Monday, May 11, 2015

Kaze no Klonoa: Moonlight Museum (WonderSwan)

The Klonoa series is a bit of a overlooked cult classic kind of thing, but after playing the fantastic PlayStation original, I was ready for more. If you haven't played it, I highly recommend it. This sequel for WonderSwan (the Japan-exclusive handheld console by Bandai) on the other hand, while not bad, isn't exactly a must-play.
You grab enemies and use them as a double jump. This enemy is also a bomb. Wahoo!
If you aren't familiar with Klonoa games, they're cute platforming games with the gimmick of picking up enemies to use as projectiles and/or double jumps. The console games work with a 2.5D system, where parts of the side-scrolling level cross over each other and enemies can be thrown into the foreground or background. The handheld entries in the series, of which Moonlight Museum is the first, don't have that extra 0.5D and instead are purely 2D like games of old. They also focus more on puzzles than platforming, though there's still some of the latter.
Some vertically oriented levels use the Wonderswan's gimmick of being able to be played sideways.
The basic story of the game is that you have to collect parts of the moon in the various exhibits of an art museum. The story is all in Japanese, but it doesn't seem like there's a whole lot to it that you'll miss anyway. Each of the five worlds take place in different kinds of art: inside a painting, sculpture, photograph, manga, etc.. Unfortunately, even though the worlds are introduced as such, these creative level themes aren't even noticeably represented in the levels themselves. While the levels don't look bad, they're all just generic aesthetically and musically which is a real missed opportunity. The music especially, which isn't usually a huge deal, is noticeably boring, repetitive, and uninspired, and since there's only one music track per world, it really detracts from the game. I should note, though, that some voice clips from the original are present in this version, so you can expect to hear some surprisingly crisp "wahoo"s from Klonoa as you play.
Switches and blocks. Whee. This level is supposed to be manga-themed.
As for the gameplay, rather than simply getting to the end of levels, you'll be searching for three moon shards in each level which unlock the exit. Some levels also have keys which you need to progress as well. And, optionally, there are thirty collectible trinkets in each level which unlock extra hard bonus stages if you get all of them in a world. Generally, your progression through the levels will be tied to solving platforming puzzles by using enemies and movable blocks to your advantage. The core gameplay is good, fun, and fairly original.... sort of. The problem is that while the gameplay could be fun and engaging, the level design is so mindnumbingly easy and uninspired that the game's potential is hardly explored. Unless you're five years old and this is your first video game, you'll most likely be able to solve all of the "puzzles" without even taking a second to think. In the entire game, there were probably only three puzzles that I didn't solve instantly. I don't normally give games too much grief for being easy - Kirby games are some of my favorites after all - but somehow Kirby manages to be easy and fun, while Klonoa: Moonlight Museum just feels like a drag.
You can watch my entire playthrough of the game above.
The Final Word:
Moonlight Museum isn't a bad game, it's just not a good game. It may be the most painfully average game I've ever played. It continually misses its potential by doing a poor job of showcasing its gameplay in its level design, by having boring music, and by having generically themed levels in spite of the promise of art-themed worlds. If you're a fan of the series or if you're a child who has never experienced solving a puzzle or if your only console is a Wonderswan, this game might be worth checking out. For everyone else, just go play Klonoa: Door to Phantomile for PS1 which actually is a really good game.

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