Review by Nando_X
"Platforming Heaven on the Playstation"
I have finally finished playing this game and it was an absolute a joy to play. If you are a fan of Anime or just a fan of Japanese oddity then you will appreciate what this game has to offer.
This is a platform game in 2.5 dimension. 2.5 because it is 3D in environment with 2D sprite characters but, much like Crash Bandicoot games, you are locked on a specific path that you don't have a lot of freedom to explore.
Some of you 3D enthusiasts might find this limiting but trust me, the emphasis with this gem is on gameplay and the 2.5 dimensional environment allows the game to be challenging without it being confusing or overly difficult.
Your character is Klonoa who looks kind of like a cat/rabbit that walks on two legs. He/She (for simplicity sake I will refer to it as he) has long floppy ears and a Pacman logo'd hat. He can jump and hover briefly in the air. He has a large ring that encases Huepow, his new found phantom-like friend, who can inflate enemies. The gameplay may sound strange but once you're into it it becomes sheer bliss.
Like many great games it is easy to play but difficult to master. Somebody should patent that sentence because I've seen it so many times in reviews of really good games. But I digress, the game starts out quite easy but really warms you up to a nice hot challenge towards the end.
Namco really serves up a nice variety on gameplay which really tests your reflexes. This game harkens to the old skool days of Super Mario Bros. This is probably the best game of it's kind (and there aren't many) on the Playstation as far as fun gameplay and wacky style is concerned.
The graphics are a mixed bag. The 3D environments are colourful and the sprites are beautifully designed and animated. The only problem is that, like in Xenogears, when the sprites enlarge or shrink they become very pixelly and ugly. Asides from this minor shortfall, the design of the characters is top-notch. I am not any kind of authority on anime but Klonoa and company have style oozing out of their cute little behinds.
The Moon city or whatever the level is called is appropriately sparkly and mysterious, Gradhius (did I spell that right?) is an appropriately evil looking antagonist. Which brings me to another excellent facet of this game.
The characters are very well rounded out for a platforming game. A lot of them have little secrets about them that you find out at the end which make their goals seem actually realistic. I have never cared so much for a platformer crew like this in my life. I don't even know why. The friendship that grows between Klonoa and Huepow is strong.
The story is tinged with mystery and tragedy. I may be reading into it too much but you can't help but shed a little tear when tragedy strikes. The story is appropriately hokey but it is well told.
The voices are wonderful. They speak a gibberish that defies comprehension save for the sub-titles that clue you into what's going on. Huepow has a helium filled voice that may grate on your nerves but I found it hilariously cute.
The cuteness in this game may turn the testosterone charged gamers off. This is not a blood and guts game by any stretch of the imagination. However, this is a kitten with a whip that doesn't let up until the end and even then it serves up even harder challenges. It seems easy and friendly at first but the enticing gameplay will keep you entertained. Stick with it and you will have an imense feeling of accomplishment when finishing the game. I know I did.
I love this game for what it is, a symbol of Japanese ingenuity. One day historians will look on the legacy that is Japanese video gaming and marvel at its brilliance. I definitely recommend you buy this game if you can find it. It sells for deservedly high prices on ebay because unfortunately it did not quite make the ''best seller'' club.
This is a shame because like many sleeper hits this game deserves far more recognition than it deserves. The great thing is though that Klonoa is living on both through the Gameboy Advance and PS2. I look forward to inflating with Klonoa and Huepow very much.
Enjoy the game if you have the good fortune to find it!
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 06/01/02, Updated 06/01/02
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