We recently got our hands on a playable demo of Klonoa 2: Lunatea's Veil, the long-awaited sequel to Namco's memorable PlayStation platformer. Judging from the two levels we got to play, Klonoa 2 seems to be essentially the same game as its predecessor. As Klonoa, you prance around visually resplendent worlds and trap enemies with your magic rings. When you capture an enemy, you can either hurl it at other creatures or use it to propel yourself into the air. Klonoa also has a normal jump at his disposal, and once in the air, he can maintain his altitude for a short time by feebly flapping the wings on his head. From what we've seen so far, the control scheme is identical to the first Klonoa's, aside from two commands, which trigger animations whose uses are unknown at this point. One of them causes Klonoa to idly toss his ring up in the air and catch it, while the other has him perform a slight twirl when in the air.
Graphically, though, the game is in a whole different league. The style is definitely Klonoa's own, but the level of polish has increased immensely. All the characters are lightly cel-shaded, and the same bright primaries and muted pastels permeate the environments. Subtle particle effects are sparingly used, though; when present, they blend perfectly with the game's environments.
The first level in the demo is pure Klonoa. It's replete with multileveled platforms, semihidden paths, out-of-reach power-ups, and cleverly stylized enemies. The level proudly displays the game's 2.5 design, masterfully altering the camera's perspective to give the impression of a three-dimensional world. Set, initially, on stormy cliffs overlooking a sea, the stage is a visual treat. Waves swell violently in the background, and strong rains fall, granting the environment a very stirring, yet surreal mood. The second half of the level takes place within a cave, complete with rickety suspension bridges, crystalline growths, and bottomless pits. A series of cannons scattered around the stage blast Klonoa into new areas, accompanied by a dramatic camera shift, which depicts him scrambling in midflight.
The demo's second level is a bit of a departure from the standard gameplay of the last game. In this level, Klonoa is mounted on a board, and he must safely traverse a stretch of river replete with obstacles. Though he is constantly in motion, Klonoa can still use his rings to capture enemies and access all the rest of his abilities. And while there's a whole lot of platform-jumping going on, during some stretches of this stage the game switches to a 3D-type mode in which Klonoa can maneuver accordingly. One instance in particular resembles the whale-chase scene in Sonic Adventure: Three giant, and presumably carnivorous, fish are chasing Klonoa, and you must learn their dive patterns in order to avoid them. The controls in these moments are very responsive and serve as a testament to Klonoa's adaptability. We can only expect to see more instances of this type of gameplay when the game is released.
So while the demo was rather short, it did give us the assurance that Klonoa 2 is in good shape and will be something to look out for, once its release date nears a bit. Currently, the game is slated for a July 2001 release.