We Love Katamari Review
We Love Katamari doesn't make any big changes to the tried-and-true formula. The overall design, the controls, the graphics, and the audio are pretty much the same as they were in the original game. What the sequel brings to the table is more of everything else--more levels, additional play modes, more Nippon-jazz music, and more of those kooky cinematic sequences. Basically, We Love Katamari contains more of what Katamari fans said they wanted in a sequel.
Once again, the point of the game is to roll a ball-like katamari around and attach as much "stuff" as possible to it. The more stuff you grab, the bigger the katamari gets. The bigger the katamari gets, the bigger the stuff you can grab. Most of the time, you'll start out with a tiny katamari that can only pick up things like erasers, bugs, and coins. As the katamari grows, you'll graduate up to cats, dogs, people, cars, and larger items. The scale of what the katamari can roll-up is constantly growing, to the point that you'll eventually be able to suck up houses, skyscrapers, giant monsters, and even whole islands and continents.
Rolling things up is great fun. It's relaxing too. Best of all, anyone can sit down and move the katamari around. The two analog sticks are used to push and turn the katamari... and that's it! No matter the skill level, you, your family, and your friends can laugh your asses off while rolling-up people, cows, cars, houses, and goofilicious items into a giant mass of roly-poly debris.
Right now, veterans of the first game are thinking, "We know all that! What's new?! What's so good about We Love Katamari?!" Namco hasn't changed how the game works, not one bit. Instead, what they've done is build around that core simplicity.
The biggest difference between We Love Katamari and the original Katamari Damacy is that the sequel is literally packed with environments and missions, at least twice as many than were in the first game. Furthermore, the environments are much bigger now and mission objectives are a lot more diverse. Some environments have multiple sections, which can be accessed by pushing the katamari through doorways or tunnels. Other environments change things up by covering the terrain with snow, or by sending the katamari underwater. The first Katamari Damacy only had three main environments and perhaps six or eight unique areas in all. The sequel has at least eight main environments and more than two-dozen unique areas, including a bedroom, a garden, a pond, a school, a racetrack, a snowy mountain, a camp site, and various towns, cities, and islands. Along with the wider selection of environments, the range of mission objectives has been expanded as well. Most missions still call for rolling up a certain size katamari within the time limit, but there are times when you'll be asked to do something else, like build a snowman or roll up as many flowers as possible. One of the funniest missions in the game involves rolling a sumo wrestler over food items until he's fat enough to roll-up a rival sumo.
We Love Katamari isn't just bigger than the original, it also makes various sundry improvements to features that weren't quite perfect in the first game. Remember how walls and buildings would obscure your view in the first game? In the sequel, solid objects become transparent when they get in between you and the camera. Or perhaps you wished you could change the music, play as a different character, or retry a level without jumping back out to the menu? You can do all of those in We Love Katamari. Fans of the original game's multiplayer mode will be happy to see it return in the sequel, this time with multiple locations to pick from. They've also added a co-op play option, which puts two players in control of a single katamari.
Just as the game's core play mechanics haven't changed, neither has the game's artistic style. The same blocky graphics, jazzy ska music, and Yellow Submarine style cinematic scenes from the first game are back for an encore. So too, all of these aspects have been improved in some way. The blocky people, cats, and dogs that inhabit the katamari-Earth are more animated and expressive, and the amount of general graphical detail (facial expressions, signs, water effects, smoke effects) has increased. Fans of the original game's soundtrack will be pleased to hear remixed renditions of songs like "Na-na-na Katamari" and "Katamari on the Rocks," in addition to dozens of new tracks that also fit into the same sort of Japanese jazz niche.
Those surreal 1960's style acid trip cinematic intermissions are back too. This time, they tell the story of the king's childhood, and also give us insight into why he's such a terrible dad to the prince. We won't spoil, but we will tell you that the great King of All Cosmos once won a boxing match against a rabbit by distracting the rabbit with a carrot. He also once had a pompadour haircut, which he cut off in anger one day and carried around for weeks. Funny stuff.
If you never gave the first game a chance, or fell in love with the first game but always wished it had more levels and more to do, then you absolutely must take a look at We Love Katamari. It isn't a sequel the true sense, but more of the full game that Katamari Damacy should've been.
9/23/2005 Frank Provo