Klonoa might not be a household name, but its supporters swear it’s one of the most innovative platformers out there. Loaded with a surprisingly deep story (one you wouldn’t expect out of game about a cat fighting balloons) and a unique gameplay twist for the genre, it has become a cult favorite. Despite that, Klonoa has never gotten the spotlight that mascots like Mario, Sonic or even Crash Bandicoot have, with its only mainline titles being featured on PlayStation, PlayStation 2, the Nintendo Wii (via a low-selling remake).
That is, until now.
Despite the fact that the series has been collecting dust for over a decade, Namco Bandai is bringing him back once again for a new generation with Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series. This new entry is a compilation remaster of Klonoa: Door to Phantomile and Clone 2: Lunatea’s Veil with quality of life updates and reworked visuals. It’s obvious that platformers have made resurgences in a big way this past decade with faces like Crash Bandicoot, Ratchet, and more getting new games. So why did it take so long to get a Klonoa resurgence?
In an interview with Ryo Ishida, Producer of Klonoa Phantasy Reverie SeriesI asked just that and got his thoughts on why now’s the right time to revisit two underappreciated titles.
The last time we met up with Klonoa’s feline hero was on the Wii with Klonoa. This remaster released to critical praise but was a commercial flop, earning it a hidden gem label. Afterward, the series went dormant for nearly 15 years. Under the guiding eye of Ryo Ishida, the series is now returning just in time for its 25th anniversary.
“As this year marks the 25th anniversary of the Klonoa IP series, and since there is not a new game in the series that has been released since 2008, this time we are presenting Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series,” Ishida tells Digital Trends. “By including the two games that represent most of the Klonoa IP in this remastered version, we hope new users enjoy the games’ appeal.”
Of course, bringing back Klonoa isn’t easy money — it’s not exactly a bankable franchise. Ishida told me that there were some nerves coming into play at the thought of getting these old titles into the hands and hearts of new players. As with any re-release of a beloved game of this caliber, the main goal isn’t to get pre-existing fans to fall in love again, but to capture those that haven’t been properly introduced in the past.
“There were definitely some nerves since there are a lot of existing fans for the IP,” Ishada says. “We also needed to present the game to new players in the current generation, so we have to create a quality game that satisfies both audiences.”
While bringing Klonoa to a new generation wasn’t an easy task, Ishida and Namco Bandai felt it was one worth taking. In fact, Ishida says that one of the main goals was to bring the past platforming icon to all six current-gen platforms with the intention to spread and promote the appeal of the Klonoa IP to everyday users as much as possible. Ishida believes that the series is still unique enough from a gameplay perspective that players on any platform could appreciate it.
“The biggest feature of Klonoa is the side-scrolling platformer action, but how Klonoa differentiates from its competitors is the 3D-interactable and stylized map, and the deep and diversified gameplay with the simple core mechanic of grabbing and throwing enemies,” Ishida says.
Another thing that separates Klonoa from its competitors is the surprising depth of its narrative across games. As a child and even up to now as an adult, the stories of the Klonoa games are some of the best in platforming. For fans, these stories are a huge piece of what makes these games such gems, especially because of the fascinating contrast between its dark themes and cute, cuddly hero.
“Despite the cute and bright appearances of the game, 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 alongside the stages, as well as the unpredictable climaxes in the story.”
Remakes are always a good start, but I couldn’t help but ask if a proper sequel might be on the horizon after the release of Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series. And while we have no solid answer just yet, Ishida’s answer gave me a bit of hope that there could be a great future should this new release see success.
“I could not say for sure, but we would like to focus on spreading the IP once again with the remastered version,” Ishida says. “If the reaction from the community is good, there might be other remastered Klonoa games we could propose as well!”
Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series launches on July 7 for PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch, and PC.