Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series - Swirling Winds
Following the launches of both Super Mario 64 on the Nintendo 64, and Crash Bandicoot for the PlayStation, every developer and publisher in the world was trying to capture the magic of the 3D platformer. From Croc to Rayman, Gex, and Spyro, the competitors came thick and thin and amongst that crown-chasing crowd was Klonoa. There were two core Klonoa titles that graced the PS1 and PS2 respectively, as well as a series of other spin-offs that were largely quite forgettable, however, it’s those two main entries that publisher Bandai Namco has decided to revive with a pair of remasters, forming the Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series. Bundling together the original PS1 title (with a Wii-Remake) Klonoa: Door to Phantomile, and PS2 entry Klonoa 2: Lunatea’s Veil, together in one polished package, it appears the publisher is keen to give the anthropomorphic feline(ish) creature another lease on life – but, more than two decades on, can these titles match up to the best remasters, let alone be a great 2022 duo in their own right?
Across many games, it can be a series of different flaws that hold a game back, but in the case of the Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Collection, the flaws, while impacting in a host of ways, can be summarised with one word – bloat. The dreamscape of Klonoa’s two core titles is certainly a fascinating one, with it born of the dreams of others, but the plot that players are escorted through, in both games, leaves much to be desired, not due to the plot itself, but because of the energy-sapping way that it’s told. There are numerous layers to the Klonoa plotlines, and in both games, when digested separately these are quite fascinating, but the delivery of the plot is so poor, from aggravating voice-acting, to the horrifically slow-paced exchanges, that it often feels impossible to get motivated to dive deeper and explore it. There were several times where I felt compelled to press the newly added 5x speed-up or even the skip buttons to push through conversations so that I could get back to the action, which then makes the dreamy, and therefore somewhat ridiculous plot even harder to connect to later on.
The gameplay front is a bit better however still suffers from the same core issue. The moment-to-moment consists of simple (by today’s standards) 2.5D side-scrolling, numerous jumping challenges, and the occasional on-rails sequence to break up the flow. Sadly, while each of these systems still work well, it’s the core platforming that really doesn’t do a great deal to mix things up, and so, when you’ve shot yourself out of the same canon for the 15th time through a level, only to access a room not dissimilar to the last, to then clear it out of enemies much like the previous room, in much the same ways – the player’s patience is then being quickly tested. Put simply, the duration of the levels, especially in the sequel are dragged out far too long, and add a few too many extra hours to a game that, if it had been more like the original, would have done a better job of player retention. Klonoa’s wind-grab ability which is a pivotal element in all facets of platforming as well as the combat feels weak and doesn’t have the necessary range to it in order to feel empowering. The bosses, however, which appear on average after every second level you complete, tend to throw some enjoyable challenges at you to overcome, most of which can be easy to identify, but not always easy to hurdle.
While the original game received a Wii-Remake in 2008, the sequel did not, and yet, despite this, both titles work well together and look like they were both of the same exact era, despite their seven-year age differential. As a part of this remastered bundle, both games also look quite nice on modern HD systems. The game’s soundtrack, while not hitting the highest of notes all the time, does a solid job, and sounds much better now that it’s gone through modern editing techniques to sharpen some rougher edges.
Despite the cumulative time of both titles clocking in at around 12 hours, which isn’t exactly a long time, (the sequel is shorter so expect to spend less time there) the protracted conversational exchanges and bloated levels would have been far more appealing with some serious editing. For those who played the titles back in their heyday, it’s easy to see where the nostalgic components might grab you, but for those fresh to the experience, it’s likely that you’ll quickly be searching for that skip button, and probably won’t be lingering around to collect everything and 100% each level. It’s great to see another piece of gaming history restored, but like some pieces of history, Klonoa isn’t an experience worth revisiting… unless you were there to enjoy it at its peak.
Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series was reviewed on the PS5 with code kindly supplied by the publisher.