KLONOA Phantasy Reverie Series Review

Gaming
8.5

Great

KLONOA Phantasy Reverie Series

Developer: Bandai Namco
Publisher: Bandai Namco
Platforms: Switch, Xbox One, Playstation 4 (Reviewed), PC, Playstation 5, Xbox Series X|S
Release Date: Available Now
Price: $39.99 – Available Here

Overview

During the mid-90’s, we had a huge influx of platformers with everyone wanting to capture some of that Mario and Sonic charm. As we pushed to the new century, that started to fade a bit – but a lot of fine works still exist that became cult classics as they managed to truly push the envelope, even though their original audience had long since moved on. KLONOA is one of the centerpieces of this movement and has come back to celebrate its nifty little legacy. KLONOA Phantasy Reverie Series is a collection featuring the hard to find, yet much loved duo of chipper platformers. Does it still hold up? Let’s find out. 

Story

KLONOA is one of those titles that is hard not to like, and even though its story is a bit standard fare (even for its time), it still tells it in a delightful way on both titles in this collection that still holds up just fine. Klonoa is a cat you can travel dreams. With some allies and a fully realized world, that is the main concept of the experience. Door to Phantomile throws the player right in adventure, with Klonoa and his little sidekick aiming to save the world from an evil that is trying to turn the land of dreams into a world of nightmares. The second release, KLONOA: Lunatea’s Veil, is less about actual dreams and more about stopping an evil priestess while exploring new lands.  

If you are still foreign to the idea of KLONOA, the best way to explain it is to understand why it is so charming and endearing for its time. This world is a joy to explore on both accounts, and the game kind of sucks you into a place where a creative mind was at work, with plenty of lore and little explanation for the odds and ends that make it come together. Despite the lack of context, everything just works and keeps an element of wonder dangling across the joyous atmosphere. The player feels like they are visiting and not an inhabitant of these areas within both titles, and that keeps everything light and fresh throughout. I can compare (not the games) but the feeling to the likes of Kirby, which is a true accomplishment for a platformer that came after many other developers had moved on to other genres. 

Gameplay 

There is something about simplicity in a platformer that goes under-appreciated. Both titles kind of have the same concepts. Players go to stages (or Visions, as labeled here) and get from point A to point B by controlling Klonoa. Klonoa can attack with a wind bullet that hurls enemies closer, and then toss them any direction on a 2.5D field. Jumping comes standard fare, incorporating a double jump to bounce off a snagged enemy, or the ability to glide a short distance by holding the jump button to flap your ears. It isn’t about all that this cat can do, however – it’s about how he interacts with the world around him.  

You see, when you toss an enemy into the foreground or background, they can in turn unlock special areas or gain items that allow our hero to get a little buff from time to time. It is a clever mechanic that is mastered in both games, with futher refinement found in Lunatea’s Veil. There is also a collection aspect to the gameplay as well, which provides an incentive to play around with the world and replay levels, as there are plenty of inhabitants to save and diamonds to collect during both journeys. This remake doesn’t upgrade any of the original gameplay experience with anything new, but instead just makes it a focus as there really was nothing wrong with these polished titles to start with. They’re both fun, light, and imaginative throughout. 

Sure, there are a few quality of life enhancements such as the addition of a co-op mode to the first title and little costumes that come off as mainly odd (such as a Pac-Man hat), but those who loved the originals will be happy with these two titles as while they don’t really show a lot of evolution due to how short of a tenure this franchise had in the limelight, they do highlight its original excellence. KLONOA 2 didn’t need to remake the wheel to move forward, it just gave us more of an already great experience. I think there is something special about that mindset when it comes to development, as think of how nervous we get with modern titles that do sequels to well-made games, and how often they falter for trying to implement something new, all while unintentionally harming the feel for what made their first product so special. While not a massive jump forward, KLONOA and its sequel deliver a ton of content by simply sticking to basics, with two solid and lovely experiences that still feel as solid and intuitive as they did over two decades ago. 

Visuals 

This is the selling point for KLONOA Phantasy Reverie Series. Like a lot of remakes like Crash and Spyro, KLONOA basically gets both titles on the same level graphically, with new 3D polish and enhancements to the visuals that truly make the game feel like even more of a spectacle. Mostly running at 60 FPS, the backgrounds and character models look fantastic, and while some may notice a bit of a minor stutter in some areas, I never had any ill-effects when it came to gameplay as everything felt fluid and solid for both titles.  

Audio 

The soundtrack here is masterful for its time. With delightful tunes that capture the essence of the brightly lit worlds, along with the chipper gibberish voice acting, these characters and environments have a lot of character, and are all animated wonderfully with the new design that truly makes each title feel like the definitive version. That may sound like a light compliment, but a lot of remakes try to do too much to sound design with such niche and unique titles like this (such as change the soundtrack to an orchestral selection), but here we simply get a modern upgrade that still retains all of that goodness that made both titles such beloved games to start with. 

Overall 

We are living in the age of the remake all over again this generation. Yeah, that isn’t always a good thing, but seeing both KLONOA and its sequel ported in such fine form is welcome as these are two platformers not to sleep on. KLONOA Phantasy Reverie Series as one package isn’t as much as a tribute as it could have been, but due to how difficult it has been to find this rare duo of games – I think most will content with having these ports due to the gentle care that was put in to modernizing them for current audiences. These gems are testaments of a very transitional period in gaming, where developers chose to either move forward or refine a past era, and that mix does wonders to make this cat a joy to toy with all these years later. 

Capsule Computers review guidelines can be found here.

Summary

Klonoa returns in style, bringing two hidden gems to modern platforms with a fresh coat of paint.
8.5

Great

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