KLONOA Phantasy Reverie Series Demo
WAHOO! (Please Buy My Game)
February's Nintendo Direct revealed many titles for the Nintendo Switch, one of which was a surprise title almost no one expected. A remaster of Klonoa 1 and 2 was announced under the title Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series. What was even better was that the remasters were expected to release in Summer 2022 across all major platforms. With the release two weeks away, surely there'd be something like a demo to hype up the remasters, right? Fortunately for old and new fans of Klonoa, there is! Unfortunately, it's only available in Japan and Asia regions!
Thankfully, this new generation of gaming has made it easier to play region-exclusive titles and enjoy their benefits. As shown in our first impressions of Super Robot Wars 30, it's easy to create an account to access any region's eShop. To access the Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series demo, a Japanese account is more than enough. On the Japanese eShop page, the game should be one of the featured titles, meaning curious players won't have to look far. After selecting the bottom option, the demo will download once you exit the eShop.
The Klonoa Demo Doesn't Require Understanding Of Japanese
Here's the neat part. The entire demo is in English because the game sets the language depending on the account's region. Using my US region account made English the game's main language, which further begs the question. Why isn't there any demo for the US region? Even better, why is there no mention of the game at all on the US eShop? Bandai Namco had already confirmed the game will be digital only in the US, which is a bummer because I looked forward to owning a US physical copy. Good thing sites like Play Asia had always pulled through.
Beginning with the main menu, players can choose between the two games. Klonoa 1 features the entirety of Vision 1 while Klonoa 2 features La-Lakoosha, the game's second level. While I felt the latter was an interesting choice as Sea of Tears is iconic as the game's opening level, La-Lakoosha is one of my favorite levels of the game. But I'm getting ahead of myself. All good underrated series has an origin and we'll begin with Klonoa.
Everything About Klonoa: Door To Phantomile Is Remade
This didn't hit me until I noticed the intro cutscene to Klonoa: Door To Phantomile was entirely remade with the in-game engine as opposed to the original's FMV sequence. While it doesn't have that same pull as the original did, I'm aware this is peak nostalgia speaking. The original PlayStation simply did not have the capabilities to provide what the remaster does here. I hadn't played the Wii-remake of Klonoa, so everything I mention will be specific to the original PlayStation.
Everything about the game feels as close to the original as possible, which is a great thing. It reminded me of the year 1999 when I first discovered Klonoa and Ridge Racer Type 4. Nothing was compromised and the updated 3D graphics is like a fresh coat of modern paint. Don't get me wrong, the original Door To Phantomile certainly holds up to this day. What doesn't hold up well is the "pixel" options meant to emulate the original's graphics. A game that features predominate sprites against a 3D background was a marvel back in the late 90s. Attempts to replicate that feeling with full 3D graphics are flattering, but come out a jumbled mess.
Easy Mode? Sure Why Not?
Certain camera angles also provide greater insight into what's going on in the introduction. In the original, a ship crashes into the Bell Tower, which prompts Klonoa and his partner Huepow to investigate. In the remaster, Lephise is shown piloting the ship as it spirals out of control into the bell tower, making the scene flow naturally. Other scenes such as the introduction to Balue and the story of Lephise, play out similarly to the original.
New to the Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series is an "Easy" difficulty and optional tutorials. The former takes a page out of Crash Bandicoot 4's book by offering infinite lives, reduced damage, and an increased attack range for Klonoa's main attack. The normal difficulty plays as one would expect from the original titles. I never considered both games to be difficult so I was comfortable playing under "normal" difficulty. The tutorial system covered every major thing in Klonoa's arsenal as it would come up, making it perfect for first-time players.
The Sound Is Close To Being Nostalgic But Not Quite
Both Klonoa and Klonoa 2's soundtrack is entirely redone to be as close to the originals as possible. The sound effects are also great although they aren't an exact copy of the original. While I felt they were a bit off at first, taking off the rose-tinted glasses made me accept the new changes. When I played Klonoa 2, memories of La-Lakoosha came flooding back. Back then the only access I had to a PlayStation 2 was at a friend's house and I would play the demo on repeat until I eventually had a PS2. Then, I'd have a friend come to my place and we'd take turns playing each level, passing the controller upon death. It was an innocent time and the music remained a staple in my memory.
So when I heard the theme for La-Lakoosha once again, I got emotional not gonna lie. The remaster captured those memories perfectly and somehow captured Klonoa 2's aesthetic with the same engine. Both games couldn't be any different from each other, yet despite having the same graphic engine, each game felt unique. Klonoa in both games move and behave differently, the enemies appear different, and a different shading is used. The ugly pixel shader is also an option here, but thankfully it's not required.
Klonoa's Demo Proves That MIracles Do Happen
Honestly, if you would have told me that Klonoa was making a comeback a year ago I would have laughed in your face. Clearing the demo took around a half-hour, faster if you breeze through it. Already I want more and after playing the demo I'm convinced. No, this is not a dream, pun intended. This is real. There's a Klonoa remaster that stays true to the originals as possible and it's right around the corner. My appetite for an underrated platformer series isn't sated, but I'm happy to see things are going smoothly for Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series.
The Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series releases on major platforms on July 8th.