release on the most popular console this generation might be the one to give Klonoa the stardom it so richly deserves. Developed by the same team behind the original game, Namco’s Wii title is in actuality a remake of the first Klonoa game. In actuality, calling it a visually enhanced port may prove more

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accurate, as the core game is virtually identical to the original, but with a new fully polygonal makeover. Despite the new coat of paint, does Klonoa’s classic gameplay still hold up to today’s standards?

The story remains unchanged from the original; after experiencing an ominous dream, the long-eared, cat-like Klonoa and his best friend Hewpoe embark on an adventure spanning six kingdoms in order to stop the evil Ghadius from turning their world of Phantomile into a domain of nightmares.

On the surface, Klonoa features a basic story, but this minimalistic setting masks an emotionally deep story that features some surprising twists and a few heartwarming moments that are worthy of being added to gamers’ “games that made me cry” lists. The colorful, dreamlike visuals and fantastic soundtrack add to an engaging tale that creates joy as well as sadness to anyone choosing to play it.

The gameplay also remains unchanged, but still proves to be a greatly polished experience; as a Ring Spirit, Klonoa uses his friend Hewpoe to inflate and catch enemies, in which he can then either toss them as projectiles or use them to propel high into the air. These two methods are used to traverse and solve puzzles; a switch, for instance, may sit out of reach in the far off distance, which requires Klonoa to hurl an inflated enemy to activate it.

But the 2.5D perspective also plays a large role into the gameplay. Klonoa is able to interact with objects and enemies in both the foreground and the background, a mechanic that becomes integral to operating the right switch or finding the missing key to progress in the level. This outside level of thinking compliments the tightly polished platforming, resulting in an easy-going, but not always easy adventure.

 

klonoa          klonoa
 

The original Klonoa featured colorful visuals for the time, and the fully 3D upgrade has carried on that spirit along with improved textures, widescreen support, and multiple effects that culminate in one of the prettiest Wii games to date. The audio also features two language options, English and Phantomile. The English dub features strong voicework with the exception of the titular character, who sounds like a teenage Sonic knockoff; The Phantomile voicetrack features an originally created language in the vein of Ico and Shadow of the Colossus (although keep in mind the original Klonoa came up with the idea long before either game was conceptualized) and remains a more recommended choice to make Klonoa’s setting feel truly alive. The music remains completely untouched, but this is hardly a criticism as Klonoa’s synths and symphonies still hold strong, and is quite honestly one of the best videogame soundtracks ever made. There are also a variety of control options, including the standard Wii and Nunchuck combo, the sideways Wiimote option, the Classic controller, and even the Gamecube controller.


As timeless as Klonoa’s gameplay remains, the Wii edition sadly fails to address the two biggest criticisms of the original: A short length and easy difficulty. Since the levels are structured exactly the same as the original, the total length to finish the adventure falls under five hours. Some Wii exclusive editions include a time attack and reverse mirror modes, but all new areas and puzzles would have gone a long way in improving the game. As for the difficulty, the puzzles and platforms vary in challenge, but never reaches the point of frustration, which is a good thing. The enemies, on the other hand, won’t offer much resistance in their roles as moving puzzle pieces, and the boss fights can be dealt with effortlessly once their patterns can be figured out.

But despite the short length and difficulty, Klonoa’s classic strengths far outweigh its long forgotten weaknesses. Whether you were a fan of the original or a curious newcomer, Door to Phantomile is a wonderful experience that deserves to reach the reception it has long deserved.

 

- Jorge Fernandez

(June 15, 2009)

 

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