We've all played a Katamari game by now, because if you haven't played Katamari you're not a real person. So deeply and disgustingly ashamed of not having played a Katamari game you'd be more akin to a heartless monster hidden deep within a mountain, never to see the sun again. Luckily we don't have any such monsters around Destructoid!
BUT, if any of those monsters somehow wandered out of their filthy caves though, today is their lucky day. They can go out and buy Katamari Forever, the first iteration of the franchise to be released on the Playstation 3, the most monstrous of consoles coincidentally. The game will undoubtedly melt anyone's heart and fill it so full of love juices that they'll be forced to run naked in the streets exclaiming their joy and passion for everything, forever. Hell, that's probably how they got the tag-line “Forever” in the first place!
So if you've got an interest in what's new with The Prince and the King of All Cosmos, keep on scrolling, and you'll find my review of Katamari Forever.
Katamari is what it is, and it's never going to change in that respect. The original Katamari Damacy was intended to be the only Katamari, and though the lure of cash monies eventually won out, the sequels are all but clones. Spice up the graphics, create a bunch of new maps, add a new story, throw in some unlockable costumes and playable characters. You've got a Katamari sequel. Just like your favorite dessert though, it may look the same, it may taste the same, but it's still absolutely delicious.
While Microsoft called dibs on the first high definition Katamari (Beautiful Katamari), the series has never looked better than now. In stunning 1080p every cell-shaded detail shines magnificently. I spent the first fifteen minutes of gameplay sitting entirely too close to the television so I could pick up every little detail. After those fifteen minutes though, I came to the realization that the high definition graphics didn't really enhance my experience. If Katamari Forever was built on the graphics engine of it's PS2 ancestors, this game would suffer no ill consequence. It might even be true that it's lost some of that classic charm.
Should it be important to you that you see vividly all you roll up with your Katamari, the precision detail will help you out. King Cosmos' package has never bulged quite so... adjective (insert your own mad lib!). But those with Katamari experience know that it isn't what you roll up, it's how fast you do it! So beyond that one bullshit level where you have to amass a certain degree of temperature without picking up cold items, the graphics aren't pertinent to the gameplay. You'll still have no idea where the damn cousins and presents are until you roll them up accidentally.
And the gameplay, I'm happy to state, is still just as clumsy and fun as always. Push two sticks forward to roll, and if you want to turn, too bad. I'm kidding of course, advanced Katamari rollers will quickly recall the intricacies of turning your clod on a dime. A double stick click will turn your Katamari 180 degrees, and the alternating stick waggle sets up a dash move. New to Katamari Forever is the Prince Hop, where a quick snap of the controller upwards will have The Prince leaping through the air. Sadly, I could never get the damn thing to work consistently, especially when I needed it. I learned after I finished the game that you can also click a shoulder button to use the skill. Damnit.
The point of Katamari is still to roll up as much of the world as possible. The scope of the levels will increase dramatically as you get closer to the end, with a few surprises mixed in the bunch. From creating a snow man, to demolishing a giant robot, Katamari will keep things different enough so as to avoid repetitiveness. My favorite is still force feeding the sumo wrestler until he can defeat the much larger yokozuna. This is possibly a result of my unending battle with bulimia (JOKES). New to each map is a “King Shock” item, which will create a vortex that sucks in all edible items from the area around your clod.
After beating the game the first time, you'll begin anew in Katamari Dash mode, where your Katamari will roll exceptionally fast, and the time limit will reflect that. As you beat each level in Dash mode you'll unlock Forever mode on that map, and after that Classic mode. Forever is much as it seems, allowing you to explore a map at your leisure, while Classic returns you to the games roots and takes away the Prince Hop ability, and the King Shock items.
All of the missions you'll roll through are at the beckon of the King of All Cosmos, and new-to-scene RoboKing. This new robot tyrant is built to replace the King, who is deep asleep after a blow to the head. And thus, you are bounced between the real King's levels, which are memories from previous games, and RoboKing's levels to replace all of the stars in the sky. As you proceed through the game, you'll unlock movies that push the “plot” along. As usual, the plot is a lot of fun, but it's not as “wtf” as the first game (“Oh! I feel it. I feel the cosmos!”), and it's not as back-story rich as the second game. How can you deny a giant robot King Cosmos though? You can't.
Even with the robot King, the odd shaped cousins, the mushrooms and red pandas, the true beauty of Katamari has always been the music. Katamari Forever's soundtrack consists of remixes of past Katamari songs. While initially that might be disappointing, you'll be happy to know that all of the remixes are excellent. If you want to know more about the OST, head over to Japanator and read Zac Bentz official recommendation: Japanator Recommends: Katamari Forever OST.
Even though Katamari Forever turns out to be a generally solid incarnation of the franchise, you still have to sit back and ask yourself if this game adds anything the the series. Katamari Forever takes no risks whatsoever, and it isn't until you hear the Japanese title of the game that you realize the real point of this game. In Japan, Katamari Forever is titles Katamari Tribute. A game created for the nostalgic feelings that most of us share for the previous games. With the lack of new content I have to ask: are the game's producers are paying tribute to the game and it's players, or are theye asking you, the consumers, to pay tribute to them?
Either way, Katamari Forever is what it is. If you've never played a Katamari game before this iteration will blow your mind. You should purchase it and have a gaming experience unlike anything you've had before. The rest of us, the Katamari followers, have the tougher choice of whether to pay for more of the same. Should we hope our dedication to the franchise will be rewarded? I hope so, because with each “tribute” I play my enthusiasm is dwindling.