I still had more to say about Klonoa than I was able to say on my Rambley Bits posts. The subtitle-less (at least in America) Klonoa game for the Wii is a remake of Klonoa: Door to Phantomile for the Playstation. I have never played the original version, but from what I understand, the only substantial change is the significant graphical upgrade. Instead of 2D sprites on a 3D background, the graphics are now much improved full 3D, though the gameplay remains mostly 2D. It is a slower paced, more thoughtful New Super Mario Bros. and Klonoa makes better use of 3D space.
The slower pace is what really differentiates Klonoa from other similar platformers. The difficulty in Klonoa, such that there is, generally lies not in reaching the destination but in figuring out how to reach it. It is not generally that difficult, though. Klonoa does find some interesting and creative uses for the games central mechanic. That mechanic is the ability to grab enemies and throw them. You can use them to take out other enemies, hit switches, break obstacles and double jump. While the game is on a 2D plane, enemies can be thrown out toward the screen and in away from it, giving the game some 3D sensibilities. The most important use of enemies is the double jump, which is needed to pass many obstacles.
Klonoa gives the player a very constrained move set; just run, jump and the already mentioned enemy grabbing, but has cleverly designed levels to make full use of those limited skills. Each of the games dozen or so levels take about twenty minutes to complete and really make the player think about different ways to use Klonoa’s skills. This design keeps the game from having the delightful variety that the Mario Galaxy games have, but in some ways it makes for a better game. Klonoa is a tight, focused experience that fully explores one mechanic. The game is much smaller than some others, but it more tightly designed. The difference between Klonoa and Mario is the difference in ordering an entrée at a restaurant or getting the buffet; with the entrée you get a perfectly portioned, well-cooked single food, where buffet you can have a wide assortment of foods, but not all of them are going to be delicious. Of course, must of the food on the Mario buffet is delicious.
One may notice that I completely ignored the story of Klonoa. I had heard that the ending was somehow moving and elevated the game, but to be completely honest, I was so annoyed by the cutscenes that I ended up skipping most of them. The ending might be touching, but I could not bring myself to care. Still, Klonoa is a game that deserves more attention and praise than it gets. Every release in the series seems to have gone ignored by the gaming populace at large, and that is a true shame. It may only take 4 or 5 hours to beat, but Klonoa is one of the best designed games on any system.