Klonoa deserves better. A creature of indeterminate species wearing a Pac-Man baseball cap and with ears with hands on the end, he starred in a couple of brilliant PlayStation games before being lost down the back of the mascot sofa. Well, he’s back. Or, rather, Namco Bandai has finally remembered what he’s good at, after a few average handheld titles and the head-slapping misfire that was Klonoa Beach Volleyball. His first adventure’s being remade for the Wii, and it’s looking – wait for it – phantastic.

Little seems to have changed from the original. It’s still a disarmingly simple platformer, involving jumping, enemy manipulation and little else. Rather than tacking on ill-fitting motion controls or imbuing Klonoa with a load of extraneous abilities, Namco Bandai have wisely concentrated on tarting up the visuals instead. The end result is beautiful, with crisp graphics and well-defined sprites making the constant perspective changes easier to digest. Stages weave in and out of three dimensions, kind of like a platform rollercoaster.

The original title was spectacularly easy to plough through; the real challenge, and fun, lay in tracking down each collectable in every stage. It was a lot like Yoshi’s Island: enemies were merely fodder for your abilities, rather than any sort of serious threat. Klonoa’s ring is called a Wind Bullet. It sucks enemies in, before blowing them back out. You can chuck enemies into each other to destroy them. Alternatively, bounce off them to gain a bit of extra height. We haven’t seen evidence of any Wii-specific stages so far, but we’re holding out hope.

Klonoa, criminally ignored back in 1997, has been given a well-deserved second chance at stardom. Even if this version ends up offering nothing new, it should still be one of the best – and purest – platformers that we’ve seen in ages.

Jan 16, 2009