Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series Review: Time Travel Is Real And This Game Proves It

As soon as Klonoa’s main menu music filled my ears, I was no longer a 27-year-old games journalist reviewing a remaster of a cult classic. I was sitting in my childhood bedroom, way too close to my CRT TV, PS2 controller in hand, looking at the adorable cat rabbit thing and giggling stupidly at the silly sounds he made. Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series perfectly captures the essence of the original Klonoa games. This double-remaster barely changes a thing, and that’s what makes it both so wonderful and just shy of perfect.

I played Klonoa 2 to death as a kid but the series seems to have passed a lot of people by. Even at TheGamer, many hadn’t heard of it before I expressed my desire to review the remaster. Turns out it's a bit of a cult classic – you’re either a diehard fan or you’ve no idea what the hell a Klonoa even is. This remaster is for those of us who can still hear his giddy duperedeh as they read that nonsensical word.

Phantasy Reverie Series puts a new coat of paint on both the main series entries, Klonoa: Door to Phantomile and Klonoa 2: Lunatea's Veil, released on PS1 and PS2 respectively. You know how you remember games being a lot prettier than they really are? Well, these 2.5D puzzle platformers look just as amazing as I remember – developer Monkey Craft has managed to deliver a perfect piece of nostalgia, which is no easy feat.

The levels are laid out identically, with the same puzzles, collectibles, and enemy placements as before. I’ve always preferred Klonoa 2, and that’s been the case with these remasters as well. It’s got a more coherent story, better level design, more varied gameplay, and tougher puzzles. The Door to Phantomille remaster has been given just as much love, though, bringing these two games closer to par with each other than ever before. I can’t emphasise enough how much these remasters take me back to a bygone era of gaming. Every single audio cue brings me such child-like glee.

However, the issue with the faithfulness of these remasters is that all the little quirks and issues from the originals are back. Want to shoot a wind bullet at an enemy even slightly uphill? Tough luck, that’s gonna get bounced right off the ground. Also, the muddled boss and character designs in Door to Phantomile return. They look like random characters thrown in a world together rather than pieces of a coherent whole. This isn’t the case in Lunatea’s Veil, but it causes an asymmetry in how much I enjoy them visually.

I can’t tell if I love or hate these quirks. On the one hand, they transport me back to the earlier days of game design, when characters could just be a collection of absolute weirdos and no one would bat an eye. On the other hand, it’s frustrating when I get hit because an enemy is one pixel above me. On the other other hand, I do remember these games being punishing when I was a kid, requiring good timing and providing me with tons of brain-teasing puzzles, so the remasters are keeping true to the originals.

Both games still play amazingly, with tight controls, challenging puzzles, and unforgiving platforming sections that required me to chain together moves like a Cirque du Soleil aerial performer. It’s immensely satisfying when I successfully grab a Moo, throw it below myself to leap into the air, grab a flying Moo, turn and grab another, then do Klonoa’s cute ear-wiggle hover move to barely get onto a ledge. Annoyingly, Klonoa’s movement in Lunatea’s Veil feels slightly slower than in Door to Phantomille, especially when he’s holding something. This takes some getting used to and is the sort of thing that I wish had been adjusted rather than kept as was.

Despite keeping gameplay and level design identical, there are some welcome quality of life upgrades that have been added to the remasters. During cutscenes you can press R1 to fast forward or hold options to skip them entirely – really handy when you’re replaying levels to grab missed collectibles. There are also difficulty modes to choose from that make the game a little easier and more accessible by adding infinite lives and allowing Klonoa’s wind bullets to travel further. There’s also a pixel filter that’s been added via the games’ options menu. While it works well for Door to Phantomile, giving it a real PS1 vibe, it feels incredibly out of place in Lunatea’s Veil, which didn’t have pixelated graphics even back in 2001. It’s likely just been left in because why not?

if you’re expecting completely remade games, this isn’t the remaster collection for you. But if you want to relive your childhood memories and frustrations with Klonoa, the Phantasy Reverie Series is the way to do it. Getting two cult-classics in one is a fantastic deal, and if you can look past the quirks and situate yourself firmly in 2001, you’ll find these games just as perfect as you remember them. And if you missed out on the Klonoa hype as a kid but enjoy early 2000s platformers and want to see what all the fuss is about, there’s no better time to dive into the dream than now.

A PS5 review code was provided by the publisher for this review.

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