It seems only a few days have passed since we were talking about Sonic Origins, yet another collection of old classics aimed at the old and new generations of players and consoles … and to think about it, in fact, only a few days have really passed. No time to catch your breath from the very fast raids of the blue porcupine and here we are ready to change costume. This time we enter the anthropomorphic role of a black and white cat who goes around with a Pac Man hat and on the plate bears the Namco brand: Klonoa.
Its first release dates back to 1997 (if you are over forty you are allowed to cry) on the very young PlayStation that could already boast among its ranks platformers of rank such as Pandemonium and the first Crash Bandicoot. Perhaps convinced by the success of the marsupial Naughty Dog, the company of Ridge Racer threw into the fray this long-limbed character with very long ears, immersed in dream worlds and committed to saving them from the usual evil threat.
Let’s face it, the plot has never played a fundamental role in platformers, just a princess kidnapped by an oversized turtle or a kingdom threatened by a perfect Mister X and that’s it … the ball passes to the gameplay that as always makes a difference.
In the case of both the first and the second Klonoa, the gameplay revolves around two-dimensional levels, which allow for some sporadic forays into a pseudo-third dimension that from time to time “splits” the paths in two, giving more space for exploration. The protagonist is not endowed with particular powers: he knows how to jump (and God forbid) and firmly grasp his enemies and then use them in various ways.
He can turn them into springboards to get even higher, shoot them like bullets at other threats and objects to break or even make them roll like a bowling ball towards obstacles that prevent him from continuing. These simple mechanics are actually enough to trigger a sort of puzzle-game mode, in which the player must learn to use the enemies in the area to their advantage to clean up all the useful objects.
Each stage is suitably filled with collectibles, often and willingly positioned in very bastardous areas to reach, which require the use of “combo” techniques that are sometimes not so easy to complete. This is where the dividing line is drawn between casual players, who will be content with completing Door to Phantomile and Lunatea’s Veil without too much fuss in half a dozen hours, and those who will stubbornly attempt to recover all the lost crystals and inhabitants. to be able to wear the “100%” badge at the end of the adventures.
A second player can also come to their aid, who in drop-in / drop-out mode can enter the game at any time to help Player 1 jump higher and not leave even a crumb behind. Longevity is therefore subjective and depends on the type of player you are, causal or completist. But both categories can have fun with timed levels, discreetly bastard Time Attack that will test your speed-runner reflexes.
Despite the four years between the release of the first and the second, the differences between the two games included in the Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series are not as marked. Aside from a handful of different enemies, a small handful of additional powers and a few more derivative secondary stages, Lunatea’s Veil is an inspired “more of the same” that consolidates the style of the progenitor. What stands out above all is the excellent level design which despite the past years is still valid.
Technically, the remasters are well done, albeit with some minor flaws. The increased resolution of the textures is especially noticeable in the characters while strangely some elements of the backdrops seem to have fallen behind in the lifting treatment. Colors are brighter and 60fps make the game solidly smooth without any hesitation … but frankly we would have been amazed otherwise.
A finger tip to the developers who took care of the user interface. It would have been enough to work properly on the original material as happened for the games and instead were chosen some absolutely horrible new fonts for the subtitles that look like placeholders rather than the definitive ones. On the other hand, the idea of adding two difficulty levels to widen the catchment area is intelligent. From the beginning it is possible to choose an Easy mode with infinite lives, increased hearts and reduced damage, while finishing the games instead it unlocks a Hard one for those who want an extra challenge.
The co-op mode, on the other hand, seems to have been created specifically to involve the very small audience, who can support the main player at any time by helping him in the jumps with a special power that must be used with care because it must be recharged. The icing on the cake is the timed levels, a classic Time Attack that never hurts.
During his career Klonoa has not had great luck despite his undoubted qualities. His early adventures were overshadowed by more popular rivals or unfortunate exit tables. No better went to the “portable” chapters for Game Boy Advance and Wonderswan, which many don’t even remember.
In this regard, we would not have been absolutely sorry to see them in this collection perhaps together with a lot of extra material that would have fleshed out a bit of an offer a little meager compared to other similar collections. We hope that Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series will be successful with both old fans and new audiences, perhaps to the point of convincing Namco Bandai to produce a new chapter more in step with the times. Crash Bandicoot teaches …
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