Publisher: Namco Bandai
Developer: Namco Bandai
Release Date: Fall 2009
You can't really dislike the Katamari franchise. The plot is simple; because the King of All Cosmos is insane and negligent, you, as the Prince, need to replace whatever he broke. This involves rolling a sticky ball, or katamari, around on Earth until it's roughly the size of everything on the planet added together, and at that point, it'll get shot into space and ignited into a new star.
If the game weren't so cute and didn't have such peppy music, it'd be utterly terrifying.
The series has its fans, but has had a problem in the past with a lack of innovation. It's one of the best pick-up-and-play games out there, but Beautiful Katamari suffered from being more or less the same game as that which came before it. You play one Katamari game, and you've more or less played them all.
Now we have Katamari Forever, which is at least aiming high. It's a PlayStation 3 exclusive, which is a truly bold move, with full HD and SixAxis support. The King of All Cosmos is suffering from amnesia, and his replacement, RoboKing, has wrecked the cosmos again. Earth has managed to generate enough new stuff, thankfully, that rolling it up to reignite the missing stars is once again an option. Hop to it.
Katamari Forever has the same lunatic style as the games that came before it. It's a colorful, dynamic cartoon of a world, which you move through from the smallest scale to the largest, and the world becomes increasingly intricate the larger your katamari grows. Each stage gives you guidelines to follow, like rolling up a set number of specific items or growing your katamari up to and over a specific diameter, and the challenge is to do so in time. Sudden impacts can send you flying and knock items off of your katamari, and when a time limit is involved, it's traditionally very difficult to reach or exceed your goal before the clock runs out. Katamari is accessible and very easy to play, yes, but that doesn't mean it's ever been easy.
The Prince has acquired the ability to hop, which you activate by shaking the SixAxis controller. This changes the game to some extent, as it no longer limits you to reaching whatever ledges you can find a ramp up to; early stages are no longer a suspiciously convenient maze built out of popsicle sticks and books. You can also activate a vacuum mode for your katamari by finding certain objects, which allows you to rapidly grow if you play your cards right.
This PS3 version also features the ability to take pictures of your game and save them to the hard drive, full 1080p HD support, network rankings and an as-yet-unexplored multiplayer mode.
The best way to describe Katamari Forever, really, is that it's a Katamari game. They're difficult to dislike, and the first one you play is likely going to be your favorite one. The series got its start on the PS2, and it'll be interesting to see what becomes of its current-gen debut on Sony hardware.
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