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Is it possible to be so cute, it kills?

You know how every generation of consoles carries with it an underdog? One of those games that is so good, you'll remember it for life. A game so genre defining, so polished, and so fun in every way that your blood seethes at the fact that you are one of only a few people who have even heard of the game let alone experienced it. This is one of those situations. Klonoa 2: Lunatea's Veil, a text book example of underdog, is one game of many in history that never got its due.

Sequel to 1997s Klonoa: Door to Phantomile, Lunatea's Veil star's its titular character finding himself in a world of joy that is slowly being taken over by sorrow. Joining up with newfound friends Lolo and Popka, Klonoa sets out to save Lunatea from its impending doom. I'm going to be honest, if there is anything wrong with the game's story, it's the overly bearing cute factor. The only problem to be found with the game in its entirety is it's almost too cute for its own good, almost making it seem childish to an extent. Fortunately, even with the E rating, Klonoa 2's plot is a tale that can never be written off as a mere kiddy game. The well written dialogue and spectacular direction of the story keep you genuinely interested from beginning to end. Klonoa's story uses a mix of distinctly Japanese plot elements such as religion, spirituality, prophesy and corruption in a way not dissimilar to an anime movie or OVA. This family friendly approach to storytelling keeps it understandable to kids but keeps anyone older interested with its deeper elements.

The visuals aren't exactly bad either. As a matter of fact they're pretty damn impressive. The game uses a unique blend of CG and cel-shading which, combined with the vibrant color scheme and quirky art design, makes for an in game world oozing with creativity at every turn. From the stellar level design to the environmental and character detail, Klonoa 2 is definitely one of the most artistic games of this console generation.

The audio stays just as tight as the rest of the game. The voice acting used to deliver the dialogue along with the subtitles make the cutscenes feel like a high quality anime movie. Surprisingly though, the biggest attention grabber is the soundtrack. The addictive tunes of the game are always well placed and a pleasure to listen to.

Klonoa 2's true crowned jewel is the gameplay experience. Klonoa 2 is a 3D platformer that actually feels like a platformer. Unlike most platformers today that require you to collect items, kill enemies escort NPCs and several other tasks, this one uses the simple concept of surviving, solving puzzles, and getting to the end of the level. This may be a result of the 2.5D design but I give credit for its genre defining gameplay none the less. Klonoa can run, jump, and even hover like some platforming heroes before him but the most unique mechanic of the game is his ability to shoot wind bullets out of his oversized ring. Wind bullets are energy bolts that inflate enemies and reels them in to be carried overhead like a balloon. While carrying an enemy overhead you can destroy oncoming enemies by throwing the inflated enemy into them, destroying them both, you can throw enemies at targets in order to solve puzzles accordingly, or throw them downward to perform a double jump. Different enemy types with different effects depending on how they are utilized once captured also help mix things up. And while the challenge remains steady the learning curve is almost nonexistent. After taking a few minutes to get the hang of things, the any game overs are purely a result of your own skill. It all works in perfect harmony.

Overall, Klonoa 2 is an outstanding example of how art and the video game medium can work as one. The game is a little on the short side, it can probably be beaten in 20 hours or less, and it can be a little bit easy as well, but if you can put up with the length and cutesy atmosphere, you'll find yourself popping this one in for years to come. We need more games like this in the industry.

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