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Name: Klonoa: Door to Phantomile ('Kaze No Klonoa' in Japan)
Developer: Namco
Publisher: Namco (Japan and US), Sony Computer Entertainment (Europe)
Platform: Sony PlayStation
Genre: Platformer (Techincally 3D, but is better described as 2.5D)
Regions of Release: Japan, US, and Europe
Year: 1997 (Japan), 1998 (US and Europe)
Players: One Player
Rarity: Very difficult to find new, reasonably difficult second-hand
PlayStation Game Code (UK/Europe): SCES 00942

The original Klonoa game was released in 1997, and although it received a number of excellent reviews, Door to Phantomile remains one of those great games that nobody seems to have heard of. It was created by (the late) Hideo Yoshizawa and Tsuyoshi Kobayashi, as part of an internal development team at Namco. Although 3D in appearance, the platform game works mostly in two dimensions, the character only being able to move in one plane, but the world twisting and turning to create depth and expansiveness. Most of the characters in the game are represented with sprites, while the world is in 3D.

K:DtP is dripping in cuteness, a typical Japanese anime-style fest of lovable creatures and beautiful worlds, together with a wonderfully touching story about Klonoa and his friend, Huepow. A gorgeous FMV intro introduces us to Klonoa, who is walking through the forest one day, and hears something land heavily in the ground. It's a ring. Pulling it out of the earth reveals Huepow, a spirit who lives inside the ring. They become excellent friends, and spend all of their time together. One night, while Klonoa is asleep, he dreams about a flying ship crashing into Bell Hill, not far from his village. And one day, his vision comes to life, the ship crashing into Bell Hill, and it's then that their journey begins.

Klonoa: Wha...What's that?
Huepow: It's from Bell Hill.
Klonoa: Sounds like something crashed. It's just like my dream...
Huepow: Let's go, Klonoa!
Their lives soon become part of a epic battle between the Dark Spirit, Ghadius, the Moon Spirit and it's other allied peaceful spirits, Wind, Tree and Water. This battle has happened once before, the Dark Spirit being imprisoned by the forces of light. The Moon Spirit disappeared after this war, to try and prevent such a thing happening again in the future. Only the Wind Spirit, the Tree Spirit, and the Water Spirit can allow the Moon Spirit to return. Ghadius has now come back to seek revenge, however, with the intention of turning Phantomile into a world of nightmares.

Klonoa features the platform mechanics you'd expect from your generic 2D platformer, but adds an attack which Klonoa can use to manipulate enemies to help him progress through the game. Klonoa has a ring in which Huepow resides, and from this ring, Wind Bullets can be fired. When a Wind Bullet hits a enemy, the opposing creature inflates, and you can control it as a projectile. This can be used to fire one enemy at another, or to enable Klonoa to perform a double jump, allowing him to each higher places, as well as firing the enemy downwards. Also, if you hold down the jump button, Klonoa will flap his ears for a short time, allowing you to stay in the air a bit longer (an essential skill in the later levels).

There are a few extra tasks that Klonoa and Huepow can perform on their journey, and they come in the form of items:
  • Dream Stones
    These come in two types, green (small) and blue (large, and worth five green stones). Collect one hundred stones, and you gain an extra life. Touch them to pick them up!
  • Keys
    The generic key, allowing you to open doors that are locked, of course! And all you need to do is touch them to pick them up, and walk into a door to use them.
  • Hearts
    Hearts also come in two sizes, small and large, the small type restoring Klonoa's health by one level, the large by three.
  • 1UP
    Give you an extra life, just like 1UP's do in every other game.
  • Phantomilian Prisoners
    Captured Phantomilians can be saved by hitting the spheres they are trapped in, either with a Wind Bullet or a enemy. They have been imprisoned by nightmares, when an inbalance of the dreams of the world caused nightmares to start dreaming themselves. There are 6 Phantomilians in each Vision (level), and if you collect all of them, you will unlock a secret at the end of the game. They're hidden in numorous places, so look out for any strange activity when you're going through the different Visions. After each Vision, you will see your progress on a map in a book. The saved Phantomilians will appear on the pages, and they play a song for you. The more you save, the more complete the song will become.
  • Memory Clocks
    A fancy name for a restart point. Hit them to make them ring!
  • Ngapoko's Egg
    Surprise items await for you if you hit this egg.
Klonoa features quite a few different types of enemy, most of which derive from the the most basic of the assailants, the Moo. The basic Moo is pretty cute, just walking around and minding it's own business (ideal for you to use to destroy things, and get to higher places). Eventually, they begin to cotton on to your blatant nastiness, and start to carry around shields (hence giving you the Shielded Moo). Some go a step futher, gorging themselves on Dream Stones, making them transform into Giant Moos (who, when hit with a Wind Bullet, inflate, so you can use them as platforms). Hit one of these huge Moos with a projectile, and you'll get a shower of Dream Stones. Then you have the Armoured Moo, who is intelligent enough to realise that wearing some protection will prevent him from being used by a Wind Bullet, but happens to forget to attach the armour that well, meaning it can be knocked off by another enemy. Oops. There are also other types of enemy, some which can be used for their talents, such as Tepon, who flies. Grab him, and you begin to float up into the air, before he pops. Another is Boomie, who, after begin picked up with a Wind Bullet, begins to glow, then explodes - useful for destroying enemies at a distance, or activating switches.

Klonoa and Huepow travel through a number of locations, including the Forlock, the Tree Village; the Kingdom of Jugpot, and the Gunston Mine, leading up to the Moon Kingdom. They're all beautifully designed, and they all have impressive musical scores, which add to K:DtP's charm. You will also encounter bosses at the end of each level, usually arranged by Joka, Ghadius' evil clown-like servant.

Most of the reviews have said that K:DoP's only major flaw is the difficulty level. I have to disagree though, because the later levels require plenty of tricky consecutive jumping, and a little bit of logical thought, especially if you want to collect all the items, and finish the game fully. However, the game isn't exceptionally long, and won't pose a great challenge for a decent games player. Don't take that as a reason not to buy the game if you see it though, as you'd be missing out on one of the PlayStation's greatest games. It's a comparitively minor issue to a highly impressive title. Klonoa is one of my favourite ever games. It's story is one of the best told in a video game, and features an ending which almost brings me to tears, it is so wonderul(ly upsetting).

Reasons why Door To Phantomile is great:
It's fun, cute, playable, has a great story, a nice secret to unlock, and has one of the best video game endings ever.
Reasons why Door To Phantomile is not so great:
It's not long enough, the character sprites can sometimes look awful and pixelated, and has one of the saddest video game endings ever. *winks*

Although successful in Japan, K:DtP failed to sell well in the US, because of it's 2D-nature. This did not prevent other Klonoa games being created, however, and Namco have developed more games in the Klonoa series.
Similar games come in the form of Pandemonium!, Wild 9, and Tomba.

The UK version of the game came with a demo of Point Blank, another Namco title.

Klonoa | Kaze no Klonoa: Moonlight Museum »

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