Klonoa: Door to Phantomile (Wii) - Review by Chris



With the Wii, it seems as though those titles either forgotten by time or those ignored at market have seen a revamped release on the console thanks to there being less of a chance of large monetary losses. We've seen titles like Okami and Resident Evil 4 grace the console and become the definitive versions and now Namco Bandai have risen one of their franchises from the dead and given it a new lease of life on the console in the form of a reworking of the very first Klonoa title, which originally appeared on the Playstation back in 1997 and has seen little in the way of new investment in terms of sequels outside of a small number of titles. But with all of these Wii-makes, as they've been dubbed, is the Wii becoming saturated with sub-standard ports or is Klonoa another thankful addition to the library?


Klonoa, subtitled Door to Phantomile in Japan, follows main character Klonoa and his friend Hewpoe as they set out to thwart Ghadius in his attempts to unlock the door to Phantomile and bring nightmares to the dreaming world. It's a simple story but the game doesn't really paste it on thickly, something to be thankful for although it does get story intense towards the end. While it does circle around Ghadius and the idea of releasing the nightmares upon the world, providing a dark theme, there's a great deal of charm and emotion that emanates from the story, especially given the way in which the game ends, and it does draw you into the game as you progress. At first, the charm may be a bit overwhelming for some and you may find it very childish in its progress but this feeling goes away quickly. It's one of those titles that many may overlook because of the child friendly visage of the graphics or the difficulty of the game which is a shame because it's a great game that should and can be played and enjoyed by all.

The game is old school platforming at its best. The only problem is that it is both incredibly short, at just about 3 to 4 hours long, and considerably easy, as you'll never feel any real challenge even from the final boss fight. These are going to be deal breakers for some who may want more of a challenge or something lengthy but if you're someone who has come off of the back of the likes of Super Mario Galaxy then this is a great accompaniment because it's short and sweet and never outstays its welcome. In terms of the in game action, as I said, it is very old school sticking to movement on a 2D plane and you'll be jumping across gaps and throwing enemies at targets to open up new areas. The ability to grab hold of enemies with the ring Klonoa carries is an interesting one and does make for some interesting platforming choices but it hasn't been taken far enough to the extent that it gives any more challenge than what is already available. It's very simple and will allow those new to the genre to have ease of access but it does have enough depth to keep those familiar to this sector of the market entertained. Just don't go into it thinking this is a Mario beater because you won't get it here. While that series has progressed and evolved through sequels and innovation, Klonoa hasn't been allowed that privilege yet but there is ample room to grow should Namco Bandai wish to further the series. Another problem for the game is that with its shortness, once you complete the game there isn't much more to come back for when finished because every unlockable is unlocked after your initial run through, and these are things like new costumes for Klonoa or a movie watcher or artwork, and so you'll only come back to the game to replay the levels but none are particularly memorable.


The game utilises a combination of control types. You can use the Wii-mote on its own, with the Nunchuk, the classic controller or even the Gamecube controller. So, any worries about the controls are unfounded because if you don't like one set up, there are 3 others to choose from and they all work equally well. The controls are simplistic to match the style of the game and so one button is used to jump, one is used to grab hold of and throw enemies and the d-pad, or analogue stick depending on how you're playing, is used to move Klonoa. That's it and apart from a small, unnecessary shaking of the Wii-mote to make a tornado, that's all that is needed. It's nice to have a game that doesn't pile on the button combinations to pull of jumps and it's something that I wish we would see more of, especially on the Wii where developers think they have to use motion gestures or all of the buttons when you really don't and this game is a perfect testament of this.


Many remakes don't undergo much of a visual upgrade for their release on the platform but this title has. The old graphics are gone and have been replaced with sumptuous visuals that are a delight to view, with the game displaying everything in full 3D but keeping the game moving on a 2D plane. The characters and environments carry so much charm and this comes down largely to their 'kiddy' image but they aren't really. The charm and emotion they exude show real maturity not only on the game's behalf but that on behalf of the developers. They haven't tried to create something that isn't possible with the Wii's hardware. They designed the game and played to the consoles strengths and everything looks great. The water effects in the levels are top notch as are the reflections and texturing on the vast majority of the characters. The levels are designed well, although there is the occasional poor design choice that'll leave people wondering what to do because it's not overly obvious and this is to do with hiding things in the background.


The game's music is in a similar position to that of the graphics: it's been redone and carries a lot of charm. It's not going to be memorable like Gusty Garden Galaxy in Super Mario Galaxy but what you get is a superb score that suits the game perfectly in all situations. You'll have to pull yourself away from the old school platforming and the great graphics to really take notice of it but when you do, you should love it. The same can't be said for the voice work during the cutscenes, with the English voiceovers being dreadful. Thankfully, you have the option to change them to the Japanese language setting and these sound much better and much more in line with the game and its context.

Final comments

When it comes down to it, Klonoa is a competent platformer that everyone should at least try. The short run time and overall easiness of the game may turn people off but if you look past that, you will get a great little title that exudes charm and emotion and will have you gripped until the end. It's not a Mario Galaxy beater and never will be but outside of that realm, it's definitely one of the finer platforming titles on the console and that budget price is perfect for those wanting something easy and not too taxing for the summer months.

Pro: Beautiful graphics and sound, carries a great deal of charm and emotion that pulls you in
Con: Very short, quite easy
Final score: 7.5


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Boxart of Klonoa: Door to Phantomile (Wii)
Platform: Wii
Genre: Platformer
Developer: BandaiNamco
Publisher: BandaiNamco