Beautiful Katamari Review - The Next Level

Game Profile

Xbox 360
Release date:
October 15, 2007
Namco Bandai
Namco Bandai
1 - 2

Beautiful Katamari

It's katamari in name only, but far from beautiful.

Review by Valerie Hilgenfeldt (Email)
December 6th 2007

In Beautiful Katamari, he is wearing clothes. A doublet and melonhose at least, but clothes! On the King of All Cosmos!

Already, you can see that things have begun spiraling downhill for this Katamari (since everyone plays these games to see the King of All Cosmos in action, don't they?). Truthfully, this is only a small part of a larger, saddening issue: Beautiful has no post-stage cut scenes or storyline. Outside of a pretender intro that isn't nearly as chaotic as its predecessors, and a dull set-up scene where the King launches a tennis ball into the sky (creating a black hole), there's hardly anything there to break up the monotony and reward the player.

Another crushing blow is dealt to Beautiful's charm when you realize that they've sucked the life out of the King's speeches. In the past, his in-game dialogue was filled with oddly comprehensible statements that turned a lot of people into his adoring xenophiles. They've replaced it with modern-day culture references, like the King discovering the Mars Polar Lander and claiming it (“Finders keepers!”), bundled up inside a short list of oft-repeating statements. Worse, his word bubbles are too large and stick around for too long, obstructing your view of the playfield and serving to annoy.

Similarly bothersome is the music, consisting of re-used tracks from older titles or rather generic, casual pieces of Japanese music (only a couple are gems). This wouldn't be terrible if ten minute plus versions of the songs were made, a treatment used on the Katamari Damacy soundtrack which eliminated repetition. As that isn't the case in Beautiful, you'll hear the same three to four minute-long songs playing over and over again, eliminating any appreciation for them you formed on the first go-'round. If you could change the song during gameplay, this wouldn't be such a grievous sin, but you can't.

What Beautiful does have are lots of rolling opportunities, but the stages aren't as well-designed as they are difficult. There are numerous open areas with few-to-no items, restrictively small playfields (especially early on), and punishing time limits. Seasoned katamari rollers will still be challenged to complete their goals in time on their first several plays (long enough to become disenchanted with the music, among other things), finding that the randomized start positions and lack of any clearly defined rolling paths makes things unexpectedly difficult.

In a series lauded for its accessibility, kid-friendliness, and beauty in simplicity, Beautiful Katamari is a strange entry. It's too hard at the beginning for newcomers and young ones, too simple in its stage and artistic direction, and overall, it plays like a prototype to the previous and superior Katamari titles. This isn't to say that long-time fans won't have some fun with it, because they will (particularly if they go online), and the transition from the DualShock to a 360 controller is natural and instantaneous. Nonetheless, if you or anyone else is new to the royal family of the cosmos and their wacky adventures, pick up one of their PlayStation 2 jaunts instead.

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