Yes, we do love Katamari
How do you follow up one of the most surprising and quirky titles of last year? Add a free-roaming element? Turn the main character into a head-banging drifter with a much darker attitude? The addition of mods, upgrades, carjackings, and a deep dialogue system? Evidently for seasoned video game legends, Namco, it all lies in the egotistical mind of the lead developer; what follows is the arrogant title of a sequel that's sure to bring back the fond memories of its predecessor, We Love Katamari.
Katamari Damacy was made popular by its outlandish storyline, simplistic graphics, and sing-a-long inducing soundtrack. We Love Katamari does its best and often succeeds in upping the ante on everything the original made so fun. Of course, Katamari Damacy had one of the oddest premises and storylines to date; you were charged with helping your self-obsessed dad, who just so happened to be the King of All Cosmos, restore all the stars in the sky... stars he snuffed out after a long night of tequila and Jell-O shots. We Love Katamari reinjects the series with a whole new feeling of superiority and glamour, especially when thinking of themselves. The King of All Cosmos is regarded as the top dog, big man on campus, the Mac Daddy of the Universe, if you will. Not only does the universe think this way, but he thinks this way.
Undoubtedly, not everyone can love such a commanding and egotistical man, but with the King's obsession with his greatness he sends you, his millimeter-high son, The Prince, to Earth so you can capture the hearts of everyone.
In an very thought-provoking idea, the name of the game, Katamari Damacy, is brought up often; the very people you wish to enlighten have stories of how they want to become better at the original game, parents want to buy Katamari Damacy for their children, and dogs wish to become better friends with animals, via Katamari Damacy. Self-loathers need not apply.
Being that this is a sequel coming out just one year later from its predecessor, originality and uniqueness is definitely downsized in favor of bigger Katamaris, more varied objectives, and extra playable characters in the form of the many cousins of The Prince. By far, the biggest improvement is the many ways in which you can now reach your Katamari goal. Katamari Damacy was limited to either reaching a certain size in a limited amount of time, or collecting a set amount of one particular object in a level. We Love Katamari goes all out with a bevy of new Katamari ploys and schemes. With objectives ranging from making a sumo wrestler bigger by rolling up food, to assisting a bookworm in his 24/7 studies by collecting fireflies for a light source, you'd be hard pressed to find an objective not oozing with originality and subtle ridiculousness. If the shocking oddity of the objectives weren't enough to warrant further play, the never satisfied attitude of the King (plus the hidden secrets) will.
As aforementioned, The Prince can roll up one of his many cousins in each level of the game. Cousins range from the fat kid always eyeing your cupcakes to the always bandaged, accident-prone guy lying on your couch with the nosebleed. Gifts for the King also make their comeback; hidden in each level they are often picked up by accident, but are more often than not unique and laugh-worthy (I'm looking at you Giraffe Hat).
Possibly the biggest contribution to the original sleeper hit was its too-sweet-not-to-adore soundtrack. It had even the most jaded western gamers singing along to the zany tunes of Japanese lounge lizards, but while We Love Katamari's soundtrack does have its fair share of addictive beats, its simplistic and almost redundant playlist makes for a soundtrack less than suitable for a King, and certainly not for the King of All Cosmos.
Despite, its lackluster melodies, the charm and wit of We Love Katamari are sure to replace any lingering doubts with a large dopey grin. The game breathes style and lives in a house made of cleverness. The fact that one minute you're receiving a lecture on how great the King of All Cosmos is, and then the next you're pummeling your Katamari into the house made of sweets from "Hansel and Gretel" is the stuff that can only come from the creative and original minds at Namco. With an unorthodox as all get-out cast of characters, the humor and craziness never stops for even the briefest of breaks.
If you're an arrogant scumbag looking for a good time or an average gamer wanting to soothe your pallet with some sweet, strange gaming goodness, We Love Katamari is the game for you. Easily accessible, tongue very firmly in cheek humor, and a cast of characters so loony you'll start to question your own sanity. It won't have the same impact as its papa, but rest assured it lives up to the high pedestal set by the original Katamari. So addictive it'll lead to criminal charges if used in excessive amounts, roll that ball up to the nearest store and have yourself a self-centered good time.
28 September 2005