Tuesday, July 13, 2010

VGR Clockwork Knight 2

Companion review to a previous one, don't miss out the first part here!

VGR: Clockwork Knight 2
From Sega AM7 (Overworks)
Played on Sega Saturn
Also available on /

Type Sidescroller platformer
Year 1995

Developed around one year after the orginal title, Clockwork Knight 2 was released in Europe and America the same year as the first episode. It wasn't because it was a "rushed out" product, but more of the same using the previous tools, and like most 2D platformers didn't take the 3+ years modern titles use in development.

Clockwork Knight 2's ambition was to propose more of the same, correcting the minor flaws here and there, and add more content to an already decent formula.

Did it work out in the end? Let's have a look!

Pepper is back and things start off as soon as you "Press Start"!

This sequel takes immediately place after the ending of the previous episode.
Clockwork Knight 2 is pretty similar to Sonic & Knuckles in that sense, but this is a game that doesn't need the previous episode to play nor enjoy it!

You take control of Pepper once more, still trying to get the princess Chelsea, continuing the adventure after the cliffhanger of the last game. To help Pepper in his adventure is still his rival/friend Ginger (in the story/cutscenes only) and Pepper's horse Barobaro.

The game controls are mostly similar to last time. Pepper can attack with his key, turn it to activate stuff/explode toys/open boxes and interact with objects (pushing pages of a book over enemies to crush them, etc..).

This episode will have the player explore 4 new rooms composed of 2 levels each plus a boss zone at each end. From a new Kid's Room, to a Study Room, a Bathroom and finally the Clock Tower!

Finally, Barobaro is playable in the most crazy, speedy levels around!

The game starts of right from the ending of the last one...
Meaning having to confront the CK1's final boss one more time, right from the start!!

And I thought he was pretty difficult last time...

But this time that final boss will be on his final lives, thankfully.
All the new bosses are pretty creative, and all are very difficult! The last game's final boss will look like a tutorial stage in comparison!
Be prepared to die a lot.
Like in the last game, you will be able to "buy" continues with the "money" you get in this game during your playthrough or use it in the same Roulette mini-game from CK1 to win (or lose) lives, life upgrades...

The game tries to avoid the "Toy Story"-effect. You know, having people comparing this to Toy Story (often in a negative aspect).
To do just that there's less toy-inspired enemies, levels and objects. Instead the bosses use "original" ideas (a paper/origami boss that transforms into a monkey, a tiger and a bat, another boss is a giant pirate squid in the bathroom, etc..).
The first level will look pretty similar to the toy-related rooms of the first game but then you'll go to the more inspired bathroom or the more dark-ysh/serious study room...

Finally there's a new very original sequence, playing Pepper's horse, Barobaro.
Forced scrolling, lots of enemies to defeat while still moving on forward and alternate paths around.
Those levels are some of my favorites. Very fast, intense and kinda similar to the "running" sequence of the Shinobi games (on foot, horse or water). Too bad they're also the shortest parts of the game :(

Minigames! Chibi-Pepper in minigames!!

This game is a continuation of Clockwork Knight 1.
Meaning the player is supposed to be familiar with the controls this time around and the level designs. Thinking about that, the developers probably thought; "Hey! No need to progressively introduce difficulty during the playthrough! Let's kick that player's ass right from the start!!"

Like I said, it starts off with the previous game's final boss. Then introduce harder and harder bosses one after the other! You need very quick reflexes and to be very deductive to find out each boss's weaknesses!
The levels are also very difficult this time, longer (a helluva lot longer!!) and dying will have your replay through them from the start!! (no checkpoints here, no sir!)

The game also corrects the first one main problem, it's replay-value!
This time you can find 4 cards per level (finding all of them will unlock stuff). Hidden in the background, paths, etc..
Some levels are a lot more linear this time around...but at least there's interaction between foreground and background now! (which is pretty cool and done pretty smart)
Oh and there's minigames now! Some kinda similar to the more recent WarioWare series, and using a similar lazy-design/kiddie approach. Jumping & runing with a chibified Pepper, using a 3D view and playing a race with Barobaro, some shooting, etc

And there's a Bosses Galore mode to unlock! Where you can face off all the bosses from Clockwork Knight 1 & 2 after each other from the first one in CK1 to the very last one in CK2, playing either Pepper or Ginger!

The game is also one of the earlies games, on any console, to play around with the player's interaction during the game and the date on the system to modify it's appearance every time.
Finish the game a lot of times, and each time adds a new character on the menu/edits the menus.
Play on christmas/new year, and it will also change according to the holiday.
(something NiGHTS on the Saturn would also play around with later on)

Overall, it's a very complete experience.
Using a well tuned machine and similar mecanics to CK1, CK2 only needed to correct the previous game's flaws. It did just that and a whole lot more!

CK2 is fun, very difficult (beware!!) and offers quite a lot to play with!
It's a beautiful looking 3D game for 1995. (yeah, I know it's a 2D platformer, but the look is definitively 3D!)
This sequel is fully 3D now, no more pre-rendered CGi! The backgrounds also spot a clear 3D relief, and aren't that flat anymore. Objects, enemies and Pepper are all now in ful 3D, which means better and more clever interaction.

I can find very few problems I have with it...
The music, same kind of jazzy/festive/samba-esque tunes, is a bit more calm this time around.
Only the main theme with lyrics really stands off.

Pepper doesn't slip as much as last time, the controls are precise and almost perfect, the levels huuuuge to explore and completly master, the bosses quite hardcore, the minigames/bonus modes fun to play and the whole design pretty memorable!
The plot even offers some twists if you're following attentively Pepper's adventure!

One of the Sega Saturn's classic! A must have!
Why didn't it have another sequel/more episodes?
Well, it almost had, at least on three occasions!
A Clockwork Knight 3 was almost going to be made and often mentioned in gaming magazines!
A spinoff title called Clockwork Knight: Pengin War (usually misinterpreted as CK3) was kinda finished and almost released. It would have been a Bomberman-like spinoff title. Probably inspired by CK2's minigames and could have offer many minigames in the end to play with CK's cast of characters...
And finally a Gamecube (!!) sequel under the title Knight n Knight was announced, featured on many gaming websites like IGN. I'm kinda glad this one wasn't made because it could ended up as a very generic 3D platformers like there were so many at the time...
I'm still hoping to this very day that a new sequel could be made, probably like the new Donkey Kong Country on the Wii. (3D graphics on a 2D plane)

I give it:
 3 / 3 Segata Sanshiros!


  1. Wow...i loved this games....
    Very nice game on Saturn and the first episode was great too ;)
    Great games!

  2. Now I reeeeally wanna try this out! Give us a VC download, Nintendo and Sega! For those without Saturns!

  3. Or a Clockwork Knight 3 with part 1 & 2 unlockable/as bonus! (so many games do that now, the last PoP, the new Splatterhouse, and I wouldn't be surprised to see DK country 1 inside the new one!)

  4. Man! I Know this game. It was a good memeories

  5. How do I unlock Boss Galore and the mini games on the PAL version? Is this review of the USA version?

  6. No, I'm a European gamer, and 80% of my games are Pal! XD

    Wasn't it unlocked from the go?
    Or perhaps by finishing the game simply..I'm not sure anymore.. (I played through it not that long ago *checks date of this review* in July 2010!)

    Anyway, be sure we're both talking about Clockwork Knight 2 and not 1!!