KLONOA Phantasy Reverie Series REVIEW (PS5)
Developed: Monkey Craft
Published: Bandai Namco Entertainment
Release Date: July 8th, 2022
Platforms: PS4/PS5/XBOX FAMILY/Switch/PC
*Review copy provided to me by Bandai Namco*
''The classic returns''
Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series is a revival of a classic series that is developed by Monkey Craft and published by Bandai Namco Entertainment. With the Klonoa franchise being dormant for over a decade, Bandai has decided to bring the little guy back into the mainstream eye in the hopes that he will find a new place in the hearts of this generation. But do they succeed in his revival or was there good reason to leave him in the past? Only one way to find out, so lets dream!
The year is 2022 and in half a year we've seen the revival of Kao The Kangaroo, classic re-releases of Sonic The Hedgehog, resurgence of TMNT and the return of Pac-Man next month. Now with two classic Klonoa titles returning in this new collection for its 25th anniversary, we have to sit and ask ourselves ''WHAT YEAR IS IT?''. Like for real, is this 2022 or the 1990s. Commemorating the 25th anniversary of the first title in the series, Bandai Namco brings back to us two of Klonoa's greatest adventures, KLONOA: Door to Phantomile and KLONOA 2: Lunatea’s Veil. Both of these games are remastered for the new generation with both still having the same great game play and some extra new additions as well. I mean, they better give us something, right? because I don't know which fanbase has it worse at the moment, people like me waiting for Klonoa 3 or Rayman fans waiting for Rayman 4. Either way were both like the little old lady from TItanic and we'll probably be waiting another 84 years for a new entry, but that's off topic. Let's just dive right in, starting with KLONOA: Door to Phantomile
KLONOA: Door to Phantomile:
Originally released on Playstation in 1997, Phantomile is back once again to try to spread its joy to a new generation. Being an enhanced port of its 2008 remake counterpart, the 2022 version not only improves on the games controls, graphics and quality of life, but also in ways that makes it even more accessible to every type of gamer out there with the additions of second player co-op help for extra jumping and an easy mode that gives you infinite lives. Which... actually helped me quite a lot because if you were around about four years ago when I ran through this game on a live stream, then you would've seen me raging out with some of the jumps I kept missing. So thank you Bandai for this addition, you have saved me money from buying another bottle of Tylenol. But you don't want to hear about my issues right? you'd rather hear about the game? ya that makes sense. We have a lot to talk about and most of the game play side will be covered here in Phantomile over Lunatea due to most of the franchises mainstay gameplay mechanics being introduced here and continued in its second title. Don't worry though, I won't leave ya hanging like Huepow.
In Phantomile, a land fueled by dreams people have at night. A cute as buttons animal named Klonoa has been having dreams about an airship crashing into a nearby mountain, and one day that dream becomes his own reality. What could this vision mean for the world and the land? is it good or is it bad?. In order to find answers to these questions, Klonoa and his friend, a "ring spirit" named Huepow, decide to investigate the strange occurrence, but what they instead find is a dream full of nightmares.
As you start your game you're introduced to your two main characters, Klonoa and his ring spirt friend named Huepow. After they witness an airship crashing into a mountain, they in haste, go to investigate. However upon arriving, they find a dark spirit named Ghadius on the mountain searching for a magical moon pendant. The heck bro? I'm gonna need to see a warrant if you're going to dig around my property. Confronting Ghadius you learn that he plans to use the pendant to turn the land of Phantomile into his own world of Nightmares. What a jerk. I'll only accept him doing this if he plans to revive Freddy Krueger this way, otherwise, you're going down you evil piece of crap. But we can get back to the story in just a minute because we need to touch on what matters most at the end of the day, the actual gameplay, duh. If you haven't guessed already, Phantomile is a 2.5D platformer that at its heart, is a very basic one at that. Using your Wind Ring to grapple and snag your foes, which picks them up and inflates them like a balloon and then proceeding to toss them into an object like a crate, being able to double jump with them to gain more height, throw them into the background to find secrets hidden inside eggs, etc. Like I said, very basic, but even though the controls and game mechanics are very basic, that doesn't mean the levels, boss fights and overall game itself is that way though, far from it. As you trudge through the main story mode even further, you will witness the tragic death of your grandfather, hop along bones as you platform as fast as you can before they fall and take you to your grave, watch amazing waterfalls go up instead of down... and wait, what? hang on. Waterfalls going up? I'm pretty sure that's not how it works guys. It sorta reminds me of the game They Hunger on STEAM where the rain comes up from the ground and goes up into the sky. Good stuff. But that's off topic, lets get back to what I was saying.
If there's one thing Klonoa nails in droves, its the absolute charm and creativeness of its levels and the variety each brings. Sure the game can be beaten in 4 hours or less, but that still doesn't take away to the content overall here that's provided. Besides being amazingly designed with offering you multiple branching paths to choose from, making it so you'll be able to explore to your hearts desire, which was actually a detriment to me on Vision 3-2 when I literally got lost for 20 minutes trying to figure out just what in the heck am I supposed to do, and while I was getting completely ticked off, ready to rage, I noticed... well... dang.. I'm such a freaking idiot, the stupid door was literally RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME, the entire time. See that? just a itty bitty door. Talk about embarrassing. Personal embarrassment aside, I can't help but keep thinking about the cuteness of Klonoa, the beautiful environment designs as you pass by sea landscapes, factories, dark castles, finding delight in the switching from typical side scroller and platformer to sliding down ramps of water as you dodge enemies, meet a fish friend named Karel who you help in order to save her mom Pamela from a spell, witness the really awesome changes to mechanics in vision 5-1 as the gameplay switches to a day and night system, that when night time falls upon you, all enemies become stronger and invulnerable. This makes it WAY more challenging and also reminds me of similar mechanics used back on the NES with titles like Nightmare on Elm street. Only without switching to random spandex clothes. Seriously, why was that needed? to fight Freddy?.
There's so much to talk about in this short little game, even besides knowing you can hover jump like Yoshi for a short distance , grapple and use enemies to your advantage by throwing them, finding orbs in a magical puzzle that involves you taking on some of the hardest puzzles and platforming in the game, using a second player for co-op to help you jump higher, choosing Normal mode to take extra damage and limited lives or play Easy mode that gives you infinite lives, gush over the cuteness of Klonoa's Pac-Man Hat, cry alongside Huepow and Klonoa after defeating Ghadius and the nightmarish beast known as Nahatomb, when it's revealed that Klonoa was only brought to this world to save it and that he's only a dream and does not really exist in this reality. This story beat reminds me of Final Fantasy 10, even though this game came before it, I still get massive Tidus and Yuna vibes. Huepow is also kind of a jerk. Dude literally brought Klonoa here against his free will, implanted memories into his mind that never existed - and so after all their time together, Klonoa loves Huepow like a best friend and doesn't want to leave him, but Huepow is just like ''bye bro''. What a cute little friggin jerk, man. If I ever see him again, I'm punting that little runt. But enough of my whining, you know about all the stuff I just told you, things about the game mechanics, basic story, feel good and sad moments, puzzles, platforming, but what of...that's right, boss fights baby. If you thought the game sounded good before, then you're in for treat because Phantomile has some of the best fights a platformer can offer you, even though they are pretty easy. Fighting Rongo Longo on top of a mountain as you use enemies to throw it into his booty to damage him, traverse through thick forests to fight Gelg Bolm who requires you to bounce off springs and time your throws just right to hit the inside his flower mouth, balance yourself on a wobbling bridge as the flying beast Baladium sends bombs flying at you, engaging boss fight against Ghadius in a rotating room that requires you to destroy his barriers before being able to damage him outright, etc. Once again these aren't super hard boss fights, but mixing their creativity and fun factor in with the games amazing music. Man, it's just SO good.
When its all said and done, Klonoa: Door To Phantomile is an absolute blast from start to finish. From its stage selection looking like a story book, creative ways to utilize enemies and their powers for puzzles or to traverse, easy to follow the story that is both cute and heart wrenching, branching paths making each level feel like a complete adventure as you look for collectibles to unlock an extra playable episode, superb boss fights, glorious soundtrack, the list goes on and on. I legit have very little gripes with my time with this title other than difficulty spike going absolute bonkers in the last few stages that can catch you off guard, replay value for collectables isn't that rewarding other than an extra episode, even though its a good one - short game length, and even on Normal difficulty its also pretty easy. But those are just small gripes that do not impact the experience overall. This game was amazing in 1997, it was fantastic in 2008 and its superb now in 2022. Absolute classic through and through.
Klonoa 2 Lunatea's Veil:
Klonoa 2: Lunatea's Veil is a sequel to the awesome Phantomile and was originally released for the PlayStation 2 in 2001. With Phantomile having set the bar pretty high, Klonoa 2 had a lot to live up to if it wanted to surpass or even meet the expectations the first title set up for it, and honestly, I think it does, in more ways than one. Taking what worked in the original title and then tweaking it, re-working it and amping it up to 11, Lunatea ends up giving you the same situation that Sonic found himself in with Sonic 2 versus Sonic 1. Adding more action, new ideas, better boss fights and an even more expansive and thoughtful story. As stated in my Phantomile review, Lunatea's review will consist more of story, levels, boss fights, extra content and other aspects of environment design over the actual gameplay itself. Why? well because Lunatea carries over the same exact battle and gameplay mechanics as Phantomile, such as using Wind Ring to grab enemies to throw them, use them for double jumping and against hazards, etc. So going over it would be as tedious as listening me to ramble about Final Fantasy 7 lore. You know how people joke about Vegans not being able to go 5 minutes without telling people they're vegans? That's basically me in a nutshell for Final Fantasy 7. But enough stalling, its time to get this cute adventure started.
We open up with Klonoa, in what on its surface appears to be a dream, with an unknown entity asking for his help. Suddenly Klonoa feels himself in a drowning like state. Soon after these events take place, an airship powered by the sky pirates Leorina and Tat the cat, appear and attempt to kidnap Klonoa. However the plan is thwarted by the priestess in training, Lolo and her silly doggo named Popka. Saving Klonoa from certain death, they tell him the events that have taken place and the entire world of Lunatea is in danger. Klonoa decides that this a just cause and he will help them in their fight to rid the world of evil.
With gameplay mechanics carrying over from Klonoa 1, the developers of this title had to find ways to make the game less tedious, but still keep it as entertaining as the first title, but In order to do this they had to get creative with not only the overall level design and how they work specifically, but also upgrade the combat. How is this done? simple, with the implementation of new enemies that actually work in conjunction with the levels themselves and their puzzles. An example of this are new enemies called "Boomies", which when they're thrown into another enemy or stuck to a wall, they will explode after a certain amount of time and must be used to break certain barricades and rock formations. They look like Pigs to me, so I just kept imagining it was Peppa Pig the entire time, girl deserves a reality check. Other enemies this go around include Likuries, which when touched against or thrown at another enemy will change their color from Yellow, Blue to Red. These are used in order to take down barriers of crystals that relate to a specific color. Confused? well.. If you're color blind, then you will DEFINITELY be confused, but otherwise, it's not that hard to grasp really. Should the crystal be blue, you must stack an enemy with a Likurie two times to make them blue, then make your way to the crystal blocking your path and throw it at, or touch, the crystal to destroy it. This is not always a simple task due to the fact that sometimes they are in hard to reach places, rooms that uses varied amounts of gravity, switches that have be flipped at the same time and so forth. It can get pretty challenging, so don't get mad at the game, especially if you're like me and get stuck for nearly thirty minutes on one. Yeah I know, I'm trash.
The story mode is also greatly improved this time around in Klonoa 2 with the narrative feeling like it has a larger impact on the characters or the stakes being higher than ever before. Joining Klonoa in this second adventure is a young priestess in training named, Lolo, who just wants to prove herself to everyone that she has what it takes, and along side her is the faithful companion, doggo friend named Popka. After introductions, you learn that a great evil 5th bell is sending Nightmares and sorrow all through the land, and in order to stop it, you will have go to 4 regions of the world to ring bells in order to bring peace. These regions and Kingdoms consisting of The Kingdom of Tranquility, La-Lakoosha, which is a peaceful kingdom at the north of Lunatea, where the High Priestess can be found. The Kingdom of Joy, Joilant, which is to the south of Lunatea and resembles an amusement park - its basically the Gold Saucer of the game and I...oh god no, Gold Saucer? Cait Sith? he's back. Jeez. I can't escape this little turd, just leave me alone!.. ok sorry, as I was saying. You also have The Kingdom of Discord, Volk, that is towards the west, which resembles metalworks and factories. No not like Final Fantasy 11's Metalworks, I don't think Cid is in this game, ya silly. Then finally there's The Kingdom of Indecision, Mira-Mira, which is not only secluded, but a hot spot for people to snowboard. These are key to know because every kingdom harbors their own element that will be paramount to stopping the evil nightmares, as well as the new sky pirate enemy, Leorina and her kitty cat, Tat. Her goal, strangely enough, is to also ''save the world'' too by collecting the elements for themselves. But this is where thing's get weird though. Lolo is triggered the entire time by that revelation because SHE wants to be the one to save the world, not Leorina, so she whines about it constantly. It's like geez girl, this isn't high school and a popularity contest, grow up. It's no wonder Popka straight up roasts her during a later stage when he call's her a fool and then gives her the ''You Mad, Bro?'' line. Classic chad Popka. She deserved it though, especially for LYING to the king about ringing the first bell, saying SHE rang it, when it was ME who rang it. You're lucky I'm just a cute fluff of puff, or id kick your butt, Lolo.
So why did I tell you about the kingdoms? simple. Because these are the areas and environments that show you just how far advanced this title is over Klonoa 1 with its creativity and level structuring. Gone is the storybook like map from the first game and now the developers have adopted a much better detailed and traditional style of 3D platforming overworld, with you being able to walk across the world map from level to level, Mario style. This let's you see what the environment will look like and also what type of level you'll be having to play through. Not only has that changed, but the way your depth of field does as well. Sure you got your traditional side scrolling 2D perspective, but now the camera can pan around in a more 3D style, shoot yourself around the map to fly through obstacles to new areas that are in the forefront or background, shoot high in the sky with Kiton's, jet enemies, and being able to look down at the world around you in real time to see how high you fly. But on top of those you also have more cinematic story telling with cutscenes and character interactions that are pretty hilarious, really well done, and even the boss fights, that yes, while still requiring you to throw enemies at them like usual, are also vastly improved. Now if the game could only improve my aiming when throwing these enemies or making a proper jump, that would be great, but that would take an act of the element gods to make that happen, so I guess I just have to stick to being awful at the games mechanics. Nice. Self defeat aside, improvements made in regards to the gameplay, also lend more to each individual level and boss fight and allows them to express far greater creativity than even what you experience in Klonoa 1- and I'm not exaggerating this either.
As you further progress through the story trying to stop Leorina, chasing down Tat because she stole one of your elements, save civilians of Volk after almost causing a Sector 7 like reactor explosion on the entire kingdom because were mean as heck - during all of that you will be able to venture through and experience flying around on birds in on rail sections like Panzer Dragoon, Go underground to the trains of the metalworks to find a new element, levels like jungle slider where you surf board down streams of water in a setting that reminds me of Splash Mountain at Disneyland - All it needed is zippity doo dah playing in the background and we'd be all set. You're also able to proceed to the amusement park of Joliant, where we take our obligatory rest from adventure and put saving the world on hold, just like our boy Link does when he goes fishing. The world can wait a bit, right?. While you're here in the amusement park, you're also able to talk to a character named Momett, who will give you various missions to do to acquire Dream Stone's which are usable to unlock a picture in the game's Scrapbook and gives you a chance to earn a Momett Doll. Pretty cool side content. Well... just as long as that Doll that he gives you doesn't start talking, spinning its head or telling me ''you're my friend to the end!''. I'll have to burn it with fire if that's the case. Finally we have the actual boss fights, oops, we almost skipped them and that would've been totally embarrassing. For these amazing battles you will fight against the armored beast Folgaran as he sends energy spikes at you while you try to throw an enemy to his weak spot, dodge the swinging arm spikes of Leptio the flower clown, as you watch him roll around and time your throws perfectly to hit him as he comes into view, use springs and your environment to soar high in the sky and look down below you at the scary Mobile Tank, Bikarsh, who I demolished to heck and back, snowboard down a snowy mountain as you give chase to the monster hatchling named Polonte as you attempt to smash his egg and many more. I cannot state enough how fun these fights are. They're easy, sadly yes, but that still does not take away from how charming they are.
At the end of the day, Klonoa 2: Lunatea's Veil blows Phantomile out of the water, no contest. Its got some issues with me absolutely, such as the game around the third bell having some missions and levels feeling a bit like filler and serving no purpose other than padding the game around the time you go and search for the Ark, or pulling one of my pet peeves by making you replay multiple levels with minimal changes like a level being on fire or a chase scene. But even so with those, the music, the new gameplay mechanics, the scenery, the levels, being a jerk to a guy bouncing on a ball at the amusement because I thought it would be funny to knock him off his ball, its all just so much fun. If you haven't played this one, you're severely missing out.
The verdict is in and I can honestly say this journey was a fruitful one. Klonoa is a franchise that is vastly underrated when compared to the best platformers on the market and this was a much needed comeback. Both titles were completely ahead of their time and utilized mechanics that either hadn't been seen yet or even brought into the mainstream eye at the time of their conception. These are two titles, even with all their faults, that I could revisit day in and day out and never take the smile off my face because its just so dang charming, cute and inviting.. unlike my Fat doggo named Taco, who growls every chance she gets if I dare disturb her sleep. Needless to say, this is a bundle that is definitely worth your time and I hope it does well enough for us to finally get that long awaited Klonoa 3. If there's one franchise that needs to make its return alongside Spyro, Crash, TMNT, Pac-Man, and Kao, its Klonoa. So with all that having been said, my verdict is clear. GameNChick say BUY NOW.