We recently had the opportunity to test out the playable demo of Klonoa 2: Lunatea's Veil for the Sony PlayStation 2. Developed by Klonoa Works, one of Namco's internal teams, the game is the sequel to the PlayStation action title Klonoa: Door to Phantomile. The game's graphics incorporate the now trendy cel-shading effect, which is referred to as "toon shading" by Namco. But eye candy aside, how different is the new Klonoa from previous versions of the game?
The playable demo featured two stages - Sea of Tears and Jungle Slider. The Sea of Tears stage brings back memories of the first Klonoa. Despite the enhanced graphics and use of toon shading, the basic gameplay elements remain the same. You control Klonoa, who has the ability to capture enemies with his rings. Once captured, these enemies can be thrown at other enemies or used to jump higher. The game is still essentially a 2.5D action game - you move from one side of the screen to the other on a 2D rail in environments expressed in 3D.
On the other hand, the Jungle Slider stage is more like a snowboard-type game, where Klonoa is on a surfboard sliding down a river. Though you can still capture enemies with your rings, you will be more focused on dodging obstacles and enemies while the stage scrolls on its own - almost like a 3D virtual ride. One section will remind you of the scene in Sonic Adventures where Sonic is being chased by a gigantic whale that is destroying the wooden bridge behind you. This stage seemed to have a few problems, such as uncomfortable camera angles and a little bit of slowdown in certain areas.
The use of cel shading definitely enhances the game's appearance. Perhaps because the game is still in development, there is a distinct lack of lighting in the environments, which makes the colors more subdued than they should be. The game has not dramatically changed from the first title and should not be considered the next Mario or Sonic Adventure. Perhaps fans of Klonoa will be pleased to hear that it is the same game they know and love.
We'll see what the final product will offer when Klonoa 2: Lunatea's Veil for the Sony PlayStation 2 hits store shelves in Japan this March.