Klonoa returns to the Game Boy Advance with his simple yet fun gameplay motif, but its recycled game elements are still welcome.
Players of any past Klonoa game will immediately understand how Dream Champ Tournament will play. Once again, game players take control of Klonoa, a black and white fluffy-eared unlikely hero. Like Klonoa games of the past, Dream Champ Tournament also has a slightly ridiculous, but mood befitting storyline. Klonoa receives a mysterious letter that transports him directly into his land’s tournament of champions. The idea of the game is to become the number-one hero of the land by beating out other heroes.
Klonoa 2 is a wonderfully balanced platform puzzle game. Unlike the run and jumping goodness of such classic hits like Mario or Sonic, Klonoa is about reaching the end of each stage by conquering a string a puzzles. The game’s simple controls and gameplay structure will allow anyone of any age to pick up the game and hop right in. Though at first it might seem limiting, Klonoa has basically only two moves: jump and windbullet. The windbullet is a ring that allows the player to pick up objects and enemies. Once an object or an enemy has been picked up, Klonoa will have the ability to jump again after his first initial jump. This double-jump feature is one of the biggest puzzle-solving elements in the game. Figuring out how to get a block from one side of a level to the next while grabbing other enemies is a common puzzle theme.
Just like the previous Klonoa game on GBA, Empire of Dreams, players must collect three stars in each level before the exit door is unlocked. Thankfully, the game’s pace is set appropriately. The first few levels will hold the player’s hand, while later stages will boggle and frustrate gamers’ minds. To help explain the full extent of the game, gameplay hints and strategies can be read in almost every level. These hints will tell the player everything from how to play the game, to what is going to happen in the next level.
Side-scrolling levels make up the bulk of the game, but there are a few extra set stages that will break up any repetition. Forced scrolling levels, boss battles, and new snowboard-like stages take place within each of the game’s worlds. Unlike the boss battles of Empire of Dreams, Dream Champ Tournament’s can sometimes be a little tricky. Most stages in the game will be completed without losing a life, but the boss battles will most definitely suck up a few extra lives.
The snowboarding stages are one of the biggest new editions to the game. Unlike the fast-paced side-scrolling snowboarding stages of Empire of Dreams, players will now race in a more 3D Mode7 mode. With the camera positioned behind the player, racing takes place somewhat similarly to any Mario Kart game. This new form of play is a welcome edition, but the play control is a little too touchy. The player can only move left and right, not up and down, but each tap of the D-pad will move Klonoa a little too much. However, once the player becomes accustomed to the icy controls, the next snowboard-type level will be anxiously sought after.
The game’s engine has been ported over from the previous Klonoa GBA game. The graphics, while colorful and vivid, will leave players wanting a little more visually. Just like Empire of Dreams, if 2 ? D effects (as in the SNES’s Yoshi’s Story) were implemented, the game could have granted a more wholly enjoyable experience. However, this game was actually made about a year after the first Klonoa title, which was released shortly after the launch of the GBA. The American market has seen this game released now because Namco just felt like it was the right time. But even though the graphics engine looks like something seen upon the launch of the system, players will still appreciate the bright colors and solid Mode7 effects. The music is also largely run-of-the-mill and (still) fits just like any other Klonoa game. However, Klonoa’s yelping will grow annoying if the game is played for extended periods of time.
This second Klonoa game on GBA does not bring anything new to the table. In fact, the only difference is the Mode7 snowboard stages. The newly designed stages will give any fan of the series what they are looking for, though – and that’s a solid platform game. Even though this game was made a couple of years ago, platform fans will appreciate the simplistic but thoughtful level design. The game may look like a launch title, but the graphics are still above par for most GBA offerings. If GBA owners are looking for a solid and structured platform game that mixes in a perfect amount of puzzle elements, then look no further than Klonoa 2. And if Klonoa 2: Dream Champ Tournament leaves you wanting more, then look out for a GBA copy of Empire of Dreams or Klonoa 2: Lunatea’s Veil (PS2).