Klonoa may not be a household name, but its supporters swear it’s one of the most innovative platform games Outside. Loaded with a surprisingly deep story (one you wouldn’t expect from the game about a cat fighting balloons) and a unique gameplay twist for the genre, it has become a cult favorite. Despite this, Klonoa has never received the limelight that mascots like Mario, Sonic or even Crash Bandicoot have, with the only main titles seen on PlayStation, PlayStation 2, the Nintendo Wii (via a low-selling remake).
That is, until now.
Despite the series gathering dust for over a decade, Namco Bandai is bringing it back one more time for a new generation with Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series† This new item is a compilation remaster of Klonoa: Door to Phantomile and Klonoa 2: Lunatea’s Veil with quality of life updates and reworked visuals. It’s clear that platformers have made a resurgence in a big way over the past decade with faces like Crash Bandicoot, Ratchet and more getting new games. So why did it take so long to get a Klonoa revival?
In an interview with Ryo Ishida, producer of Klonoa Phantasy Reverie SeriesI asked exactly that and got his opinion on why now is the right time to re-watch two underrated titles.
Return of a king
The last time we met Klonoa’s cat hero was on Wii with clonoa† This remaster was released to critical acclaim, but was a commercial flop and deserved it a label with hidden gems† After that, the series went inactive for almost 15 years. Under the guiding eye of Ryo Ishida, the series returns just in time for its 25th anniversary.
“As this year marks the 25th anniversary of the Klonoa IP series, and as no new game in the series has been released since 2008, this time we present Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series,” Ishida tells Digital Trends. “By including the two games that make up the bulk of the Klonoa IP in this remastered version, we hope new users will appreciate the games appeal.”
Of course, bringing Klonoa back isn’t easy — it’s not exactly an affordable franchise. Ishida told me that there was some nerves involved at the thought of getting these old titles into the hands and hearts of new players. As with any re-release of a much-loved game of this calibre, the main goal isn’t to make existing fans fall in love again, but to capture those that haven’t been properly introduced in the past.
“There were definitely some nerves because there are a lot of existing fans for the IP,” says Ishada. “We also had to present the game to new players in the current generation, so we have to make a quality game that satisfies both audiences.”
A unique taste in a new era
While bringing Klonoa to a new generation was no easy task, Ishida and Namco Bandai thought it was worth the effort. In fact, Ishida says that one of the main goals was to bring the platform icon of the past to all six current generation platforms with the intent to disseminate and promote as much as possible the appeal of the Klonoa IP to everyday users. Ishida believes that the series is still unique enough from a gameplay perspective that players on any platform would appreciate it.
“The biggest feature of Klonoa is its side-scrolling platformer action, but what sets Klonoa apart from its competitors is its 3D interactive and stylized map and its deep and varied gameplay with the simple core mechanics of grabbing and throwing enemies,” says Ishida. †
Another thing that sets Klonoa apart from its competitors is the surprising depth of story in games. As a kid and even as an adult right now, the stories of the Klonoa games are some of the best in platforming. For fans, these stories are a big part of what makes these games gems, especially because of the fascinating contrast between the dark themes and the cute, cuddly hero.
“Despite the game’s cute and bright look, the deep and contrasting story was something I personally resonated with,” Ishida says. “I hope new players experience the depth of the action and enjoy the great adventures of Klonoa that take place offstage, as well as the unpredictable climaxes in the story.”
Remakes are always a good start but I couldn’t help but wonder if a good sequel is on the way after the release of Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series† And while we don’t have a solid answer yet, Ishida’s answer gave me a bit of hope that there could be a great future if this new release were successful.
“I couldn’t say for sure, but we’d like to refocus on IP distribution with the remastered version,” Ishida says. “If the community response is good, there may be other remastered Klonoa games we can suggest as well!”
Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series launches on July 7 for PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch, and PC.