Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series is every fan’s dream made real who’s been on Bandai Namco’s case about bringing back the ringed furry wonder.
It’s been decades since the last time we heard about Klonoa, so long that some folks alive today and playing games might not even have heard about Bandai Namco’s lovable dream-hopping mascot. He was the star of a couple of games back on PlayStation 1 and 2, as well as a few on GameBoy Advance, only to make a slight comeback on the Wii in 2008 with a remake. Fans have been on Bandai Namco’s case about a new re-release since then, and to all accounts, Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series is pretty much exactly what they wanted.
Encompassing remasters of the first two games in the series, Klonoa: Door to Phantomile (1997) and its sequel, Klonoa 2: Lunatea’s Veil (2001), Phantasy Reverie Series is very faithful in the way it presents them, to a fault. We’re talking about two relatively old games here, which are among the first 2.5D platformers ever released. Since then, the genre has evolved quite a bit, and for as pretty as they now look, it’s undeniable that they’re aged in the decades that followed their release.
The basic gist of both Klonoa games included in Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series is that you control a weird cat creature with long, droopy ears who can capture enemies and use them to traverse levels, or better yet, use them as throwable weapons against other creatures in their way by extending a magical ring either forward, back, or onto the screen. Levels can have many layers of play, requiring you to backtrack in order to discover all of their secrets and collectibles. By picking up 100 dream pieces, just like in Mario with coins, you get an extra life.
Past that, there’s not a whole lot more going for these games. That’s not to say they’re bad, but rather they’re very straightforward. MonkeyCraft, the developer behind this collection, perhaps under the direction of Bandai Namco, was very strict in the way they ported both Door to Phantomile and Lunatea’s Veil and haven’t gone out and tried to add anything significant to them. To that effect, if you happen to have finished these games in the past and are hoping to find anything new now, you’ll be sadly disappointed.
Then again, there’s lots of charm to be found in Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series. Klonoa himself is downright adorable, and so is the rest of the cast. Both games are also extremely colorful, ridiculously saturated in a way only old-school platformers managed to be, and that feel is definitely retained in their new and shinier versions. While I wished more would be done in the sound department with music re-recordings or remixes and the addition of actual voice acting in lieu of the oohs and ahs of old, what ended up being included here works satisfyingly and sounds very nostalgic to the period they were originally released.
For new players just coming into the Klonoa series with Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series, there are two difficulty options to pick from. Easy gives you infinite lives and a bigger life gauge, as well as a longer reach for Klonoa’s magical ring, while normal retains the original games’ settings for those wanting to play them exactly as they were back in the day.
I wouldn’t call either games particularly hard, but considering their cutesy appeal to younger players, the option for easier gameplay is indeed a welcome addition. And even if kids find it to be too easy, they can be reverted back and forth at any point during their session. Hard mode becomes available after the first time you finish either game, and as the name implies, it makes things a little hairier for Klonoa by offering an even smaller health bar and shorter reach when grabbing enemies.
Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series is a decent way to enjoy these classic platformers. For as close to the landing as the collection sticks when it comes to content, the fact that there are more accessible options is something to be lauded. While I was never a particularly huge fan of Klonoa, it would be silly to dismiss this for what it is: a new, fresher, and extremely colorful way for an entirely new group of players to enjoy the dreamy antics of Klonoa and co.