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Katamari Forever

Rollover jackpot?

Dark blue icons of video game controllers on a light blue background
Image credit: Eurogamer

London's Namco Centre, the location of this evening's hands-on event with Katamari Forever, sits almost exactly opposite the Houses of Parliament. Cast in the tall shadow of Big Ben, this busy arcade - the likes of which you'd never find in a marginal constituency - provides an ideal stop-off point for MPs to throw down some expenses on a quick game of Time Crisis after work.

While there are no Members in attendance tonight, Eurogamer nevertheless catches a glimpse of the Prime Minister silhouetted in one of Westminster's high-set gothic windows. He stares down longingly at the event across the river, wishing no doubt that he could skip across the Thames, take up a katamari and roll his bankrupt, broken country into a gigantic ball, cleaning up his mess and firing it into space before anyone can call "general election!"

In his preview fantasy, Brown would roll his giant sticky ball along the Thames embankment, discarded lollipop sticks, diseased pigeons and spray-paint street mimes sticking to it with satisfying schlups. Then, once the tangle of debris reached about 12 metres in diameter, he'd move on to rolling up red buses and taxis and trees, the sphere expanding till it could absorb the capital's great monuments one by one: Nelson's Column, St Paul's Cathedral and the Tower of London.

Gaining gleeful momentum, he'd nab the Michael Jackson-less O2 arena, before pulling the whole of London's Docklands from the earth's crust, and then merging it with Watford, Southend, Birmingham and Grimsby. Soon, Gordo would be rolling up countries in an instant, then planets, then entire star systems. Mars, Mercury and the Milky Way: no celestial body would be safe from the unstoppable snowball of detritus, pushed along by a tiny Scotsman laughing in maniacal deadpan: "PUBLIC INQUIRY THIS, MOTHERF***ERS."

Scattered throughout each level are the Prince's cousins. Two new additions to the family brings the total to 58, all of whom are playable once discovered.

And herein, of course, lies Katamari's problem. Without even sitting down with the game, the Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland can guess exactly what he's going to get with Katamari Forever [I suspect he probably can't - Ed]. When Keita Takahashi designed the first Katamari Damacy for PlayStation 2, he had a plan. He made a game with a beginning, a middle and an end, one with a natural, graceful trajectory plotted from rolling up the micro-debris of modern living all the way to rolling up the planets and star systems at its conclusion.

There was no need for a sequel because, once you've wiped out the cosmos, there's nowhere left for a sequel to roll: the full scope of the idea had already been explored. Additionally, Katamari Damacy itself was an anti-capitalist statement. We have too much, it said. If only we could gather all of humanity's idiotic clutter and fire it into space, then perhaps we would be free again. As such, the very concept of a Katamari sequel goes against the spirit of Katamari. And yet here we are: caught in a feedback loop, playing Katamari Forever.

Katamari Forever, just like every other sequel in the series, plays very much like Katamari Damacy. The core campaign presents 30 stages, each one featuring a larger katamari ball and requiring you to roll up ever-larger objects until, in the end, you are rolling up stars and planets. It is consigned by the brilliant comprehensiveness of the original to add mere bulk to the format and for that reason, no doubt, Takahashi has had no involvement with this forthcoming PlayStation 3 release. Perhaps it's his distance from the project that has redoubled the resolve of its creators - who have been working on the game since may 2008 - as, right from the off, it's clear that Namco is eager that Katamari Forever deliver, if not the first Katamari experience, then at very least the definitive Katamari experience.