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Klonoa: Empire of Dreams

by Mike Sklens - October 27, 2001, 4:01 pm EDT


Old-school platforming from Namco hits the GBA. Find out whether it's worth your money.

The game Klonoa: Gateway to Phantomile appeared on the Playstation in early 1997. It wasn’t a huge seller, but it garnered some pretty great critical acclaim. Apparently Namco thought that this was a good sign (and it was), so they have decided to keep Klonoa here in the states. Along with Gateway to Phantomile, Klonoa now has 2 other games out. Klonoa 2: Lunatea’s Veil and Klonoa: Empire of Dreams. Lunatea’s Veil has been released on the PS2 and will be later released on the GameCube. Empire of Dreams is the Game Boy Advance game.

In Empire of Dreams, Klonoa has a dream. And because of this, he is imprisoned by the evil emperor. “Why was he imprisoned?” you may ask. Well, it seems the emperor has some downright nasty insomnia and he can’t get any sleep at all. So, because he can’t dream, nobody else can! But, Klonoa struck a deal with the Emperor. If he can prove his courage by defeating the evil monsters that have been roaming the land, then he will be set free.

The graphics in Empire of Dreams are pretty darn good. The colors are very vibrant and really make the game shine. Unlike some GBA games which are a bit dark, this game is quite bright and you shouldn’t have any trouble seeing it at all. The characters are all very well designed. Their animations are very nice, though a bit simple. Two things really stand out in this game, graphically. First are the backgrounds. They are excellent. They’re very detailed and really help to pull you into Klonoa’s world. The second thing is the little sparkles that appear when you pick up gems. They are fantastically animated and designed and just plain kick ass. Also, the map screens and boss battles are great. They make excellent use of the scaling and rotation abilities of the GBA.

The thing that Empire of Dreams is lacking in most is sound. The sound is by no means bad. It’s very nice. But it’s just not as good as the sound I’ve heard in other games. The music is nice, but it’s quite repetitive and all of it is very similar. The sound effects are boring. Klonoa has one sound effect that is used for a variety of things, “Wa-huah!” He also makes different noises when he gets hurt or dies, but he’s pretty much limited to those things. The enemy sound effects are also sub-par.

Klonoa can shoot a “wind bullet” which he can use to grab just about anything. He can also jump. Combining these two elements, you get the entire scope of gameplay. Klonoa can jump, and if you hold A he can hover for a short distance. But, when Klonoa grabs an enemy or object he can jump higher, plus he can do a second jump in midair by vaulting off of the enemy/object he is carrying. Mastering this maneuver, which isn’t very hard, is the key to the game. The object of all the normal levels is to get the 3 stars strewn about the “vision” (a.k.a. the level). Once these 3 stars are collected, the exit door of the level may be opened. Also scattered throughout the visions are 2 kinds of gems (green and blue), sometimes keys, hearts to refill life, and 1-ups. There are 30 gems total in each level; green gems are worth 1 and blue gems, which are larger, are worth 5 green gems. The keys are used to open locked doors in levels, so that you may advance through the level and get the rest of the stuff. There are also 2 other types of levels in the game. In one of them you take Klonoa out on a hover board and have to fly across a level trying to grab as many gems as possible, while also avoiding enemies. And the other kind is a forced-scrolling level in which the level gradually disappears behind you and you have to keep up or you die. Thankfully, both of these levels are totally skippable in the game, as I completely hate forced-scrolling levels to death, but the hover board levels are quite fun. The biggest gripe about gameplay is that is too damn easy. Some of the puzzles had me scratch my head for about 5 minutes at the most. Other than that the game was a total breeze and going through the levels was pretty quick. Thankfully, the gameplay is fantastic. That makes up a lot for the low difficulty of the game.

The controls in Empire of Dreams are tight. They’re very responsive and don’t really screw up at all. They’re pretty simple, the D-pad is for movement, A jumps and B or R fires a wind bullet. You can also switch the A and B buttons, if you really feel like it. Other than that there’s really nothing to say about the controls, which is probably a good thing. The control is only really there to establish the connection between you and the game, and the best games are ones where control just becomes second nature and you don’t have to pay any attention to them at all.

With 40 levels, you’d think this game might take a while to beat. The sad thing is that’s not true at all. The game could actually be beaten in a day if you invested enough time it, or easily in 2 days. From what I’ve read there are apparently secret levels if you collect all the gems, which I haven’t done yet. Those should add some replay value. Namco was nice enough to include a battery in the game so you don’t have to write down passwords unlike in games published by some other companies (*cough*THQ*cough*).

Klonoa: Empire of Dreams is one of the most solid platformers I’ve ever played. The gameplay, which is crucial to the genre, is awesome. The graphics are extremely sharp and stunning. The control is tight. The sound department is lacking, but it certainly doesn’t take away from the game. Finally, the lastabality is ok. Lots of levels, but it’s still a short game. If you’re looking for a good platformer, I’d definitely recommend Klonoa: Empire of Dreams. The game is great and anyone looking for fun will enjoy it.


Graphics Sound Control Gameplay Lastability Final
9 5 8 9.5 7.5 9

The detail in the game is fantastic. The backgrounds are vibrant and the animation is smooth. Rotation and Scaling are used, but not abused.


The sound is nice, but hardly noteworthy. The music is upbeat, but all the tunes are similar. The sound effects are boring and not varied in the least.


The control is tight. Most importantly, the control isn’t notable, which really connects you more to the game.


Outstanding. The gameplay, while simple at heart, is extremely well executed. Even though you’re pretty much doing the same thing throughout the game, it never gets old. Enough new strategies are incorporated every now and then to keep the gameplay fresh through the entire adventure. Too bad it’s so easy.


Despite its wealth of levels, the game is short. Thankfully, you’re not collecting all those gems in vain, as there are some secret levels to unlock with them.


Klonoa: Empire of Dreams is, in my opinion, the best platformer currently available on the Game Boy Advance. The gameplay is completely awesome and the game is plain addictive at points. Anyone who’s looking for a good game to pick up should seriously consider Klonoa: Empire of Dreams.


  • Excellent gameplay
  • Just plain old fun
  • Sharp Graphics
  • Boring sound
  • Too short (because it’s easy)
  • Way too easy
Review Page 2: Conclusion

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Genre Action
Developer Namco

Worldwide Releases

na: Klonoa: Empire of Dreams
Release Sep 11, 2001
jpn: Kaze no Klonoa
Release Jul 19, 2001
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