NightV was kind enough to review the Japanese import copy
(which I'm also covering here...)
I think the game warrants a second look when I can call to question some of the points that NightV brings up in his article.
King, stars, memory loss, knocked out.
Robo King, stars, blows 'em out of the sky, wants to make good while the real King is out cold.
That's the story in a nutshell. To try and delve deeper than that is to question the entire purpose of the game. This game defies all story telling logic and carves out it's own nonsensical niche (as it has for the entire series).
The larger focus of the story has you going between missions trying to help the King regain conciousness by revisiting his lost memories of old Katamari Damacy missions he's sent the Prince on in previous games. These levels tend to have more objective based missions (help out a Sumo, collect Fireflies, help the king remember what a 2m Katamari looks like...). Robo King's over zealous star destroying has you (as the Prince) replaying several levels from the other games focused more on actual star making.
Robo Kings levels generally fall into "Build a katamari of ## size in ## minutes."
Yep, there's levels from Beatiful Katamari in here...
The gameplay is identical to what you've played in the past with We <3 Katamari and the original Katamari Damacy. Nothings changed. What has changed is the addition of a few new features, additional gameplay modes, and because the game revisits 3 different Katamari titles from the past, less linear gameplay.
The new features are the addition of a jump maneuver (shaking the Dual Shock or pressing R2), which can help you nab presents and cousins who might be JUST out of your reach. Additionally, the game has added in a special collectible in each level in the shape of a heart/broken heart. Some levels have both. Picking up the broken heart gets you a one-shot 2 second collection of every thing that's near your Katamari of similar size. If your Katamari is big enough to roll up cars, you'll suck up all nearby and passing cars of similar size. The full heart enables a 15 second Cousin mode, which fills the screen up with a cutesy cousin animation, where all your cousins help you suck up a lot of stuff that's the same size as you or smaller. This adds a lot of extra flavor to some of the larger levels as holding off on picking up the full heart until your Katamari is of a decent size can move you through some of the larger sizes much faster. Seeing the Katamari suck up everything around you is quite gratifying and is a most enjoyable feature. I managed to take a 30m Katamari to 320 in the span of 15 seconds using the full heart cousin power up. If you're someone who likes to get as large of a katamari as possible in each level's time limit, you will start to use the hearts in your gameplay strategy.
The Dual Shock controls finally feel right. The gameplay is totally dependent on the precise movements that the dual shock controllers have given us the entire series on the Sony consoles. It's a welcome return for the game as the Xbox 360 version was a total and abject failure. I've been playing the game for 4 straight days and never noticed any weird control issues that weren't the same as any other Katamari PS2 game.
The downloadable content that plagued Beautiful Katamari has been done away with entirely. It's all here and it's all on the disc. After completing the game for a first time (there's 33 missions to choose from), the game allows you to replay levels for completion or try your hand at the revisited levels with new gameplay handicaps. Katamari Drive is available on all levels after defeating it the first time. Katamari Drive takes the Indy 500 level and puts a fast moving katamari in your hands. The caveat is that your time is cut down severely. A 5 minute level is now 2 minutes, 7 minutes is now 4. After getting high enough level scores, you have the ability to unlock Classic and Eternal modes, which give you an endless way to play or to be able to play the game without the ability to jump.
All the cousins are here in full force with an equal amount of new presents and accessories to choose from. The camera is added as well. I find that the camera add on isn't really all that great, but does make for some interesting screenshots when you randomly snap some pics of the weird and wacky level designs.
There are additional minigames to be found to add to the games life. If there were ever a game that had replay, it's the Katamari series. Trophy whoring aside, it's just plain fun to spend 20 minutes rolling around trying to see if you can beat your old score.
4. Graphics and Music
Really? Anyone here expecting HD super awesomeness? Move on. It's Katamari. The textures have never been so clean and clear. What was once a design choice to allow the game to scale in the manner it does has now become an art style that is the essence of the game. There's blocky textures on large objects, people are square (I feel the cosmos!) and everything still looks as it should. The addition of some filter options (all the King's memories are in black and white initially)... and you've got some interesting takes on the visuals of the game. The camera is still as broken as ever, and you will get stuck behind something you can't see around. The camera opens a hole about 60% of the time so you can see through stuff you get stuck under, but i don't think there's a way to really fix this as it's been in every game in the series. You'll get stuck, you'll experience the mediocre camera. It's part of the game experience with Katamari.
When the game scales, you'll see everything scale down appropriately. The graphic capabilities may be improved, but shit will still disappear if you get too big.
The music? It's remixed. All of it. The main "Na...nanananana...." theme is the only thing that's untouched. What songs are here? Uh... I dunno. Crimson Rose and a Gin Tonic remixed as a chiptune is a highlight. There's three remixes of Katamari on the Rocks (on the Swing, on the Funk, on the Wings). Everlasting Love, The Moon and the Prince, and You are Smart.
Most of the songs are identifiable, though somewhat forgettable. It felt like they hired studio musicians to do these remixes so they only got mediocre work out of the effort. Don't get me wrong, these are workable songs and true to their source, they just don't always work for the tune. I was kinda let down we didn't get more songs as I've been a fan of Kuru Kuru Rock since it first appeared in the second game and would've enjoyed to hear that remixed more than You Are Smart.
Considering how this game has a dedicated cult following, I would've thought they would've done something like source the music to real fans...
The game is basically repackaging the best bits of the three console games. It's all in HD now, and it manages to weave a new story in the process. Given that the original games were so strong and the Xbox 360 so poorly received, the game should be worse for the wear, but most of the issues with the Beautiful Katamari game lied in the poor controls and the locked on the disc "DLC" bonus content people were duped into having to buy to get the whole game experience.
Is it worth it? If you're a fan of the series, you'll appreciate the visual upgrade, the new levels are a nice touch, but their dissimilar gameplay makes them stand out more than the original levels from the previous titles. The three original levels are kinda shoehorned in gameplay types compared to the other levels, but they don't really detract from the game overall.
I can easily give the game a 9 to a newcomer to the series, an 8 if you've been playing this game since the beginning.
It's all just a matter on if you're still a fan of the series or not. Clearly, as evidenced by the insane people who bought Noby Noby Boy looking for more of the same (myself included) were searching for something better than Beautiful Katamari. This is that better game. read