Klonoa: Moonlight Museum is a scaled-down version of the Playstation's Klonoa: Gateway to Phantomile -- a game that combined above-average 2D platforming with seamless 3D backdrops. Obviously, the third dimension has been done away with in the translation to the WonderSwan, and the game is forced to rely on the raw quality of the platforming as opposed to audiovisual trickery.
You play Klonoa, a freakish squirrel-hamster-gerbil-hedgehog hybrid with an annoyingly cutesy voice. Klonoa's job is to pound his way through a series of "Visions" (don't call them levels!), hopping and bopping baddies to his heart's content. The game's gimmick is that Klonoa himself can't jump worth a damn, and has to bounce off objects to reach higher ground. After shooting enemies and picking them up, you can double-tap the jump button to ricochet off their heads. You can also chuck your enemies to the left or right, knocking down adjacent baddies like bowling pins. There are crates to stack, floating balloons to latch onto, and more moving platforms than you can shake a stick at.
Most levels (er, visions) are non-linear and you're required to obtain a certain number of stars before you can open the exit door. Stars are typically blocked off by locked doors, and you'll need to acquire the X, O, Square, or Triangle keys (shades of the PlayStation controller, perhaps?) before proceeding forward. Thankfully you only have to snag three stars before gaining access to the next vision. All progress is saved via battery backup ? no passwords to remember or write down here.
But is it fun? Yes and no. There's more strategy involved with the bordering-on-overused crate-shuffling aspect, and most of your time is spent setting yourself up for a high jump. Level design is decent (if a little dull) across the board. What's interesting is how the game takes advantage of the WonderSwan display ? you can play the game either horizontally or vertically, and most of the levels play surprisingly well in either mode.
The backgrounds could use more definition, since they dissolve into a blur of mush while scrolling. Parallaxing is used to good effect, though ? the foreground moves separately from the backgrounds, making things look more three-dimensional. But to me the Klonoa series is one that should be in color so the fact this is in black/white and doesn't do that particularly well (especially on the older WonderSwan models) drags the game down.
On the other hand, the audio content is exceptional. The digitized instruments and voice samples sound good through headphones (don't even think about playing through the system's pitiful speaker), though there's only one music track per six levels ? the repetition is slightly annoying.
All in all, while Klonoa plays well, it's definitely lacking a spark of originality ? the whole package seems a bit blah.