Apparently, according to the manual and the game's own introduction, We love Katamari
was made because the original game Katamari Damacy
was so well-loved all over the world.
Except maybe, perhaps Europe? You know, the entire continent that you never officially released the game in? OK, maybe a few hundreds of people from various European countries got a directly imported copy to use on their modded PS2, but there are times when being a European gamer really sucks, and it would not do well to remind me about those times...
...Of course, We love Katamari
immediately makes me forget about this, because the weirdness I had heard about with regards to the original then sets in. To go completely reference-happy, the intro and movies seem to be a mixture of Strong Bad's Crazy Cartoon, Weebl's "On The Moon" (with the Toast King),
and the well-known animation style of Terry Gilliams. Yes, this game is weird, and doesn't make any excuses about it. Heck, it doesn't make any excuses about anything it does.
And why should it? For Europeans and others who never played the original, you play as the Prince of Cosmos, son of the pretty much all-powerful King of Cosmos. Like in the original, you have a Katamari, which is a strange ball-like thing that has the power to make anything below a certain size stick to it. As you stick things onto it, the ball will grow bigger, and you will be able to roll over bigger things and make those stick to your Katamari. And so you venture on a wealth of missions.
These missions are mainly within two categories: The first kind is to roll up to a certain size within the time limit, and with the side-goal of making the ball as big as possible when time runs out. Or in other words, if you have three minutes to achieve your goal, and you make it in two minutes, just keep rolling to (hopefully) get a better comment from the King of Cosmos. The second type is even simpler: Just roll up to a certain size as fast as possible. You can actually take as long as possible, but once you hit the size goal, you're done.
There are a few minor variations in some missions, but nothing that makes you feel like you're playing a different game. However, at best these missions are equally fun as the ordinary ones, and sometimes they are quite more boring. Especially the "hidden" rose-collecting mission, which is about gathering 1 million roses. Let me tell you, that one is going to take days to complete, It takes about half an hour to get 10 000 roses, so do the math. At least you can break it off and the game will save the amount you've collected so far, so that you can get it in smaller chunks. But it's still boring as hell.
Anyway, you'll naturally start out small and doing small missions, but you will gradually receive missions that really allows you to get huge. After all, the game has roughly three thousand different items to roll up, from a small pin to a bowling pin to a pinball machine and eventually to gigantic monster whale a kilometre long... Heck, in the very end, you'll roll up the sun!
The difficulty in simply doing these missions are low for anyone even halfway hardcore. So if you just want to get through the game as quickly as possible, you'll hardly ever fail, and you'll cruise through in but a few hours. Heck, the "roll up to a certain size as fast as possible" missions aren't even possible to actually fail. However,
if you want the king to be really impressed with your Katamaris - and said hardcore gamers should want just that - then you'll often need to do each stage quite a few times, memorising routes and restarting if anything bumps into you and send you off to lose valuable seconds. So, the game's pretty much as easy or difficult as you want it to be. And if you want to collect all
the different kind of stuff you can roll up, then you'll be spending quite a few days...
Considering we're dealing with the PS2, and considering how pretty much everything can be rolled up, the graphics must stay simple and fairly blocky, which of course is a reasonable trade-off. It couldn't have been done otherwise without getting loading times every five seconds, instead of mostly once per stage, sometimes twice (and the final stage four times, but that one lasts for 17 minutes). The ingame designs are brightly coloured and never unpleasant to look at, though sometimes a bit weird, of course.
The music deserves a special mention, because it too is freaking damn weird. Or to put it another way, it's j-pop to the fullest. Like I said, this game doesn't apologise for anything As you unlock new stages, you can select from a bigger range of scores, and some of them will
stay in your mind. Whether you want them to stay there or not can be another matter... But you should find at least a couple of them that you like.
And apart from some minor control issues (it can be hard to turn at times, and rushing the ball is very difficult to execute consistently), the game itself is pretty damn weird, and most definitely the kind of game that you know is Japanese to the core. And it can stick around in your mind for a good while, but while it's a novel concept that's damn well executed, it's still not a -great- game. There's that certain je n'ai c'est pas feeling that's lacking for the true gems. Perhaps it's partially the way that once you've gotten through the game - in my case, by getting the best kind of planets on just about every mission except two - it isn't really much fun to start all over again. Yeah, you need to replay the levels a bit to get the best grading from the king, but the game as a whole doesn't have much replay value.
But still, if you are tired of the same old "kill everyone on sight" and want to replace it with "roll up everything
on sight", then you should owe yourself to test this game out. You'll probably want to buy it after that test. The King of Cosmos will be overjoyed if you do.
Unless he's hungry that day.