Back in the late '90s, the platforming genre was going through a bit of an identity crisis. The technological heft of consoles like the original PlayStation meant that, for pretty much the first time, our gaming worlds could be expanded into true three-dimensional spaces. However, this meant there was a whole new dimension of problems for developers, and design choices to be made that had never been considered up until that point.
If you look at a game like Super Mario 64, you can see that the game features large, explorable levels but those levels are quite sparsely populated. Naughty Dog's approach with Crash Bandicoot was to create a graphically impressive playground to bounce around in, but the action had to be contained within corridors. Games like Pandemonium! and Klonoa: Door to Phantomile went for a different option: full, 3D worlds and characters, but with gameplay restricted to movement on a two-dimensional plane, like the platformers we already knew and loved.
The reason we're having this little trip down memory lane right now is because Klonoa is more interesting as a curio — a strange little game of some slight historical significance — than it is as an actual game for you to play. As a snapshot into the past, playing Klonoa alongside Super Mario 64 or Crash Bandicoot — themselves both recently re-released — is an interesting experience in seeing how different developers tackled the same problem. It's for that reason more than any other that we're giving Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series a thumbs up.
The collection here consists of two games. There's Klonoa: Door to Phantomile, originally released on the PS1 in 1997, and Klonoa 2: Lunatea's Veil which was a 2001 PS2 game. Of the two titles, Lunatea's Veil is the better looking and more mechanically sound game, but both are of a similar quality. Each game can be beaten within six or seven hours, with Klonoa 2 being a mite longer, and each features secrets and collectibles that can extend that playtime by another couple of hours on top.
The storytelling of the two titles is excessively saccharine and the cutscenes perhaps run a little too long considering how slight the material is. If you loved these games as a child, or you have a child that you're playing the games with, either nostalgia or vicarious enjoyment might make the storylines worth persevering with. If you're a 30-something newcomer to the series looking for some platforming fun then the skip button might quickly become second nature.
Gameplay involves controlling Klonoa — a sort of weird looking cat child with hand-wings for ears — through multiple fantastical, dreamlike settings. Other than running and jumping, Klonoa's main skill is the ability to grab an enemy and use them as either a tool or a weapon. Tapping the jump button twice after grabbing a baddie will let Klonoa use them as a springboard for a double jump, destroying the creature in the process, and tapping circle will let him throw the enemy as a missile to kill another opponent.
You work your way through each level collecting gems, jumping over deadly pits, taking care of enemies via any of the aforementioned methods, rescuing captive villagers, and eventually reaching the end goal and moving onto the next stage. Periodically you'll battle a boss character. There's nothing here that you haven't seen in a dozen other, better games, but if you're a big fan of 2D platformers then these two games should probably be on your radar.
Both games are mostly fun, entirely inoffensive platforming romps that don't do anything particularly revolutionary but do effuse a certain charm. These are titles that harken back to a time long ago when mascot platformers were about cutesy animals who saved the world while we sat cheering them along with giddy childish glee, and you can't really hate on that. The biggest qualm we have here is that the games — both of them — get a little finicky toward the end after relatively easy beginnings, with some occasional spikes along the way.
Door to Phantomile has been remastered from the 2008 Wii remake rather than the 1997 original, but otherwise both titles are just shinier, more colourful versions of the games you remember. There's a pixel filter so you can make the games look a little more old school if you so desire. There's also a new easy mode that gives you infinite lives, so after dying you can continue from your last checkpoint as many times as you need instead of using a continue and replaying the whole level. And you can also play in co-op, but the second player acts in a support role to help Klonoa on their journey rather than as another character proper.
As is often the case with remasters of this nature, we assume there'll be some consternation among Klonoa aficionados regarding the look of Door to Phantomile. While the visuals are now 4K and so they're better on a technical level than they've ever been, artistically, some of the levels and textures look a little flat, and Klonoa's character model is slightly different. We actually prefer the look of Door to Phantomile with the pixel filter turned on, but there's not a right or wrong here — whether you like how the game looks or not will depend almost entirely upon your own preferences.
Phantasy Reverie Series is a relatively no-frills remaster collection. There's a couple of quality of life improvements and the games have a fresh lick of high definition paint, but if you didn't like Klonoa back in the day then you're not going to like it now. If you didn't play Klonoa at the time then you won't have the prerequisite nostalgia goggles necessary to gaze upon these games and see them for anything more than what they are — a couple of pretty good platformers and little else, and that's fine.
Never got the chance to play these beyond a demo so this is great for me but will need to clear the backlog first.
Got this preordered…I only ever played the demo version from disc mounted on a magazine back in the day (ask your Dad kids!) and always regretted never buying the full version. I am a sucker for old school platformers and this will scratch the itch nicely after finishing Kao.
Yea, the single trophy list is definitely a put off.
The score is fair, but I do think the review sells the stories of the games short. In my estimation both the first and second games have some pretty good emotional gut punches, especially for games being targeted at kids.
Then again, I played these games as a kid so that could be nostalgia talking too.
Looking forward to playing both of these soon. I really like the first one and I’ve always been wanting to play the second. Not sure I can justify the price right now with so much else going on but they will be mine at some point! Hopefully it leads to a new instalment, but that’s probably not going to happen.
What does it matter if it’s a single trophy list? If it has the same number of trophies, just in one list rather than two, so what? I don’t understand.
I know modern games seem to have an affinity for lists, like to do lists in most games these days (sorry, I mean quests).
Then again, I don’t even look at trophies and I most certainly turn off that annoying pop up. I don’t need to know I’ve won a pretend trophy for ‘starting the game’. As Klonoa would say, woo-hoo!
Cool.Klonoa phantasy reverie series looks cool.definetly getting this. Word up son
This should be offered as part of Ps+ Premium
@Ken_Kaniff At least you get two lists with PS4 and PS5
Does it have PS4 to PS5 save transfer?
@GravyThief Just because it's two games. Mass Effect Legendary really showed how to do this with four different trophy lists - one per game and one that spanned the series. For trophy hunters it's just a bit annoying to have two games but just one trophy list between them.
@Sakisa I didn't jive with the story at all but I'm an old man with no nostalgia for the series. I think if you loved these games at release you'll still love them now and they're worth picking up. Just for newcomers maybe not so much.
@johncalmc but if it’s one list with the same number of trophies covering both games, instead of them being split across two lists, what does it matter?
I clearly don’t get trophies (not that I really want to).
I played the the first game on vita & loved it. Will be picking this up in a sale eventually.
@GravyThief because 1 list means 1 platinum as opposed to 2 list meaning a platinum per game like the aforementioned Mass effect. Same with the crash trilogy, Spyro trilogy etc. Im one to agree that seperate games should have a seperate list, even if they are on one disk.
Despite being 39 and a lover of platformers back in the day, i never got to expierience these games. Im interested but it will be on a sale. On to the wish list they will go.
I'd try them out once they go on sale. I was kind of surprised by the price but it's a trend.
@GravyThief Today's kids whip out their playstation trophies like Pogs
@Kidfunkadelic83 ah right I get it now, thanks. Well, I mean now I get what the real issue is (it’s actually the number of Platinums that’s the problem, not the number of trophy lists), although personally I’d still say ‘so what’ if you only get 1 Platinum instead of 2. It would never impact my purchasing decision, and isn’t the fun meant to be acquiring the trophies themselves? But I won’t keep going on about what I think of the whole trophy nonsense! 😀
As for this game, I can’t comment on what this remaster is like (as I haven’t received my copy yet), but I’ve played the originals fairly recently, in the last 3 years, and I couldn’t praise them enough. I just hope these new ones play as well as the originals.
I too was a huge platformer fan back in the day (still am), but these passed me by. There’s something about the whole double jump mechanic from holding an enemy that really appeals to me. It turns it from your bog standard platformer and adds puzzle elements as well as parts that require pure skill and accurate timing if you want to get 100% (which I did). It sounds simple, but they manage to come up with lots of ingenious ways to use it.
There’s also the music. It has a sort of melancholic and eerie vibe to it, quite unusual at times and very different to what you normally get with platformers of the time, which I really liked.
Anyway, I suppose what I’m saying is if you think you might like these games, don’t pass them up!
@DualWielding yeah, that's all which matters today. Games have to be immediately part of a subscription model....
Played it yesterday, was so waiting for this game. I think they did a solid job and it's still fun. I absolutely loved Klonoa 2 on my PS2.
The only thing what makes me insane are the 150 crystals in each stage in Klonoa 1.
“Story is nonsense” those are fighting words.
I played a few levels on PS1 yesterday and then the same on PS5 today. It really plays very much the same, which is a good thing. I would just wish for PS1 / PS2 graphic filters, with low polygon models, although the pixel filter looks really beautiful in part 1 (and misplaces in part 2).
Anyway, this is a great port of a great game, and probably the best way to play Klonoa, if you don't want to spend 100$ or more.
Only played the Wii remake of the original but really liked it so decided to pick this up along with the DLC.
Bit surprised this isn’t on PS4 too. Still unable to get a PS5 in Australia without begging or paying scalpers… Most bizarre console ‘launch’ in my lifetime…
@Jireland92 I would argue most platformers or even most games have pretty meh storylines. We played these things for the gameplay!
@Arnna its on Ps4 as well as Ps5
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