Klonoa Review

By Greg Bemis - Posted May 15, 2009

Namco Bandai has remade the classic platformer 'Klonoa' for the Nintendo Wii. Take Klonoa, the dream traveler, to dream states in a state of flux, and correct them. In this X-Play Review, Greg Bemis explores whether or not this ten year old game can stand up among other current gen titles.

The Pros
  • Same old Klonoa
  • Nice graphics
The Cons
  • Brutally short

A G4tv.com Online Only Review of Klonoa--

It’s sometimes a little strange reviewing an older game remade for a current gen system.  It’s even harder when that system is the Nintendo Wii, which was supposed to be a revolution is how we think about and play games.  So what are we to make of Klonoa which is essentially a gussied up version of a game that’s over ten years old?

Time for your Klonoascopy

klonoaIf you haven’t played Klonoa game before, then shame on you.  The series is really a fantastically wild and imaginative take on the basic platformer.  The original (which this Wii version is based on) appeared way back when on the PlayStation.  Although the game was essentially in 3D, characters navigated the environment along a 2D plane.  This kept the control reasonably simple, and yet allowed the designers to twist and turn the world in all manner of directions as you moved about.  At the time, this was a pretty novel idea. North America saw additional Klonoa games on the PS2 and the Gameboy Advance.  But the series has always sat comfortably at the table of awesome, but niche titles that for whatever reason could never quite catch a break here in the US.

That’s probably not going to change with Klonoa for the Wii, but kudos to Namco Bandai for trying.  It’s certainly engaging to experience such crisp platforming again.  The game’s hook departs from the traditional “jump on the enemy’s head” approach.  Instead, Klonoa uses a magic ring to grab nearby enemies and carry them around.  Captured enemies have a number of uses.  You can chuck them at other bad guys or you can throw them at objects like switches and containers in order to activate them.  You can also use enemies to give your jump and extra boost.

Some enemies have special properties such as shields which mean you can only capture them from behind.  Others explode after a while.  All of these different abilities and enemies gave the designers plenty of ammo to create unique situations in the gameplay.  

Unlike many of the character-based platformers from that era, Klonoa isn’t about a tremendous amount of hand-eye coordination.  Instead, players are presented with challenges in the form of figuring out just how to progress through the level.  Things do eventually get tricky with the player being tasked with using different creatures in rapid succession.  Since it’s possible to accidentally dispose of enemies you might need in order to progress, the baddies in the game often respawn at opportune locations throughout each level.  The labyrinthine nature of the level design occasionally makes it difficult to tell whether you’re coming or going. Even with branching paths in each level, you’ll generally muddle your way through, although you probably won’t find every single secret.

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What’s with the Ears, dude?

KlonoaBut it’s not exactly challenging.  If you’re coming at this game after having weathered the likes of the last couple of Mario games, you’ll likely breeze through it without breaking a sweat.  And it’s short, too.  Before you know it you’ll be done.  While I supposed you could aim for a 100% completion by “saving” all of the villagers in each level, even that won’t take very long. 

Since this was an early PS1 title, analog controls aren’t necessary.  The game actually plays perfectly fine with the Wii Remote tilted sideways.  Namco Bandai did pay nominal lip service to the Wii Waggle by including simple flick gestures to toss enemies in any desired direction, but it’s not always reliable and it really adds nothing to the game.

I almost fell for Klonoa.

Here’s a funny thing, and you probably won’t catch me saying this all too often.  Klonoa looks absolutely fantastic on the Wii.  The visuals have been updated to take advantage of what the Wii can do, and it’s really pretty impressive.  No, it’s not on the level of the Xbox 360 or PS3 (obviously) but for a cartoony game like Klonoa, it works.

The music works too.   However, the voice acting is uniformly atrocious.  No real surprises there.  And it’s not like there’s a whole lot of characterization going on here, but there is a story.  So you’ll either have to suffer through a bunch of lame cutscenes, or you can do what I do; push the Minus Button and keep playing.

So here’s the weird thing.  I like Klonoa.  I really do.  And this Wii version is certainly a faithful port that has been appropriately beautified.  It’s still a pretty thin meal, even for the slightly discounted price it’s selling for.  If there was perhaps a bit more content, like maybe both Klonoa 1 and 2 on the same disc then we’d be in business.  As it stands, Klonoa for the Wii is a nice, but short trip down memory lane.

Article Written By Greg Bemis