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Platform - PS2
With some games it’s all about winning: you’re out to beat the game, get the high score, open the next world, level up, and reach the end of the tale. It’s not that the gameplay itself isn’t enjoyable, but it’s the string of goals and objectives that keep you coming back for more. A few games, however, are different – with them, it’s all about the sheer joy of play. I guess Pilotwings 64 is the classic example: true, there were feats of derring-do to cope with and missions to complete, but wasn’t it mostly the fun of riding the air currents and handling the vehicles that kept you playing in a cheerful, half-dazed state? Think of those other games where you forgot the main objective for a while and just messed around with the toys in the playpen instead – think of Zelda, GTA: Vice City, getting the gravity gun in Half Life 2. Sometimes, just ‘playing’ can be enough.
Well, We Love Katamari appeals to the same sort of feelings. Put simply, it’s a game that makes you feel good. In fact, it’s a game that should make anyone feel good. It’s almost as if the designer, Namco’s Keita Takahashi, went back to the innocent times before we all became obsessed with one-kill headshots, urban gang warfare and realistic driving sims, and just wanted to make something that was fun to play.
As with its prequel, Katamari Damacy (never released over here) We Love Katamari is all about rolling. Using both dual-shock thumbsticks, you control a small being – the Prince – as he pushes a ball – the katamari – around the various levels. If the katamari hits something smaller or lighter than it, it picks it up, the object sticking to the katamari (with its legs waving frantically if it happens to be animate). If it hits something bigger or heavier, it either stops or rolls over it. Picking more things up makes the katamari grow bigger, which means it can then pick up bigger things and roll over larger barriers. That’s basically it. As gaming ideas go, it’s probably the simplest since Super Monkey Ball appeared.