Thrown enemies can hurt, but they also give you a double jump, leading to platforming brainteasers as you ferry enemies to locations where your regular hop has let you down. As with hoarding feathers in Super Mario Bros 3 or eggs in Yoshi’s Island, you soon realize the beautiful logic that governs each of the stages.
That realization, however, is short-lived. The fact that Klonoa demands a masterful command of a simple ability is admirable, but it doesn’t push it as far as Nintendo would. There are bonus trinkets squirrelled away – six prisoners in each stage and gem criteria to meet – but these are too easily found, especially by those of us raised on a diet of Nintendo’s NES and SNES 2D mind-benders. When you face-off against a Nintendo fan you’re dealing with minds capable of finding warp pipes, invisible blocks and Star Roads. To them, Klonoa is small fry.
Strip away the gleeful visuals and Klonoa most reminds us of those late ’90s platforming efforts that took up most of the N64 pages in old gaming mags. In the wake of Mario 64 came these platform pretenders – the Tonic Troubles, Glovers and Chameleon Twists of this world. There were ideas in some of those wannabes, but they were universally too muddled or throwaway. With its solid 2D paths, Klonoa is never messy or broken, but it does suffer from the same flimsy game length (a trifling 12 stages) that so many of those titles were dragged across the coals for.
It seems so miserly and cynical to berate a game for being too short, but at just five hours long it’s at least five hours too brief. In these hard financial times, gamers are going to want a title that gives them more than a day’s entertainment for their money. In those short hours Klonoa delivers charm by the bucketload and a concentration of wonderful ideas, but then the same can be said for World of Goo and that clocks in at a whole lot cheaper and will keep you busy for much longer.
May 5, 2009