When I was but a child, I used a weekís pocket money to buy what can only be described as a sticky, orange ball. The idea of this toy is that you could throw it against a wall, and then it would slowly start to roll down the wall instead of just falling directly to the floor. Well, it worked at first, but unfortunately normal household dust took its toll and the stickiness disappeared. I remember being very disappointed at what now amounted to a useless dusty orange ball, this disappointment then turned to annoyance as I threw it at the living room ceiling and it actually stuck to the ceiling and stayed there for a month or so until my parents spotted it.
Thankfully this absolutely harrowing childhood experience has not soured my experience of We Love Katamari. Itís a good job as Iíve been waiting to roll a Katamari since I saw information on the Japanese release of Katamari Damacy. Itís been a long wait as well, since March 2004 if I recall correctly. But finally Europe gets a bit of Katamari love with the eventual release of the sequel.
Indeed, as the title suggests, love is the theme running through this game. After the events of the original Katamari Damacy The King Of All Cosmos has now gained a large following of Katamari fans on Earth. These fans are actually very demanding of the King, and of course the King revelling in the compliments that come along with these demands passes those demands on to his son, the Prince. After all why should the King get his hands dirty Ė right? Generally these tasks involve rolling up objects with your Katamari until it gets big enough to roll up larger objects, and larger with the aim of reaching a certain size of Katamari before the time runs out. There are variations on this theme, rolling a snowball for a snowmanís head, rolling a Sumo wrestler into food until he is large enough to beat his opponent.
But whatever the task, and whatever the variation the game throws at you, youíll be rolling. Rolling involves using the two analogue sticks in a tank like fashion. In other words pushing both sticks up moves forwards, both down moves back and only one will rotate around the Katamari. Unlike a tank itís also possible to move sideways and thereís a handy 180 degree turn by pressing both the sticks in. Itís easy to understand and works fantastically whether youíre zipping around between peopleís feet or sucking up giant monsters and buildings.
Each item you stick to doesnít just add to the size of the Katamari, in a fantastic touch they affect the shape of it as you might expect. Running over a toothbrush when small (or indeed a lamp post when larger) for example will give the Katamari a kind of limp as it rotates. Itís a charming effect which is amplified by the noises each object makes when rolled over, from blips and clanks, to bursts of noise from musical instruments and even screams and yells from people as they get sucked up in the oddly shaped ball of destruction.
The visuals add to the charm of the chaos, with everything taking on a cartoon-style, blocky look which to me is reminiscent of Zoo Keeper. The character design, while off the wall, is very strong. From the tiny prince and the huge King Of All Cosmos (and his slightly disturbingÖ bulge) to the many different cousins and second cousins found around the level. Sadly the humans involved in the game stick to tried and tested stereotypes but since theyíre not the starts of the show (that honour definitely belongs to the King) it doesnít really matter.
Of course accompanying the visuals is the much talked about soundtrack. Now I hear people telling me that the soundtrack isnít up to the standard set in Katamari Damacy, I canít comment on that, but what I do know is that itís a wonderful eclectic mix of music. Itís mostly based around the central ďna-naaaaĒ theme but also branching out to catchy pieces of j-pop such as ďEverlasting LoveĒ.
Just like the Katamaris themselves, all the parts of the game come together to make a whole that is unlike anything else but works so very well. Itís not a game to take as a serious hardcore challenge. In fact itís easy to play through and complete. However, given that you can go back to any level at any time and try to beat your ďscoreĒ itís a game with which to spend a lazy afternoon, just enjoying the wonderful absurdity of it all.
And it wonít disappoint like that orange ball did.
9 / 10