Klonoa: Door to Phantomile

   13/10/2008 at 08:37       Phil May       6 COMMENTS.
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Platformers - did they ever go out of fashion?

Though the great game buying public seems to have fallen out of love with the humble jump-and-collect-em-up, if you're picky about it some of the greatest games of all time have been platform games in one guise or another. Take Ico, spoken of in hushed reverent tones but definitely showing off a serious platformy game mechanic at times. And Shadow of the Colossus too? Again, clambering all over those giant creatures feels like you're negotiating a living breathing platform surely?

Then there's all the resurgence of interest created by LittleBigPlanet (but we'll save eulegising about that for another time).

It would appear that Namco think the time's right to reintroduce gamers to one of their much maligned and misunderstood heroes, the odd-looking mutant cat-rabbit hybrid Klonoa. This time they're tentatively dipping a toe in the water with Wii owners but let's hope that the timely "re-imagining" of the first Klonoa hit (for the PS1), "Klonoa: Door to Phantomile" gets a swift conversion to other platforms because a lot more people deserve to play this than just Wii owners.

Oo-Fah?

Klonoa: DTP is a seriously cute romp. Skipping past the sugar laced and entirely unfathomable cut scenes, you're hurled straight into the action and what you get is a serious old-skool style 2D platformer dressed up to the nines in luscious 3D visuals. The majority of the action happens side-on but now and again tween-level bits are fully realised in 3D and twist the camera angles (and your platform-puzzle-solving brain) around till your head spins.

The action in KDTP is a little bit more involved than the usual platform staple of collecting bright shiny objects for scores. Klonoa is armed with a magic ring (steady) which can affect certain objects in each environment. The ring can do everything from triggering huge landslides to opening doors or affecting the nasty denizens of the world of Phantomile.

Y'see it's that last point - using the enemies to your advantage, that picks Klonoa out of the morass of scores of other platformers you could name. Some enemies can be held, inflated, and used to navigate tricky gaps or high platforms. Others can be used as walking bombs, primed then triggered to blow holes in doors. Namco were at the top of their game when it came to level design in KTP and its absolutely fantastic (and much sought after) sequel, Klonoa 2: Lunatea's Veil which is still one of the best games you can play on the PS2 if you're lucky enough to track down a copy.

Wii go boing!

Thankfully no one at Namco saw the need to muck about with the control system of the game and it doesn't sacrifice itself on the altar of waggledance. It's a straight up crosspad and jump-button affair and that's seriously all you'll need to enjoy the game's subtle nuances and satisfying amount of depth. Couple all that with some of the trickiest boss baddies to ever grace a platformer and you're seriously in for a treat.

No news has been given about pricing for this, but given that the game's 11 years old and if you're clever enough, you can pick up a copy of the PS1 classic for peanuts (forget the PS2 sequel, it's as rare as rocking-horse dung) it should retail quite cheaply.

If you've never encountered Klonoa's heady mix of straight-talking platform action suffused with brain-mangling puzzles, then this will be a serious treat.

Just a damned shame it's on the Wii. Ah well, guess I'd better get the duster out again.
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