After a decade Klonoa hasn’t changed much. Namco Bandai’s Wii-make feels just like the PlayStation version with better graphics. This time around the world is vivacious, full of color, and Klonoa isn’t a sprite – now he’s a talking 3D model.
Klonoa is a platformer, but you don’t bounce on your heads in this game. The rabbit-like hero has a ring that shoots wind bullets. Fire one of these to grab an enemy and, with the power of the ring, hold it above you. Press attack again and you toss the enemy. It’s sort of like how Kirby digests and regurgitates his foes, except Klonoa can’t transform. While you’re fixed on a 2D path Klonoa can turn, face the screen, and toss an enemy at you. Besides looking cool, this is used to hit Ngapoko Eggs (read: item crates) sitting off a path, either in front or behind the background.
The moves alone don’t do much to make Klonoa standout, but in conjunction with brilliant level design Klonoa is engaging. You have to use enemies to your advantage to beat Klonoa. If you want to reach high platforms you can capture an enemy and use it double jump. If you want to jump really high you need to capture an enemy, jump, then capture an enemy in mid-air and jump again. Enemies can also be used to hit out of reach switches and explosive enemies can detonate switches while you run to a closing door.
Levels are also designed like winding mazes. While Klonoa is a 3D game you run on branching 2D paths. The world twists as you loop around a mountain and spirals when you walk towards the screen. Since the effect hasn’t been copied a zillion times it’s still eye catching. Visions (aka stages) have a dash of imagination with Klonoa jumping around an upside down waterfall. How cool is that?
All of these elements are in the original game except for the much improved visuals and new for North America whirlwind attack that slows enemies when you shake the remote. I still don’t have a grasp of why the whirlwind move was added to Klonoa. I guess it makes the game easier if you’re surrounded, but Klonoa isn’t a tough game to crack. You can totally ignore Klonoa’s new skill and I think most returning players will. If you opt to play Klonoa with a Gamecube pad or Classic Controller you have to.
The biggest downside about Klonoa is it’s short. One journey through Phantomile clocks in under seven hours and that includes replaying the game in mirror mode. Rest assured that Klonoa doesn’t drag at all and, partially because of the ending, this is a game you’ll remember.
Food for thought:
1.) For the first time Klonoa talks. He sounds like a little kid, which is admitting fitting for such a cute creature. If you don’t like the voice acting you can switch to the original gibberish voice acting.
2.) If Klonoa ever gets remade again the team needs to use the 3D glasses code from Invincible Tiger: The Legend of Han Tao.
3.) Namco Bandai could have extended Klonoa for fans with online leaderboards for the time attack mode.
Update: As commenters pointed out you can assign the whirlwind move to a button on the Gamecube pad or Classic Controller.