Sunday, January 2, 2011

Klonoa 2: Lunatea's Veil

I hope everyone had a lovely time ringing in the new year, and doesn’t mind that I’m still busily reviewing video games on my movie site. Yes, while I spend the year trying to plow through as many of my PS2 games as I can to help justify upgrading to a new system by year’s end, you’re all going to reap the benefits here as I finish each game, and hopefully most will be at least as fun as this one was.

The original Klonoa was on the PS1, and employed a nice method of bring traditional 2D platforming into a partially 3D environment. Your character was still on a set track from left to right, but the graphics were fully three dimensional, and you could grab enemies and fling them at objects in the foreground and background (grabbing and throwing enemies, then as now, was your only real weapon in the game). This continues in that proud tradition, upgrading the graphics somewhat, and making the levels bigger, but retaining the same basic gameplay as before. While some may complain that the gameplay here isn’t very modern (the original was a bit stand-out for its insistence, over a year after Super Mario 64 had come out, on not being a fully 3D world like every other plat former in existence suddenly had to be then), it still works really well, so why not? It’s at its most fun when you start getting shot around the map by cannons, so while you’re flying you can see the whole level, both parts you’ve already played through, and parts still to come. It gives you a nice feeling of immersion, while letting you see just how big the levels are. Unfortunately, they decided to go a little too old school at some points, as several levels involve riding a board down water slides and ski slopes, because clearly our favorite parts of old NES and SNES platformers were the mine cart levels, but it’s not as serious an issue as, say, those damnable mine levels in Donkey Kong Country were.

To some extent that’s due to how smooth the game’s controls are, but it’s mostly just that the game is really, really easy. It’s not quite to the extent of the original, in which I went to the end boss with 99 extra lives in my pocket, but I did discover that near the end that if you start dying too often, the game will start tossing out a bunch of extra lives for you to help your lame ass out. Add to that the fact that you can replay any level you want to acquire all the extra lives you want, and you have a game where actually getting a game over screen means you should be ashamed of yourself.

That’s not to say that there’s no hard parts, but a little patience is all you really need. There’s no time limits to the levels (except for segments where something big’s chasing you or a bomb’s about to go off), so you can take as much time as you need or want to go exploring, or to solve one of the game’s many puzzles. Indeed, the puzzles are some of the most fun parts of the game, often involving trying to find the exact perfect enemy combination to blast through a barrier, or just how exactly to get up to a high platform to get at all the goodies up there. Each level (aside from the boss levels) has six doll parts hidden around them, so if you want to do more than just try to finish as quickly as possible then there is indeed at least something else to do.

Indeed, the main problem with the game is that it’s simply too short, and doesn’t have enough side stuff to extend your gaming options. There’s a place where you can do a time attack against all the bosses, and you can unlock a couple bonus levels if you can fully acquire enough of the dolls, but there’s not much more than that. With a little effort, you can have this game fully completed in one day.

That said, though, it’s still a pretty darn fun game, with some colorful (if largely incomprehensible) characters, great level design (my favorite being the Disney-ish haunted house, obviously), and excellent gameplay. If it’s just not long enough, at least it doesn’t wear out its welcome like some other games I could name. If you can find it on the cheap somewhere, by all means snap it up.

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