It's usually a fairly simple task to categorise a game into a genre once you've either read the blurb on the back cover or played it for a few hours. But those outrageous developers at Namco in the land of the rising sun have built a game that has its own special little niche. If I had to give it a genre I guess it would have to simply be called 'Play'. But I suppose it's really a puzzle game where you race against a clock and need to find the most suitable route to build up your katamari ball to an adequate size, but it definitely won't frustrate you like your average puzzle game because you'll be too busy just rolling and 'playing'.
We Love Katamari is the sequel to Katamari Demacy which caused a tornado sized impact over in Japan, and subsequently in America, but never actually made it over to Britain. Because of its phenomenal success a sequel was never going to be too far away and this time granted a global distribution.
As simple as the story is it's also quite difficult to explain without sounding like someone's spiked my cup of tea with Acid, but I'll have a go anyway. You control a small character called Prince who guides a Katamari (a sticky ball) around various locations picking up objects, similar to rolling a big snowball. You can literally pick up anything and everything providing the objects are the same size or smaller than the current size of your Katamari. There are 40 levels to make your way through which range from tidying up the mess in a child's room, rolling through the bottom of a lake to rolling around a city building up a huge 500m sized Katamari. Each level begins with the mighty King of the Cosmos being persuaded by one of his adoring fans on Earth to build them a Katamari. The dialogue the King comes out with is â¦. very interesting, and I get the feeling that it's supposed to be as bizarre at it sounds and not a case of something being lost in translation.
The graphics and sound are definitely not your run on the mill style and some might say it looks like they've gone back a few decades as it's all polygons and spheres, but in a strange way it works exceedingly well. The vibrant style and patterns mixed with the random assortment of objects that you can roll into and pick up makes each level an intoxicating experience. Especially when accompanied by the fresh selection of tunes in the background. I have to admit I'm not a major fan of the irritating scratching noise made during the conversations between characters, but you can't please all the people all the time.
The controls are very simple, purely using the 2 analogue sticks to determine the motion of the Katamari. There are a few little manoeuvres to master to make sure you don't spend too long slowly turning round to pick up that last crayon or rabbit. But these will come to you quicker than a pooch when you're holding a fresh fillet steak so in no time you'll just be happily going with the flow and rolling around the large levels giggling to yourself at some of the random people and things that you've picked up.
I know you're probably thinking at the moment that there isn't much of a challenge to this and it's just a free roaming ball rolling game which is quirky and fun. But it is challenging, and can prove difficult to build up a Katamari to the required size before the time runs out. But because it's so unusual you will spend most of your time looking around at what you can pick up next rather than nervously clock watching â and that's what gives it an edge and has made it a game loved by folks all around the world. (Feel free to have a look on the internet if you don't believe me, there's some people on the other side of the planet who have really taken to Katamari-mania)
There's some extra variety thrown in by letting you change your character, wear different outfits and even a 2 player mode. Which is a nice little bonus but it's the simply entertaining gameplay that will make you want to keep playing this game. It has the potential to be never-ending as well because you can revisit levels to try and build a bigger and better Katamari if you so wish.
I can see that some people won't 'get it' and have a bemused look on their face when they see there friends or family getting so much enjoyment from a game that looks a bit like it was developed for a Commodore 64. So it's probably best for you to 'suck it and see' to discover if this style of game will entice you enough to buy it, but personally I found it a very refreshing change and a joyous experience.
8 out of 10