We Love Katamari PS2 Review

We Love Katamari. It’s not just the name of the game; it’s a simple fact of life. No one with a pulse could deny that the little series of games about rolling up things with a ball is one of the most highly entertaining titles released in recent years. The original, Katamari Damacy, was heralded for it originality and outright bizarreness and was welcomed with open arms by many a game of all shapes, size and age. Simple to play but hard to master KD was without doubt fun for anyone that played it. How would Namco follow up on something so addictive that was high on perfection? Well for one, more of the same will do us just fine and that’s exactly what we get. We Love Katamari does not bring any huge changes to the table, but anyone that has played the original will know this is not a bad thing – it is in fact a very, very good thing…

First Time You Feel It, It Might Make You Sad

The original game in the series, Katamari Damacy put you in the role of tiny, small pint-sized, but in no way insignificant prince. The prince was assigned the task of replacing all the stars in the sky as his father had lost them. To perform this task you are given a Katamari (a sticky/magnetic ball) that collected up objects you rolled it over. At the star of every level you were also given a time limit and a set size you had to get your Katamari up to. You start off with the smallest objects on show (such as bottle caps, small sweets, matches) and as you collect objects your Katamari will get progressively bigger letting you pick up people, then houses, the trees, then boats, skyscrapers, clouds until near the end of the game you will actually be picking up planets As you can see from those last few sentences, the Katamari series of games borders on being slightly surreal and is far from your average title. We Love Katamari definitely continues on from its bizarre predecessor.

Next Time You Feel It, It Might Make You Mad

Of course We Love Katamari needs a story to explain all this rolling jazz and this time Namco deliver loads of fan service for series devotees. This time around, the King of All Cosmos is a huge star. He grew to stardom after the events of the first game when he replaced stars with the Prince’s katamaris. As with most celebrities, the people of earth are now obsessed with the King and his katamaris. They start making all kinds of requests and they wish to behold the katamaris power. The king is happy to oblige so down comes the Prince to get back to work. Following are many conversations from the people on earth proclaiming their love for the previous game. This time the King tosses your katamaris into the cosmos to make new celestial bodies. It’s not ’cause he has to, but simply because hefeels like it. The game also documents the King’s life up to when the Prince was brought into this world. All in all this is very bizarre, but contains many moments fans of the series will love.

But You’ll Be Glad, Baby, When You’ve Found

The game plays very much like Katamari Damacy with just a few changes to the winning formula. For those new to the series, the controllers will feel a bit weird but once you get used to them they work like a charm. You must push both analogue sticks forward to move forward, pull both back to move backwards and let one or the other go to move left or right. You can also do a quick turn by clicking both sticks down. A dash option is also available if you choose to use it. Changes from the previous game come in the form of themed levels. This time the Katamari may be replaced with a Sumo wrestler which you will have to roll about to feed, or you may have a Katamari on fire you will have to keep lit as you venture through the level. In another level, you get a super speed Katamari that you roll around a racetrack and is one of the most entertaining levels in the game. There are also loads of many old school levels for the purist Katamari fan (if there is such a thing). The game also features versus and co-op modes of play. These can be entertaining but only in short bursts

That’s The Power That Makes The World Go ‘Round

Graphically, We Love Katamari is hard to describe. I personally think the game looks great, but if you are the kind of person that rates graphics on the different amount of bump mapping and normal mapping (not to mention all other kinds of mapping) you will probably be very disappointed with what We Love Katamari has to offer. Most objects are square in the game with everything having abrupt angles. Although this may be frowned upon as looking to “last gen”, isn’t really as bad as you would expect it to be as the art style adds to the game’s own unique style. Simply put, the game would not be the same and would lose some of its charm if the graphics were improved in any way. The game’s frame rate is respectable with no noticeable slowdown to be seen at any point throughout the surreal adventure. Disappointingly, the camera can be a bit wonky at times and gets stuck behind objects making it hard for you to see, but this does not happen very often and does not detract from the overall appeal in any way.

Then there is the sound and the oh-so-incredible soundtrack that’s quite simply off-the-wall. The soundtrack does not stick to one particular style; it jumps between techno, J-pop, swing, Jazz, rock and just about every other genre you have heard of (and inventing new ones in the process). One tune fondly titled “Katamari in the Swing” is my particular favourite and the song has found its way onto my iPod where it is now on repeat till the end of days. Finally there’s not really much voice acting in the game. When some characters want to attract your attention they’ll say “Hi”, “Origami”, “Baboo” or some other strange word, but that’s about it. The sound effects are alright – nothing spectacular but then again they don’t need to be.

That’s The Power Of Love

Of course the big question is as always “is the game worth buying?” and I’m sorry to say the answer right now is a big NO! The only reason I would recommend We Love Katamari to anyone at the moment is if they had a pile off money and loved to swim in it each and every day. Namco got a little bit greedy with this game and even though some great gameplay is available on the disc, there is no getting by the fact that We Love Katamari is a budget game that should have been sold at a budget price. In America the game cost no more than $30 so why should we have to pay an inflated price? The answer is that we should not. There is a great game waiting to be played here and you will love Katamari when you play it, just have some patience and wait for an inevitable price drop in coming months.

8.7 out of 10