Playing through Klonoa.

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Hi! On a beautiful trip to a couple of video game stores in Pittsburgh, I happened to score two used Wii games — neither of which are actually, y’know, rare or anything — Klonoa, released in 2009, and de Blob 2, the MAYBE (I have yet to play it) inventive platformer that pretty much tanked developer Blue Tongue. I liked the first one, so I’m sure I’ll like this one, too.

(Insert three sentences in which I explain that I had already owned Klonoa back when it was released but traded it in because I’m a total buttface.)

Klonoa is a special series for me. It or Pandemonium kickstarted my whole love affair for the 2.5D platformer, a bygone relic of the late 90s, and I tend to say Klonoa to strangers (this subject always comes up so naturally!!!) because no one likes Pandemonium, at all. (I enjoy it, shhh.) I was maybe twelve or so when I rented the original game for the PSX, so it holds some nostalgic memories of me being entranced by its very Japanese gameplay. It is a slow-paced, beautiful platformer, and my goard look at all of the things you can walk around and in and through!! Actually, as is obvious, it’s hard to explain what really makes Klonoa work the way it does for me… it just does, and I hope to be able to get there someday.

Which means, pretty much, I’m going to dedicate the next month or so to all of the Klonoa games — including the PS2 sequel that I might have played a minute or two of at best. Even on this rinky dink site that probably accrues about 10 hits per month, Klonoa deserves some exposure, because it’s so little loved and unheralded and that makes me kinda sad.

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Review: Bonk’s Adventure

Bonk’s Adventure is about a caveman with rabies.

Every time he dies, he foams intensely at the mouth.

It comes from a time when mascot platformers were required to make both companies and customers happy, and also from a time when games were rather difficult. Things change; the genre of choice is now FPS for everyone (but me, although I am interested), and games get easier by the day.

Playing this title is a welcome return to the days of my youth. Hours spent in front the television on lazy, sunlit Saturday mornings, usually a Genesis or NES controller in hand. Moments of awe whenever I found a new secret area. The inexplicable feeling of genuine happiness upon stumbling on a new secret in an old school platformer still resides in my bones, for I felt it many a time in Bonk’s short Adventure.

Gameplay involves slowly running left to right, and sometimes right to left. Instead of usual platform tropes, you use your only move — head-butting, naturally… you are a caveman (with rabies) — to one up the plethora of enemies you will encounter. Level design starts off feeling uncreative, but then takes interesting left turns; at what appears to be a dead end, you must head-butt the head of a giant dinosaur to have him eat you. The next level takes place inside said dinosaur’s body. Neat!

Whenever you “bonk” any enemy with your head, the bad guy will fly into the air and usually dispense something along the lines of uncooked meat or fruit. Apparently, those two are somehow interchangeable.

Digesting two pieces of uncooked meat makes Bonk go from sickly, yours truly pale to one really red dude. I think this might have something to do with the dangers of consuming E. Coli. This transformation also involves him becoming a stark raving lunatic (mad cow disease?) and grants him the ability to destroy everything in his path, albeit for only a moment. Or, more and less accurately, he hit a block with his head and got the invincible star power up. Er, never mind.

The entire experience is actually less reminiscent of Mario and more of Alex Kidd or Decap Attack, early Sega platformers that have a very specific feel and tone. Not the classic experience associated with Ninty developed bliss, but maybe something more “goofy.” It‘s a game that doesn’t have the balls to take itself seriously, nor should it ever have to.

As previously hinted, the difficulty of this simple platformer is hilariously high. The enemies are everywhere. Some require head-butting from below and some from above, and you will die a lot. A thankful concession on part of the developers is of unlimited continues. No matter how many times you die, and no matter how many Game Overs you accumulate during its short playtime, you will still beat the game if you persevere and have enough patience for an afternoon.

Above all else, though, it still is a rather simple platformer among many from its era.

This is an experience that will ultimately be more compelling to those who have already played it or similar platformers in the early ‘90s. If you have, and want your nostalgic bone creepily tickled, this is a pretty great way to do it.

+ Its inherent challenge and/or frustration at least makes it more interesting than the million cookie cutter platformers littered across 8 and 16 bit’s history
+ Graphics are pleasing and decent enough
+ Some interesting level design
+ Great fun for nostalgic junkies

– The controls are not perfect
– It’s really short
– Sometimes too many enemies to really handle
– A little too simple
– Standard non-”story”

 OUT OF 

Missing Metal Gear Solid

Aside

I loved and adored the original Metal Gear Solid for the PSX back in, what, 1998? It was great. Best Christmas gift ever. The entire family joined in too, well, the gaming part of the family. It was a suspenseful, creepy, amazing game. One of my more cherished memories from the late 90s.

After the PSX, I never got into the PlayStation brand as much for some reason. Many remember the PS2 fondly, but I have virtually no memories of the system because I never owned one. Which was probably a mistake, considering in retrospect there were quite a few games on the thing that were totally worth owning and getting into.

Such as the Metal Gear Solid sequels. It’s been over 10 years and I haven’t actively played a main Metal Gear Solid game (have played Ac!d on the PSP, but that’s a little different…)

It’s been nagging at me forever, so I’m starting over fresh. Just ordered Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes for the GameCube, going to borrow someone’s PS2 and MGS2, and am patiently waiting for the 3DS iteration of MGS3. I feel good about this.