Sometimes I can't remember my dreams,
though I'm sure I saw them.
Where do these dreams go?
But I remember this one dream,
as clearly as if it were reflected in a mirror...
Klonoa: Door to Phantomile is the first entry in the Klonoa series. It was originally released exclusively on the PlayStation in 1997 in Japan, with an international release following in 1998.
The game stars the titular Klonoa, a rabbit/cat-like Cartoon Creature who lives in the dream land of Phantomile. He comes across a mysterious ring while playing in the forest one day — upon grabbing it, he ends up meeting Huepow, an orb-like spirit who can go inside the ring's gem. The two quickly become close friends.
Some time later, after having a nightmare involving a ship crashing into a nearby hill, Klonoa and Huepow awake when exactly that happens. When the two investigate, they find a mysterious, sinister man named Gladius & learn of his plans: to use a mysterious Moon Pendant in order to revive the legendary Moon Kingdom and spread nightmares across Phantomile. He also intends to kidnap Lephise, a diva that is said to come from the legendary Moon Kingdom, to prevent her from singing the Song of Rebirth that would thwart his agenda.
Klonoa and Huepow, alarmed by all this, go back home to Klonoa's grandfather to ask him about the situation. Grandpa directs them to ask Granny, the chief of the heavily forested Forlock, about the penchant. Thus begins the duo's quest to save Lephise, stop Ghadius (and his minion Joka), and prevent Phantomile from falling to ruin.
The game is noteworthy for being one of the earliest 2˝D platformers, incorporating a unique mix of 2D sprites juxtaposed against sprawling, detailed 3D stages and backgrounds that twist and turn as you progress through them.
While the 1999 WonderSwan title Moonlight Museum was the first follow-up to Door to Phantomile, the proper sequel — Klonoa 2: Lunatea's Veil — would be released in 2001 for the PlayStation 2.
In 2008, the game would receive a remake on the Nintendo Wii. It updated the visuals to be fully 3D, revised the script (with new dubs spoken in various languages, alongside the Phantomilian featured in the original), introduced a new design for Klonoa, and added a few quality of life improvements. In spite of positive reviews, this version of the game sold poorly enough to seemingly leave the series for dead for over a decade.
Twenty-five years after the original game's release, it would go on to receive a HD remaster on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S and Steam in 2022. Specifically, it comprised one half of the Compilation Rerelease Klonoa: Phantasy Reverie Series, alongside its sequel. The port is largely identical to the Wii remake, but it reverts some of the changes to be more in line with the original game — including using Klonoa and other characters' older designs, sticking much closer to the original script, and reusing the PS1 version's voices verbatim.
Klonoa: Door to Phantomile contains the following tropes:
- Adaptational Angst Upgrade: In both remakes Huepow doesn’t smile at the end, instead sobbing and looking off into the distance. Word of God confirms this is more in line with what was originally planned.
- American Kirby Is Hardcore:
- The Japanese cover features Klonoa standing and smiling to the viewer at an angle. The PAL region has a 3D rendition of this pose, with the addition of the ring and Huepow. The American cover, pictured above, depicts Klonoa in a more dynamic pose, facing the viewer head-on with his ring pointed forward. Alongside showing Klonoa curiously walking through a level with a frantic Huepow.
- While the game never got much advertising at all in the US, one of the few known ads in that region is oddly suggestive, featuring a couple talking about "Klonoa" as though it were a sexually-transmitted disease. The game itself is mostly kid-friendly, so this was definitely an attempt at appealing to adults.
- Downplayed on several counts in the Wii remake.
- Namco briefly considered giving the title character a rather drastic makeover for the American release. While not exactly "hardcore", the new look was significantly less cute, looking like a generic anthropomorphic cat or a wingless bat (and omitting his Pac-Man cap). Most bizarre was that this redesign had "normal" anthro cat ears, despite Klonoa's droopy, almost hand-like ears having an actual gameplay role. After fans in the US demanded he remain cute, the game ultimately went with a design that hewed much closer to the original.
- While Klonoa's appearance still retains his cuteness from the original version, the English dub still changed his voice. In Japan, Kumiko Watanabe always gave Klonoa a childish, high-pitched voice — much like you'd expect a Kid Hero to have. The Italian, Spanish, French, and German dubs follow suit. However, Eric Stitt (Klonoa's English voice actor) was given very little information about the character and subsequently had to act in the dark. Because Stitt didn't know that Klonoa was supposed to be a child (around 9 to 10 years old), the voice he used is much deeper, teenage-sounding, and Sonic the Hedgehog-esque.
- And Your Reward Is Clothes: Klonoa gains three additional outfits upon completion of the Wii remake: his original "collar and trousers" outfit, his Lunatea's Veil outfit, and a summer festival outfit.
- Beat the Curse Out of Him: Klonoa saves the Brainwashed and Crazy King Seadoph and Queen Pamela by defeating them in battle. He exorcises Nahatomb out of Lephise's body the same way.
- Bittersweet Ending:
- On the sweet side, Ghadius is defeated and the world saved. On the bitter side, Klonoa finds out he is actually a warrior from another dimension, and Huepow had filled his head with Fake Memories so he would feel compelled to protect Phantomile. Unable to accept the truth, Klonoa says he doesn't want to go to his real home — but once Lephise performs the Song of Rebirth, a vortex opens to suck Klonoa back into his own world. Although he desperately tries to cling to Huepow, the pull is too strong and he vanishes into the portal. The very end of the final cutscene turns the less cheerful portions of the finale around to a somewhat more optimistic conclusion: the Song of Rebirth does its job and restores Phantomile back to its former glory, with Huepow wiping away his tears and smiling in the very last shot.
- The Wii remake alters the final cutscene such that it leans closer to one side of "bittersweet." Specifically, "bitter" — Hewpoe's face at the very end of the game lacks the optimism visible in the original game. Instead, he sobs and looks into the distance as the screen fades to black.
- Brainwashed and Crazy: King Seadoph and Pamela are corrupted by Ghadius, forcing Klonoa to beat the curse out of them in a boss fight.
- Brutal Bonus Level: Collecting all six Phantomilians in each level unlocks Balue's Tower, which is far more difficult than anything before it. To get through the main game, you need to use the mook-climb once or twice in a safe environment — in the Tower, though, you have to do it repeatedly and perfectly over instant-death pits, multiple times.
- Catapult Nightmare: In the opening, Klonoa has a premonition of darkness taking over the world and awakens with a jolt, only to be greeted by Huepow.
- Color-Coded for Your Convenience: In the Wii remake, characters' names are colored to represent which side they are on — blue for good, red for evil. When Seadoph and Pamela are introduced, their names are purple to reflect their Brainwashed and Crazy states.
- Cruel Twist Ending: The game's final cutscene suddenly reveals something major that turns the story on its head, ending the plot on a sour note (though, as a whole, it remains a bittersweet conclusion). Huepow admits that Klonoa isn’t really a Phantomilian — he was pulled in from another world to save Phantomile and was given Fake Memories. He is then forcibly pulled back into his own world while desperately trying to cling to Huepow (who had genuinely grown close to him).
- Crystal Landscape: The Moon Kingdom sits on (or perhaps is) a giant floating castle; many of its parts are made from crystals.
- Damsel in Distress: The Songstress Lephise is kidnapped by Ghadius in his plan to destroy Phantomile.
- Darkest Hour: After Vision 4-2, Klonoa’s grandpa is killed by Joka and the pendant is stolen, leaving Klonoa crying in grief and left wondering how to get to the Moon Kingdom.
- Dark Reprise:
- The first level's upbeat music, "The Windmill Song," is remixed into the frantic-sounding "The Ruin's Air" when Klonoa rushes home and the story's tension picks up.
- "Grandpa's Chair" gets a slower, significantly sadder-sounding arrangement as "For the Time We've Spent." Fittingly, it plays as he lays dying.
- Didn't Think This Through: Klonoa opts to leave the mysterious moon pendant with his grandpa before he heads off on his adventure. Joka comes back around for it and murders his grandpa for the pendant as a result.
- Dream Land: Phantomile, the game's setting, is a world that was created from dreams.
- Early-Installment Weirdness:
- Klonoa has six hit points in this game, whereas every game afterward gives him just three.
- Each world's boss (barring the Final Boss) is fought at the end of a regular stage. Lunatea's Veil establishes a trend of placing them in separate levels instead.
- The character designs in general are a lot more chibi than in later games. Klonoa himself, for example, is shorter and more child-like than his Lunatea's Veil design.
- The End of the World as We Know It: Ghadius's plans will result in the wholesale destruction of Phantomile.
- Fake Memories: Huepow is revealed to have given these to Klonoa so he would believe Phantomile was his home.
- Freaky Electronic Music: The impish Joka is frequently accompanied by songs with a heavy electronic bent to them.
- Downplayed with his normal leitmotif, "Joker Mood." It's a bouncy, funky, and rather off-kilter piece that fits his goofy appearances early on.
- "No Jokes Around" is an ethereal Dark Reprise of his normal theme that plays as he gets more unhinged.
- "Joker's Move" is a sinister-sounding, slightly drum'n'bass-like song that plays when he finally snaps and crosses the line from Laughably Evil to Faux Affably Evil.
- His battle theme, "Facade and Blade," starts out with Creepy Circus Music before switching to a dark techno beat (symbolic of his Villainous Breakdown).
- Happy Circus Music: "Inquisitive Waltz" is an unusual example. The music itself fits the "happy circus" mood perfectly, as a cheerful waltz on a fairground organ. However, rather than being used in any circus setting, it's only used in the "name your profile" menu when you start a new game. The beginning of the game is quite cute, so this music fits the beginning (though it gets less appropriate as the story's tone becomes more serious).
- Holy Pipe Organ: "Nevertheless," the music for the Sun Temple, is heavy on the pipe organ and church bells.
- Model Museum: The Wii remake has an unlockable Character Viewer that lets you see the character models and rotate them around. However, the latter function is disabled for the Final Boss's second form (a floating face), so you can only see it from the front as you do in gameplay.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: When Klonoa and Huepow visit the Forlock Forest to ask Granny about the Moon Pendant, she tells them exactly how one can use it to enter the Moon Kingdom. Klonoa, in turn, tells her in return exactly where it is (his house in Breezegale) and who's holding it (his grandfather). This is all heard by an out-of-sight Joka, who now knows where the pendant is, how to use it, and who to kill to get it.
- Pivotal Boss: Zig-zagged. While almost every boss arena is ring-shaped, your opponent doesn't always stay in the center:
- Rongo Lango doesn't qualify for the trope, as he actually fights you on the ring. Joka stays in the middle instead, just jumping furiously and not attacking you.
- Evil Pamela and Evil Seadoph usually stay within their ring, but you can only attack them when Pamela jumps across the ring.
- Played straight with Joka, who runs around inside the ring in his normal form, but can also assume a giant One-Winged Angel form. In this form, he stays still aside from rotating to follow Klonoa and attack him with his bladelike arms.
- Ghadius is a weird example. He is technically fought inside a ring-shaped arena — a vertical ring, in this case.
- Played straight with the Final Boss's first and third phases. The boss is too big to fit on a normal arena, so you instead fight on a ring around him. (The second phase doesn't count, as Klonoa gets sucked inside the boss and fights a smaller spirit inside him that stays in the background.)
- Averted with Gelg Bolm, Baladium, and the final boss's second form, which are fought on horizontal platforms.
- Pre-Rendered Graphics: The PS1 version had pre-rendered cutscenes for the intro, as well as the scene where Klonoa and Huepow go to Cress, and the ending. In the Wii and HD remakes, all of these cutscenes were rendered with the in-game graphics. This also goes for almost all characters in the original, who are mostly pre-rendered sprites.
- Sliding Scale of Gameplay and Story Integration: Some segregation occurs in the post-game bonus content, which effectively ignores the events of the ending. Despite the ending decisively separating Klonoa and Huepow by sending the former back to his home world, the two remain together in Phantomile for the bonus level and other extras.
- Spell My Name with an S: In the Wii remake, Joka is renamed Joker and Huepow is changed to Hewpoe.
- Sprite/Polygon Mix: The game's original PS1 version uses sprites on 3D environments. It then proceeds to make the most of this, having enemies and obstacles in the foreground and background, or paths that bent around in all sorts of directions, even looping around in some instances. Averted in the Wii and Phantasy Reverie Series remakes, which renders everything in 3D.
- Sudden Downer Ending: After the day has been saved, Huepow suddenly reveals Klonoa isn’t from this world and will be forced to go back to his own when the "Song of Rebirth" begins. Despite trying his best to stop this, Klonoa is ripped from Huepow’s arms and taken back to his world.
- Suspicious Video-Game Generosity: The unlockable extra vision hands you 9 free extra lives right at the beginning. This is the first hint that the level is far more difficult than anything else in the game.
- Take My Hand!: Happens twice near the end of the game.
- After defeating the final boss, Klonoa grabs the human Huepow's hand to keep him from falling when he reappears after apparently dying.
- A variant occurs in the last cutscene, as Huepow grabs onto Klonoa's ring in an effort to prevent him from being dragged into a portal back to his real home. It doesn't work.
- Tomato in the Mirror: It's eventually revealed that a major character's nature is completely different than what he himself originally believed. Klonoa himself turns out to be a warrior from another dimension who is brought into Phantomile to save it from destruction. All his memories and friends were just fabrications by Huepow to motivate him further on his quest, something he only admits at the very end of the game. When Phantomile is about to be cleansed from anything that doesn't belong there, Klonoa is among the things that are forcibly removed from the world.
- Truer to the Text: The Phantasy Reverie Series version of the game is based on the earlier Wii remake, but makes several changes to be more like the PS1 original (including relegating its extra health to an optional easy mode, reverting back to Klonoa's original design, and reusing the original Simlish voice acting instead of the Wii version's various dubs).
- Video Game Remake: The original PS1 game was remade for the Wii. This version updated the graphics, adjusted the gameplay to be easier, incorporated intelligible voice acting in various languages (in addition to a new voice-over in the Phantomilian language), and added some other features.
- Vile Villain, Laughable Lackey: Joka is undeniably an evil Monster Clown, but he has his comical moments (including getting sent flying with a single Wind Bullet after one boss battle). His boss Ghadius, by contrast, is an Omnicidal Maniac who's never once portrayed in a humorous fashion. This gets downplayed as the game progresses, however — Joka reveals himself to be much crueler than he first appears when he murders Klonoa's grandpa to take the Moon Pendant.
- Wham Line: During the ending, Huepow makes a statement that suddenly reveals something important about a major character, recontextualizing significant chunks of the game in the process. Specifically, he admits that Klonoa was never truly a resident of Phantomile but hails from another world. Huepow summoned him specifically to save Phantomile.Huepow: You're actually... You're really... You don't really exist in this world! I called you from your world... So we could restore the balance of dreams. It's true! This world is not your reality!
- Windmill Scenery: Breezegale, the Wind Village and first world, has a large windmill and some smaller ones in its first level. The background music is even called "The Windmill Song!"
- Womb Level: Upon finishing the first phase of the Final Boss, it swallows Klonoa whole. The second phase takes place inside its body, which resembles a hellish dimension surrounded by purple pulsating walls (with the only solid ground being a large blue cell).