Review: Beautiful Katamari

Review: Beautiful Katamari
Review: Beautiful Katamari

Have you ever had one of those days where you just feel like you could roll over everything in sight like some mutant armadillo monster?

You probably haven't and that last statement is probably a sign I should see a psychologist but it's probably the best way I can go about summarising Beautiful Katamari for the Xbox 360.

Beautiful Katamari is a game that could be best described as being "typically Japanese". As Australians, most of us are unused to seeing the sheer variety of unusual games the Japanese like to create and while a lot of them are culture specific, the Katamari concept isn't and it's what made the original Katamari games capture peoples hearts that found it a Japanese export for the Western market as early back as Katamari Damacy for the PlayStation 2 in 2004.

The original story had the King of All Cosmos - basically the King of the Stars - accidentally destroying all of the stars and planets while drunk. You as his Prince were sent to roll lots things into huge clumps that the King could make into stars so the sky would be populated once again.

In Beautiful Katamari, the King has gone and done something silly once again by playing some tennis on vacation and accidentally creating a rip in the fabric of the universe by serving a ball badly. This in turn creates a black hole that sucks everything except the Earth into it.

Yeah... weird. We know.

Your job as the Prince will be to roll up large clumpy bits of the Earth that the King can create planets and stars out of before being able to put a plug in the black hole that your King created.

Ignore the story for a moment because it doesn't matter. In fact, it never matters. You'll only care about the story from time to time when the stylised scenes pop-up when the King likes you and doesn't want to mow you down on his giant Pool table which he will do if you ever lose a mission.

What Beautiful Katamari does do is give you one of the most unusual experiences you're likely to have had in a video game ever. At its core, Beautiful Katamari is a puzzle game that relies on time and needing to roll over stuff. You'll spend your missions controlling a ball that as you get larger, takes on the ability to suck up larger things. Your katamari - which translates loosely to clumps - will first pick up small items like lollies and spinning tops. As you get bigger, you'll start to pick up toys, flowers, staplers, food, road signs, animals, and even start mashing people into your massively random clump of stuff. The police officers will even start shooting at you so make sure to run over them quickly.

If you've played one of the original Katamari games on the PlayStation 2 or PlayStation Portable, you probably won't find a lot here to make you go out and buy this game. It's true that there's an online mode and you can play against friends, but Katamari doesn't really do anything to differentiate itself from its predecessors. It's still outrageously zany fun and provides a great break from the outside world as well as any other game you might have come across, but it's not doing anything really different. The graphics haven't really changed to take advantage of the Xbox 360 and the gameplay can still be as hard and irritating as it ever was because of the time constraints placed on you.

I also found that addictive as it was, needing to go back and finish levels that I couldn't beat started to bug me. A part of me simply yearned for a sandbox level where I could roll over whatever I want as a means of relaxing.

Beautiful Katamari is then one of those games that doesn't exclude anyone. For the original Katamari fans, you have a game that runs on a next-gen platform and even includes multiplayer and downloadable content. But because not a lot has changed, that's all it brings. For other players who have never touched a Katamari game, it's a welcome sight but one that will have to be very different the next time a Katamari game rolls around.

Should you buy it?: If you're after a game experience unlike any other, yes.

Developer: Namco Bandai
Publisher: Atari
Classification: G
Formats: Xbox 360
URL: Beautiful Katamari

Reviewed by Leigh D. Stark

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