Klonoa Beach Volleyball (2002)

  • Gamepage
  • Developer: Namco
  • Publisher: Namco

There was a time, in the early part of this decade, when it looked like Klonoa was on track to replace Pac-Man as Namco's mascot character of choice. The cute cat-like creature, star of a pair of utterly fantastic 2.5D platform titles on PSone and PS2, was on the road to mascot superstar status thanks to a variety of spin-off games on handheld platforms. Namco's commitment seemed to be cemented by the launch of this most unlikely spin-off; a beach volleyball title.

We've never been quite clear what happened to Klonoa, who has since disappeared without a trace - much to our great dismay, since it has robbed us of any further brilliant platform titles in the franchise. However, Klonoa Beach Volleyball stands as an unusual instance of a would-be mascot character being given a spin-off game which was actually, well, really good.

The game was a relatively simple but beautifully balanced volleyball title, where each character had a special attack of some description to spice up the play a little. A comprehensive single-player mode exists, of course, but the game really comes to life in multiplayer; one of the few titles to support the Multi-Tap controller system, its 2 vs 2 multiplayer modes remain arguably one of the most straightforward and enjoyable party games ever created.