Totally Unnamed Gaming Column - They see me rollin' They hatin'

by Mutsuki,

Welcome back to our spotlight column, where we take the time out to put the spotlight on a game that's recently come out. Right now, as we promised we're rolling things up so we can make shiny new objects like what we use in our spotlights and having a look at Katamari Forever, recently out on the PS3.

The column will always run weekly, with some special editions such as our previous The [email protected] Dearly Stars review will catch the front line of gaming after a good solid look. Hope you find the review helpful.

Zuiko, roll it in!

[Zuiko] PS3: Katamari Forever (Bandai-Namco)

Rating G
Release Date 24/09/2009
# of Players 1-2
Availability Local - Common
Language English
Fluency/Literacy Level Basic

The Prince and King of All Cosmos are back for an all new adventure in Katamari Forever on the PlayStation 3. Known as Katamari Damacy Tribute in Japan, Namco Bandai has taken the franchise and brought it into High Definition. As the first of the series to hit Sony's latest console, does the series bring new variations to the Katamari we all know and love or should it be forgotten forever?

In Katamari Forever, the divine King of All Cosmos has suffered a blow to the head giving him amnesia. As a result, you as the Prince and his cousins scurry to create a Robotic version of the King to relieve him of his duties while he is recovering. Unfortunately all is not well, as the new Roboking runs berserk and ends up destroying all the stars in the process. The rest of the game pretty much has you repairing the damage caused by Roboking while also trying to jog the original King's memory.

With the story primarily told in cutscenes, there are also a number of side stories which play as you complete the game. One follows the Queen's everyday adventures as the King remains asleep. The other has you following the Jumbomen and their antics. The stories are still as insane and incomprehensible as always and this is one of the hallmarks of the Katamari games which will have you coming back for more.

The gameplay, in typical Katamari fashion, involves rolling around Katamari and picking up objects in order to make bigger and bigger Katamaris to replace the stars. Controlling the Katamari consists of pushing both of the analogue sticks in a certain direction letting you roll over random objects which are scattered throughout the levels. Although it sounds simple, there actually is a sort of strategy to rolling up objects in the right order.

For players of the previous games, there are a few new additions to the gameplay this time. A new ability called the “King Shock” allows the Katamari to attract everything around it for a select amount of time. The other new addition is the new Hop ability that is mapped to an upward thrust of the controller using the Six Axis motion controls. The only problem is that the motion control is very imprecise requiring you to do a big jerk upwards rather than a light thrust to get it to register whilst throwing off your ability to control your Katamari while in the air.

Luckily, it is also mapped to the R2 Trigger button which is definitely the better option as you'll find the hop ability to be something that you'll end up using a lot to reach places you've fallen from or to reach high areas. While these new mechanics are a welcome addition, there isn't really anything new that totally changes the formula as you'll still be using the same methods and controls as the previous games.

There are 34 levels in total to the game which comprises of some new levels and the rest being rehashes from We Love Katamari on PS2 and Beautiful Katamari on the XBOX 360 brought over along with their respective level objectives. The new levels are also much harder this time requiring even more skill than the previous games. This becomes even more apparent in later levels as some of the objectives can become really difficult; requiring you to replay levels a couple of times in order to beat them.

One level in particular, has an objective to roll over hot items to increase your Katamari's temperature while avoiding cold items which will reduce the temperature. If you get down to 0 degrees it's an instant fail of the level. This level took me at least 5 tries to carefully roll into the correct items as I was constantly being pushed into a river or pushed into cold items by bumping into people or anything bigger.

Getting through the entire story will take you somewhere in the vicinity of 5-6 hours depending on how much randomness you can muster. Upon finishing the game however, you can replay levels to unlock new modes upon achieving a certain score in a given level. These modes include eternal mode so that there are no time limits, classic mode to play the game like all the previous games and Katamari Drive to play a sped up version of the levels.

There are also multiplayer modes which allow you and a friend to play split screen in a co-op or versus mode. Co-op mode consists of each of you taking control of one stick of the Katamari and having to coordinate together. Versus modes consist of having to roll up as much as possible in a given amount of time or holding onto a certain object when the time limit is reached. The multiplayer portion has been improved from previous games giving more variety in modes and objectives but it lacks the online multiplayer as seen in Beautiful Katamari. Rounding out the package are the collections which we've seen in all the games consisting of objects/presents and cousins.

Presentation wise, Katamari Forever has 1080P support and has adopted a new visual filter giving it a new look. The paper sketch cel-shaded effect brings a new visual style to an old formula and the models are still as blocky as ever which is what Katamari is known for. Purists can still note that the old classic look and other visual styles can be unlocked by completing the levels multiple times.

There was a video issue we ran into in which the frame rate was horrible under Standard definition for some strange reason while in HD the frame rate only chugged at certain points. It is still a mystery to us as to why considering how there isn't really anything that pushes the visual performance of the PlayStation 3.

The music in Katamari Forever reuses previous tunes revitalizing them with new remixes which gives a new spin on each of them. It's still the same mixture of J-pop and random songs and you'll still have those one or two tracks that generally stick out from them.

If you've played the previous Katamari games, there might not be much here for you unless you want to play in HD, otherwise if you haven't, this is a great title to pick up and you'll have a lot of fun from it. The game is already out in Australia and you can easily pick it up at any console game retailer.

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