Wahoo! It’s Cary’s Klonoa Blog!

klonoaiconIn honor of the Klonoa remake being recently released for the Wii, I figured I’d write a blog detailing all the games in the Klonoa series, and my personal experiences with them. Those who’ve known me for a while know I’m a huge fan of the Klonoa games. It’s pretty easy to tell, really. Back when I used to visit more message boards, my on screen ‘name’ was always Klonoa. Even now, my Xbox Live GamerTag name is Klonoa360! The Klonoa series just really match my gaming tastes and personality. So come along and let’s take a tour of the land of dreams!


Klonoa: Door to Phantomile
The very first Klonoa game came out in 1997, or was it 1998? It’s a 2.5-D platformer, meaning the graphics are in 3-D, but you move on a 2-D plane like an old Mario game. The charm of the first Klonoa game lied in not only the simple gameplay, but the unique characters, world, and setting.

We’ll talk about the gameplay first. Klonoa could run and jump like any other platform hero. He even uses his long ears to float a bit after a jump. But the ‘gimmick’ in Klonoa lies in how you can manipulate enemies. Klonoa has a ring that he uses to fire a short ‘wind bullet’ to inflate baddies. He can then carry those enemies around and toss them at other opponents or objects. Since the game is in 3-D, you could even throw them in and out of the background if need be. By tossing an enemy downwards, Klonoa could also perform a double jump. And that’s pretty much all there is to it. The beauty in this gameplay style is all the many different ways they have you use and learn these skills. You’d be surprised!

The first Klonoa game also had a style and feel of its own. Klonoa himself is a pretty unique little character. Not really sure what he is. A dog? A cat? A bunny? A skunk? An Animaniac? Of course, my favorite thing about Klonoa’s character is that he wears a Pac-Man hat! Another charming thing is that the characters in Klonoa world speak in their own made up language, giving the setting an ever more fantasy-like charm. In fact, I’ve decided a Klonoa cartoon would not be a good idea because it would be hard to watch with that made up language. And finally, another aspect that separated Klonoa apart was the surprisingly dark story for such a cutesy game. Halfway through the game, Klonoa’s grandfather gets killed by the bad guy, and the ending is one of the saddest and most emotional and memorable video game endings I’ve ever seen! I won’t spoil it for you, but here’s a link to a YouTube video if you want to watch the Wii version ending:

Click here for the YouTube link. And DUH SPOILERS!

The most important reason why I like the Klonoa games so much, however, is because the first game helped renew my love of 2-D platformers (along with some help from Yoshi’s Island and Tomba as well). One of the reasons why I don’t like Sonic the Hedgehog much is because after he became popular in the 16-bit days, EVERYONE had to have a mascot platformer with a furry critter with attitude (Aero the Acrobat, Rocky Rodent, etc.). And aside from maybe Sparkster, they were all crap. That’s why I mostly just only played Squaresoft’s 16-bit RPGs back then. Even in the 32-bit era, gaming was still reeling from Sonic’s influence, so we got crap games like Crash Bandicoot (sorry Crash fans, but I liked the game better when it was in 2-D and called Donkey Kong Country). But with Klonoa, Namco managed to make a GOOD 2-D platformer with a furry mascot who wasn’t a Sonic rip off. Yeah Namco pretty much rocked in the PSOne days. I wish they were still that good now, but they’re not, unfortunately. At any rate, that’s why I liked the first Klonoa game so much.

Klonoa: Moonlight Museum
The next Klonoa game came out on a game system that was never released in the US! Back around the days when the Neo Geo Pocket Color was trying to compete with the Game Boy, another contender entered the ring of handhelds: Bandai’s WonderSwan. Aside from still being black and white, I don’t know much more about it than that. Anyway, Namco supported that system with a few games, and Klonoa was one of them. It’s the only Klonoa game I haven’t played. I WOULD be really upset about that, except I hear it’s pretty much exactly like the Game Boy Advance games, so I don’t feel too bad (more on the GBA games later). The last thing I’ll say about the WonderSwan game is Klonoa went through one design change here. Instead of his cat-like eyes from the first game, they gave him more ‘Sonic-eyes’ (sorry, that’s the best way I can think of to describe it). I liked the cat eyes better because those other eyes just make people confused and think Klonoa is a Sonic character. And I bet you know how I feel about that!

Klonoa 2: Lunatea’s Veil
The sequel appeared on the PS2 not long after the console had been released, and it’s one of the first games I got for the PS2. I liked the first game better, as it had more ‘soul’ and such, but the sequel is still a GREAT game and one of my favorites on the PS2. The 2-D platforming amidst 3-D backgrounds and gameplay gimmicks remained intact, which is good. Plus a few little new changes and enemies to mix things up a bit. And of course, a more powerful console meant better graphics and more dynamic camera angles.

Design-wise, one of the good changes was that instead of sprites, all the characters were cel-shaded now. I love cel-shaded graphics, and I think any 3-D cartoony game should use them. Klonoa himself went through another design change. This time he had a new blue outfit with a big zipper pull on the front instead of his red collar that just kind of floated there. I liked the original costume better because the new one looked a bit more ‘generic anime-ish’ looking. But hey, at least Klonoa still had his Pac-Man hat!

One of the things I liked about the original Klonoa game was the music. It had a folksy feel to it due to the instrumentation. Lots of reedy sounding instruments, acoustic guitars, and simple percussion. The sequel used a wider variety of instrument sounds, which gave it a slightly more generic feel. But don’t get me wrong, the music in Klonoa 2 is still GREAT! In fact, a couple of the songs near the end of the game were written by my favorite video game music composer: Go Shiina (Mr. Driller, Tales of Legendia). One of the most memorable stages on Klonoa 2 involved some fun music, too. On the snowboard level, they play a rock and roll tune with lyrics! But since everyone in Klonoa games speaks a fantasy made-up language, the lyrics sung in that song are that way, too! It’s a hoot! The name of the song is Wahoo Stomp or Stepping Wind, whichever translation you prefer. That would be a cool song to have on Rock Band…well, maybe not. I’d hate to be the singer! Anyway, here’s a YouTube link to the song so you can hear it yourself!

Follow this link to hear it!

One of the things I didn’t like about the snowboard levels is that Klonoa 2 came out about the same time as the 3-D Sonic Adventure games were just getting popular. And they had snowboard levels, too, which helped lessen the distinction between the two games. Another gripe I had with Klonoa 2 is some of the stages repeat themselves. Granted, the stages you come back to have tougher jumps and trickier obstacles, but it still kind of cheapens things. And finally, while Klonoa 2 was a FANTASTIC game, it didn’t have as much soul and personality as the first game did. Even the sad ending in Lunatea’s Veil wasn’t as emotional as the first game’s ending. But again, those are just minor gripes. Klonoa 2 is still a stellar PS2 game and if you see it, GET IT!

Klonoa: Empire of Dreams
The next couple of games were on the GBA in the US. The graphics were strictly 2-D and while the game mechanics were the same, the portable adventures had more of a puzzle feel to them. To finish a stage you had to collect three objects and you could go back and forth between screens to backtrack to collect them all. A bit more block moving and jumping puzzles here. It was a short adventure, but a nice portable diversion. Again, not as good as the console games, but hey, it was on a portable system, so I’ll cut it some slack.

Klonoa 2: Dream Champ Tournament
The sequel to the GBA adventure is more of the same, really. The quality of the graphics and sound had increased greatly, though. But I kind of wish they could’ve combined the two GBA games to make one big (and more fulfilling) adventure. On their own, both games are pretty short. One unique thing about Dream Champ Tournament is the boss battles are also races. So not only do you have to attack the boss, you have to beat it to the end of the level goal!

Another funny thing about Klonoa 2 on the GBA was that it was released in the US long after it had already been in Japan. Near the end of the GBA life cycle, I guess Namco decided to release as many games as they could. They even released Mr. Driller 2, which I had imported four years prior thinking it would never come out over here (which was also baffling considering by then, Namco had made a couple of far superior Driller games on the GBA). I love ya, Namco, but you sure can be dumb sometimes. But I’m glad we finally got Klonoa 2 on the GBA.

Klonoa Beach Volley
This arcadey sports game was on the PSOne in Japan and Europe (but not in the US). And it featured characters from the first game (Klonoa and Joka), Klonoa 2, (Lolo, Kat), and even some from the GBA games, like that boxer dude. It was kind of funny hearing the Klonoa characters speak in a British accent on the PAL version! At first I was kind of upset that it never came to the US. But sometimes when a game overseas doesn’t make it over to the US, there’s a good reason for it. And when I finally played this game, I realized why. It just isn’t that much fun. If you want a better volleyball game, play Dead or Alive Xtreme 2. HA HA! JUST JOKING! That game is crap. Seriously, there is a really good arcade beach volleyball game on the GameCube called Beach Spikers from Sega. And it has Ulala in it (sorta) so you know it can’t be all bad.

Klonoa Star Heroes
This was a GBA top-down action adventure game with RPG elements featuring Klonoa characters. It also never made it to the US. It’s not the best game in the world, but it’s a heck of a lot better than some of the other games Namco released on the GBA, so I’m still a tiny bit disappointed that we never got this one. A year or two ago, Play-Asia had a sale and sold the import copy of this game for ten bucks, so I snatched up that deal before they all sold out! And they did, rather quickly I might add. So I’m glad I got it. Strangely enough, even though I own this game, I haven’t played it much. I don’t know if I just got busy or distracted after I first got it or what. I need to go back and play it some more. From what I’ve played, the game isn’t as much like Zelda as it is more like The Legend of Valkyrie, as the stages are more linear. But again, that’s about all I can tell you since I haven’t played it much. I need to dig it out again! Oh well, at least I own it.


Klonoa Kameos
Hey that’s two games in one! Namco has a perchance for putting characters from their other games as cameos in other titles, and Klonoa is no exception. I figured before I start talking about the Wii remake, I’d go over some games where Klonoa has been spotted in. Hopefully I won’t forget any, but I might. It’s kind of like trying to list all the Namco games that have the Special Flag. There’s just no way!

In one of the Point Blank games, you have to shoot at heads of various Namco characters, and Klonoa is one of them. There are also a lot of pictures of Klonoa in the DS game QuickSpot, which is a puzzle game where you have to find the difference between two pictures. It’s a pretty fun game, too, I highly recommend it. In We Ski and Snowboard, you can listen to a couple of songs from Klonoa on your portable music player (as well as other classic Namco tunes, mostly from Ridge Racer). Too bad you can’t unlock Klonoa’s snowboard in that game. But you can get skis with Klonoa characters on them in We Ski, and like Ridge Racer, some of the ski jackets use Klonoa character names like sponsor logos.

Speaking of Ridge Racer, there are a few more significant cameos other than character names on the cars. One of the tracks in Ridge Racer Type 4 is only one mile long, and so it’s called Phantomile. It even uses the Phantomile insignia from the Klonoa game! Needless to say, it’s my favorite track (the Pac-Man and Pooka balloons help, too).

Klonoa has also appeared in a few of Namco’s Tales RPGs as well. In Tales of Symphonia for the GameCube, one of the alternate outfits you can unlock for Presea is a Klonoa costume! It’s given to her from an amusement park that uses Klonoa as their mascot. They want her to travel around the world wearing it to advertise their park! When she wears it, she says ‘Wahoo’ a lot, just like Klonoa! It’s pretty funny. In Tales of Vesperia for the 360, there’s a Namco island where I think you can turn on a TV and view a clip from Klonoa and listen to some music, too.

And finally, Klonoa’s biggest cameo was in Namco X Capcom, a PS2 strategy RPG featuring popular characters from Namco’s and Capcom’s classic library. Klonoa was one of the characters you could play as, and he teamed up with Gantz from the GBA games. Their theme song was Wahoo Stomp (sans lyrics). And some of the characters and stages you visited in that game were from Klonoa as well. At first I was disappointed that Namco (or Capcom) never released this in the US, but after playing it, I can see why (besides licensing issues). Remember when I said that sometimes there’s a good reason why we don’t get all these games from Japan? Well, when the thrill of seeing all your favorite characters together in a game wears off, the gameplay of Namco X Capcom just isn’t very good. Of course, the Namco fanboy in me still gets a little giddy at the prospect of playing a game where Taki and Tron Bonne are working together, but I guess things ended up for the best.


Klonoa (Wii)
This is a new remake of the original PSOne game, sans the Door to Phantomile subtitle. Everything has been redone. The graphics are greatly improved and look great. But they were true to the original in terms of level design, everything feels in place. With remakes, sometimes game developers make changes that fans of the original may not like. But I feel that Namco did a good job trying to keep fans of the original happy, and I’m pleased with the results. You can really tell that Namco tried with this game. I’m pretty good at spotting when a game company cares about the game they’ve made or not. And in this game, they cared!

When Namco made a change to the game, they took care to find ways to please fans of the old title. One way is with play control. You can play with the Wii remote and nunchuck, but Namco provided other options if you want to play with the remote sideways, Classic Controller, or even GameCube controller (I prefer the Classic). Namco also added a new whirlwind move to the Wii version that lets you stun enemies, but you don’t HAVE to use it if you don’t want to.

Another thing they added was English voices for the characters. Normally I would complain about this, because part of the charm of the original game was the made-up language. BUT, they let you switch to the old original voices if you like, so I did that first thing! I don’t really like Klonoa’s English voice because it sounds too much like Sonic. And you know how I feel about that. Strangely enough, some of the other characters’ voices in English are surprisingly decent. Joka’s voice is mischievous without overacting, and I liked the metallic tinge in Ghadius’. Most of the other voices are about Saturday morning caliber. One nitpicky complaint is that no matter if you change the language or not, Klonoa still says “Wahoo” in his ‘Sonic’ voice on the title screen. Again, that’s pretty nitpicky so I’m not really griping about it too much.

Another nitpicky thing that I shouldn’t complain about is some of the names have changed. Huepow is now Hewpoe, which isn’t that big of a deal. But Joka is now Joker, and I like of liked the original name better. Another change was Klonoa’s outfit. But Namco took care of that because you can unlock costumes for Klonoa, including his original floaty collar and the blue zipper shirt from Klonoa 2. And I THINK one of the alternate costumes is even from the volleyball game! At least they didn’t change Klonoa’s look otherwise. Before the game was announced to be released in the US, Namco sent out an e-mail survey to me and one of the things they asked was which character design was better, the original or this new design they came up with that had Klonoa with bat ears and such. I wish I would’ve saved that picture so I could show you. Needless to say, I spoke my mind extensively about that. I don’t think I would’ve bought the Wii remake if they changed Klonoa’s floppy ears and Pac-Man hat!

So let’s say you’ve played the original Klonoa to death, why should you get the Wii version? Well, Namco added a lot of new challenges to the Wii game. After you beat the story, you can replay levels in Mirror Mode. And in these reverse levels are secret new areas that are SUPER TOUGH! Now, Klonoa fans may know about the Extra Vision in Balue’s tower after you beat the game and how tough that was. Well, the new bonus stages are even harder! I can’t get past them! And I’m pretty good at Klonoa! So while the main game may be short and easy, there are some challenges if you look for them!

I can’t figure out why Klonoa got an E-10 rating, though. There’s Mild Cartoon Violence because when you throw enemies, they disappear in a puff of sparkly smoke. And there’s Tobacco Reference because Klonoa’s grandpa smokes a pipe. The only thing I can figure is that it got that rating because of the sad ending. But I would definitely let any kid play this game. If you have kids and a Wii, you should get this and show them there’s more to gaming than just Mario (I like Klonoa better than Mario anyway, but I also like Kirby better than Mario, too). And even if you don’t have kids, you should get Klonoa on the Wii. It’s only 30 bucks, so what have you got to lose? If there was one video game that deserves a second chance, Klonoa is it. I think that’s worth repeating. IF THERE WAS ONE VIDEO GAME THAT DESERVES A SECOND CHANCE, KLONOA IS IT. The other Klonoa games didn’t sell so well, so let’s show Namco that we demand good games like Klonoa. Maybe then they’ll bring Klonoa 2 to the Wii!

One last thing I have to say about the Wii version of Klonoa. When I got it and opened the box, along with the instruction booklet was a coupon for a free fish taco at Wahoo’s. I’d never heard of the place, but apparently they’re famous for fish tacos. I guess that was a marketing tie in since Klonoa says Wahoo a lot in the games. But what a weird cross tie in promotion. At least they didn’t put it in the game. Some games I don’t mind commercials in, but I’d have a fit if there were ads in Klonoa games! One other odd thing about the Wahoo fish taco coupon: I looked them up on the Internet and they only have restaurants in California, Colorado, and Texas. So they’re not exactly a huge chain or anything. So why promote it when there’s a good chance buyers of the game won’t be able to go to that restaurant? I mean, I live in Texas, but there’s only one Wahoo’s in the state and it’s in Austin! So I’d have to drive four hours just to use that coupon! I’ll say it again, what a weird tie in cross promotion!

Anyway, that’s all I feel like talking about Klonoa right now! Do you like Klonoa games? Which ones are your favorites? Let me know! Later! –Cary

4 Responses to “Wahoo! It’s Cary’s Klonoa Blog!”

  1. I know nothing of Klonoa except that Cary is a big fan. So this was a fun read for me.

    I gave the game to a friend, but I kept the gift from NAMCO. A silly, puffy, bright blue hat with a Pac-Man symbol just off-center. I look like an old old man, but when I’m gardening, and after the heart attack, I pretty much am an old man.

    Yay Klonoa, in other words

  2. Oooh, I wish I had a hat like that… –Cary

  3. I LOVE Klonoa. One of my favorite series.

  4. I got the game on Wii too, but in UK it doesn’t come with a coupon for taco’s or anything .=x

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