Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series

More info »

Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series review
Samuel Corey


A Blast from the Past

Outdated but not Forgotten

The late 1990's were an interesting time to be making platformers. The arrival of the fifth generation of consoles had made 3D graphics a requirement. But there was no clear blueprint on how to go about transporting the 2D side-scroller platformers of the previous epoch into a new generation. Some games, like Crash Bandicoot, would gingerly stick a toe in the water, and have very narrow levels and a fixed camera. Others embraced a fully 3D world to a greater (Super Mario 64) or lesser (Bubsy 3D) effect. Others saw little reason to upend the whole formula of the genre simply because the hardware had evolved, and simply created linear side-scrolling platformers with 3D graphics.

Klonoa belongs to this later school of game design, which was at once regressive (in that it resembled older games of the SNES) and forward-thinking (in that it resembles modern platformers like Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze). As a result, it was an unusually good candidate for remaking, as the core design of a 2.5D platformer has not undergone much in the way of design revolutions in the past 25 years. It is possible now, just as it was in 1997 to boot up Klonoa and immediately grasp the game's simple controls.

Of course, it's not completely generic as even the most conservative platformer needs a gimmick to set it apart from the herd. In Klonoa's case, the main character can grab enemies and turn them into balloons that can either be tossed at other enemies as a weapon or thrown at the ground to gain a double jump. This neatly marries the core combat with the core platforming and indeed most of the time you will be attacking enemies it will be to grab one to use for the all-important double jump.

Door to the Phantomile

The first game in the collection follows the titular Klonoa (an anthropomorphic dog-like creature with ears so large they allow him to go airborne for a few seconds) after he discovers a malevolent figure that is threatening to plunge the five kingdoms into an eternal nightmare. To put a stop to this ghastly plot, Klonoa must travel the five kingdoms, rescue the captured Moon princess, and defeat the forces of evil.

It's a simple, familiar plot but benefits from a competent presentation. The cut-scenes are brief and snappy, and while the voice actors are just babbling gibberish they still manage to convey their emotions effectively. Indeed, big emotional moments like the death of Klonoa's grandfather, and the revelation at the end of the game that Klonoa is a dream traveller who must now leave the world forever hit with surprising force. The latter is an especially nice twist, as it mirrors the player's relationship with the game, that of a chosen hero briefly summoned into the world. About the only major issue with the story is the voice of Klonoa's bubble friend Huepow, which is so high-pitched and squeaky that it could probably double as a dog whistle.

Visually, the remastered graphics are mostly a downgrade from the original. Some elements, like Klonoa himself, look more detailed than others and consequently don't blend in with the world. It's a shame because a total graphical rework was largely unnecessary. The early 3D graphics of the original Klonoa have not aged anywhere near as poorly as many of its contemporaries. Indeed, the general rule is that the more simplistic and cartoony early 3D was, the better it holds up to the passage of time.

The game's cute and fluffy exterior is something of a ruse though, as it will frequently indulge in surreal and disturbing images. The recurring villain Joka, for instance, is at once disarmingly cute and disturbingly sinister. There's something about his dead black eyes and rictus grin that evokes a primal fear. I'm not even the sort to usually be frightened of clowns, but this guy makes me start to understand the phobia.

Of course, the strange and disturbing moments never get too overwhelming, which is for the best given that this is a game that is aimed at 6-10 year-olds. Indeed, anyone who has finished elementary school and played a couple of platformers before will probably find Door to the Phantomile to be way too easy. There is an optional hard mode, but it has to be unlocked by beating the game. It probably would have been good to just include it as an option at the start for all the 30-somethings playing the game for nostalgia's sake.

Lunatea's Veil

Unfortunately, the second game in the collection, Lunatea's Veil, is the weaker entry, if only because its story is vastly more tedious. Once again, Klonoa has been summoned to save a fantasy world consisting of five kingdoms. However, this time the world doesn't seem to be in any immediate danger. Sure, there's a prophecy that the fifth kingdom will appear and swallow up the other four but there's no given time frame on where it will happen. Indeed, the world is so nonplussed about its fated apocalypse that the only people doing anything about it are a young priestess named Lolo and her pet dog.

That's hardly an exciting call to adventure, but where the story starts to fall on its face is with its over-reliance on cut-scenes. It seems like virtually every level is broken up by a few lengthy dialogue scenes where the characters explain what's going on. We do not need this much exposition for such a simplistic story. I quickly found myself fast-forwarding through them, as they all seemed immeasurably tedious and overdrawn. Worse still, the game's attempts at emotional gravitas mostly fall short, like the section where Lolo becomes depressed because she's "not qualified to save the world." There are one or two poignant moments and images in the game, but for the most part, those are the times when the game stops blabbering and allows its environments to tell the story.

On the plus side, the core gameplay is largely untouched from the original, and the new additions are universally positive. Besides normal enemies that function as before there are a few special enemies that add some new puzzles and challenges to the game. Of special note are the airboard levels, which are fast-paced levels where Klonoa rides a hovering snowboard through a linear obstacle course. While these have the distinct disadvantage of feeling like something that fell out of another game entirely, they do break up the flow of the game nicely.

As always, follow us on Instagram for news updates, reviews, competitions and more.


fun score


Great early example of a 2.5D platformer; Surreal imagery manages to be at once cutesy and disturbing; Simple, understated story delivered effectively


Too easy; Remastered graphics are sometimes a downgrade, Both games are short