Monday, October 17, 2005

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."

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


At 9:53 PM, Blogger J said...

I want this game so F'in bad!!


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