Pros: More varied gameplay, larger levels and zanier things to roll up.
Cons: Some people will feel this sequel is too much like the
groundbreaking first game.
If thereís any game that deserves a sequel it is last
years surprise hit Katamari Damacy. The innovative title won gamers over
with a catchy soundtrack and light hearted style. The successor Minna
Daisuke Katamari Damacy (aka We Love Katamari in the US) adheres to the
formula established by the first title. If you havenít played the first
game it stars a pint sized prince who rolls a sticky ball collecting
junk on Earth to make stars. Crazy indeed, but itís refreshingly
In the first game you had to rebuild the stars after the princeís
father, the King of All Cosmos, knocked them out of the sky. Now that
the stars are back and the world is familiar with the phenomenon people
and animals all across the world have come to the King for help. The
game opens up with a field that the prince or one of his alien cousins
walks on. The grassy park has people calling out for help, which you can
answer by walking over and talking to them. The problems are amusing.
One has you roll up a bunch of students and another asks that you feed a
hungry sumo wrestler in preparation for a bout. Accept the challenge and
the King will send you to Earth to start rolling. If you want to play
with a friend just have the both the characters walk up to the person at
the same time. The dialogue box will change color and you can start
rolling with a friend.
Two player support is one of the features that We Love Katamari boasts.
There is the familiar versus mode, which has the prince and one of his
cousins battle out to see who can pick up more stuff with their sticky
katamari. Now there is a whole new two player cooperative mode that has
two little aliens rolling up a katamari together. The controls remain
the same as the single player mode, where you use the analog sticks to
push the ball forward. The first player is able to have more sway in
pushing the ball left, while the second player is in the position to
push the katamari to the right. It takes a couple of minutes to get used
to rolling the katamari with another person, but surprisingly youíll
find yourself rolling in sync after a couple of minutes. Even when you
are in sync youíll set more records playing by yourself than with a
friend. Maybe having two minds in control isnít better than one. Often
times youíll find your and your friend trying to move in different
directions. Even if you get synchronized perfectly and that is a huge
if, the controls to make the katamari dash are awkward to perform with a
second person. Perhaps the best example of two player rolling action is
in the snowman making level. In this free rolling level you start out
with a snowball and continuously pick up snow from the ground. One
player rolls up the snowmanís head where the other rolls up the
snowmanís body. At the end the two players roll into each other making a
snowman. Hereís hoping that Namco has more two player levels like the
snowman level in the next Katamari game.
The soul of We Love Katamari and the first game is rolling over junk
with your katamari to make it as large as possible. Some of the stages
in the game are similar to the first one where you have a set time limit
and you need to make your katamari a certain size. Although there are a
new set of levels that are less about speed and more about precision.
One level has limits your rolling to 100 items. If you want to make a
large katamari in this level you have to skip picking up tiny things
like grass and go straight for large objects like giraffes and cars.
Another level limits your item collecting and wants you to make the most
expensive katamari ever. In this level you want to avoid picking up
worthless junk and go straight for crowns and golden fortune cats. Itís
easy to plow through these levels and ignore the main goal. However, if
you attempt to try to avoid rolling objects up these levels are fairly
difficult. Think of these levels as tasks for veteran Katamari players.
Katamari experts will love the campfire level. In this level youíre
given a katamari thatís on fire and you need to roll it towards a
campfire to light it. The problem is that you have to keep the katamari
lit by continuously rolling over stuff. If you go over twenty seconds
without picking anything up the ball will extinguish and youíll lose the
mission. This level is all about making the most efficient path, which
is a different challenge than free rolling.
Another group of levels restricts what youíre supposed to roll up. One
man who wants to read his book at night in the middle of a forest
requests that you roll up stuff to light the area. In this level you
need to roll up as many fireflies as you can and then roll the bright
katamari back to the guy before time runs out. A level similar to this
asks that you roll up candy and bring it back to a girl. These slight
variants over the formula make We Love Katamari engaging for those who
are already used to rolling up cities. Donít worry though there are
plenty of stages where you can roll up TVs, people, houses and
dinosaurs. If you reach the Elephantís request you need to roll up a
katamari 500 meters high. This level has you roll up the entire Earth
with great detail. Once you get over fifty meters high youíll be able to
travel to different continents and roll over famous landmarks. Things
weíve seen include the Great Wall of China, Big Ben, the Eiffel Tower,
the Statue of Liberty, the Taj Mahal and even Mount Rushmore with a bear
in the middle of it. The title does retain itís kooky sense of humor
with a bunch of things to roll up like a man hiding in a paper box, an
island of dinosaurs, giant Ultraman clones and even the a centaur hiding
in the middle of a flower garden. With so many things to roll up,
players can spend hours just trying to complete their object collection.
The soundtrack of the first game was one of the elements that made
Katamari Damacy such a hit. We Love Katamari tries to emulate the superb
soundtrack with varying success. There are some songs like the opening
theme ďSasasan KatamariĒ (thatís the catchy na-na-na tune) that are
exactly the same. Other songs from the first game are remixed. Out of
the new songs there are quite a few that stick out to be excellent
songs. One song is an orchestrated epic Katamari theme and another is a
j-pop styled song called ďeverlasting loveĒ. However there isnít nearly
the same diversity as the first game. While there is no doubt the
soundtrack is still excellent, some people will feel a bit disappointed
that it isnít the same greatness as the first title. We Love Katamari
uses the same graphics engine as the first game, which means the game
still looks like a PSX title even though it has a smooth frame rate.
Although there are is a two fold increase in the number of different
objects to pick up and unique backgrounds makes We Love Katamari
superior to the original title in the graphics area.
After you spend eight hours youíll complete the main mode and see the
charming tale of how the King of All Cosmos met his wife and became the
King. Once this is complete youíre always able to go back and talk to
people to redo challenges. In fact many people will offer you new
challenges like time attacks to keep players busy. If youíre worried
about the length of the game, We Love Katamari is probably about three
times as large if you go through and complete all of the challenges.
Albeit shorter than an average game We Love Katamari is excellent all
the way through. If you loved the first game there is no doubt that
youíll laud We Love Katamari. If you havenít experienced the phenomenon
pick up We Love Katamari and get rolling.
Actually rolling the katamari is no problem, but the specific goals
may require some trial and error on the part of the player. The main
cinema tics have no speech at all so you'll get a good sense of the
story, even though you'll miss out on the quirky text jokes.
Minna Daisuke Katamari Damacy went through a name change to become
We Love Katamari, which is scheduled for a winter 2005 release.
Similarities to the first game aside, We Love Katamari is a worthy
sequel that should be embraced by fans. If you haven't experienced the
Katamari craze pick up We Love Katamari, at least for a rental. After
that you'll be hooked on rolling.