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Gaming Retrospective: Klonoa: Door To Phantomile

RK128

Member
Code:
[IMG]http://vignette2.wikia.nocookie.net/klonoa/images/b/bf/Klonoa_door_to_phantomile_front.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20120918155635[/IMG]

This new Retrospective is dedicated to a series that gets little attention; Klonoa – The Dream Traveler. The series is a fun puzzle/platformer franchise that blends 2D platforming with simple but inventive mechanics in addition to some impressive usage of the 3D plane. The game that started it all, is the original classic on the PlayStation One; Door to Phantomile. Lets take a trip to the land of dreams and explore one of the PlayStation 1’s most iconic platforming adventures.

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History & Development

The game started life as a project Hideo Yoshizawa, maker of the NES Ninja Gaiden games worked on for the PlayStation One. He pitched the project with a story about a serious adventure with robots and an ancient ruins motif, even the original character design for Klonoa was going to be ‘Shady’, having a shadowy appearance. But this serious concept was dropped, with many on the team wanting to make a more light hearted adventure focusing less on story.



Yoshizawa did not like this, and wanted to make a cinematic adventure. So the game had a tight gameplay system produced and planed by Tsuyoshi Kobayashi that allowed you to run and jump like any platforming hero but can grab foes to interact with the world. So, you could pick up a foe and toss them at another one, or use them to double jump and more depending on the enemy you picked up.

More information regarding Klonoa and the overall character design can be found in this quote from Wikipiedia.


Quote: "Klonoa and other characters were designed by Yoshihiko Arai. Arai’s first design, “Shady”, had a shadow-like appearance. However, he felt that the lack of color did not seem tasteful, and dropped the design. His next design was created with cat eyes and long ears, as Arai felt that a person’s eyes and silhouette are the features noticed when they are first met. He added a large hat and necklace to give the character a childlike and energetic quality. The design was kept and used for Klonoa.[9] A running aspect of his designs is the Pac-Man design on his cap."

Namco had a lot of confidence in the project, with them citing its adventure elements and simple gameplay mechanics being easy for younger gamers to attach too but the deep story would make adults be interested in the game to. Yoshizawa used dreams as a major inspiration for the revamped story in this new version of the game, saying the following quote: “I was struck by the idea that when you wake up sometimes in the morning and you know you had a dream but you can’t remember what it was, obviously the dream went somewhere, at least in my way of thinking. I thought, ‘I wonder where these dreams go. What if all these dreams that are lost when people wake up but they can’t remember are carried away and collected somewhere like some sort of energy?’ We tried to imagine a dream world people could relate to from their own dreams and experiences.”



The game released in Japan on December 11, 1997 and on March 10th 1998 in North America, with a late release in Europe in June of that year. The game got high critical success and many called it one of the best platformers on the PlayStation One.

Story

The game takes place in the Dreamworld of a place called ‘Phantomile’, a place where people don’t clearly remember there dreams. One being living in this world is a cat-rabbit….thing, named Klonoa. He travels in a forest before the game starts and finds a ring stuck into the ground.



After pulling it out of the ground, he finds that a special being named Huepow lives inside it. Him and Klonoa become best friends and both live a happy life. Then games events then take place, with Klonoa and Huepow investigating a crash hitting near there homes windmill. The game starts and the game is very clever with its story; it looks peaceful and very Kirby-esc; everyone bright and colorful, levels having a bright tone and the music starting out very innocent.

But things get darker over time, with an ending that…..really sucker punches you. Not going to spoil it for this Retrospective but you will feel bad for Klonoa by the end of the adventure. The story is also very well told, with dialog being very natural and its unique language that sounds very Banjo-Kazooie like that fits its setting well.

The story is powerful and you will be attached to many of the characters you meet across the game.

Gameplay & Level Design

This is where things get very interesting, as Klonoa at first glance feels like any old Nintendo platformer; you can run and jump, have colorful locations to visit and more. Even some of the games mechanics and gimmicks appear ‘borrowed’ from other games like the ability to use enemy abilities like Kirby or the simple controls of 2D Mario.



But the game flips them on their head, as the game is more of a puzzle platformer then one would expect. Klonoa has a special way of interacting with foes, rather then killing them outright, you can pick them up using his Wind Bullet ability (Square or Circle). You can then either throw them or use them to double jump. Sounds simple, right? It is, but it gets more complex then this.

You can also throw foes into and out of the screen, hitting objects in the background of levels. In addition, some foes have unique abilities, like some letting you hover in the air while you grab them until they vanish or some being out right bombs that tick down until they explode (giving you plenty of time to double jump or giving you a good length to aim you shot).

Level designs work with these mechanics beautifully, with it progressively getting harder as the game teaches you different ways the mechanics work and even new ones (like finding Keys for doors) over time. They also play with the perspectives a lot, with you get to go into and out of the screen often, with examples including things like riding a mine cart or fighting bosses forcing you to throw foes into the screen to damage them. Klonoa 2 plays with this far more and does a lot more with some of these concepts. Overall, the gameplay and level design is very strong and it does a lot right.



Lastly, we come to the design of the game for the core gameplay section. The game is broken up into six visions (and a final one with only one act to clear), each with two acts not unlike the Sonic series. Each vision has six villagers you are trying to save, as after the events of Vision 1 they get trapped in bubbles. You can free them with your Wind Bullet and they are mostly easy to find. It is one of the games few issues though, as you can’t replay stages until you beat the game. Thankfully, when you beat the main story, you can go back to older stages to save the ones you missed. Saving all of them even unlocks bonus level to complete too, so there is an incentive to save them all.

Presentation

The game looks great on the PS1, with the characters being DKC-like Sprites but the levels being fully 3D. This allows the game to age gracefully on the PS1 and to this day the worlds look great. Great usage of color and dream-like atmosphere helps the world come alive. The only 3D models that are characters are the boss characters you fight at the end of each set of visions.



Musically, Klonoa succeeds on this front too, with catchy melodies and great themes that match the games worlds and setting.

Here is a link to the entire soundtrack, as its really great stuff.

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Klonoa: Door to Phantomile is a utter classic that while having the small issues of being too easy at times for more seasoned platforming gamers and not letting you replay older stages until you beat the game, still is a fantastic time throughout.

The game can be played on PlayStation Ones if you have the retail disk, but you can also buy the game on Sony’s PSN Store and play it on the PS3, PSP or PS Vita. The game also got a complete remake on the Nintendo Wii, with updated visuals, an English-Language Voice Track and some extra features when you clear the game (plus fixing the issue of back-tracking; you move on a map in the Wii version from the start).

Highly recommend the game if you love action platformers!
 

RK128

Member
I don't plan on releasing a franchise run of this franchise on NeoGaf, so just posted to this see if people like me talking about platformers and stuff on this forum. Regardless, I hope you enjoy this Retrospective and have a great day :).
 

Maximo

Member
Loved the game when I was young picked up a bunch of cheap games overseas and this was one of them, awesome Retrospective as always.
 

RK128

Member
Loved the game when I was young picked up a bunch of cheap games overseas and this was one of them, awesome Retrospective as always.

Glad you loved the game and nice seeing a positive comment opening up the thread :). Thank you for the kind words!
 

manueldelalas

Time Traveler
I'll never understand the love for this game. I've only played the Wii remake, but the game is 5 hours long, 3 of which are gameplay and 2 cut scenes and annoying talking.

The worst part is the missed potential. Just when a stage is getting interesting, BAM! Cutscene. When the puzzles stop being really easy, the stage ends.

I would like more people to play the much better and focused GBA games.
 

RK128

Member
I'll never understand the love for this game. I've only played the Wii remake, but the game is 5 hours long, 3 of which are gameplay and 2 cut scenes and annoying talking.

The worst part is the missed potential. Just when a stage is getting interesting, BAM! Cutscene. When the puzzles so being really easy, the stage ends.

I would like more people to play the much better and focused GBA games.

Note how the game wanted to tell a story. I can agree that the mechanics and puzzles could have been more realized and developed but you said it yourself; it got better with the GBA games. Klonoa 2 does a lot in this regard and new ways to use foes makes the levels 'feel' more challenging.

Thank you for your comment and while I really loved my time with the game, it is a bit too easy sometimes.
 

Leynos

Member
Huh, I've completed the original on the PSX, the sequel on the PS2, and the remake on the Wii, but for the life of me, I can not remember a damn thing about the story in any of them, to the point that I am surprised to learn that it supposedly featured so prominently.
 

RK128

Member
Huh, I've completed the original on the PSX, the sequel on the PS2, and the remake on the Wii, but for the life of me, I can not remember a damn thing about the story in any of them, to the point that I am surprised to learn that it supposedly featured so prominently.

Every level had a short little cut-scene and they did take the time to go over the plot. The ending is the most memorable part of the game, mainly from how hard it sucker-punches you.
 

Bakkus

Member
This is one of the only 2.5D games which I think justifies that definition. And my god the music...
 

Defunkled

Member
Awesome thread!

Played a demo of this game when I was in elementary school (could have been an OPM disc, can't remember) and I absolutely loved it. However, for some reason or other, I never actually bought the full game. I always meant to pick it up but the years went by and the game got more and more expensive. I bought the PS Classics version when that launched but still didn't set aside the time to play it.

About two summers ago I found a nice physical copy for cheap (relatively) and finally sat down to really play through the whole thing. Man, what an experience. I still get intense feelings of nostalgia whenever I hear the music from the first level.

This game (and Tomba) will always hold a special place in my heart, all thanks to a random demo disc.
 

Leynos

Member
Every level had a short little cut-scene and they did take the time to go over the plot. The ending is the most memorable part of the game, mainly from how hard it sucker-punches you.

What happened in the ending? I don't remember.
 

1upsuper

Member
Nice thread. Klonoa is a wonderful series, and Door to Phantomile is my favorite, followed by Empire of Dreams, probably. It's such a charming game with a nice little story
with an ending that actually surprised me. I didn't expect it to be so sad. Tears, man.
 
Klonoa is one of my favorite series. I have played and 100% completed them all. Even the GBA ones. I wish they'd make a new one for the pSN or XBL networks. Could do it with a small team.
 

Merc_

Member
The main thing I remember is how the end of this game completely blindsided me as a kid.

Really fun game though.
 
I didn't play the PS1 game until quite recently but had both GBA games around launch. I adore the GBA games and they are among my favourite platformers on that system. I do not hold the PS1 nearly as high as the GBA but it was still quite good.
 
I don't plan on releasing a franchise run of this franchise on NeoGaf, so just posted to this see if people like me talking about platformers and stuff on this forum. Regardless, I hope you enjoy this Retrospective and have a great day :).
And I thank you for this.

This game is the absolute best platformer on the PS1. Such a shame the franchise was left to die.

Klonoa 2 on PS2 was also fucking sublime
 

RK128

Member
The amount of positive impressions from this Retrospective.....okay, this was great to see :).

So happy many enjoyed reading this Retrospective :D!
 

Syril

Member
I played Klonoa 2 originally with its bittersweet story, so playing the first one years later, the ending was kind of a shock.
Klonoa was consistently characterized as a young child in that game, so in the end I hated Huepow for keeping that information from him so he never had the chance to come to terms with it while still using him to save the world.
 

Toad.T

Banned
Shout outs to the US ad for basically damning the game by comparing the characters name to an STD.

"But darling, I have Klonoa."
"Baby, I want Klonoa."


I wish we would've gotten a remake/port of the PS2 one on the Wii.
 
PSX or Wii remake, which is better?
They are almost exactly alike so you can't go wrong with either but personally I prefer the PSX version a bit more. Wii version added a bunch of extra health that wasn't needed since Klonoa isn't a hard game and I just love the look of 2D sprites on a 3D plane.

Klonoa 3 for the series 20th anniversary Bamco, just DO IT!
 
Original was such a great game.Still got a copy,which seems to have gone up a little in value now.Would love to see a return of Klonoa
 

djtiesto

is beloved, despite what anyone might say
The Wii remake is the only game in the franchise I've played - how do the others compare? I know the PS1 original is pretty costly right now.
 

RK128

Member
The Wii remake is the only game in the franchise I've played - how do the others compare? I know the PS1 original is pretty costly right now.

When I talk about the other games, will talk in more detail ;).

But I can say is, if you enjoyed the Wii remake, you will really enjoy Klonoa 2 (PS2). Takes what the original did and really uses the 3D elements a lot more alongside the puzzles being a bit harder.

The GBA games I never played, so that is going to be a treat to revisit. But I heard they are honestly challenging puzzle platformers that do a great job offering challenging levels to run through.
 

Mossybrew

Member
This is my video game comfort food, the platforming and ambience is superb.

Yup. I haven't played the game in ages though, don't know how it holds up, I think I'd prefer to keep my good fuzzy memories. Would love to see a new game or even an HD remake at some point.
 

Mr-Joker

Banned
I own the Wii version and the game just looks amazing and it's fun to play.

Also Klonoa got robbed from not being a DLC playable character in Smash Bros 4, I mean Sega and Capcom had 2 characters but Namco only got 1. ¬_¬;

I wish we would've gotten a remake/port of the PS2 one on the Wii.

Had the Wii version sold well we would have gotten a remake of Klonoa 2 which would had lead to a third Klonoa game.
 
I loooove this game. Actually I love all the Klonoa games and would love to see sequels on the current consoles. Guess Namco is not gonna make this happen, but if they did...I would be very happy
 

maxcriden

Member
My wife and I played questions Klonoa Wii and PS2 a year and a half or two years ago and were huge fans of both. We still need to 100% them. I actually got my PS2 hooked up out of years sitting in a closet to be able to play Klonoa 2. GameStop was liquidating PS2 games, I found a location several states away that had a disc only copy and my local store in Vermont where we were living at the time was kind enough to get me the copy, and it was like a dollar or less which was amazing. Game looked terrific through component. Timeless art style.

Anyway, awesome retrospective as always. Thanks so much RK!!

BTW, to those lauding the GBA games, we have them but I haven't played them yet and my wife played some of the first one and wasn't too keen on it. It gets a lot better and more challenging as it goes on?
 
Favorite PS1 game. Hands down. Great characters. Emotional story. Gorgeous OST. Literally one of the main games of my childhood.

If ever I was to start speed running a game, it would be this one. I can 100% it without giving it a moment's hesitation.
 
Klonoa on Ps2 is one of the cutest platformers ever in my memories.
Wonderful music, awesome boss-fights, excellent camera work, just a little bit too easy if I have to find an issue.
Still love its cel-shaded art style
 
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