TOKYO--The Klonoa series began more than 10 years ago, but if you've never had a chance to play as the catlike character with long ears, Namco Bandai is bringing Klonoa: Door to Phantomile to the Nintendo Wii. We had the opportunity to stop by the Namco Bandai booth at the 2008 Tokyo Game Show and run through a few levels. We found that its traditional 2D platforming gameplay in a 3D environment is easy but highly enjoyable.
We started off in the first level where we're introduced to Klonoa and his bubbly little blue friend. Enemies come in various forms, but you have to pull them toward you instead of jumping on them, which you are probably inclined to do. Holding the Wii Remote sideways, we used the 1 button to grab enemies and hold them above his head and then toss them later. You'll find yourself mostly jumping from platform to platform, using enemies to give you the extra boost when you toss them downward. The boost helps you jump higher so you can snag some hard-to-reach items. Klonoa's ears also help him glide, which will come in handy. Air currents and geysers will appear in different levels to move you to higher ground, and you'll encounter different types of enemies. Enemies that come after you with shields can't be grabbed unless you jump over them and grab them from behind.
You have a heart meter that lets you take a certain number of hits, but there are plenty of items around to collect, and the game progresses at a decent pace. As the level goes on, more concepts are explained to you, such as picking up an enemy and being able to throw it in any of four directions. Door to Phantomile is a linear platformer where you generally take a single path. However, the environments are in 3D, and you'll loop around hills and climb up steps of waterfalls so it doesn't feel like you're just moving from left to right.
The environment is bright and colorful, and the levels give off a fairy-tale feel. As linear as the game is, it feels as if you're exploring the world because it's so detailed, even though you're essentially stuck on one track. Klonoa: Door to Phantomile is scheduled to be released in Japan on December 4. We don't know if it will come to North America, but we will update you as soon as more information becomes available.