Klonoa: Door to Phantomile
|Klonoa: Door to Phantomile|
North American PlayStation cover art
Klonoa: Door to Phantomile (風のクロノア door to phantomile Kaze no Kuronoa Door to Phantomile?, Klonoa of the Wind: Door to Phantomile) is a 1997 Japanese platform game developed and published by Namco for the PlayStation. The game's story focuses on an anthropomorphic creature and a "spirit" encapsulated in a ring. The game was critically praised, with high sales in Japan, but low sales elsewhere. The game was followed by a sequel, Klonoa 2: Lunatea's Veil, along with various spin-off games. An enhanced remake of the original, known as simply Klonoa in Europe and North America, was developed by Paon for the Wii and released on December 4, 2008 in Japan, May 5, 2009 in North America and May 22, 2009 in Europe. It was also released on the PlayStation Network for the PlayStation 3, the PS Vita and the PSP.
Klonoa: Door to Phantomile is a side-scrolling platform game viewed from a "2.5D" perspective. The player moves the protagonist, Klonoa, along a path in a two-dimensional fashion, but the game is rendered in three dimensions. This allows the path followed to curve and for the player to interact with objects outside of the path. The game is divided into levels called "Visions", where the player progresses by following a path with defeatable computer-controlled enemies and puzzles that must be solved. At the end of some levels, the player must defeat a boss - a powerful enemy.
The player defeats enemies by utilizing Klonoa's weapon, the "Wind Bullet", a ring that fires a burst of wind. If the wind hits an enemy, Klonoa lifts the enemy above his head. From this position, he can throw the enemy into other enemies or targets, or bounce off it to simultaneously reach higher locations and attack enemies from above. If the player holds the jump button, Klonoa floats in mid-air for a short duration, which increases the jump length. Environmental factors such as small, localized tornadoes and springboards launch Klonoa up or forward, allowing the player to overcome obstacles. In the Wii version, players can shake the Wii Remote for a 'Whirlwind' ability which can stun enemies.
Klonoa: Door to Phantomile is set in the fictional world of "Phantomile". The world is composed of five main locations; "Breezegale, the Wind Village"; "Jugpot, the Kingdom of Water"; "Forlock, the Tree Village", "Coronia, Temple of the Sun" and "Cress, the Moon Kingdom". Breezegale has a large windmill located at the center. The villagers can harness the power of the wind, and shape and process stone using concentrated air. Behind the windmill is an abandoned mine named "Gunston Mine". At the top of the mine is "Bell's Hill", which features a ringing bell to announce the time. Near the village are the "Ruins of the Wind Kingdom", an ancient site that used to be inhabited by the ancestors of an ancient kingdom in Breezegale. Jugpot, one of Phantomile's remaining kingdoms, provides the world with a boundless water supply. The kingdom's castle, "Shell Castle", has a water wheel attached to it. The "Leviathan's Ice Cavern", is a glacier path that is found between Jugpot and Breezegale. Forlock is built around a large tree. The inhabitants are known for their woodworking skills and use things such as wood, nuts, and vines as means to travel between trees. Coronia is an unpopulated shrine that floats in the sky. A creature raised by priests, "Nagapoko", resides in Coronia. Cress is a mythical kingdom that has remained hidden from Phantomile for many years. A legend in Phantomile states that "dream energy", a substance made up of forgotten dreams, is gathered there. This substance is said to be what gives Phantomile its shape and form.
The characters of Door to Phantomile are fantasy-like and speak in a fictional language unique to each character. The player controls Klonoa, an anthropomorphic creature who carries a ring-bound spirit named Huepow. Klonoa lives in Breezegale and was raised by Grandpa, the current village elder. Breezegale's Gunston Mine was led by Balue, a large man with a love interest for the mythical "singing diva" Lephise. Characters outside of Breezegale are Granny, the elder of the Forlock tree village, and King Seadoph, the king of Jugpot who protects the everlasting water supply to Phantomile. The primary antagonist is Ghadius, a dark spirit who aims to turn Phantomile into a world of nightmares. Ghadius is served by the rude and loud-mouthed Joka, a limb-less creature resembling a jester.
The story begins with the legend of the land of Phantomile, a mysterious place that is fueled by the very dreams people have at night. As a result, no one can clearly remember the dreams they have had, even if they occurred recently. However, a young cat-like boy named Klonoa who lives in the town of Breezegale with his grandfather has been having dreams about a mysterious dark airship crashing into a nearby mountain, and can recall every detail of it.
One day, a mysterious ship does indeed crash into the mountain, and Klonoa and his friend, a "ring spirit" named Huepow, decide to investigate. After fighting several small, round creatures called Moos, they reach the top of the mountain, only to find two mysterious creatures. They learn that the leader's name is Ghadius, and his accomplice is a short sinister-looking clown called Joka, and together they are searching for a pendant that holds certain magical properties. They kidnap a diva/songstress (PS/Wii respectively) named Lephise, and after returning to their village, Klonoa is told by Grandpa that Granny, living in Forlock, knows about the secrets of the moon pendant. When they are on their way through the forest, they found that the forest was withered and cannot proceed because Jugpot, the Kingdom of Water, is in trouble. They manage to rescue King Seadoph who was under Ghadius' control. However, while learning more about the pendant from Granny, Joka eavesdrops their conversation and learns that the pendant is at Klonoa's home. Klonoa rushes back home through the ancient wind pathway and ice cavern. When Klonoa is just about arriving home, Joka attacks Klonoa's house, stealing the pendant and killing his grandpa. Klonoa eventually defeats both Joka and Ghadius, but Ghadius unleashes a nightmarish beast named Nahatomb before he dies. Travelling to the Moon Kingdom, Klonoa learns that Huepow is actually its Prince, but continues to help Klonoa. With the help of his friends, Klonoa manages to defeat Nahatomb and rescues Lephise. However, Huepow later tells Klonoa that he actually came from another world and was given fake memories when he was summoned. Klonoa wants to stay in Phantomile, but when Lephise sings her Song of Rebirth to renew the world, Klonoa is sucked through a portal back to his own world.
Klonoa: Door to Phantomile was directed by Hideo Yoshizawa as his tenth project. The game originates to a project proposed by Yoshizawa. The concept had a serious story focused on robots with a motif of "ancient ruins". The idea was eventually dropped, and a more comical story was adopted. Yoshizawa was dissatisfied that many developers did not prioritize story, and wanted to create a more cinematic game. Tsuyoshi Kobayashi, main planner, conceptualized the gameplay of Door to Phantomile. He developed the idea of a fast-paced action game where the character could move and be attacked while making use of an enemy.
Klonoa and other characters were designed by Yoshihiko Arai. Arai's first design, "Shady", had a shadow-like appearance. However, he felt that the lack of color did not seem tasteful, and dropped the design. His next design was created with cat eyes and long ears, as Arai felt that a person's eyes and silhouette are the features noticed when they are first met. He added a large hat and necklace to give the character a childlike and energetic quality. The design was kept and used for Klonoa. A running aspect of his designs is the Pac-Man design on his cap.
Namco felt that the game would be appealing to a wide audience, thinking that the adventure-like aspects would be enjoyable for children and the emotional plot twists would be appreciated by adults. Yoshizawa designed the story using dreams as an important concept - "I was struck by the idea that when you wake up sometimes in the morning and you know you had a dream but you can't remember what it was, obviously the dream went somewhere, at least in my way of thinking. I thought, 'I wonder where these dreams go. What if all these dreams that are lost when people wake up but they can't remember are carried away and collected somewhere like some sort of energy?'" The characters and setting were implemented with things that Yoshizawa felt could appear in anyone's dreams, with stages appearing like pleasant dreams and others like nightmares. "We tried to imagine a dream world people could relate to from their own dreams and experiences."
Klonoa: Door to Phantomile was developed by Paon for the Wii as a remake of the PlayStation game. The game's development began after the merge of Namco and Bandai, when vice president Shin Unozawa expressed a desire to "revive the Klonoa series". Namco Bandai developers decided that a remake of the original game, in acknowledgement of its 10th anniversary, would be the best approach. The Wii was chosen to develop for because Namco Bandai felt that the console had a wide appeal, one which fulfilled the original game's premise of appealing to both younger players and adults.
The game was produced by Hideo Yoshizawa, who directed the original game. Other key members of the original development team - such as chief planner Tsuyoshi Kobayashi, visual chief Yoshihiko Arai, and sound designer Kanako Kakino - contributed to the remake to surpass the standards of the original game. The remake features a graphical upgrade, redesigned characters, updated gameplay, and remade cut scenes using cel-shaded animation. The original game features voices in a fictional language unique to each character, but these have been re-acted in Japanese - although the player has the option of hearing either. The voice actors include Kumiko Watanabe as Klonoa, Bin Shimada as Joka, Akemi Kanda as Huepow, and Yuko Minaguchi as Lephise. Many small modifications were made to the gameplay to make it "much more intuitive and easier to control", according to producer Yoshizawa. These include the speed at which Klonoa runs, the length of his shot, and adjusting the hit range of the enemies. Additions to the gameplay are centered around unlockable features, such as additional costumes and reversible levels designed for "the hardcore fans".
Namco Bandai considered a special redesign of the Klonoa character for North America, and surveyed audiences on the qualities of a potential redesign. The appearance of the redesign was panned by critics, who considered it "depressing" and compared it to "Poochie", a parody character from The Simpsons who was designed as an unnecessary change to a television show, and who embodies the idea of "jumping the shark". Due to strong support for the original design in the survey, Namco Bandai abandoned the redesign. The subtitle, Door to Phantomile, was also omitted for the North American/European release.
In 2005, Door to Phantomile was included in the PlayStation 2 NamCollection, a five-game compilation of titles from the original PlayStation released by Namco to commemorate the company's 50th anniversary. The collection was only released in Japan. In 2008, a remake of Door to Phantomile was released for Japanese mobile phones. On December 27, 2011, the original game was released as a downloadable "PSone Classic" on the PlayStation Network.
Promotion, release and merchandise
Klonoa: Door to Phantomile was publicly revealed at E3 1997 with a trailer video. Namco stated their target demographic as a younger audience, hoping the cartoon-like antics of Klonoa would appeal to children. The game was later presented at the 1997 Tokyo Game Show with game demos and an actor in a Klonoa costume. Klonoa: Door to Phantomile was published by Namco in Japan on December 11, 1997. Namco-subsidiary Namco Hometek published Door to Phantomile in North America in March 1998. The game was lastly published by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe in areas of the PAL region on June 5, 1998. These releases were separated by the languages of English, German, French, Italian and Spanish.
The soundtrack to Klonoa: Door to Phantomile was published by Nippon Crown on February 25, 1998. It consists of 68 tracks spanning two compact discs, and includes three sets of stickers. Nippon Crown intended for the soundtrack to be a selection of the most recognizable pieces, as the full score exceeds one disc, but selector Kōichirō Shigeno was against excluding pieces. Shigeno traveled to the Nippon Crown offices to compromise, and the soundtrack was eventually postponed to include the full score on two discs.
Two official guidebooks were released in February 1998. The first guidebook, produced by ASCII and published by Aspect Co., Ltd., includes an additional 18 pages of development information. The second guidebook was published by Shogakukan and includes staff interviews, artwork and a T-shirt. A manga was published by Enix on March 27, 1998. It was released as a part of 4koma Manga Theater, a Yonkoma series currently published by Square Enix. Illustrated by eight artists, the manga depicts Klonoa, Huepow, Balue and Lephise encountering creatures and antagonists such as Joka (renamed "Joker" in the U.S. Wii version) and Ghadius.
The Wii remake of Klonoa: Door to Phantomile was announced at Nintendo Conference Fall 2008 on October 2, 2008, where a software lineup video for the Wii contained footage of the game. The game received coverage in articles by Japanese magazines and websites, such as Weekly Famitsu and Dengeki DS & Wii. An official website for Door to Phantomile was created and periodically updated. Namco Bandai dedicated three kiosks to Door to Phantomile at Tokyo Game Show, with one located in a children's area. The advertising campaign for Door to Phantomile consisted of two television commercials and a radio commercial, and posters and videos for stores to display.
The original PlayStation version sold 51,441 copies during its first week in Japan, debuting as the fourth highest-selling game for that period. The sales also made Door to Phantomile the week's second best-selling PlayStation video game and best-selling Namco video game. Klonoa was awarded "Best Character" at the 1997 Tokyo Game Show by the Consumer Electronic Software Association.
The PlayStation version of the game received a largely positive critical response, earning an 87.11% average score from aggregate review website GameRankings. GameSpot gave Door to Phantomile an "Editor's Choice" award, praising its non-repetitive gameplay and pseudo-3D approach, but remarked that perspective problems sometimes made it difficult to judge the distance between platforms. The website would conclude that "only two real problems" existed - the game is "a bit too cute for its own good" and "a little short" - calling it "one of the best side-scrollers in years". IGN also granted the title an "Editor's Choice" distinction, though the website criticized the game for being too short, as well as the bosses for being too difficult. They concluded by calling it "arguably the best [platformer] on the market," and would later declare the game's ending to be the fourth best on the PlayStation.
Four reviewers of Electronic Gaming Monthly each gave Door to Phantomile a rating of 9/10, and the game received an "EGM Gold" award. The game's visuals and sound were separately rated 9/10, and its ingenuity and replay were separately rated 8/10. The four praised Door to Phantomile, calling it a "fantastic game" and a "platform masterpiece". One reviewer criticized the camera perspective, stating that it occasionally blocks out areas needed to be seen, and another criticized a lack of difficulty. They concluded that the game's best feature is its "old-school style play", and its worst is that the "childish feel may turn off some".
In 1999, Videogames.com named Door to Phantomile the 1998 Platform Game of the Year, and runner-up for PlayStation Game of the Year. PSM, an independent PlayStation magazine, ranked Door to Phantomile the 19th best PlayStation of all time in 1998, while GameSpy named it the 5th best PlayStation game in 2005. In 2012, GamesRadar placed the game 35th on its own list of the top 50 PlayStation games, remarking that "even though Klonoa was targeted more at children that adults, people young and old could appreciate the brilliant universe and unique game design".
The Wii remake received mostly positive reviews from critics, earning an 81.12% average score from GameRankings, and a 77 out of 100 rating from Metacritic. The title experienced low sales in Japan, however, debuting as the 33rd highest-selling game in the region during its first week with only 5,800 copies sold.
Reviews of the gameplay have been mixed. Weekly Famitsu felt that the game was overall enjoyable, awarding it a 36 out of 40 score and a Platinum Award, but criticised it for a lack of freshness. The magazine also felt that the graphics had "evolved significantly", sentiments echoed by Kotaku, who also praised its gameplay while criticizing the game's overall simplicity, calling it a "fairly stock platformer". GameSpot also felt the game was enjoyable, but criticised the game for being linear and easy. GameSpot praised the game for a large amount of detail, and called the environment "bright and colorful". IGN similarly praised the colours of the game, calling it "visually impressive" due to its "lush water palette" and "great water effects". 1UP.com compared the graphics to those of the original game's successor, Klonoa 2, and would later include the title in their list of the "Six Obscure Wii Games You Must Play". Editors of Nintendo Power named Klonoa as one of the 30 "Wii Essentials" in June 2012, and later ranked it as the 63rd greatest game ever released for a Nintendo console in their farewell issue the following December. GamesRadar placed the game 38th on its own list of the Top 50 Wii games in 2013.
On October 28, 2016, confirmed by Rob Pereyda on Twitter, Klonoa will be getting a feature-length anime film. Hensin Inc., the studio developing the movie, has not stated a release date yet. All that is known about the movie thus far is that it will feature a completely new story, but will be set in the same universe as Klonoa: Door to Phantomile.
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