reviews\ May 11, 2009 at 8:00 pm

Klonoa - WII - Review

Despite being well-reviewed and receiving numerous sequels, the Klonoa series might not be familiar to many gamers outside of Japan. It debuted on the PlayStation in Klonoa: Door to Phantomile, a uniquely styled “2.5D” platformer. This means that while the game controlled in a 2D fashion (up, down, left, right) the graphics are rendered in 3D. Klonoa on Wii is a remake of this original adventure, and maintains this style to great effect.

Being over a decade old, one might expect Klonoa to show its age more than it does. But the game is surprisingly faithful to the original, and a satisfyingly fresh experience.

The game progresses through a series of levels (called “Visions” in this case). It’s the standard platform setup, complete with item collection and boss fights. One of the things that still sets Klonoa apart is the aforementioned “2.5D” style. Gameplay-wise, this means that although you move on a 2D plane, you have the ability to interact in 3D. By pushing up you can chuck an enemy towards the background, or pushing down, you can hit a switch in the foreground. Despite its age, this mechanic still gives Klonoa a unique feel and provides for some fun, and occasionally, challenging puzzle-solving.

For the most part, Klonoa is a very simple game, and this works to its benefit. The platforming is generally forgiving, and although there are branching paths, the game is still fairly linear. The simple design means that Klonoa plays very fast. You almost never have to stop moving, and this gives the game a good flow.

Unfortunately, the boss battles don’t fare quite as well as the rest of the gameplay. They are all variations on the same theme. Klonoa runs around a circular area, while trying to grab an enemy to chuck at the boss. They aren’t poorly designed; they just lack variety and are noticeably less engaging than the general platforming portions of the game.

Controls are essential in any platformer, and Klonoa’s are very tight. Depending on your preference, you can use any one of four setups. There is the Wii remote horizontally, the remote and munchuk, the Classic Controller, and the old GameCube pad. Because of its 2D nature, the standalone remote or Classic Controller are the best options because you’ll be using the d-pad to move.

The biggest upgrade over the original game is undoubtedly the visuals. And while that might not be surprising considering it was on the original PlayStation, the updated graphics are some of the best the Wii has seen in a non-Nintendo developed game. Much like Super Mario Galaxy, Klonoa’s visuals are sharp, lush and vibrant. Texture work is generally well above-average, and the game has a handful of very nice visual effects. Klonoa also sports a silky smooth framerate and excellent art direction.

Far less impressive is the new voice acting, which is uniformly terrible. The sound effects are about average, as is the unmemorable score. The game does receive a pretty good sound mix, however.

The worst aspect of Klonoa is definitely its story, which somehow manages to be incredibly simple and completely incoherent at the same time. I know it’s geared towards the kiddies, but bad is bad no matter what age you are. Even the brief cut scenes become irritating within a matter of seconds, what with the incomprehensible story, horrid dialog and poor voice acting.

It’s also worth noting that Klonoa is a very short game. It can be completed in well under five hours. Luckily, the bargain price tag of $30 that Namco Bandai has slapped on the game helps in that regard. And for a game that plays as well and looks as good as Klonoa does, it’s a great deal whether you are new to the series or not. Klonoa is a lot of fun and it still holds up well today. If you’re looking for a quick fix of fun platforming and gorgeous visuals, Klonoa is right up your alley.

Review Scoring Details for Klonoa

Gameplay: 8.5
The 2.5D design still holds up today. It’s just plain fun platforming. The boss fights are a bit repetitive, however.

Graphics: 8.5 
Nintendo is still the king of Wii’s graphics technology, but Klonoa’s vibrant, smooth, and beautifully designed visuals are among the best of the rest.

Sound: 7.0
The quality of the new surround mix is good, but the annoying voice work, bland sound effects, and just an Ok musical score hold it back.

Difficulty: Easy

Concept: 8.0 
It might not be new, but Klonoa is still a lot of fun. The platforming design is still a lot of fun. It’s too bad the story presentation is lacking.

Overall: 8.0
It may be over too quickly, but Klonoa is a lot of fun while it lasts. For a budget price, you really can’t do a lot better. The gameplay is well-designed and it features some truly beautiful visuals. If you’ve never played Klonoa before, it’s well worth your time. If you have, you’re certainly justified in revisiting an old friend.


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