I’m sure that, at some point over the last 25 years, I heard the name Klonoa at least once. But I’ve certainly never touched the series—I don’t even really remember ever seeing ads for it in the gaming mags I read as a kid. If I’m being perfectly honest, prior to February of this year, if you’d asked me what Klonoa was, I probably would’ve guessed some kind of pharmaceutical. “Ask your doctor if Klonoa is right for you.”
What changed in February, of course, is that Bandai Namco announced Klonoa Phantasy Reverie, a remastered compilation of the first two console games in the series: 1998’s Klonoa: Door to Phantomile for the original PlayStation and 2001’s Klonoa 2: Lunatea’s Veil. (Technically, the first game in the collection is a remaster of a 2009 Wii remaster.)
After getting a chance to go hands on with the first level of each game at Summer Game Fest Play Days, I understand why Bandai Namco wanted to give these classics a shot to connect with a modern audience. For people like me, people who grew up playing and loving character platformers but missed out on Klonoa, it’s an excellent opportunity to get acquainted with the series.
It certainly helps matters that the Klonoa games are very much doing their own thing. I kind of rudely assumed that an animal platformer I didn’t know would just be a copy/paste of other, more popular games in the genre, but Klonoa’s mechanics feel pretty distinctive. That’s a lesson I learned the hard way during my demo. As soon as I encountered my first enemy, I tried to jump on its head, Mario-style. Needless to say, I did not kill them. I took damage. Serves me right for stereotyping!
So, yes, you’re side-scrolling and fighting enemies and collecting a whole bunch of items in each level. But the platforming and combat in both games center heavily on the ring Klonoa can use to trap and throw enemies. You can pick up bad guys and toss them to take out other bad guys, but you can also use them to give yourself an extra jump in mid-air to get to hard-to-reach platforms or collectibles. You string these ring abilities together with your standard moves to navigate levels and fight bosses (though I didn’t get a chance to see a boss fight for myself).
As you’d probably expect, Phantasy Reverie Series also updates the visuals. The remaster has done wonders for the games’ cartoonish art style, with clean lines and crisp textures that make the world and characters bright and inviting. On more powerful consoles, you can expect 4K resolution and a 60 FPS frame rate, which looked rock solid during my demo time.
On the gameplay front, developer Monkey Craft has also brought adjustable difficulty levels and two-player co-op to both games. And while it’s a minor addition, I’m also a fan of the feature that lets you fast-forward through custcenes at about double speed, letting you get back into the action faster without skipping the story entirely.
Based on my short hands-on time, I can say that Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series looks to be solid comeback for its leporine hero. If you’ve been carrying around nostalgia for Klonoa, this collection should be a great excuse to revisit your childhood memories. If, like me, you couldn’t have picked Klonoa out of a lineup of cartoon rabbits six months ago, there’s probably no better cure for your ignorance.
Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series launches July 8th on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Windows PC.