Namco Bandai's Katamari Damacy series comes to the PlayStation 3 with Katamari Forever, the sixth entry in the series in five years. Once again, the Prince is tasked with rebuilding the galaxy using his all-adhesive katamari.
The game may have been more appropriately titled in Japan, where it's known as Katamari Tribute. The PS3 version borrows liberally from previous levels in the Katamari series, recycling levels, objectives and characters from the PlayStation 2 and Xbox 360 entries. In Katamari Forever, the Prince and his cousins must obey the orders of two royals, the amnestic King of All Cosmos, suffering from a bump on the noggin, and the machine built to act in his stead, the RoboKing.
Is another spin around the katamari worth rolling up into your life?
Loved Look, It's Katamari: It may be hard to imagine that a game this quirky, this visually distinct—partly thanks to four graphic filters—could feel old hat, but the Katamari Damacy series is in danger of wearing out its welcome. Fortunately, the act of piling on thousands of objects onto one's katamari, marveling at its increasing size, still somehow manages to remain incredibly fun, even if this is your third, fourth or fifth go. The gameplay hasn't changed at all, save for the addition of some new abilities, like the Prince's hop that makes overcoming obstacles much easier.
♥ ♥ ♥: The only other new addition to the Katamari formula are the King's and RoboKing's hearts, power-ups that cause the katamari ball to vacuum up everything (of the right size) within a certain radius. It's an exciting, albeit minor, bonus that adds a bit more strategy to one's katamari run.
Beautiful Katamari: The game looks incredibly sharp on the PlayStation 3 running at 1080p and with a suite of visual styles that give the game a pencil-sketched look, a sepia toned filter and, later, classic Katamari Damacy graphics. Many of the game's objects are low poly by design, but everything looks great up close and zoomed out.
Hated Technical Quirks Forever: Graphically, the game is impressive, with one exception: the frame rate still comes to crawl when your katamari gets big enough, making Katamari Forever feel just as sluggish as its forebears at times. Camera problems still abound, particularly in enclosed spaces.
Me & My Least favourite Levels: The rehashing of so much of Katamari's older content inevitably means some of the least enjoyable variations on the formula will also return. Building the biggest katamari possible is great fun—and that shouldn't be the entirety of the game—but some of the tasks, such as building a katamari on a budget and raising the temperature of the katamari by avoiding "cold" items can just be frustrating.
No Online Multiplayer: Want to roll up some Katamaris with a friend? Or an enemy? You'll have to do it locally, as the game offers offline co-op and versus modes only. They're fine additions, but Namco Bandai's rolling backwards.
Enough, Jumboman: The cut scenes, once quirky and uniquely entertaining, may have worn out their welcome more so than anything else. Now they just feel obligatory, as do some of the preambles from the King and RoboKing.
Late in the game, in the middle of a level, the King of All Cosmos (or was it the RoboKing?) says something to the effect of "This is Katamari Damacy. Nothing more, nothing less." It's an accurate description of what Katamari Forever has to offer. It's a trip down memory lane, literally for the King, but one that manages to still be highly entertaining, if only to see just how big one can manage to make that katamari in 12 minutes.
Should you have never played a Katamari Damacy game before, by all means, get the PlayStation 3 version. It's wonderfully fun. If you've played more than one Katamari Damacy game, however, it might be worth carefully considering just how interested you might be in reinvesting your time, because there's little new in this unusually expensive package.
Katamari Forever was developed and published by Namco Bandai for the PlayStation 3, released on September 22 in North America. Retails for $US49.99. A copy of the game was given to us by the publisher for reviewing purposes. Played through all levels, tested co-op and versus modes.
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