Klonoa on Switch is Klonoa (but now on Switch)
After nearly 15 years of lying dormant, Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series reintroduces the classic 2.5D platforming franchise for a new generation, and thanks to a recent Japanese eShop demo, we’ve been granted an early look. Phantasy Reverie Series remasters the Wii remake of the PlayStation original Klonoa: Door to Phantomile and the PlayStation 2 sequel Klonoa 2: Lunatea’s Veil, placing them in one neat, convenient package. After spending some quality time with the three levels available in the demo we’ve pulled seven takeaways that will hopefully shed some light on the upcoming collection.
1. What’s Old is New Again
Personally, I have no previous experience with Lunatea’s Veil, but I can say with confidence that Klonoa: Door to Phantomile plays almost identically to its predecessors. Klonoa’s moveset is the same, the layout of the levels is the same and even the music is the exact same OST from the PS1 and Wii versions. Any difference to the core experience is essentially imperceptible. That’s not a bad thing at all as Klonoa plays just as brilliantly here as he did over a decade ago. Instead what Phantasy Reverie Series offers is a snazzy new coat of paint and some peripheral features such as redone tutorials, a tweaked localization, and difficulty options.
2. High Definition
The visuals are the star of the show as these remasters are the first time we’ve seen Klonoa in HD. The underlying core is decades-old and there is a budget feeling to the final result; that said the art direction is still strong and the return to a bold colorful saturated look is much more fitting over the greyish dull presentation of the Wii remake. And a special mention should be made for Klonoa’s character model returning to his original design and proportions in Door to Phantomile. Unfortunately, the pendulum occasionally swings too hard in the opposite direction. At times the lighting leans too bright as overexposed highlights and harsh bloom effects become overwhelming. There’s also a pixel filter option that gives the game a lo-fi crunchy look that is little more than a cute novelty. Overall though, Phantasy Reverie Series achieves a pleasant workmanlike upgrade over the original releases.
3. Targeting 60 FPS
Phantasy Reverie Series runs well on Switch but not without a couple of hitches here and there. From our testing of the first game in docked mode, we have determined that the framerate hovers around 50 frames per second for regular gameplay at times hitting 60 or dipping into the high 40s. Framerate fluctuated the most during cutscenes depending on what was on-screen. There are noticeable frame dips so keep that in mind if you’re sensitive. To my eyes, they did not detract from the experience so your mileage may vary. Of course, this is also a demo of what is likely an earlier build of the game and might not be wholly accurate in portraying the release day experience.
4. Tips Galore
A lack of tutorials was never a weakness of the original games but Phantasy Reverie Series goes out of its way to spell out gameplay elements and mechanics in detail and makes them easily accessible via the pause menu. This is great for newcomers and younger players going on their first Klonoa adventures but should probably be left off by platforming veterans since the tips might spoil the solution to beating bosses or getting past minor puzzles.
5. Easy, Normal (and probably Hard)
At the outset of the demo for each game, you are presented the option of either choosing the Easy or Normal difficulty. Easy mode increases your max health to five hearts, reduces incoming damage, provides you with infinite lives, and extends the reach of your Wind Bullet (the mechanic that grabs and inflates enemies). Normal mode keeps your health at three hearts, limits you to a finite number of lives, and maintains the reach of your Wind Bullet from the original Playstation releases. Players can freely swap between these difficulties on the fly in the options menu so there's room to play around and find the difficulty that suits you best. Officially released screencaps reveal a third Hard option but this was not available to us in the demo.
6. Co-Op? Not Quite
Technically speaking, Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series qualifies as a co-op game. Though the word ‘technically’ is doing a lot of heavy lifting in that sentence. With a second controller connected, a second player can occasionally press A to give Klonoa a super jump. That’s it. That’s the entire mechanic. This is a holdover from the original release of Klonoa 2 that is now featured in both games (because why not?). The most noteworthy thing about it is just how unnoteworthy it is. However, I was able to pull off what would have been an otherwise impossible jump with it so maybe it will have its very niche use cases.
7. Klonoa 2 Rereleased for the Very First Time!
Back in 2001, NextGen magazine reported that Namco was planning on porting Klonoa 2, among a number of other titles, from the PlayStation 2 to GameCube. Though this port was never officially announced, the other ports were eventually released leaving many to believe that the GameCube port was started internally and ultimately canceled due to the poor sales of the original game. Despite the remake of Door to Phantomile on Wii and the PSN rereleases of the Playstation original, Klonoa 2 has never seen a release beyond the Playstation 2. In a way, Phantasy Reverie Series fulfills a long-forgotten dream, finally making Lunatea’s Veil officially available after over 20 years to both a Nintendo audience and beyond.