When you come to the PlayStation Classics, you can be pretty sure that the games you are learning about are actual classic games. (Unlike that PlayStation Classic, which seems like it may be dealing with the consequences of its limitations lately.) But let’s think about more pleasant things, like the stuff PSOne Classic dreams are made of. Time to think back on a simpler time, the sort that gave us a game like Klonoa: Door to Phantomile. Turn on that PlayStation 3, PlayStation Portable, or PlayStation Vita! We need to visit an old friend again.
What Dreams May Come
What happens to the dreams people have? Klonoa: Door to Phantomile suggests there is a place for them. Phantomile is a whole land run by the good dreams everyone enjoys. Unfortunately, events are transpiring to change that, which would have a detrimental effect on the worlds. Ghadius wants to use the legendary Moon Pendant to allow darkness and nightmares to take over. Fortunately, Klonoa, a character that Bandai Namco swears is just a cat with long ears, and his Ring Spirit friend Huepow are there. By visiting important people in the world, they might find a way to defeat both Ghadius and his minions.
What’s great about Klonoa: Door to Phantomile is how well it holds up. This is due to the nature of this platformer’s stages. It is a 2.5D game, which means you are running along a set path that you are viewing from the side, but everything around you and the characters are in 3D. It makes things a bit more forgiving than other 2D or 3D games from the same time period, due to the stylistic direction and character designs. It also helps that the levels have these different layers to them. When you go through the stage, Klonoa sometimes has options. You can choose where he goes, offering a bit of replay value if you choose to return. Plus, needing to know exactly how to jump or use enemies to reach new collectibles or locations keeps you on your toes.
Okay, this next couple of paragraphs is going to involve spoilers and it is going to get deep. You’ve had your warning. Ready?
Klonoa: Door to Phantomile is an unexpectedly heart wrenching game. We know that Phantomile itself is a sort of dreamland, which Klonoa has been summoned to save from Ghadius. And he does do that! He keeps the land from being overrun by nightmares. But, after he does, he learns that everything is a lie. We can’t trust things in dreams, after all, which means you can’t trust things in Phantomile. Klonoa learns all of the memories he has from the beginning and outset of his adventure and the friendships he thought he had were all a lie. He isn’t from this world. He was a stranger brought to it and given this false history to act as its savior.
It is devastating. Not just because we watch this adorable mascot character endure all of this to learn it was false, but because we were fed the same lies. We were misled, too. Klonoa: Door to Phantomile is great about making you care about the characters and their plights. Then, it just punches you in the gut by confirming that even though you went to all this trouble, you weren’t really part of it. You don’t even get a proper goodbye in the end. Instead, you watch a devastated Klonoa being torn away from Huepow.
Let Nostalgia Open the Door
Klonoa: Door to Phantomile is a cute, charming, dramatic, and dare I even say fluffy platformer from Namco’s good old days. It is the sort of game we don’t really see the company make anymore. Which makes it all the more welcome when you can make time to explore Phantomile again. The best part is, this game is available as a PSOne Classic in every region. It costs $5.99 on the North American PlayStation Store, £3.99 on the European PlayStation Store, and ¥617 on the Japanese PlayStation Store.