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We Love Katamari

In order to be truly successful, a game needs a few things. It needs decent characters, the kind that will draw you into their lives with their amazing talents and quirky personalities. It needs excellent, addictive, and innovative gameplay, leaving gamers begging for more satisfaction. Graphics are a hit or miss with most, since not everyone can be satisfied with the final product that has been presented to them. But above all of these fundamental aspects of a game, one other factor must not be forgotten: The fans. Without them, a game’s popularity would be non-existent, dooming it to the bottom of a bargain bin within weeks of its release. No one would care for it, passing by without a second glance. With so many flashy and appealing titles ready and available to the public, a game had better have fan following if it ever has any hope of becoming a smash hit in the gaming community. However, such fortune was granted to a humble and incredibly strange game from Japan last year. The Katamari Damacy series has returned, and its massive fanbase practically drooling for the newest installment of the game they love so dearly. Thankfully, We Love Katamari is one tasty morsel of game for all its hungry followers.

In an epic tale of adventure, valor, suave kings and humble princes, Katamari Damacy was released a little over a year ago. In a drunken rage, the King of All Cosmos had destroyed all the stars in outer space, leaving the sky a dark void for all who looked upon it. Seeing the error of his ways, the King decided to restore the cosmos and save the day…by sending his son to Earth on a massive cleanup job that spanned across the globe. Sure, he’s not exactly the most earnest guy around, but it’s the thought that counts. After the little Prince had done his duty, the stars were restored, leaving humanity to revel in their beautiful new sky. However, this was just the beginning for the King and his son. Legions of fans followed the efforts of the royal family, sending their best wishes and admiration at every opportunity. The cult-like following grew big enough that even the King took notice of all his new fans. Recognizing the importance of having a fan following (as well as getting showered with ego-inflating adoration), the King has summoned the Prince to go on a public relations tour of the Earth, letting his loyal fans be heard in all their glory.

So, what is it that makes this dynamic duo so popular? Restoring the cosmos was a huge undertaking, and it took plenty of skill and patience to complete it. However, the Prince’s mission had one fundamental aspect that made things so much easier: Rolling. At the start of the adventure, the Prince was given a large sticky ball called a Katamari. He was commanded to roll forth and run over everything in his path, thus nabbing anything in sight. He could pick up everything from the smallest paperclips, farm animals, children, cars, clouds, whole continents, literally anything that was strewn out over the level. As the Katamari picked up more stuff, the larger it grew, which in turn allowed it to pick up even larger and heavier items. However, its enormous bulk could prove a hindrance at times. While the Katamari was a smooth adhesive ball, the items maintained their weight and proportions. If it picked up something heavy, it would require more effort to maneuver it around the area. Also, the added size rendered some movement impossible, sealing you away from the smaller nooks and crannies everywhere. Once the sticky ball had grown into the desired size, the King would call you back into his realm and turn your hard-earned monstrosity into a bright star or constellation. After a few trials and tribulations, all was set right in outer space.

However, the fans couldn’t get enough of the Katamari, restored cosmos or not. Acting as the Prince, you’ll have to meet just a few of your countless fans that roam the world. You’ll get to meet schoolteachers, Boy Scouts, housewives, grandparents, environmentalists, and even a rookie sumo wrestler. Despite their different interests and walks of life, they all have one thing in common: their obsession over all things Katamari. They’ll call out to you, laying out their personal problems and emotional baggage for you to solve. Some of these folks just want to see the Prince and his ball back in action, rolling aimlessly throughout the planet. However, the latest installment of the series has thrown a few extra twists to its tried and true style of gameplay. You’ll have to deal with building a roaring campfire, rolling over foods, collecting origami swans, exploring underwater reefs, capturing fireflies, and tons of other nifty new goals that add so much to otherwise typical roll-and-build objective. As usual, the missions will be timed, forcing you to hurry along and attain whatever goal that has been given to you. Should you win the day, your fans will be satisfied with your efforts. But if the Katamari is too small or doesn’t fit the needs of the fan, you’ll have to deal with whiny followers and the condescending grumbling of the prince’s celestial father. Who said that being a Prince was easy?

Your tireless quest will take you to strange and wonderful locales, offering so much more variation from the boring old levels from the original game. The towns have been revamped with even more areas and items, allowing you to explore a far broader range than ever before. You’ll get to roll around underwater, a feat that the previous installment couldn’t boast. You’ll get to explore a psychedelic dream level filled with flowers, a snowy mountainside with snowboarders of every shape and size , an elementary school filled to the brim with screaming kids, a campsite with roaring waterfalls and mystical fireflies, and even a Gingerbread House complete with its corresponding fairy tale characters. Even the training room is a bright and cheery place, nestled safely in the King’s mighty crown. But what makes this presentation of this game so astounding is how far you can grow before you’ve picked up everything. The size cap from the original game was somewhere a little less than 900 meters, whereas playing certain levels here can land you well over 1000 without breaking a sweat. You can pick up entire cities and their landmarks, including the Golden Gate and London Bridges, The Taj Mahal, Mt. Fuji, and even the entire Great Wall of China! And that’s just a tiny fraction of your ultimate goal: rolling up the Sun. Yeah, just let that sink in for a minute. All of this amazing gameplay is meshed with comedic cut scenes and a soundtrack of Swing, Jazz, and Techno that is only trumped by its predecessor. This is the kind of stuff that fans have been waiting for so readily.

We Love Katamari proves to be the ultimate follow-up, breaking that unwritten rule about crappy sequels. Do you know why it’s such a great sequel? Because it gives the fans more of what they want, introducing plenty of new spins of the gameplay while still retaining is fundamental qualities. You’ll still have to roll around and pick up stuff like normal, but now you can build snowmen, maneuver a giant fireball, terrorize a school, save the world, and do so much more with nothing more than your giant Katamari ball. Though some of the objectives may prove tricky at times, they still add so much more flavor to an already spicy-hot game. The King and the Prince are back in all their glory, injecting so much humor and entertainment between mission sessions. Considering the variations of massive levels, characters, items, and catchy music, this game will have you coming back long after you’ve achieved your goals. Most fans of the original game already have this; that’s pretty much a given. But this goes out to those that have never tried and are curious about entering the mystical realm of the Katamari Damacy series: Don’t miss this game. There’s a reason why this series has a big following, and We Love Katamari does more than enough to justify it.

9 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is a Senior Staff Writer at Thunderbolt, having joined in February 2005.

Gentle persuasion

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