Quirky ‘Katamari’ rolls on
A sequel game to Playstation’s hit travels wide, picking up everything to please the King of All Cosmos
Finding a game that goes beyond the boundaries of traditional genres is a challenge, and "We Love Katamari" fulfills that nicely.
Title: "We Love Katamari"
System: Playstation 2
ESRB rating: E for Everyone
OK, it isn't really anything new. It's a sequel to the Playstation 2 surprise hit "Katamari Damacy," in which the general objective was to roll a spiked ball called a katamari (which literally means "lump" in Japanese, but "katamari" sounds cooler) around various areas, picking up items to create a large enough katamari to please the King of All Cosmos, who, in a little accident, smashed all the stars in the sky. The katamaris replace those lost stars.
What can you bundle up? The answer is: everything imaginable. As your katamari grows, you'll go from picking up pencils to bottles, frogs, pipes, wall-climbing ninjas, sunbathing seals, skyscrapers, dinosaurs, flying robots, islands, tornados and much, much more. Half the fun of the game is catching sight of the bizarre objects and events taking place.
Namco took that delightfully quirky game and made it even more so with "We Love Katamari." And that quirky humor extends from the dialogue and objects to aspects like the loading screen (with the king's floating head spewing bits of nonsense) and mission select screen (called the "Select Meadow").
Consider the story behind the sequel: People all over the world loved "Damacy" so much that they are clamoring for more katamari creations. The Prince of the cosmos and his newly introduced cousins -- playable once you find them in various stages and roll them up -- spend their time on earth talking to fans of the game and try to butter up the king to grant the fans' wishes.
Whether this reflects actual surprise on the creators' part of the success of the original "Katamari" is up for discussion, but it makes for a fun theme, and "We Love" makes shameless references to the first game.
The sequel's objectives, controls and graphics remain the same. (An in-game tutorial helps with the controls, which players may have trouble mastering.) Its main new feature is a two-player cooperative and competitive mode. Co-op mode has both players rolling one katamari to complete missions -- an extremely difficult thing to do given the vast areas and sheer amount and variety of stuff for you to roll up; different things will catch each player's eye and it's certain each person will want to rumble down divergent paths. Co-op is a letdown, but not surprising given the nature of the game.
"We Love" can be finished in about eight hours, but it has a lot of replay value, with some missions offering new conditions on subsequent attempts. And even after you finish the game, it isn't over; explore the Select Meadow after the end credits.
You eventually roll around the entire (though geographically incorrect) world, picking up famous landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben, the Statue of Liberty, the Great Wall of China, the Taj Mahal, St. Basil's Cathedral, the Easter Island statues and Mount Fuji.
Yeah, you are technically clearing out civilization in the process, but don't think of it as a weapon of mass destruction. Call it an instrument of mass unification that brings everyone together to show how much "We Love Katamari."