Don’t Dream It’s Over
HIGH Simple gameplay paired with immaculate vibes.
LOW Might be too simple at times.
WTF The menu music reminds me of the Green Acres theme.
As a gamer, I enjoy the ability to revisit stuff I missed when I was younger, specifically in the genres I love.
I don’t need to gush about platformers since I’ve done so multiple times, but I grew up playing most of the heavy hitters starring Mario, Sonic, and Donkey Kong (of course!) but the franchises that eluded me still pique my interest. Specifically, Namco’s Klonoa series is one I never got to dig into. Experiencing it mainly via YouTube videos and retro reviews, I always wanted to play through these platformers that debuted on the PSone.
Thankfully, Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series gives me that opportunity with a fresh coat of paint. Remastering both Klonoa: Door to Phantomile and Klonoa 2: Lunatea’s Veil, the Reverie Series seeks to reintroduce this underappreciated mascot to a new audience.
Both titles are platformers presented in 2D perspective with enemies, characters, and environments rendered in 3D. Players control Klonoa as he runs, jumps, and grabs enemies across two games and dozens of levels, and his main attack involves a magic ring which pulls enemies towards him. Once grabbed, he can either use them to boost himself up to high platforms or throw them at other enemies. Hell, he can even throw them towards the foreground, echoing the likes of the Yoshi games.
Gameplay is simple, as the vibe of both games seems aimed at a younger audience. That clearly extends to the stories as well, presenting very simple scenarios that involve bubbly music and adorable character designs.
Platformer diehards might lament the lack of a true challenge or dynamic gameplay mechanics, but these aren’t games about landing tricky jumps, solving a myriad of puzzles, or even collecting MacGuffins — they’re largely about the aesthetics and emotions.
For example, most of the plot in Door to Phantomile feels like it was ripped out of a Saturday morning cartoon. Klonoa is a carefree youngster thrown into a grand adventure. Throughout its fairly short runtime, players are presented understated music, muted visuals and a sense of serenity. I was in love with how gorgeous it looked, and even if the actual graphics were a bit dated, the strong art style got to me. It’s almost like watching a Studio Ghibli film that is both meant to appeal to children while still resonating emotionally with adults.
The climax of Phantomile is also one of the most emotional in any platformer, catching me off guard with a profundity that left me choked up. The sequel, Lunatea’s Veil, similarly has emotional moments while also presenting the same understated approach that isn’t often replicated in the genre.
Having not played wither Klonoa before this review, I was expecting a bubbly platformer that was a product of its time, but instead, I was floored by how beautiful Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series was, and by how strongly it connected with me on an emotional level. I hope see more of this in the genre.
Disclosures: This game is published by Bandai Namco Entertainment and developed by Monkey Craft. It is available on PS4/PS5, PC, XBO/X/S, and Switch. This copy was obtained via publisher for review and was reviewed on PS5. Approximately 15 hours were spent in both games and both were completed.
Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated E10 for Mild Fantasy Violence, Mild Language, Mild Suggestive Themes, and Use of Tobacco. The site reads: This is a collection of two platformer games in which players assume the role of a rabbit-like creature (Klonoa) trying to save fantasy worlds from peril. Players traverse platforms, collect coins and power-up items, and engage in occasional battles with whimsical enemies. Players use a magical ring to zap enemies; players also avoid being jumped on or getting hit by rocks. Boss battles contain more frenetic gameplay, with laser fire and small explosions. In one scene, Klonoa briefly shakes a cat character to make it drop a special item; the cat responds with mildly suggestive innuendo (e.g., “Watch where you’re grabbing, you perv!”). One character is depicted with a tobacco pipe in his mouth. The word “damn” appears in the dialogue.
Colorblind Modes: Colorblind modes are not present in the options menu.
Deaf and Hard of Hearing Gamers: There are subtitles for character dialogue and plenty of visual cues, though the text cannot be adjusted. Otherwise, the game is fully accessible.
Remappable Controls: The controls cannot be remapped.