Gameplay, Story and Value:
For all intents and purposes, Klonoa is an extremely straightforward 2.5D platforming game. You run left and right and only have two buttons: one to jump and one to grab enemies. It’s what Klonoa does within its simple framework that makes it special. The game never tries to be too clever for its own good, instead just giving you the tools you need to solve whatever problems it throws at you and letting you figure it out for yourself.
As this is a platformer you’ll be spending most of you time running and jumping through stages, however that’s not all Klonoa can do. Using the Square or Triangle button you can grab most enemies and throw them as either projectiles or launch them downwards to perform a double jump.
As the game goes on the platforming gets trickier and trickier, and you’ll be forced to use all the techniques you’ve picked up along the way, often in rapid succession, in order to survive. At the end of every other stage you’ll fight a boss. At first these encounters are relatively easy, but by the end you’ll be thankful for all those extra lives you’ve (hopefully) been accumulating!
Luckily, you can save your progress to your memory card so you never fall too far behind if you fail, nor are you forced to complete the roughly 4.5 hour campaign in a single sitting!
The story is… a bit obscure… but what counts is that they make a genuine effort to tell it while never getting in the way of the gameplay itself. The dialogue is all well written and localized and manages to be very entertaining. All the while you’re treated (subjected?) to hypercute Japanese sound bits from the characters that help add to the storytelling. For what seems like a very lighthearted game, there were actually a couple moments in the story that hit pretty hard, and ultimately it all came together to form a very complete experience.
Presentation, Music and Sound:
Between the bright colors and the excellent environment design, Klonoa is an excellent looking game. Sure, 90’s polygons are 90’s polygons, but it have enough of its own style that the visuals always manage to pop in some way or another. Every stage has a unique visual design, and I never lost track of things in the blocky/blurry graphics as I tend to do in some PS1 and N64 games. There are also a smattering of pre-rendered cutscenes in the game which don’t exactly look stellar, but are definitely appreciated and frankly unexpected.
The music in the game is pretty good, though hardly memorable. It fits perfectly in game but beyond that it’s not something I’d be able to identify. The sound effects are equally adequate, though the voice snippets are a welcome touch.
Fun / Afterthoughts:
I’m genuinely surprised with how much I liked Klonoa, especially considering how I’ve felt about other platformers I’ve played on the console so far. The game was an enjoyable experience from front to back and in spite of, or perhaps because of the sometimes frustrating difficulty escalation towards the game’s end, I left feeling very satisfied.
I don’t know that I’d pay the $100+ asking price for a physical copy of this one, but it’s certainly worth grabbing on PSN. I’m also pretty excited to play the PS2 and GBA games, both of which are later in the project!