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Translations: The Year of the Cabbit

Started by RHDNBot, July 11, 2022, 08:20:22 AM

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RHDNBot


Update By: rari_teh

Klonoa is one of those franchises that most people are either oblivious to or marginally aware of, never really being able to crack out of obscurity despite consistently good reviews and a persistent, passionate fanbase. Its inaugural game, Klonoa: Door to Phantomile (PSX, 1997), brought a poignant story full of symbolisms within a whimsical, seemingly innocuous 2.5D mascot platformer, rendered in a highly atmospherical mixture of polygonal graphics and billboarded sprites. Almost four years later, it saw a direct sequel in Klonoa 2: Lunatea's Veil (PS2, 2001), which, despite following the act remarkably well, improving on almost every aspect of its predecessor and reviewing even higher, still underperformed on the market, especially in the West.

Besides the two mainline games, there was also a puzzle platformer gaiden of sorts in Klonoa: Moonlight Museum, published in 1999 exclusively on the Bandai WonderSwan, a budget handheld console that never left Japan. It was very gameplay-focused, with very little narrative, and translation guides were already available on the Internet in 2004. Moonlight Museum's structure would later be built upon and expanded in Klonoa: Empire of Dreams (GBA, 2001), which took place in an alternate continuity from the mainline games. That would be the last game with series creator Hideo Yoshizawa on a writing role. The next year brought the odd sports spinoff Klonoa Beach Volleyball (PSX), which was tied to the GBA continuity and was never released in America despite being officially translated to English for the British market. Later in the year, two more very different titles were released that were being worked on by mostly separate teams: in August, it was Klonoa 2: Dream Champ Tournament (GBA), which loosely followed Empire of Dreams, and then in September, it was Klonoa Heroes: The Legendary Star Medal (GBA): a quite highly produced story-heavy action RPG that took place in yet another alternate universe... and, like Moonlight Museum before it, never left the shores of Japan.

The Legendary Star Medal would be the last original Klonoa game to be made. Door to Phantomile would still be ported after that, twice (to the PS2 in 2005 and to Java i-mode in 2009, both Japan-exclusives), and also have a quite divisive remake for the Wii in 2008, but the only fresh material on the franchise that came from Bandai Namco themselves after 2002 would be in the form of a very tonally dissonant slapstick comedy manga by CoroCoro (2002–2003) and a Western-made webcomic epic (2012–2014) which was cut short by the demise of its publisher, ShiftyLook. An anime movie was also announced to be in the making in 2017, but it was soon confirmed to be cancelled.

Being an over 20 year old fandom with such little material to orbit around, it's only natural that the existence of a full-blown RPG sitting just out of arms' reach untranslated was more than enticing. Over the years, there were quite a few attempts at getting a fan translation made, but none managed to go very far.

All this was true as of last year. But now, in 2022 – the 25th anniversary of the series – the tides are turning back. Officially, the two mainline games are being remade for all major platforms under the compilation Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series, which should be already out by the time this article is published – the first release of a Klonoa game since the 2009 Japan-exclusive feature phone port of Door to Phantomile, thirteen years ago. From the fandom, a complete and unabridged translation hack of Moonlight Museum was published, ditching the need for a translation guide to fully experience the game... and, at last, Klonoa Heroes: The Legendary Star Medal was finally translated, in an enormous collaborative effort that resulted in a beautifully polished patch that very much feels like what the game should have been had Namco translated it themselves way back in the mid-2000s. For the first time since the early 2000s, all official Klonoa media can now be enjoyed in English, and the future of the franchise once again shines bright.

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The Beaky Buccaneer

Always been a fan of Klonoa, though official media calls him "the world's first flying cat", so I was a bit confused by the title of the news article at first! :laugh: (I didn't know what a "cabbit" was - not heard that one before!)

It's really good to see that the entire series is in English, now - it's been a long time coming. Congratulations and thankyou to all involved. :thumbsup: