Dust off and plug in your old PS2 (you still have yours, right?) because today’s post brings childhood nostalgia back to life with the recommendation of one of my most prized and cherished games. It’s Klonoa 2: Lunatea’s Veil, and it never gets old.
Never heard of Klonoa 2? You’re not alone. The game is rather unknown, which is surprising, considering it was very well-received by game critics and users alike. It received a 9.2 out of 10 from IGN, and a 91 out of 100 from Metacritic officials and a 90 from user reviews. I am unable to decipher why exactly this game is so unknown, though I know that when I first received the game I was all too skeptical of its contents. One day at GameStop when I was 12 or 13 years old, my dad picked up a random game from the shelf and purchased it for my sisters and me without our consent. This was risky: my dad had a tendency to strike out when he purchased games with unknown title characters. My sisters and I were big buyers of Sonic, Mario, and Kirby; we had never heard of the floppy-eared, ring-bearing character called Klonoa. But, to appease our father, my sisters and I began playing Klonoa 2: Lunatea’s Veil. I’m not sure why my dad bought us the second game without us ever playing the first, but I am sure that it was one of the best decisions he ever made, game-buying-wise.
Klonoa 2 is a pretty easy game to complete – I believe it took us about 10-15 hours to get through the story mode – but I have played and replayed this game for hours at a time. Not only are the side objectives fun to unlock, but I have enjoyed replaying my favorite levels over and over again just for fun. And it’s not necessary to play Klonoa 1 before Klonoa 2. The storyline of Klonoa 2 easily stands apart on its own; to this day, I’ve never completed Klonoa 1. I found it simply did not stand up to the merits of its successor.
What are these merits? Why am I giving this no-name game such high praise? First, I will admit that the nostalgia monster is tenderly gnawing away at my heart as I write. I am indeed highly biased, as Klonoa 2 became an important part of my childhood. But I have also played many times since my childhood and I can assure you that this game has stood the test of time. Let me prove it to you with a list of reasons why I love this game, and why you will too. (For those of you who have been reading this past week, you’ve probably noticed I have a thing for lists. For those of you who haven’t, now you know.)
1. Innovative graphics and scenery. One of the most amazing things about this game are the unbelievably creative and beautiful scenes and locations, depicted (obviously) by the game’s 3D graphics. It is to my (limited) understanding that 3D games were just beginning to set sail around the time of this game’s release in 2001. IGN’s review, which is linked above, states that Klonoa 2 masterfully “use[s] 3D as a means of expanding and refining classic gameplay concepts,” something that the critics appear to appreciate; Klonoa 2 was therefore innovative without being overly experimental. Now that the game is over 10 years old, 3D games have been established as the norm in the gaming community. Compared to these newer games, do Klonoa 2’s graphics fall flat? Not at all. Klonoa 2’s graphics are unique in that they appear like a 3D cartoon. Unlike some games, with graphics that are meant to resemble reality, Klonoa 2’s graphics depict an imaginary world with a 3D view all its own. And this view is amazing. Klonoa 2 offers a diverse range of settings: an icy mountaintop, a crazy amusement park, an incredible flying arc, and a forgotten world held together by threads of memory are just a few. Screenshots may demonstrate the amazing world of this game, but playing it through offers an even more rewarding experience.
2. Beautiful and memorable soundtrack. Along with the scenery, Klonoa 2’s soundtrack is unique to the game and it will stick in your head, in a good way. (The songs are stuck in my head even today.) Sometimes ethereal, other times fun and exciting, Klonoa’s soundtrack is diverse. Each song is memorable in itself, and each song at the same time brings to life the images on the screen. I will leave this YouTube playlist of the Klonoa 2 soundtrack here, but these songs are, of course, best understood in the context of the game. When you play, you’ll know what I mean.
3. Some of the best characters out there. Design-wise and personality-wise, Klonoa 2 has an amazing cast. Klonoa himself is the silent type, but his brave and caring personality shines throughout the game nonetheless. His companions are Lolo, a sweet but insecure girl aspiring to become a priestess, and Popka, a rowdy but loyal bat(?) who just seems to be along for the ride. Klonoa’s enemies are Leorina and Tat, a mischievous duo with a special talent for always causing trouble for Klonoa and the gang. While the story and game are perhaps geared towards younger players, Leorina adds maturity and depth to the story. Tat’s flirtatiousness adds something more playful to the story as well. And some character arcs with Lolo reveal that her life hasn’t been as sugary sweet as she appears to be.
4. Addictive gameplay. Klonoa 2 is played using Klonoa’s avatar as he navigates a 3D world. His weapon of choice? A ring, in which Lolo resides. As strange as it may sound, Klonoa’s odd method of fighting and puzzle-solving is addictive and, in my experience, becomes quickly overlooked in favor of the fun and challenging gameplay. Klonoa 2’s gameplay provides challenges in the form of obstacle courses and puzzling rooms that require certain strategies to unlock the doors. In addition, Klonoa 2 is fast-paced, especially thanks to a number of surfboarding/snowboarding/sandboarding(?) levels throughout the game. Finally, boss battles can turn up the pressure, especially because Klonoa only has a maximum of three hearts in the game. Klonoa 2 is fun for so many reasons, and this game’s strange tactic of navigating the world of Lunatea with nothing but a ring soon sticks to your heart as much as the music sticks in your head.
5. A story that melts your heart in every way. Finally, Klonoa 2: Lunatea’s Veil has a unique and layered storyline, despite the short time it takes to complete the game. While IGN states that the story is silly, I find the storyline both touching and compelling, even today. As I said before, it is not necessary to complete or even play Klonoa 1 to understand the drama introduced in Klonoa 2. True, some portions of the story are outlandish, and I think a great deal of it works in the realm of the metaphor, especially concerning Lunatea’s veil. Nevertheless, the game’s many secrets, twists, and tear-jerking moments (well, the characters sometimes cry, anyway) stand out as much as the graphics and gameplay.
If you ever find yourself at GameStop, look out for a copy of Klonoa 2: Lunatea’s Veil. The game is pretty old, so it should be easy to find new for cheap, and even cheaper used. Though the monetary price will most likely be cheap, the experience of playing Klonoa 2 is certainly priceless, one that I hope you will enjoy and one that I know has branded itself to my heart forever.
Questions, comments, critiques? Let me know! And if you do play, let me know what you think!