Klonoa 25th Anniversary Celebration!

Can you believe Klonoa has been around for 25 years?  That makes me feel REALLY old!  I remember when I first played that game in college and reviewed it for The Dallas Morning News.  If you don’t know (and shame on you if you don’t), Klonoa is a series of (mostly) 2D platformers by Namco.  And they’re really good, too!  The quality of these games really had an impact on me and they’re some of my favorite titles on the PSOne and PS2.  For the 25th Anniversary, Namco released a collection of the PSOne and PS2 main games, which we’ll talk about here.  But we’ll also go through the other games in the series as well!  Oh yeah, there may be some spoilers here and there, but I’ll warn you when they come up.

So let’s go over what most Klonoa games have in common.  They all star a little furry critter named Klonoa.  He’s kind of a cat…rabbity…skunk…thing.  He’s an Animaniac, we don’t know what he is.  He also wears a hat with Pac-Man on it, and any fan of Pac-Man is OK in my book.  He can do most anything a typical mascot platformer hero can do, and he can use his long ears to flap and give him an extra boost to his jump.  But his main attack is a giant ring he holds that he can fire a wind bullet from.  When you hit an enemy with it, the baddie will inflate and Klonoa can hold it above his head.  He can then throw the enemy to the left or right (or in the background and foreground in the 2.5D games).  He can also use the enemy to double jump which sends the enemy downward.  You’ll use this basic skill is very creative ways in all games.

Most games have Klonoa in some kind of dream world, which reminds me of Kirby.  Another way that Klonoa reminds me of Kirby is that the games tend to be pretty easy, but there are extra challenges for those who look for them.  And the music in most of these games is REALLY good.  Like, some of my favorite soundtracks from the PSOne and PS2 are from these games.  And the characters in Klonoa games speak a made up language.  But with that all out of the way, let’s take a look at all the games now.

Klonoa: Door to Phantomile (PSOne)

The very first game is a 2.5D platformer and it really made an impact on me.  Not just for the creative yet simple gameplay or the lush world building and characters.  It really restored my faith in 2D platformers after me-too Sonic games ruined them for me in the 16-bit days (which is one reason why I mostly played RPGs then).  But it’s the story that really shocked me, and here’s my first SPOILER WARNING.  So in the game Klonoa and his new friend Huepow live in a world of dreams.  Nightmare creatures kidnap diva Lephise, who can sing a song of rebirth which would send anything that doesn’t belong in the world out, like the nightmares.  So Klonoa and Huepow go on a quest to save her.  Like a Kirby game, the adventure starts out all cute and colorful.  But about halfway through, it gets pretty dark!  The nightmares end up killing Klonoa’s grandfather for starters. Then later it’s revealed that Huepow is the prince of the Moon Kingdom, where Lephise is from.  Huepow brought Klonoa into this world and gave him false memories so he’d help save the world!  So when they do rescue Lephise and she sings her song, all the nightmares vanish.  But since Klonoa is not of this world either, he gets sent away as well.  The last ending sequence is of Klonoa and Huepow struggling to stay together as a black hole sucks Klonoa away.   But they can’t fight it anymore and Klonoa ends up being ripped away from the world.  And that’s how the game ends!  That’s gotta be one of the saddest video game endings I’ve ever seen, and it really impacted me!

Klonoa 2: Lunatea’s Veil (PS2)

The PS2 sequel is more of the same, just with better graphics and more dynamic camera angles.  I also like how the characters were cel shaded in this one.  The game introduces a lot of new puzzle elements but also some new action sequences as well.  Klonoa gets a snowboard that he uses in auto scrolling stages in some levels.  In one of the snowboard stages, they even play a song with lyrics using Klonoa’s made up language!  My only problem with this game is that they repeat some of the levels, just with harder obstacles.  But otherwise it’s one of my favorite PS2 games.  So the story is still sad, but not as much as the first game, so here’s my SPOILER WARNING.  I get a lot of Pixar’s Inside Out vibes with this game, as the levels are based on various emotions.  The characters who live in this emotional world have shut out the World of Sorrow so they won’t be sad again.  But it’s actually the final boss, the King of Sorrow, who calls Klonoa to this world for help since everyone else has shut him out.  But you don’t learn this until the end of the game!  Klonoa still has to leave this world at the end and say goodbye to all his new friends, but he leaves somewhat willingly this time, so the ending isn’t as impactful.  But still a great game!

Klonoa: Moonlight Museum (WonderSwan)

This is the ONLY Klonoa game I’ve never played.  And that’s because it was on a handheld game system that never left Japan.  The WonderSwan was a black and white handheld game console whose main gimmick was that you could tilt it on its side to play some games with a vertical screen.  The handheld was also designed by Gunpei Yokoi, after he left Nintendo.  This game is more of a straight up 2D platformer rather than 2.5D, and it’s all in black and white.  But otherwise it’s still the same fun time.  The only reason why I don’t feel bad that I haven’t played this one is that the GBA games are more or less the same thing, which we’ll get to in a bit.  But if I ever had the opportunity to try it, I would!

Klonoa: Empire of Dreams (GBA)

There were a couple of Klonoa games on the GBA as well.  These were a lot like the WonderSwan game, just in color.  They seemed a bit more focused on puzzles as well.  In the first game, an emperor declares that people aren’t allowed to dream, which causes problems.  Klonoa comes to save the day and the emperor wakes up and declares that everyone should dream.  So yeah, not as impactful of a story or anything, but still a fun little handheld game.

Klonoa 2: Dream Champ Tournament (GBA)

I imagine this game caused a bit of confusion since there already was a Klonoa 2.  Honestly I think both the GBA games should’ve been combined into one game, since they’re both pretty short.  The story is even less interesting as a villain is forcing Klonoa characters to compete in a series of challenges to get rid of them.  But otherwise it’s still a fun little platformer.

Klonoa Beach Volleyball (PSOne)

The next couple of games were not released in the US, but I still managed to play them.  Oddly enough, this one’s a beach volleyball game with Klonoa characters.  Not sure why it was on the PSOne since by then the PS2 and Klonoa 2 had already been out.  But it does look good for a PSOne game.  I played it on a PSOne emulator I had on my PSP for a while.  This game was only released in Japan and Europe, but not in the US.  It was kind of weird hearing Klonoa and friends speak with British accents!  Sometimes I get mad when a game doesn’t come out to the US that I wanted, but usually if I do get to play them, I can see why it wasn’t released.  There are two reasons why I can understand why this wasn’t in the US.  One, it was on the PSOne when most had moved onto the PS2.  And the other reason is that it’s not really the best sports game I’ve ever played.  It’s all right, I’ve just played much better ones.

Klonoa Star Heroes (GBA)

This is the other Japan only game, but I imported it really cheap back in the day.  Unlike most other Klonoa games, this one’s a top down action adventure title.  Gameplay kind of reminds me of Legend of Valkyrie, too.  It has a song with lyrics in the title screen, which is neat for a GBA game.  But you know how I said earlier that sometimes I can understand why a game isn’t brought to the US?  Well for this one, I’d have to say the game is kind of dull and not up to the quality of other Klonoa games.  Plus the language barrier kept me from staying interested.

Klonoa (Wii)

The first Klonoa game got a remake on the Wii!  With improved 3D graphics!  Although I still like the old school look of the PSOne game, it was still neat to play it again.  This was my Game of the Year when it was released, which must’ve meant it was a really slow year for games.  But I do really like Klonoa and you know how sometimes I pull out a wildcard for my GOTY.  This one added English voices, but thankfully you could switch it back to the original made up language.  I saw some concept art showing how they were going to change Klonoa’s look to make him look ‘cooler’ with pointy ears.  Thankfully that never happened.

Klonoa Fantasy Reverie Series (PS4)

This is a collection of the first two Klonoa games on the PSOne and PS2, and it just recently came out for the 25th anniversary of the series.  I think they used assets from the Wii remake for this one.  Which means that while Klonoa 2 also got a slight graphic overhaul (not as drastic as the first game), unfortunately it also means that they ditched the cel shading in the original PS2 sequel as well, which is a darn shame.  Another complaint I have is that the controls feel a little ‘off’ especially in the first game.  I hate to blame controllers, but I think the reason for this is that wireless controllers DO have a slight delay to them.  Most modern games compensate for this and even good music games give you a calibration option.  But I’ve just noticed that when I play a remake that I played to death back with wired controllers, I can sometimes notice this delay.  Luckily this new game offers an extra easy mode.  It gives you infinite lives, which is nice because I think a ‘lives system’ in games should be thrown in the trash.  It also lets your wind bullet travel farther although I didn’t notice much difference.  And it also gives you a lot more health.  I used this option because I had already played both games to death in normal mode back in the day, so I decided to take it easy on this replay.  Plus I wanted to see what it was like.  While the Klonoa games are already pretty easy enough, making an option to have the games be even more accessible to anyone of any skill level is always welcome to me.

The last complaint I have with this collection is about the version I imported.  In the US, the game is available only digitally, and I wanted a physical copy of it so I imported it.  But I imported the Chinese version because it was the only version that came with lots of extra stuff.  But for whatever reason, I can’t figure out how to change the language in the game.  Usually import games let you do that, but not this one.  I can still play it because I’ve played the original games to death so I know what they’re saying.  But it’s a bit disappointing nonetheless.  I’ll be more weary about importing Chinese games in the future.

Here’s a picture of the front of the box of the Chinese import version I got.

And here’s the back of the box.

It comes with the game and an art book.  When I imported it, the picture looked like it also came with a soundtrack.  But it just has codes to unlock a soundtrack to use on your PS4, so that was also disappointing, especially since I also have the soundtrack to Actraiser Rebirth on my PS4 and I can’t figure out how to get it to work.  Plus I imagine the codes will only work with a Chinese PS4 account.  But at least the artbook is physical.

And here’s an example of the inside of the art book.


But even with these disappointments, this is still a great collection, which is just a testament to just how amazing these games are.


Klonoa has appeared in lots of other Namco games as well, since Namco likes to do that sort of thing.  Small appearances like being a target in Point Blank, a track named Phantomile in Ridge Racer Type 4, or artwork in QuickSpot are a few examples.  He’s been playable in Namco sports games like tennis and motorcycle racing.  But probably his most notable cameo is in Namco X Capcom.  It was a strategy RPG that was never released outside Japan, but the 3DS Project X Zone sequels were.  Klonoa wasn’t playable in those, but he was in the first game.  There were also levels and enemies from his games, and when it was his turn, they’d play an instrumental version of the snowboard song from Klonoa 2.

And that’s all I have to say about Klonoa!  I’d have to say it’s one of my favorite 2D platformer series ever, beaten only by Mega Man and Kirby!  Have you played any of his games?  Let me know in the comments section!  Later!  –Cary

One Response to “Klonoa 25th Anniversary Celebration!”

  1. Love the first two Klonoa games. The Fantasy Reverie release was a welcome addition. Wish I could have a physical copy though.

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