Mario. Crash Bandicoot. Sonic the Hedgehog. In a more just world, Klonoa's name would share the love of gamers everywhere. Sadly ignored by console gamers and overshadowed by other, more flashy mascots, this is your chance to get to know Klonoa on the GBA. Klonoa, a furry, bipedal creature with huge ears that can flap and allow him to extend his jumps, must solve the mystery of why people's dreams are being hijacked, turning them into monsters. His powers are simple, consisting mostly of jumping and flapping, but he can fire "wind bullets" which allow him to capture an enemy, jump, and then throw the enemy down to get extra height. Set up as an adventure such as a Crash or Mario title, the game really is a series of puzzles. As you advance through each of the 40 levels spread evenly among 5 worlds, you get slowly introduced to new switches, movable blocks, and throwable creatures, each with their own unique effect on the game environment. Even better, the levels are set up so that you will master basic techniques with the new switches, etc., before forcing you to really think how they need to be used to accomplich your goals. It is possible to mess things up so as to make a given puzzle impossible to solve, but a "retry" option remedies this and the frustration is limited as each level is split into many screens, so you always go right back to the puzzle you were solving. In the end, you're generally looking for 3 stars to open the a door to advance, and locked doors will force you to find some keys to even obtain the stars. The first 4 worlds are pretty easy, but expect a severe taxing on your brain and thumbs in the 5th world. The monotony in each world is broken up as 2 of the 7 regular levels in each world are special, one with Klonoa riding a jetboard, and another where the screen constantly scrolls, forcing you to advance or perish if the scroll catches you. The 8th level is always a boss, none of which is too difficult. The game never reaches greatness in any aspect, being pretty much always very good. The soundtrack could've used another anthem to play along to. The controls are simple, and the use of wind bullets is even somewhat forgiving, as far as the leeway granted on whether they hit the target or not. This game is a great introduction to the world of Klonoa. It's a recommended title, and may leave you looking for his console titles in the bargain bin of your local game store.
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