It seems to be a good year for Klonoa fans, who have been starved for new releases for quite a few years now. I hadn’t played any of these games until recently, but I have to say I can see why people lost their minds over the announcement of Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series now. This is a remastered collection of the two mainline Klonoa games, and the first time that Klonoa 2: Lunatea’s Veil has ever been re-released since it came out on PlayStation 2.
This version of Klonoa: Door to Phantomile is a modification of the Wii version with changes to make it closer aesthetically to the original PlayStation version. The English voice-acting from the Wii remake has been removed, but Klonoa fans will probably understand that the made-up language of the original game is preferred anyway.
This is the first time I’d finished the original game, and I adored it. However, there’s a bit of a disconnect with this remake you probably won’t feel with the Reverie version of the second game. Klonoa’s scope in regards to its gameplay has a lot to do with it being a PlayStation platformer. Your gameplay is very simple: you can jump and you can grab enemies with a special ring Klonoa wears. When you grab an enemy, you can either throw it into other enemies or use it to jump higher. Thankfully for such a small amount of mechanics on offer, the game is only about three hours long so it never overstays its welcome.
The parts that make Klonoa shine aren’t the gameplay, but the comfy vibes and memorable story. This is one of the most relaxing platformers you can play, with it feeling like you’re being taken on a tour of a fascinating fantasy world. The characters are charming and motivate the journey, and the platforming ramps up just enough to offer enough of a challenge. The story is also surprisingly emotional for a platformer. I’m sure you’ve heard that most people will not make it through the ending of this game without crying. I wasn’t immune either, it hit me like a brick.
While the original Klonoa is a solid game but an excellent experience, I think the sequel is the stronger title of the bunch. The movement has been tightened, and there’s more variety in the gameplay. The one potential downside is that in trying to increase the length of the game it reuses content. Every level it reuses has some new spin on it, but it’s hard to be too mad at it when the gameplay has been improved so much.
The level design is truly a treat, feeling like it learns from all of the PlayStation classic’s missteps. Since this was designed around true 3D. The original Klonoa had 3D environments with a 2D sprite Klonoa, which meant that the camera couldn’t do anything that impressive. Which is fine, it was a PlayStation game. The scale of every level in Klonoa 2 has been expanded on, and they’re an absolute joy to explore.
My favorite new addition was the segments where Klonoa gets to board down inclines, it adds great variety to the typical gameplay pattern. In terms of the story, Klonoa feels more active in it and there’s a lot more dialogue. It really just feels like the bigger and better sequel to Klonoa, with very few things I feel just weren’t completely improved.
One thing that does stand out having played both games back-to-back is how much better Klonoa 2 has held up in the collection. Visually, the work on the sequel feels like it was the baseline. The original Klonoa remaster feels a bit off. The game was designed around the PlayStation, and because this was just an improvement of an already iffy Wii version I don’t think this works nearly as well as the original game.
I’m not demanding you dig up a PlayStation and track down a copy of that version. Do I think that version is better? Yeah. Does that make this version off? No. I think you’re bound to be more impressed if you play the original, which is a shame because I think the opposite of Klonoa 2 in this case. This version of the sequel, down to the brighter aesthetic free of early PlayStation 2 woes, is stunning and the game plays great.
An easy mode has been added to both titles and can be toggled at the beginning of each level. It removes the lives mechanic, increases the length of Klonoa’s ring grab, and increases your hearts to five. Given that the checkpoint system can be a bit annoying with limited lives, this is a pretty good solution for newcomers who may not be great at platformers. Or, if you’re having trouble with the Nintendo Switch version’s awkward input delay.
While both games included in the Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series collection are of high quality, the Switch version leaves a bit to be desired. It appears that both games struggle to hit a solid 60 frames-per-second, leaving them to feel slow as a result. It seems to hover around 50-60. Klonoa leans more casual platforming than hardcore platforming, and this is certainly playable, but that’s not too high of a bar. While most of my time playing it felt fine, there was this occasional feeling of unresponsiveness that comes because of the inconsistent framerate.
The visuals themselves look great – docked and undocked – and the resolution remains consistently great, too. However, if it comes at the cost of performance for a platformer then maybe further optimizations should have been made. If you have the option to play elsewhere and don’t care about playing portably, I’d say pick another console or play it on PC.
I don’t think the Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series is a perfect collection, especially on Nintendo Switch, but it’s a solid version of two excellent games. If you get this on another platform, I’d probably recommend it without any hesitation for newcomers looking to experience Klonoa for the first time. Despite being announced during a Nintendo Direct, the Switch version of this is rather subpar. This is a solid remaster of two of the best classic platformers you can find on the market, that would, unfortunately, be best played elsewhere. At least it’s nice to see that Klonoa is back!
Version Tested: Nintendo Switch
Review copy provided by Bandai Namco Entertainment