We Love Katamari Review - The Next Level

Game Profile

System:
PlayStation 2
Release date:
Sept. 20, 2005
Publisher:
Namco
Developer:
Namco
Players:
1 - 4
Genre:
Puzzle
ESRB:
E

We ♥ Katamari

Pure happiness on a disc.

Review by Aaron Drewniak (Email)
September 26th 2005

Drinking binges can lead to popularity, and not just for actors and politicians. The King of all Cosmos got smashed, then smashed up all the stars in the sky. So he had his tiny son to whip up some quick replacements with the help of the super sticky katamari, which picks up anything it happens to roll over, from squealing mice to bellowing sumo wrestlers. The videogame was beloved by many, the prologue to the sequel says so, who all immediately became fans of the massive King. Now he's decided to take the requests of his adoring public, which is a good thing because there seems to be quite a few planets also missing from the night sky.

So the prince wanders around the lovely Select Garden as funky music plays in time with his footsteps. He can save his progress, load up his previous accomplishments to fill the sky with familiar constellations, dress up with a scarf and giraffe head, read the cute descriptions of every object he's managed to roll so far, sing or swap places with one of his cousins, and of course accept the requests of his father's fans who want their new idol to solve their own petty problems. All of this is spiced up with cut-scenes of the King in his younger days; a silent opera of cruelty and love, tragedy and triumph, befitting of such a noble, if quite irresponsible, monarch.

When it comes to controls, nothing needed to change so nothing has changed. The katamari is still rolled via the analogue sticks, and still effected by the size and general composition of your big clump of soul, though the control does feel just a bit smoother and you tend to lose less items in those inevitable collisions. Don't think you'll have an easy time of it though, even if you were a master of the original. Passing a particular mission isn't particularly difficult, but getting those coveted perfect rolls, and not being chastised by both King and fans for your lackluster abilities, becomes a matter of refined skill, especially the careful use of the princely dash for rapid roll ups.

Of course, the King of All Cosmos has become a little bored with always trying to reach a certain size within a certain time limit. That's why you'll find yourself speeding along with a nitro-fueled katamari that can only move forward, keeping your katamari burning big and bright to make the ultimate campfire, catching fireflies to help a obsessive student study by moonlight, rolling up the most expensive items for the sake of the poor strawberry deprived pandas, and playing "new rule" katamari where you have to get the biggest size with the fewest items. You might even roll up the head of a snowman in a winter wonderland, take a trip down to the bottom of the sea, or even go up among the stars to roll up that big burning ball of gas we call the sun, with the earth as your katamari. Though there's plenty of familiar objectives to be had, with more presents and more cousins to earn, though this time you can choose the tune you'll roll to, and even tumble along with a friend in the new cooperative mode. Versus mode has also gotten a major upgrade with an entire city to roll up before your friend does, making for many hours of split-screen crashes and smashes.

Though what really impresses me about We ♥ Katamari is all the little touches that might not have a big impact on gameplay, but never fail to bring a smile to my face. Like the words the King spews out during the loading (like saying how boring loading is), and his laments should your start your roll before he's done his usual speech. The game's manual that not only instructs new players in the art of katamari, but tells the story of a fox and his animal friends as they attempt to play along with this new popular pastime. These are things that most games just don't bother with, but all this loving care to detail somehow it makes W♥K feel like a complete experience.

And that's a problem for reviewers who need to mention a few flaws so the reader doesn't think they're completely biased. The worst I could say is like the first the game is relatively short, but with all the variations in the katamari theme and the witty dialogue of the King that accompanies them, it's something I find myself keep coming back to in order to raise my scores and become a true katamari master. I could also say the music isn't quite as good as the original, but it creeps up on you insidiously until you find yourself bobbing your head to a tune you swear you hated at first. With songs like Katamari on the Swing and Sunbaked Savanna (made completely from animal noises), the music, like the game itself, has gone off in new and strange directions, but still has a flavor that fans of the original are bound to savor.

I used to say that no game was perfect. Now I'll have to say no game is perfect, except for We ♥ Katamari... especially if I don't want to get zapped by the laser eyes of the King of All Cosmos.

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