Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series Review

Matt Lorrigan

I’m absolutely convinced that someone at Bandai Namco has it in for Klonoa. The critically acclaimed platforming series is beloved by those that played it, but its two major releases - Klonoa: Door to Phantomile on the PS1, and Klonoa 2: Lunatea's Veil on the PS2 - sold poorly at the time. There was a remake of the first game released on the Wii, but it received so little marketing that even I, a platformer-loving Wii owner, didn’t really know it existed. And now, over a decade later, we’ve finally got a compilation of both games, and Bandai Namco has gone and called it ‘Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series’. If you’re not already a fan of Klonoa (the franchise’s poor performance at retail makes that quite likely) then that’s just a nonsense sentence. What’s a reverie? Is this a new game? Come on Bandai Namco, Klonoa Collection was right there, it just rolls off the tongue. Couple that with the lack of a physical release in the US, and I worry that Klonoa might once again not get the recognition it deserves.

And it really does deserve it. Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series has been my introduction into the 2.5D platforming world of the Klonoa series, and it’s been a joy to revisit these classic titles. The collection consists of remasters of the Wii remake of Klonoa and the PS2 version of Klonoa 2. Not that I ever would have guessed that these games originally graced PlayStation’s consoles - the bright colours, bubbly character designs, and unique gameplay mechanics are more reminiscent of SEGA and the Dreamcast than anything else.


You'll have to chuck a few inflated foes at this nasty boss.

Both Klonoa games are side-scrolling 2D platformers set within a 3D world, and they make good use of all three dimensions across both titles. Klonoa: Door to Phantomile, the first game in the collection, sets up the majority of the gameplay mechanics that you’ll find across both of the games. On his own, Klonoa - a feline rabbit-like creature donning a Pac-Man baseball cap - offers very little in the way of movement options. He can run, and he can jump, and that’s almost it. It’s his third ability, however, which injects a unique spin into the platforming genre. Klonoa is able to use a magical ring to fire a projectile called a ‘wind bullet’ a short distance in front of him, enabling you to inflate any enemy you encounter. While inflated, Klonoa can hold that enemy like a balloon, bouncing off of them for a double jump to reach high areas, or launching them at other enemies, collectibles, and switches. 

The clever bit, though, is that these inflated foes can also be fired into the background and foreground, and when you remember that Klonoa was originally made for the PS1, this half-step into the world of 3D platforming suddenly makes a lot of sense. This mechanic is combined with 3D levels that loop around on themselves, meaning that even though you’re only ever moving left and right, you’re rarely travelling in a straight line. The camera adjusts to follow you along your curving route - it’s similar to Kirby 64 or Nights Into Dreams - and you’ll occasionally spot older areas of the level in the distance. As well as watching for enemies either side of you, you’ll need to keep an eye out for collectibles or puzzle elements in the background. While things start off rather simple, by the time you hit the last few levels of Klonoa: Door to Phantomile, the game will be testing you with puzzles and platforming sections that require pinpoint precision and quick combos, inflating enemies before jumping off them and inflating the next, lest you fall to your doom.

It can be a tough difficulty spike, but luckily both games come with two difficulty settings as standard - Normal and Easy, although they are probably better thought of as ‘classic’ and ‘modern’, respectively. I played through both titles on Normal, but Easy includes some good options, including longer reach on the Wind Bullet, infinite lives, and additional health. It’s just a shame the game doesn’t let you mix and match these, allowing you to take advantage of infinite lives without the other easy options, for example.


Klonoa: Door to Phantomile holds up well in Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series, with the Wii remake providing an excellent base to work from, although the art style and lighting can look a little flat in sections. However, it’s Klonoa 2: Lunatea's Veil that provides the real selling point for this collection. As a sequel, Klonoa 2 improves upon the first game in almost every area. It’s surprising just how smooth a transition it is, moving from the first game to the second, with enemies, items, and collectibles working in similar ways, but all of Klonoa 2’s additions really takes advantage of the series’ unique game mechanics. Despite remaining a 2D platformer, the 3D world feels far more expansive than the first game, emphasised by the new inclusion of cannons that fire you from one side of the level to another with a cool cinematic flourish. There’s more detail in each level as well, making them feel more alive, with a selection of stages set in a funfair and atop a flying airship proving to be visual highlights.

Boss fights are significantly improved in the second game as well. Like Klonoa, the boss fights are often where you’ll find the best use of full 3D space, having you loop around a full 360 degree arena. But Klonoa 2’s boss design is smarter - while there are still patterns to learn for each boss, you’ll regularly be able to interrupt a boss’s attack and finish them off quicker if you’ve got the reflexes for it. Unlike the boss fights in a game like Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, you don’t have to wait around for the boss to finish their move to find your opening, leading to some really engaging battles in Klonoa 2 that have you trying to finish off the boss as quickly as possible.


Klonoa 2's hoverboard stages are a highlight.

If you couldn’t already tell that Klonoa 2 came out in the early 2000’s, the inclusion of hoverboard stages is a clear giveaway, capitalising on the huge rise in popularity of skating and snowboarding games during that era. Luckily, they end up being an excellent inclusion, rather than an afterthought, adding a nice change of pace with auto-running levels that offer some genuine challenge to anyone looking to grab all of the collectibles in a stage.

When it comes to the games themselves, Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series is a good compilation, packaging together one good platformer, and one great one. As a collection, it does exactly what it needs to do, visually remastering both titles, and the inclusion of modern difficulty modes is appreciated. There are issues, though. In both titles, text scrolls automatically (and painfully slowly) during cutscenes. You can hold down the right bumper to speed through these scenes at 5x speed, but this is far too fast. It meant that I frequently missed crucial story details, and with the Klonoa games having plots that are fairly vague and dreamlike already, I ended up with little attachment to any of the characters. A simple option to double the speed, or allowing players to skip through to the next bit of dialogue with a button press, would have been a huge improvement. It might seem a minor gripe, but it’s one that bothered me consistently throughout the dozen hours I spent with the game, even if it ended up being a small price to pay to play these games for the first time.

The dialogue might be frustrating, but the games speak for themselves. Whether you’re a lover of platformers who missed out on Klonoa back in the day, or you’re a old-school fan who wants a simple way to replay two of your favourite classic titles, Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series is an easy recommendation. If you’re only going to play one title in this collection, make it Klonoa 2, but both games are inventive 2D platformers that make great use of 3D space. They deserve to be played and appreciated, and Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series is a great way to play them.

Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series

Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series is a great collection for fans of 2D platformers, whether you’ve played these games before or not. Klonoa 2 is the standout title here, but both games are well worth playing, and should hopefully create a new generation of Klonoa fans. They certainly did with me, anyway - where’s Klonoa 3, Bandai Namco?

Form widget
80%
Audio
70%

Both Klonoa games include a few fantastic tracks, but not every song is quite up to that standard, and a few are fairly forgettable, if not downright annoying.

Visuals
75%

The Klonoa: Door to Phantomile remaster can look a bit flat at times, which is less than ideal for a game which deals in 3D space the way that it does. Klonoa 2: Lunatea's Veil holds up much better, however, with detailed and imaginative levels that have translated really well from the PS2 onto modern consoles.

Playability
85%

Both Klonoa games have great level design, full of hidden collectibles, multiple paths, and fun platforming puzzles to work out. Klonoa himself can be a tiny bit slippery at times, but for the most part, he handles really well.

Delivery
75%

Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series brings both titles up to date with some good quality of life changes, including the new easy difficulty mode. The lack of options when progressing text or mixing different difficulty settings are notable in their absence, however, and there’s very little additional content outside of a pixel filter, which only really works well with the first game.

Trophies
70%

This is a nice and easy list, if a bit simple. It won’t take you long to unlock everything, but you won’t be asked to do anything interesting or unusual either.

Game navigation