From his first appearance in 1997, there’s always been that feeling that Klonoa would have better suited a Nintendo platform – after all, giant flapping ears and whimsical rainbow vistas sit uncomfortably alongside the Tekkens and Metal Gear Solids. As a simple bit of franchise/console matchmaking, Namco’s remake is to be applauded.
But why stem the clapping there? This is no slapdash port but a facelift that plays to the Wii’s strengths: color and solidity. The 2.5D levels (2D paths that bend and twist to give the illusion of depth) are some of the most vibrant on Wii. Whether you find yourself among rolling hills, in misted mansions or shimmering crystal palaces, the level designers play fast and funky with the surroundings, throwing in mine-carts, water chutes and blustering windmills as they see fit. Water is lusciously handled, showcased as you climb a reversed waterfall – a sight that wouldn’t be out of place in Mario Galaxy.
Not that Klonoa himself has the same energy. Namco claimed to have tweaked the character for modern times – speeding him up and tidying up some jumping issues – but he does feel a little long in the tooth. Mario Galaxy showed us how the energy of a 3D character could work in 2D confines – Mario was just as loose and limber with one dimension less to be loose and limber in. Klonoa plods a little and, while we like Namco’s confidence in sticking with D-pad controls, it really does hammer home just how far platformers have evolved in the last 10 years.
But that’s not to say that this fogey can’t teach our young upstarts a thing or two about platforming basics; Klonoa goes beyond mere run and jump. Borrowing from the Nintendo school of design, this game’s developers take a simple ability – grabbing and throwing enemies – and show how to use it a hundred different ways.