There are two distinct parts of Vision 1-1; the ‘lesson’ and the ‘test’. The lesson is, essentially, a tutorial without being a tutorial. There’s no signposts to be read, Huepow never once leaves the ring to say “throw an enemy to break far off eggs!”; the designer’s present the player the tools and the pieces and expect you to piece it together in what amounts to a line up of clues and hints one after the other which are meant to teach the full repertoire of Klonoa’s abilities we went over before stopping the player dead in their tracks to see if they’ve picked up on what they learned. That in mind, the function of the second part, the ‘test’, should be self-explanatory.
The first tool presented to the player upon taking off from the runway are old hat to platformer fans; The gems. Much like Mario’s coins, are the prerequisite collectible breadcrumbs which 1. give the player an extra life for collecting 100 (natch) and 2. help direct the player and/or their eyes toward critical and alternative paths. Gems often appear in weird, out of the way places but for now the game is assuming you haven’t played a platformer before and just leaves them lying on the ground and right into the first, and most common, enemy type; the Moo.
Moos are a red, masked creature that’s somewhere between a rabbit and Super Mario Bros. 2’s shyguy. The Moo doesn’t have a discernable attack pattern; most of them simply walk forward and back (although some act differently in special circumstances). Before turning, Moos will stop and cautiously look around, making it easy enough to get close and test out the wind bullet for the first time.
By now the player may have noticed Door to Phantomile isn’t a purely profile view; while Klonoa can only move left or right, he is bound by a sort of track or railway which makes full use of the 3D environment, curving and bending along and around the environment (In Breezegail, the track is outlined as a yellow, stony pathway). This leads to some clever and complex level design, but the player is eased into the style by using a slightly curved path. This also has the added benefit of teaching how other objects interact with the pathway; while the Moo is active, he can only move along the curve path. However, when he is thrown (the most likely outcome on a first time playthrough as the player will want to see what they can do with the enemy immediately upon grabbing it) he goes straight and away off camera, highlighting that thrown enemies do not operate on the same rules as active characters.
The player has other options than throwing the enemy, as we know now, but the game provides a hint by introducing a new item; the big gem, worth a whopping 5 gems, placed conspicuously on top of a sign post that reaches just a hair outside of Klonoa’s normal jump length. The signpost appears when the player is within distance of the first Moo’s stopping point, but it might not be immediately obvious that they can’t reach the gem before throwing the enemy into the wild, blue yonder. The game was gracious enough to put a second Moo just behind the signpost, presumably after the player realizes they don’t have the means to reach the gem. It invites experimentation, but it’s not a guarantee that the player will figure it out. In time, the double jump will be required however, and at the very least the gem on the signpost becomes a reward during subsequent playthroughs.
The first level continues it’s parade of clues with the first Nagapoko egg, Door to Phantomile’s take on item containers, teasing the player within the background of the stage, unreachable from the 2D horizontal plane they’re restricted to. In case the player hasn’t clued in to being able toward or away from the background, they’re given a second chance when attempting to interact with the egg. The game places faith in the player to connect the dots and learn that an enemy can be tossed into the background by facing it in the same manner as throwing them forward.
Directly after that area is a bridge which contains Klonoa’s second enemy type: a flying, green hershey kissed shaped monster called Teton. Tetons move up and down vertically but otherwise remain stationary. Next to this Tetron nearly perpendicular to his flight path is a vertically aligned cluster of gems. The game plays with the player’s expectations slightly by suggesting a different solution from the actual outcome – to get all the gems via double jump. However, what actually happens is when grabbing the Tetron (who is out of the way of the player’s path and could easily be avoided), Klonoa begins to hover as the Tetron pulls him up for a short distance, higher than a normal double jump. The player still has control, and can move the Tetron left and right. This teaches another valuable lesson; some enemies have additional properties beyond simply being grabbed. Additionally, players can double jump at the top of the enemy’s flight arc for maximum height, but as of right now there’s no advantage to doing so except bragging rights.
At the end of the bridge lies a small purple mouse creature awaits to try and ambush you, as well as the first major collectible item, a token that resembles Breezegale’s logo sitting in a bubble. The player can use the mouse to pop open the bubble, or they can use the ring projectile to pop it open (this stands in opposition to eggs, which can only be broken with tossed enemies). These tokens represent Klonoa’s optional collectathon mission; each token contains a citizen of the are which Klonoa is currently at, in this case denizens of Breezegail. There are six to each stage, normally hidden in an out of the way nook. The first one is graciously given to the player, so they can recognize what they look like moving forward.
The path forward then curves around a mountain with an effigy of some kind just outside the view of the camera and eventually ends with a wall that has a visible path above it; the gate to the second part of the level, the test. I say gate because it, like the first big gem from the beginning of the level, is just a hair too high for the player to reach with their regular jump. There’s even a cluster of gems here that help the player visualize the exact height of Klonoa’s jump and highlighting just how futile reaching the path is. It’s here where the player is now forced to learn Klonoa’s double jump ability if they’ve any hope of pushing forward. Thankfully the purple mouse enemy from earlier dashes out from above the platformer which can be used as leverage to reach the next part of the stage. To the left of the new path is a suspended platform containing the first health pick up – a small heart, which restores a half a heart (in the PSX version, Klonoa begins with 3 whole hearts). Considering the lack of hazards and the simplicity of current enemy patterns, the likelihood of the player losing more than this is pretty slim, meaning the player should be fully refreshed at this point. Which is good, as the training wheels fully come off at this point.
Next: Beginnings of Gale Part 2 – The Test