PS2 REVIEW: WE LOVE KATAMARI
Please note there is an import review for We Love Katamari posted below this review.

I swear that the concept for the Katamari Damacy gameplay was the result of a bizarre dream or over-consumption of a variety of offerings at some degenerate party. You know how those nerds can get on a Friday night. This is one of the strangest and most unique concepts for a console game that I've ever encountered - and it all works beautifully. It worked so well for Katamari Damacy that it's spawned a sequel: We Love Katamari.

This whole Katamari gameplay is categorized under the puzzles genre, which doesn't properly quantify the gameplay. If this series continues it may possibly warrant its own classification but even though this sequel is great, it doesn't evolve the concept making it doubtful that a third instalment would be successful if it continued along with the same gameplay formula. So in other words, don't hold your breath for a new genre classification.

If you loved the original Katamari you'll love this one too, as it retains most of what made the original such a fantastic game. Sequels are given a little bit of leeway and are judged less on originality since they are basically just expanding on the popularity of a previous product that have the masses clamouring for more. In We Love Katamari, that's exactly what the masses are doing. The in-game characters were so impressed with the King of the Cosmos original katamari that they want his excellence to show them more. By stroking the King's ego he's only too willing to oblige and so begins an encore performance.

A katamari is an enchanted ball that is rolled through various environments. Items become attached to the ball as it grows in size like a snowball rolling down a hill. Using the two analog sticks you control the direction of the katamari as you continue to roll over and pick up these strange objects that include toys, trees, students, pedestrians, fish and even entire countries. In the original game the King of the Cosmos got reeling drunk and lost all of the stars in the universe. It was the Prince of the Cosmos that had to come to the rescue and restore all of the stars using the katamari. In this sequel, the King's subjects beg to see more of the katamari's powers. They too demand a sequel and that's just what they get.

The story is just as wacky as ever. Cutscenes give us insight into the King's history but as usual he doesn't say anything brilliant. Everything out of his mouth is pure lunacy. The game's sense of humor is just as bizarre as the gameplay which is perfect marriage of insanity and functionality. Nothing really makes sense and it really doesn't have to. The gameplay can't be taken seriously. Different characters and different situations could have been used but they would still have to be funny and bizarre to foreshadow the gameplay. There's no reason to take this seriously, it's just pure, strange fun.

Different missions require you to make bigger and better katamaris. You will have to meet size and time requirements in some levels. Failure to do so will result in a chastising by the King as he verbally assaults you while staring you down with laser eyes. In one level your katamari is a sumo wrestler that you must feed in order to grow in size. In another mission you will have to collect all the countries on the planet to save it from an asteroid. The missions aren't very difficult and the overall game is short but the replay value manifests itself as you replay the levels multiple times for a better score to appease the King.

A more improved Verses mode is included which features a split screen so that you and a friend can race against each other to be the first to complete the mission challenge. A two-player co-op mode lets each of you control one of the dual sticks. It takes some practice to get the controls synchronized and when you finally do it's still a lot easier and more fun to just play the darn game by yourself.

Using the same graphic palette as before the objects and characters have a decidedly Star Wars Lego look to them with simple geometric shapes and primary colors. The collection of tunes is as eccentric as the gameplay with experimental J-Rock, techno and other zany aural offerings. It all combines to produce a surreal experience that you won't soon forget.

Import Review By Kelly
OVERALL
4.5
GRAPHICS
3.5
CONTROL
4.5
MUSIC/FX
5.0
VALUE
4.0

Goodness. The first Katamari was daft, but I loved it. Living in the UK I had to import it as it as not released here to my recollections. The moment I heard We Love Katamari was in development, I placed a pre-order with my import connection and was a lucky girl! I received my copy a few days ago and haven't left my flat once in that time, aside from when I went to rubberneck at the accident outside my window.

We Love Katarmi is more of the same rock n roll gameplay that all of you gamers loved the first time. This time it's bigger, better and rollier! If you have no idea what Katamari is about, let me explain. The object of the game is to roll around collecting items in a huge ball called a Katamari. You will start out collecting small items such as candy, tacks and pens but will soon find yourself rolling over cars, houses airplanes and mountains!

Genius creator Keita Takahashi set out to make We Love Katamari more of the same and I'm sure most of us are happy with that. If it's unbroken, don't fix it. The story has changed slightly since the first game. The King of the Cosmos has become an instant celebrity after helping the people of Earth in the first game. They continue to call on the King to help them out, but he's become increasingly lazier and decides to send the Prince to do his dirtywork.

The mission objectives are as crazy as ever and vary from cleaning a boys room to creating a large snowball for the head of a snowman to saving the Earth from a meteor strike (remember the credits from Katamari Damacy?). Since the objectives and gameplay remain almost exactly intact, think of We Love Katamari as more of an expansion of the original than an entirely new game. Unfortunately some areas of the game that could have used some attention have been overlooked. Much like the first game, the difficulty balance is a bit off as earlier levels can be harder - sometimes much harder - than later levels. The two player mode isn't what you'd think and I was slightly disappointed in that. Instead of playing head to head, two players will have to cooperate to get the ball rolling at the same time. Even if you don't care for the two player there are many other modes and varieties of game play that expand the replay value of this sequel far and beyond the original.

If you can believe it, the music in this sequel is actually better than in the first game and I think I speak for everyone when I say the first games soundtrack was fantastic. The graphics haven't improved, nor did they need to and the control is as pick up and play as the original game which means anyone can get in on the fun.

Imagination seems to be lacking in videogames these days, which is ironic considering imagination is what this hobby was founded on. We Love Katamari Damacy is as unique and brilliant as videogames get and I highly suggest you buy a copy when it's released in your area. Good news for those of us in the U.K. Namco WILL be releasing this wonderful game here this time! Buy it, don't rent! If you rent brilliant games, game publishers don't get an accurate reading of just how popular a game is and they think it's not worth releasing games like this. The game industry needs games like Katamari Damacy and We Love Katamari and come to think of it, so do you.

Preview By Devin
My first experience with the now famous (or infamous) Katamari was at this year's E3. After hearing journalist after journalist rave about the entertaining gameplay, simple yet enjoyable graphics and utterly whacked out music and storyline, I had to try this out for myself.

I remember walking past the SOCOM 3 booth and seeing a very girlish looking game, with hearts and rainbows all about. I signaled to my buddy to pick up the spare controller for some multiplayer, but after some colorful language I knew this wasn't a game for him. So alone I continued on, rolling around to my heart's desire, knowing little that this game would roll right into my heart.

Rock N Roll!
Ok, enough with the Foo-Foo girly stuff, We Love Katamari is an absolute blast. The demo at E3 had me rolling my katamari around a school. The first thing that hit me while playing was the easy learning curve with the controls. You can literally pick up and play in We Love Katamari, with the two PS2 analog sticks showing off some awesome responsiveness.

The second point that jumped out at me was the graphics. We Love Katamari seems to have the same graphics as its predecessor, Katamari Damacy. In fact, the only true difference between the original and We Love is the locales. The game's designers over at Namco felt that reinventing the game was not important, but rather building upon the already solid foundation. Those expecting a completely different title might be put off with the fact that We Love feels more like a really big expansion pack.

Too Weird To Be Ignored
The story behind We Love is essentially the same; the King of the Cosmos berates his son whom goes to Earth to do his father's bidding. However, the katamari handler has become so popular on Earth that he's built a fan base. Instead of having to collect objects to make stars for the King, the Prince will have to speak to fans down on Earth for missions. This will eventually lead him to some brand spanking new locales.

Even though the demo was limited to a school, We Love Katamari will feature a whole new world for the Prince and his cousins to explore. There will be levels under the ocean, where you'll be collecting fish and other sea life, and there's also a level in the snow to see who can build the biggest snowman. Speaking of cousins, the Prince is no longer the only playable in single player. Although there are no apparent advantages in selecting a different character, the Prince's cousins from Katamari Damacy's multiplayer mode are all playable characters now.

Domo Aragato
It may have looked childish, and it may have looked downright lame, but Katamari Damacy was a huge hit, one that was welcomed by many in the gaming world. I suspect We Love Katamari to have the same affect. It will definitely please the old school Katamari fans, but it will also bring in a whole new fan base. Take my word for it, as I'm already saving my quarters for the game's release.

Preview By Vaughn

The sleeper hit of 2004 is returning to the PS2 later this year and that will be be extremely good news for fans who loved the bizarre innovative gameplay of the first Katamari Damacy. Considering it was a budget title to begin with and a strange concept, the first game exploded via word of mouth and gained an extraordinary following on that alone.

If you don't believe how cool Katamari is, then you have obviously never played it. It's as fresh and offbeat as the original Parappa The Rapper. The sequel promises bigger and better katamaris (the giant circular collections of items) as well as two player mode so you and a friend can go at it.

Press:

In "We Love Katamari," players will find themselves in various new locations around Earth as the Prince and his cousins roll up different katamaris according to the fans’ requests. "We Love Katamari" continues the series’ trademark graphical style and musical excellence with an original soundtrack and hundreds of brand new items including Koi fish, angels and famous Earthly landmarks to roll up. The Prince’s celestial rolling has no boundaries; as his katamari grows larger, he can roll up literally everything in his path – from underwater creatures to mountains and even the Eiffel Tower itself!

“'Katamari Damacy' was the break-out hit of 2004 garnering tremendous accolades while delivering an innovative yet intuitive style of play to gamers,” said Yoshi Niki, Business Unit Director at Namco Hometek Inc. “We are hard at work on the second installment of this landmark series that will deliver a new level of originality and style that will have gamers shouting, ‘We Love Katamari!’”

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System: PS2
Dev: Namco
Pub: Namco
Released: Sept 2005
Players: 1 - 2
Review By Cole
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
4.0
GRAPHICS
4.0
CONTROL
4.5
MUSIC/FX
3.5
VALUE
3.0