Dfactor
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Review Showcase
Written after finishing Shadows of Rose thrice, messing around in Mercenaries Additional Orders for plenty of time, and a few hours in Third Person View Mode.
No spoilers, but "Character Impressions" contains info about character skills.

Shadows of Rose
Shadows of Rose does not overstay its welcome and is a curious dive into Rose's story that was previously left up to the player's imagination. The trailers make it look erratic and trippy, but the immediately provided story premise "makes sense", so here comes the justification for re-using locations from the main game.

The DLC progresses linearly, so it's difficult to get lost, especially if you're already familiar with the locales of the main game. The design makes it clear where you can and cannot go through, so the moment you acquire the means to pass, you have that "Aha!" moment.

The locations you go through are edited enough so that the experience is not the same as in the main story, but don't expect seeing brand-new views left and right. Some of the edits can be dramatic and quite a bunch of them look rather cool, the kind of places where people want to take screenshots.

When it comes to combat, the DLC is completionist-friendly, as it allows you to take down most of the enemies. I would still recommend skipping a few monsters to conserve ammunition, but it's nothing like the Resident Evil 2 DLCs, which were mostly oriented towards people that like to run past everything. While it's still possible to do so in this expansion, you don't get screwed over for taking it nice and slow, which is a huge plus in my books.

The monsters that you have to deal with are more annoying rather than intimidating. Rose doesn't have Ethan's ability to block and push away, so you have to resort to either dodging or kiting, which I'm not the biggest fan of. But that's just in the beginning, though, as your fighting chance increases as you progress. The weapon arsenal is barren, so don't go in expecting some spicy new firearms, as you get the basic stuff only. One could say that the real weapon here is Rose herself.

Childhood fears and nightmares is the main angle of the horror here. I can't say that I've had anything genuinely spook me, even the more subtle tasteful jump scares. Despite being in a supernatural setting, the writing tends to be predictable, and the game play is still within the realms of any modern Resident Evil title. It could be that I've played enough of survival horror games, or it could be the fact that this expansion still puts you in rather cliché situations. However, the created atmosphere is charming.

When you'll be playing this for the first time, you should definitely toggle "Display Tutorials" to "On", as there's a moment in the game when new mechanics are introduced and there's no verbal or visual indication to them, unless you press the button(s) by chance. In this case, having no tips might cause needless frustration, even if the tip pop-ups are generally annoying.

It's rather unusual, but you can't play this DLC in First Person View Mode, so like it or not, this is going to be your Village TPS experience. I think it would have benefitted to have the modes switchable for this one, but I didn't really care when I played it, as the experience felt natural and unintrusive.

The Mercenaries Additional Orders
If you enjoyed the concept of Mercenaries Village-style, then the Winter's Expansion should be a treat. If you already tried out all stages on all difficulties with Ethan, you'll still have 40 more stages to master. This includes all characters on all difficulties, half of that if you want to play just on normal.

There are 2 additional stages, and 3 new characters that have their own unique play style to them. It's definitely going to mess around with your muscle memory, as there's plenty of character-specific attacks and mechanics that need to be used in unison. While Ethan has purchasable weapons, the newly introduced trio has perks on sale which make your build even stronger. Not only that, but the more you play, the more unlockable RNG character-specific perks you get, the spicier the game play gets, granted, assuming you get good RNG. Speaking of RNG, you can now re-roll the abilities, and you get two attempts per stage.

Character Impressions
Boulder-punching specialist Chris Redfield returns with a haymaker that sends the small fry flying and even the biggest enemies get staggered by it, plus a hook to brush off the bothersome flies. Not only melee attacks are back on the menu, but they also fill up your Super Saiyan bar. When fully charged and activated, it dramatically increases Chris' movement speed, attack power, rate of fire and reload speed. A well-timed activation of this Onslaught bar means that you can rip through the toughest opponents within seconds. Not only that, but obliterating more enemies restores a portion of the bar, meaning it's best to go berserk when you know there's plenty of BOWs ahead. Another extra toy worth mentioning is the laser Targeting System: it's one time use only, but is likely to take out anything that stands in your way, no need to deal with something annoying, right?

Nicholai-voiced Heisenberg, who likes things that print money, initially felt like the underdog of the newly introduced trio. He's a specialist in smashing things with his hammer, for long range combat he uses scrap projectiles, saw blades and a strong Soldat summon. Smashing BOWs increases your electric charge, which can be discharged as an AoE attack. He really starts to shine when you master the Magnetic Barrier: activates within 2 seconds, limits your movement speed, multiplies the damage, amount of projectiles and enables you to use the magnetic force to yank enemies towards you, which staggers them and makes them easy targets. The most difficult part of getting used to Heisenberg is figuring out when to use the barrier, as running around whacking things with the hammer is not that exciting or efficient.

Finally, Lady Dimitrescu just might be the most fun character to play as all around. The hand-slicing claws have 6 different attacks, for all your slicing and dicing needs: singular slashes, double slashes, stabs, upwards strikes and charged strikes! But that's just the beginning, as you're equipped with a thrill meter which increases the more violent you are. The higher the meter, the stronger you become, and the more abilities are open to you. For long range you can summon flies, with the thrill meter high you get two summons. Everyone's favorite vanity throw becomes available once Alcina is exited enough and once the bar is full you can summon one of the daughters, who will automatically target the nearest available targets. Since you're tall, you have to crouch through most of the doors. Curiously, she's the only character with body awareness.

Final Thoughts
TPS mode is a nice accessibility option that invites new players that were on the fence of trying Village out. The controls are snappy, some of the animations look wacky, but that's understandable, considering the original scope of the game. You can now corner peek with the camera and witness the gruesome animations of Ethan being attacked. I would have liked to see a toggle that immediately switches between FPS and TPS, but one needs to quit out back to the main menu to do the switch.
Shadows of Rose is the biggest expansion any recent RE title has gotten, and it certainly was a fine conclusion for Village and a good snippet of lore for the fans.
Mercenaries is a treat to anyone that is invested into this mode or combat in general. New characters breathe in new life into this mode and the new stages are satisfying, especially the last one. Capcom should definitely bring back Raid Mode and Mercenaries in full capacity.

Review copy provided by Capcom Co., Ltd.
Review Showcase
This review was written after finishing both games and contains no spoilers.
I've previously played the PlayStation version of Door to Phantomile and PlayStation 2 version of Lunatea's Veil.

Good Stuff
Klonoa immediately captivates by having an unmatched presentation with an appealing art direction and a soundtrack that draws you in. The whole experience leaves a strong, lasting impression, and playing the game is bound to produce sheer joy. The quality of the game stays the same throughout the whole package, the diversity of the areas is fantastic and none of the locations overstay their welcome. There are no padding areas and the stages are full of background eye candy. Klonoa really is the role model for a quality platformer.

It's easy to pick up and play a Klonoa title. The games have aged well, with a timeless approach to 2.5D platforming. The controls are simple and responsive. Once you get the hang of the intricacies of enemy inflation, you're ready to tackle all the platforming and puzzles that the game has to offer.
Both games now have 3 difficulties, an addition exclusive to these remasters, with easy and normal being available from the get go, while hard difficulty requires the player to finish the appropriate game first. Normal difficulty is "just right" and matches the originals, while hard is for those that have mastered Klonoa and want the extra challenge.
Additionally, there's a toggle for tutorial pop-ups, which usually appear as soon as there's a new item or mechanic in the game.

The completion is made easy so that the player is not required to gather all the dream stones. If you'd like to 100% complete this game in terms of achievements, then there's nothing to fear: the remaster remembers all of your collectibles and there's no need to pick them up again even if you've restarted a segment (something that was absent in the originals). The collectibles are used to gain access to the extra stages, which are the most difficult parts of the game. Finishing those extra challenge stages means that you've 100%ed all achievements.
This partially removes the frustration that the original games had, as gathering all dream stones & collectibles is not an easy task. There are unfair segments that didn't age too well and the dream stone gathering can be a puzzle in itself, as there are power-ups that multiply the value of dream stones by two. Miss any dream stone during that power up or pick them up beforehand, and you're locking yourself out of the completion. On top of that, there's no convenient way of restarting a level or a segment (aside from purposely losing a life), so all dream stone collection is recommended only to hardcore Klonoa fans and platformer enthusiasts.

The local cooperation mechanic is now available throughout both games. It originated in the second game and now has made it to the first one too! It's a neat little addition that allows another person with a second game pad to give the main player an extra jump boost, a sort of second chance in case you're falling down. With software like Parsec or Steam Remote Play, it's possible to have an online friend help you out or even switch roles.

Neutral Stuff
Lunatea's Veil has been rebalanced with stages having far less extra lives spread around. This could be the result of the game remembering collectibles, making checkpoint restarts less tedious. On the other hand, this game still features a notorious escape sequence that introduces a sudden difficulty spike and would have benefited from that rebalance touch.

Bad Stuff & PC Specifics
My first impressions of the Door to Phantomile remaster were... me being greeted by a stuttery mess of a first level, that was immediately apparent to the naked eye and highly distracting from the game itself. Both the original PlayStation and Wii versions of the game run at a stable 60 FPS with no frame time spikes, so this is not an inherent legacy code behavior. In a seemingly random fashion, the game tends to alter between the two states of either constantly stuttering or running the intended way, nothing in between: the first stage stutters through, then the next ones run perfectly fine, but when you least expect it, the game starts to stutter again and thus the cycle continues.
After checking through some basic hardware monitoring stats, it's clear that the remaster is not resource-heavy and should not be pushing any recent mid-range systems against the wall. The stutter is not reflected on the RTSS (Riva Tuner Statistics Server) frame time graph, so there's something funky going on with how the game is wrapped in Unity. The game's frontend menu runs smoothly even during those in-game stutter episodes, so I have a suspicion that it's not possible to remedy this issue without a proper patch. I've tried forcing different V-Sync options and frame rate caps, but couldn't find a combination that would completely remedy this situation.
Lunatea's Veil is affected the same way.

If you know Lunatea's Veil by heart, then you're likely to notice that the character facial animations are either toned down or partially missing. Klonoa flying around with his mouth closed, the cutscenes having characters with poker faces or looking rather bored and unamused. Said changes negatively affect the mood of the majority of the scenes to the point where it looks ridiculous and laughable. As of now, there's a community-made patch "Restore Blend Shape Animations (Klonoa 2)" that restores the original PS2 animations and makes the game what it should have been to begin with.

Another notable change about Lunatea's Veil are the visual effects. In the intro cutscene, the antagonists are supposed to be obscured in darkness, while the remaster has them perfectly visible. Later down the road there's a scene where the antagonist has a heat haze in front of them as they leave the burning area, adding that extra flair of edginess, while in the remaster the flame layer is completely removed. You could bunch these up as artistic changes, but I wouldn't necessarily agree that these changes are in the right direction.

The Anti-Aliasing option is currently broken and does nothing. It's possible to use workarounds such as forcing FXAA through your video card's control panel or using vendor-specific downsampling methods from higher resolutions (DSR, VSR, DLDSR, etc.). The jaggies are especially noticeable on Klonoa and other side characters, therefore it's a shame that this option is currently broken, as it would greatly improve the image quality and presentation.

But wait, there's more! Often times, Lunatea's Veil's soundtrack doesn't loop seamlessly, like it did in the original, resulting in awkward music fades with the stage theme starting from the beginning. Some cutscene music has broken cues, resulting in scenes with inappropriate music playing during them. But I'm not done yet, in Door to Phantomile there's a stage (Vision 6-2) that is missing a theme variation (themes are supposed to change based on your location during the level). There is one theme that has its loop fixed when compared to the original, but that seemed more like an anomaly.

Conclusion:
The remastered games give us a chance to revisit a dormant series that has been forgotten for far too long. The gameplay holds up even today, the touched up visuals are seamless and have the "just as I remember it looking like back in the day" effect. Despite all the flaws and inconsistencies, if you've never played these games before, or it's been far too long ago, then most of the issues shouldn't get in your way. That being said, I believe that these remasters need a little more of love, as I think Klonoa deserves to inflate these bugs and "Wahoo!" them away.

Review copy provided by BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment.
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Paula Nov 16 @ 11:23am 
stay strong :abconion:
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