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triumphofhearts avatar 7:29 PM on 12.20.2008  (server time)
REVIEW - Beautiful Katamari - Xbox 360 (Namco Bandai)

In motion, Katamari is like an watching a jar of sweets tipped down a hill. To the passer-by, these sweets seem to march and pulse in time with the ever inventive, thumping J-Pop soundtrack, while an infinitely adhesive Gene Wilder styled Everlasting Gobstopper mows down a land coloured in sherbert, ignoring the rigid body physics of animal, vegetable and mineral.

It doesn't make any sense; though it's the game's awareness of its own cultural malaise which allows its success. It never professes to offer any depth beyond rolling things up to please a screen filling deity, famed for dismissing syntax and sense in his endless quests for better intergalactic husks. The linear task is a refreshing revert to gamer's lost suspension of belief in mainstream video games - I am rolling because I am told to roll - and it's a testament to the strength of Katamari's central concept that not only does it demand repeated plays, but its naturally repetitive nature is seldom boring.

Backstory and driving plot become superfluous because of the strength of Namco Bandai's focus and concept. Draped over the central mechanic's back is a tool bag dripping originality, stitched with beautifully quirky presentation, and sealed with blisteringly tight execution.

The item collection, while creating added longevity and encouraging compulsive play-throughs, does begin to grate towards its conclusion. Technically the game chugs and wheezes far more than should be expected or could have been anticipated, and the pricing structure of the downloadable content (which sits on the disc ready to be unlocked through exorbitantly priced 384kb ransom notes by Namco Bandai and Microsoft's burgeoning pockets) is a real kick in the teeth, but Beautiful Katamari delivers its entire experience with such an amiable, neon smile that it's hard to stay cross. Like an idiot puppy that eats your lino but then tips his lopsided mongrel ear in faux-apology, Katamari reserves enough cute power to win over all but the stoniest heart.


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