VG REVIEW: We Love Katamari
First off, let's have a moment of silence as one of the finest comic blogs ever not so slowly fades into the sunset.
Ok, now that that's out of the way, here's this Sunday's review of the new "Katamari Damacy" sequel, "We Love Katamari."
"WE LOVE KATAMARI"
Namco, for PlayStation 2
rated E for Everyone (fantasy violence)
RATING: 3 and a half stars (out of four)
To call last year’s "Katamari Damacy" unique is something of an understatement. How else though do you describe a game that involved rolling up people, animals and various inanimate objects into a big sticky ball that would eventually be turned into a star?
What’s perhaps even more unique is that such an out landish, oddball game caught on. Appealing to critics, hardcore gamers and casual fans, the game quickly developed a devoted cult following.
That following is no doubt somewhat leery of the new sequel, "We Love Katamari." After all, after something as wonderfully as the first "Katamari" game, what could you possibly do for an encore?
The answer apparently is "more of the same," but with enough refinements and good humor that the game still feels fresh.
The basic core of the game remains, as before, that you roll around a small sticky ball using the two analog sticks on the PS2 controller. At first you are only able to pick up small items like thumbtacks and bits of candy. As the ball gets bigger, however, your perspective shifts, and you soon are able to roll up animals, trees and, eventually, even buildings with ease.
In what can only be described as a delightful bit of postmodern self-referentiality, "We Love Katamari" opens with the pint-sized Prince and his dad, the joyfully eccentric King of All Cosmos, awash in success. It seems everyone does love Katamari Damacy. So much so that they’re begging the King for favors. Favors that the King, his ego having been stroked, is only too happy to accept.
As a result, the missions in "We Love Katamari" are a lot more goal-oriented, though no less strange. In one, for example, you have to roll up a sumo wrestler so he can get fat enough to take on his opponent. In another, you must get a flaming katamari, once it’s large enough, up a hill and light a campfire. In another, you take apart a gingerbread house, and on and on.
In between, you are treated to funny cut scenes involving the King’s childhood, who, it appears, had a celestial version of The Great Santini for a father.
Much has been made over the sequel’s improvements in the multiplayer area, which was one of the few deficiencies of the first game. Yes, the battle modes have been expanded, but more could have easily been done. There’s also a co-cop mode, where two players share the ball, but the fun there is somewhat limited to your abilities to communicate directions to the person sitting next to you.
One of the best things about "Katamari Damacy" was the stellar soundtrack. That trend continues here, with some delightful remixes of the "Katamari" theme, including one featuring a Tom Jones soundalike.
Fans of the original game had every reason to fear that this sequel would tarnish their memories of the original. Thankfully, while "We Love Katamari" might not have the same freshness that the first game had, I’m pleased to report that rolling up a small town into a giant ball has the same goofy thrill that it did the first time around.
Copyright The Patriot-News, 2005