‘Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series’ review: straightforward charm

The remaster everyone forgot they wanted

The Klonoa platforming games are a series of games that will be instantly familiar to anyone of a certain age and utterly baffling to everyone younger. That’s why a remaster in the form of Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series might seem unusual. The name doesn’t help with the title making little sense to anyone new to the games, but push through, and you get a good duo of platformers, even if there’s a lack of fan service here.

The original game – Klonoa: Door To Phantomile – came out in 1997 at a time when platformers were going through an identity crisis. Two paths were forged. There was the Super Mario 64 way of doing things with large open worlds to explore and the Crash Bandicoot method offering up 2.5D worlds to traverse. Klonoa: Door To Phantomile was a fantastically compelling example of the latter. Well designed, it drew you in before challenging you a ton in the later stages. The remaster delivers a hit of nostalgia, but also that same sense of challenge.

Technically, the version of Klonoa: Door To Phantomile within this package is a remaster of the Wii remake of the game. Purists may prefer to see the original’s visuals compared to the Wii version, but it looks pretty good – albeit distinctly of a time. Playing the game starts out incredibly simple. New to the remaster is a choice of a normal mode or an easy mode with the latter making things a breeze at the start thanks to offering infinite lives and a few other advantages. Controls are very simple. You control Klonoa (don’t ask me what he actually is) as he runs, jumps, and uses his magic ability to negotiate various platforms. He has a magic ring that is able to fire a Wind Bullet in front of him. By doing so, he inflates any enemies and grabs onto them. Once held onto, players can then use the inflated enemy like a balloon, helping them propel into the sky and essentially perform a double jump. It’s a great way to get around the levels and find some previously hidden sections.

Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series.
Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series. Credit: Bandai Namco.

As you play through Klonoa: Door To Phantomile, you’ll discover there are a lot of different places to check out. At first, you might feel stuck negotiating a linear string of platforms but the game soon opens up to give you multiple branching paths. Fans of getting everything out of games will appreciate needing to backtrack to collect all the collectibles within the game. Levels tend to loop on themselves so while you’re consistently travelling left or right, you can often spot another section that you’ll need to figure out how to get to.

It’s fun stuff if a little safe at first. Occasionally, you’ll face a boss battle and these tend to be fairly logical and straightforward if a nice change of pace from simple platforming.

As things progress though, Klonoa: Door To Phantomile suffers from some difficulty spikes later in the game. It can get much tougher requiring precise jumps and use of the double jump system. By the end of the game, timing is everything and while playing on easy helps a tad, it’s still tough to get through. Although, gaining a longer reach with the Wind Bullet does help a bit with your chances.

Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series.
Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series. Credit: Bandai Namco.

Klonoa 2: Lunatea’s Veil follows a similar vein to the original. Previously a PlayStation 2 game, it does add a little more mechanical complexity. For instance, it tosses in the era’s favourite twist – hoverboard levels. Back then, every game threw in a hover/snowboard level so older gamers will knowingly nod when this happens in Klonoa 2: Lunatea’s Veil. Luckily, these additions make the game feel more enjoyable than the first. Boss battles are better too. While the previous game often requires you to wait patiently to follow a set pattern, its sequel means you can get more involved with fending off the boss, picking your moment when it suits you.

With both games, everything is suitably charming and fun, but a touch shallow. If you love platformers, you’ll have a good time but it’s not the longest of experiences with each game taking about 5-6 hours to complete. This wouldn’t be an issue if Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series was a well-constructed remaster but it’s pretty basic. There are improved graphics and a new easy mode, but there’s little else here. A new two-player co-op option helps a little but it’s fairly basic and only really suitable if you want to team up with a younger member of the family as the second player doesn’t get much to do.

Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series.
Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series. Credit: Bandai Namco.

Otherwise, there’s no fan service. While other remaster collections like Sonic Origins offer up museum features or galleries to check out, Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series is just the two games. While we wouldn’t have expected to see the less well-known Klonoa games included given we’re talking about some fairly obscure Game Boy Advance or WonderSwan titles, a few extras wouldn’t have gone amiss.

Still, if you’re a huge 2D platformer fan and you prefer the tightness of specific routes over the open-world side of things that tends to be favoured these days, you’ll enjoy what’s here. A little barebones the package may be, the two core games are still highly enjoyable and satisfying to play through.

Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series is available now on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch, and PC. This review is based on the PS5 version.

The Verdict

Lacking some fan service, the two games within Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series still demonstrate why the franchise is so loved by many. Huge difficulty spikes stop the games being as well balanced as they should be, but the majority of the experience is a blast. It’s fun to negotiate the well-designed worlds and collect up everything they have to offer. You’ll just wish the rewards were more substantial.

Pros

  • Consistently satisfying platforming
  • Everything about the game is cute and charming
  • Both games hold up years after their initial release

Cons

  • No fan service to speak of
  • Horrific difficulty spikes near the end of both games
  • Not a huge amount of replayability
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