You'll be sucked in...
Overall 7.50
Klonoa is a “Dream Traveller”. What this means is he’s sort of like a cat with long ears which he uses to fly short distances. Which means he’s something like a chicken. A cute, cartoon chicken that looks nothing like a chicken. He has a Pac-Man baseball cap and is really quite adorable.
His companion is a floating water balloon called Hewpoe who talks like a desperately adorable Macaulay Culkin when he still had some innocence about him, and plays with Klonoa when you stand around doing nothing. It’s only a few hours into the game before Klonoa’s grandfather is killed in brutal fashion by Joker (not from Batman) in a violent terrorist bombing. He should surely have been vaporised, but luckily he’s still alive.

In great pain; slowly dying, but alive. He survives just long enough for the clichéd last words. Klonoa is in tears. Adorable, GameCubey tears. Hewpoe apologises in his childish voice, and then it’s back on the road again, and it won’t be long before the story becomes even more insane. It’s a wonderful mixture of cutesy graphics and absurd, hilarious and totally out of place darkness. All set to upbeat electronic tunes that set the mood nicely; or do the opposite! Either way, really. It works.

This is lucky because the game starts off slow. The level design is very by the numbers, though it’s always engaging due to the pseudo-3D which later on in the game leads to large, expansive levels where in the background you can see where you have been, or where you are going. It works wonderfully as an aesthetic, but as a gameplay mechanic it is never fully explored.

In fact the best designed levels towards the end of the game feature it the least, instead focusing on accurate and tense jumping puzzles where you might find yourself jumping to and from platforms just small enough for Klonoa to stand on, while several enemies are converging on you—but that can be used to your advantage for another way that Klonoa sets itself apart is that Hewpoe (or Klonoa’s ring depending on your perspective) sucks up enemies and fills them with air. He can then use the puffy enemy as a jumping pad to execute a double jump which can of course be followed by Klonoa flying with his ears.

It’s a simple three step program that’ll have you drunk with fun when it’s taken advantage of, but this is far too infrequent. The game’s difficulty curve is so lethargic that by the time you do reach the challenge of the last few levels you may well not be prepared! Okay, that’s something of an exaggeration, but the rest of the game does almost feel like a tutorial for the climax of events. If there were another five hours of gameplay on the level of the last few levels then Klonoa would probably be regarded as a classic rather than a cult classic.

However all is forgiven when one plays the bonus level. It takes the excellent mechanic of sucking in enemies and uses it every way it possibly can. You’ll be jumping from formation of flying enemy to formation of flying enemy and all done in a life or death situation above pits of seething lava. One missed jump, or one missed enemies and you’ll be restarting from the previous checkpoint. It’s head and shoulders above everything else in the game, and does in a way rub in the lack of ambition present elsewhere.

Sometimes the controls don’t feel entirely responsive; but it’s somewhat hard to tell whether that’s the fault of the game or the Wii-remote. When executing a jump, sucking in an enemy then jumping again and gliding you’re pressing a, b, a, then holding a and it just doesn’t feel fantastic on the Wii-remote if you’re playing with the Nunchuk. This is probably somewhat due to the fault of the controller; if these were on face buttons it’d probably be a lot harder to mess up, but now and again you do feel as if you’re not getting the timing you should.

Of course you can play with a classic or GameCube controller, or with the Wii-remote held SNES style. But because I’m cheap the classic controller is out of the question, plus the length of GameCube controllers make them rather impractical, especially now that everything is cordless so you may well not have your Wii set up close to the TV, and I don’t want to develop arthritis so I’m afraid I was stuck with the Wii-remote/Nunchuk combo.

Oh, and the voice acting…if you’ve got a sense of humour you’ll love it. Its ridiculousness fits perfectly with the story, but if you’re one of those cold hearted bastards who hates everything corny and over the top then you’ll probably want to cut off your ears. I, on the other hand turned the volume up.

My condolences to Balue. Lephise is cold.
Posted by Foolz Mon, 04 Apr 2011 13:17:28
Mon, 04 Apr 2011 23:12:38
Excellent review that I agree with 100%.
Tue, 05 Apr 2011 11:00:03
Thank you sir!
Sun, 08 May 2011 04:20:14
Vade -- what controller did you use for this game? I am thinking either GC or Classic for my play-through.
Sun, 08 May 2011 07:49:07
Wiimote sideways, worked fine.
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