Long read: Who is qualified to make a world?

In search of the magic of maps.

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Cult Classics: PlayStation 2

Part 2: Klonoa, Mark of Kri and a dork with horns.

Did you enjoy part one? I thought so. Guards! Seize him!

Klonoa 2: Lunatea's Veil

  • Developer: Namco
  • Publisher: Namco

From 2D shooters to 2D platformers, and one of the last great gasps of that once world-conquering genre. Klonoa is a cat. Sort of. He's got long ears that seem to have hands on the end. His primary method of attack against the cute enemies ranged against him is the dubiously titled Wind Ring, which sends out powerful gusts to inflate foes. These ballooned baddies can then be picked up and thrown, or used as a springboard for higher jumps. So, yes, it's a bit Yoshi and Kirby, but don't hold that lack of originality against him. That's because Lunatea's Veil is a rather excellent platformer in the classic mould. Although the genre has seen a revival of sorts on handheld platforms, the relative obscurity of a nifty game like this is sadly emblematic of the way gamers interest in horizontal leaping died off once 3D polygons kicked our doors down.Klonoa himself managed to eke out a few more appearances in Japan, notably the top-down GBA role-player Klonoa Heroes, but he's really yet another likable character that passed from favour all too soon.

What we said: Not reviewed.

Ebay price guide: Less than GBP 5


  • Developer: Team Ico
  • Publisher: Sony

The lovely and sublime ICO is one of those games that most gamers will have heard of, yet depressingly few have had a chance to play. It's the deceptively simple tale of a lad with horns on his head and his determination to rescue a princess from a creepy castle. You do this by holding her hand and guiding her through the crumbling keep, avoiding the shadowy creatures that are out to get you. It's a bit adventurey, and more than a little puzzley, and it's presented in a muted poetic fashion. Naturally, it bombed horribly in the US for being all gay and stuff and why doesn't he have a gun and why are her breasts so small? The European release, therefore, consisted of nine copies, which were hidden in a box in the backroom of a secret branch of Blockbuster, under some old posters for The Adventures of Pluto Nash. The good news in this case is that after many years of reviewers and gamers alike shrieking about what a masterpiece ICO was, and why did it get such a shafty release, Sony saw sense and re-released it in 2006 to coincide with semi-sequel Shadow of the Colossus, thus annoying all those people who were hoping to sell their original copy for GBP 70 on Ebay but making everyone else very happy indeed because they could actually buy one of the best games ever. Be one of those people.

What we said: "A beacon of light and a bastion of superb game design."

Ebay price guide: Between GBP 10 and 20

Katamari Damacy

  • Developer: Namco
  • Publisher: Namco

Much like ICO, Katamari is probably one of the best-known secrets in gaming. Yet, from within our bubble of gaming mania, it's easy to forget that its utter lack of sports cars, Wayne Rooney and drug dealers being shot in the face means that, for the vast majority of PS2 owners, this screwball series might as well be invisible. Maybe some of them have stumbled across this very feature. Maybe they'll go away a little wiser, and choose something interesting next time they're out shopping, rather than robotically plonking down the cash for Need for Speed: Tarmac Banger 2008. Anyway, the original Katamari earns a place on this list by being the quintessential cult title - even if the series has since become better known through its not-as-good latter sequels. It's endearingly loopy, for one thing. Roll a sticky ball around stylised Japanese towns and cities, picking up anything smaller than yourself. As you grow exponentially larger, you go from glomping up paper clips to rolling up people, cars, even buildings. It's also just the right sort of obscure, having never received a European release. Mostly, it's here because it's the sort of marriage between an appealing high concept, innovative execution and eye-catching design that we hope for in all games. Get an imported PS2, or prise the guts out of a PAL console and do illegal things to it. Whatever it takes, you should play this.

What we said: "It's the happiest game I've ever played, and the happiness is infectious."

Ebay price guide: Between GBP 15 and 30

Freak Out

  • Developer: Treasure
  • Publisher: Conspiracy Entertainment

Although it sounds like one of those tediously wacky mini-game collections, possibly one where you have to throw sponges at monkeys, Freak Out is actually one of the oddest games you're likely to see. Released in the US under the no less confusing, but much more appropriate, title of Stretch Panic, it finds you controlling a girl with a scarf. Exciting, eh? But this scarf has magic powers, and you can use it as a sort of tentacle-whip thing, grabbing objects and scenery and twanging them about. Most games would be content to leave it at that but, coming from the wonderfully demented folk at Treasure, Freak Out goes even further. In keeping with their earlier side-scrollers like Alien Soldier, most of the game is made up of boss battles against foes called Anne Droid and Fay Soff. There's a woman with massive breasts, who waddles about and tries to smother you in tit. If you start at Psychonauts and get progressively weirder, you'll eventually reach Freak Out. That's a recommendation, by the way.

What we said: Not reviewed

Ebay price guide: Between GBP 5 and 10