Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series Review (PS5)

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Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series Review (PS5)

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In the late ’90s, the platform genre went through a bit of an identity crisis. The technological weight of consoles like the original PlayStation meant our game worlds could be expanded into true three-dimensional spaces for pretty much the first time. However, this meant that there was a whole new dimension of problems for developers and design decisions to be made that had never been considered up to that point.

If you look at a game like Super Mario 64, you can see that the game features large explorable levels, but these levels are pretty sparsely populated. Naughty Dog’s approach with Crash Bandicoot was to create a graphically stunning playground to hop around in, but the action had to be contained within corridors. Games like Pandemonium! and Klonoa: Door to Phantomile chose a different option: fully 3D worlds and characters, but with gameplay limited to movement on a two-dimensional plane, like the platformers we already knew and loved.

The reason we’re doing this little trip down memory lane right now is that Klonoa is more interesting as a curiosity – a weird little game with little historical significance – than as an actual game you can play. As a snapshot into the past, playing Klonoa alongside Super Mario 64 or Crash Bandicoot – both of which were recently re-released – is an interesting experience to see how different developers have tackled the same problem. Mainly for this reason we give Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series a thumbs up.

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The collection here consists of two games. There’s Klonoa: Door to Phantomile, originally released for the PS1 in 1997, and Klonoa 2: Lunatea’s Veil, a PS2 game released in 2001. Of the two titles, Lunatea’s Veil is the better looking and mechanically more solid game, but both are of similar quality. Each game can be beaten in six or seven hours, with Klonoa 2 being a bit longer, and each contains secrets and collectibles that can add a few more hours to that playtime.

The storytelling of both titles is overly saccharine and the cutscenes might be a bit too long considering how thin the material is. If you loved these games as a kid or have a child that you play the games with, it may be worth sticking with the storylines either for nostalgia or vicarious pleasure. If you’re a 30-year-old newcomer to the series looking for some platforming fun, the skip button might quickly become second nature.

Gameplay involves piloting Klonoa – a sort of odd-looking kitten with winged hands for ears – through several fantastical, dreamlike environments. Aside from running and jumping, Klonoa’s main ability is the ability to grab an enemy and use them as either a tool or a weapon. If you double-tap the jump button after grabbing a villain, Klonoa can use it as a stepping stone to double jump, destroying the creature in the process. If you tap on the circle, he can throw the enemy as a missile to kill another opponent.

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You work your way through each level, collecting gems, jumping over deadly pits, taking care of enemies using any of the above methods, rescuing trapped villagers, and finally reaching the end goal and moving on to the next stage. Periodically, you fight a boss character. There’s nothing here that you haven’t seen in a dozen other, better games, but if you’re a big fan of 2D platform games, these two games should probably be on your radar.

Both games are mostly fun, completely harmless platformers that don’t do anything particularly revolutionary, but exude a certain charm. These are titles that harken back to a time long ago when mascot platformers were about cute animals that saved the world while we sat and cheered them on with dizzying childish glee, and there’s really nothing to hate about that. The biggest concern we have here is that the games – both – will get a bit finicky towards the end after relatively easy starts, with some occasional spikes along the way.

Door to Phantomile was remastered from the 2008 Wii Remake rather than the 1997 original, but otherwise both titles are just glossier, more colorful versions of the games you remember. There is a pixel filter that you can use to make the games look a little more dated if you so desire. There’s also a new easy mode that gives you infinite lives, so after dying you can continue from your last checkpoint as many times as needed, rather than using a sequel and replaying the entire level. And you can also play in co-op, but the second player acts in a supporting role to help Klonoa on her journey, rather than as another character.

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As is often the case with remasters of this nature, we anticipate that there will be some dismay at the look of Door to Phantomile among Klonoa fans. While the graphics are now 4K and therefore better than ever on a technical level, artistically some of the layers and textures look a little flat and Klonoa’s character model is a little different. We actually prefer the look of Door to Phantomile with the pixel filter enabled, but there’s no right or wrong here – whether you like the way the game looks or not is almost entirely down to your own preferences.

Conclusion

Phantasy Reverie Series is a relatively no frills remaster collection. There are a few quality of life improvements and the games have a fresh touch of HD color, but if you didn’t like Klonoa then, you won’t like it now. If you didn’t play Klonoa back then, you don’t have the nostalgic glasses necessary to look at these games and see them for more than what they are – some pretty good platformers and little more, and that’s fine.

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