We Love Katamari
Score: 8.5 / 10
Katamari Damacy was a fun little game, but in the grand scheme of
things, it was more than that – it was a rallying cry to the industry,
that games needed more innovation and less dependence on yearly sequels.
And yet here we are, about twelve months later, and we have a Katamari
sequel. Out of principle, this just shouldn't be. But this isn't
necessarily a bad thing – one of the few major complaints with the
original was that it was over far too quickly, so giving players another
opportunity to roll around with the King of the Cosmos is really just
granting the wishes of the public.
Love Katamari starts off by echoing this concern. Breaking some kind
of metaphysical barrier, we learn that Katamari Damacy was just, in fact,
a video game. The King of Cosmos is more or less sick of rolling, but the
people of Earth just loved his exploits so much that they clamor for more.
Once again taking on the role of the tiny Prince of the Cosmos, it's your
job to answer the pleas of clamoring fans.
original Katamari Damacy swept up gamers and non-gamers everywhere with
its bizarre charm. By rolling a sticky ball (the titular "katamari"),
you collect little items from around the area. As you collect more stuff,
your katamari eventually gets bigger and bigger, which allows you to roll
up larger and larger stuff. You start by grabbing little bits of garbage
on the floor, then eventually you can pick up cats, humans, cars,
buildings and eventually whole continents. It was, as many will tell you,
a brilliant game.
By the end of the time, you had all of the countries on Earth, leaving a lonely, blue ball of emptiness. So this poses the question – where could Katamari possibly go from here? There's not much bigger than the whole planet, so what would you do, roll up the universe? Someone at Namco must've had a similar idea, because one of the ultimate goals of We Love Katamari is to roll up the sun. The sky is still pretty bare at the beginning of the game, so you'll still need to roll up lots of stuff before you can even begin to undertake such a massive task.
you get to that point, We Love Katamari plays around the mission
objectives to expand the variety a bit. A fair number of levels still
involve getting your
to a specified size, but one mission lights your ball on fire,
challenging you to continuously grab stuff before your flame
extinguishes (and yes, you can set innocent bystanders ablaze.) Another
level removes the time limit entirely, and simply asks you to roll a
snowball around a ski resort, collecting as much stuff as you can to
help build a snowman. Yet another has you rolling around a sumo
wrestler, engorging him with food until he can beat his opponent. With
these wackier objectives, there are plenty more creative landscapes -
one stage is a bright pink valley with mythological creatures, another
takes place underwater, where the hook from an unseen fisherman
possesses an ominous threat to our dear Prince.
the storyline is more interesting this time around. Every few levels, we
are treated to sparsely animated interludes detailing the King's tragic
childhood beneath his cruel parent. Painfully amusing, these clips do
quite a lot to explain why the king cruelly punishes his son with
flaring lasers after failing a level.
Love Katamari is still a little bit on the short side, but there's a
bit more in the way of replay value. You can still collect little trinkets
to decorate your prince, or various royal relatives that are roaming
around the Earth. These don't really do much of anything on their own, but
getting enough of them will eventually unlock extra missions. For those
that need to complete their games 100%, We Love Katamari should
offer far more playtime than for those who just need to see the ending.
the original Katamari was known for its goofily infectious soundtrack, the
sequel doesn't fare quite so well. There's still a slew of wacky Japanese
lounge songs, but none of them come close to the gorgeous "Lonely
Rolling Star". One of the best is the level end theme, with an upbeat
chanting of "Starlight!", that accompanies the King's
semi-praise of your handiwork. There's
also a medley of themes from the first game, this time sung by a choir of
dogs and cats. While it's amusing, it really just reminds you how much
better that soundtrack was.
people really wanted a two-player mode in Katamari, but the one-on-one
competition mode was little more than an afterthought. So Namco decided to
create a cooperative option, but it's not quite what you'd think. Instead
of having two katamaris rolling around, the two players each roll part of
a single katamari, and both have to work together to get anywhere. Once
again, this feels like a cop-out, but maybe the PS2 just can't handle
anything larger than that.
mantra of We Love Katamari is "more and crazier.” It's not
really a better game than the original, as the controls are still a little
bit wonky, but it is more creative, and you have to give props to the
developers for giving us some humorous reasons to play the same
(excellent) game again. Plus, for a pseudo-budget game, priced at $30US,
it's really hard to say no to another chance to roll up people and toss
them into outer space.
- Kurt Kalata
(October 13, 2005)
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