When asked to round off some of the greatest games released on the original PlayStation, the usual names tend to make an appearance: Tekken, Crash Bandicoot, Gran Turismo, Metal Gear Solid, Ridge Racer and so on. However, there were some excellent titles that for one reason or another didn't get the attention they deserved and ended up lost in history as the great PlayStation games that sank without a trace: Jumping Flash, Pandemonium, Tobal No. 1 and the like (look them up if you haven't heard of them - they're ace).
Klonoa: Door To Phantomile was very much in the latter camp. Anyone who played it would agree that it was one of the best platform games to appear on the console, yet for some reason it was never well received outside of Japan and the majority of today's gamers never got to enjoy it. If you're part of this large group of people, this is your chance to put things right.
Klonoa on the Wii is essentially a graphically-enhanced remake of the original. It's a side-scrolling platformer where you take control of the titular Klonoa, a cat-like lad who dreams about an airship crashing into a mountainside. The next day, that very thing happens so he decides to head off to the mountain to investigate just what's going on.
What's New, Pussycat?
Despite the game's basic structure being 12 years old now, Klonoa still feels relatively fresh, probably because the whole '2.5D platformer' genre never really took off. The game's also been given a visual polish, with lovely cel-shaded graphics that really give the feeling that you're playing a cartoon. It's literally the only thing that's been changed though. The soundtrack is identical, the levels are identical... basically, it's exactly the same PlayStation game we fell in love with over a decade ago, just with a lovely graphical update.
The actual gameplay itself is solid too. As a platformer it's got some fairly heavy gravity, which we've always preferred to the 'floaty light' nature of some games. As a result the game feels pleasingly chunky to play and it's much more satisfying when you land a particularly tricky jump.
As a hero, Klonoa is pretty weak. He can't jump very high and he doesn't have any effective attacks - not even the classic 'jump on the head' technique. Thankfully, he's equipped with the Wind Bullet. This is a ring that he can use to fire wind at enemies (not in that way, you filthy beggars), pulling them towards him and letting him carry them above his head. While carrying enemies, Klonoa can use them to either improve his attack (he can chuck them at other enemies or throw them at items to break them open and get the goodies inside) or greatly enhance his jump height (by using the enemy as a springboard to double-jump off).
This means if you want to find secret areas and free all of Klonoa's mates you shouldn't just plough through enemies, but make sure you make use of their ability to let you double-jump in order to reach previously inaccessible areas. It's a nice way of using in-game enemies to add a level of strategy and puzzle-based gameplay.
Don't get us wrong, there's nothing truly remarkable about Klonoa. It's not one of the best games ever made and it's never going to make anyone's 'top ten' list. It's just a very well put-together platform game which doesn't have any real negatives. It's fun, it's uncomplicated, it's charming and it's challenging without being too frustrating. Simply put, it's a harmless, fun platformer (if a little on the short side) that gamers of all ages can enjoy without being bogged down with complications. It's a nice change of pace.