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Best of all, once you’ve mastered the basics, the game throws in just enough twists to keep things interesting without ruining the simple appeal. One hilarious level involves rolling a sumo wrestler over food until he’s fat enough to bounce his rival out of the ring. Another faintly ridiculous effort is all about rolling up the largest cow or bear possible, without hitting a smaller cow or bear beforehand and spoiling your efforts. I won’t say more because I don’t want to spoil it, but when most games have hit their imaginative limits after the first three hours, We Love Katamari finds new ways to make you smile right up until it hits its climax.
Not that it seems to have a climax as such. Yes, there is a kind of story tying the whole thing together, and yes, the game gets bigger and you find yourself rolling up cities, famous monuments and dinosaurs, but even then there’s still a sense that there’s work to do. After all, completing a level isn’t the same as perfecting it, and there’s a temptation to give each one at least one more try. And, to be honest, it’s all so much fun that you just won’t want it to end. The fans are still beckoning you on the storybook surface of the Earth. Did you really give that messy bedroom all you’ve got? Why not give the Sumo level one more try? Why not get a friend around and try to beat the stages cooperatively, working together to push the katamari on its way? Or why not challenge that friend to a one-on one katamari battle? Aren’t you the katamari king?
Why not indeed? In the end, I can’t really explain why We Love Katamari is so very, very lovable. I can talk about its gentle self-mocking humour, its superb design, its silly gifts and customisation options, or its oddly touching, warm-hearted feel, but you really have to play it yourself to get the gist. So do so. Leave all those tough, hardcore, competitive games behind. Sit back, relax, and let the good times roll.
Astonishing, original, and beautifully designed, We Love Katamari is a game that anyone of any age can sit down and enjoy. Happiness disguised as a PS2 game.
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