June 30, 2009

Namco’s Klonoa series of platformers has always had a small but devoted fan base.  Critical success and little promotion have led to a continuation of this all-too-common situation. With this remake of the PS1 original, it certainly has had little fanfare. Has the series retained its charm and quality?

In a word, yes. Klonoa‘s 2D gameplay is retained now down to the last detail, even with the transition to full-3D graphics from the original’s hybrid scheme. The mechanics aren’t terribly innovative. Klonoa jumps, hovers, grabs and throws enemies, and…not much else. These moves were conceived in the mid-’90s mascot-fest era, so this isn’t surprising, but for that time these are much less gimmicky than they could have been. There are only a few hours of gameplay in Klonoa. There are time trials and such to try to add replay value, but none of this is really compelling. Thankfully, Namco priced this remake at $30, and that feels like the sweet spot for this one.

The presentation is a bit painful, though. The voice acting is worse than Sonic, and the storytelling moves just a bit too slowly, making players impatiently hit buttons between levels in attempts to skip it. The graphics aren’t stellar, but the team focused on making it run at 60 frames per second, and that seems to be the case.

Klonoa is definitely geared towards a younger demographic. Levels are not very challenging, and everything looks a lot like a show for children. That isn’t to say that older people won’t enjoy it; they will, but this isn’t for those looking for a Mega Man-style challenge. This fits in better with games like Kirby, where the fun isn’t tied to a feeling of accomplishment.

The Wii is getting a lot of remakes recently. Some bemoan the lack of originality, and that’s true, but it’s hard to argue with getting a sort of “greatest hits” system that has decent versions of almost every great game ever, and the system keeps getting closer to that goal. Klonoa isn’t going to convert anyone who disliked previous titles, since it’s a bit short and a bit easy, but it just might introduce a great series to the new, young generation.

ESRB: E10+– This should probably be just E.  It’s fine.

Pros: Fun; tight controls
Cons: A bit short; cutscenes are obnoxious

Score: 4/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.