David Yun (Xbox Live Gamertag - Vawce): (contact-deleteme[at]-deleteme-direman [dot] com) 2008-03-02 00:29:12
Beautiful Katamari - Rank C/B, YFKM Award
Developer: Namco Bandai Games
Publisher: Namco Bandai Games
I realize that the dual score is schizophrenic and confusing, but it couldn't be avoided. The "Rank C" is for people who've previously played a Katamari game. There's really nothing new here for you and you'll instantly develop a slightly weary "I've already played this game" feeling. The only mild upgrade is the look, which is simply a cleaned up high definition translation of the old PlayStation 2 graphics. There was no reason for Namco to put this game out other than to reach out to the Xbox audience that has never had an opportunity to revel in its uniqueness. If you're completely incognizant of the weird and quirky Japanese whimsy that is Katamari, this is a very solid Rank B.
The gameplay couldn't be simpler. You roll a katamari (a magically sticky ball) around various environments in an effort to build the biggest sphere of stuff you can. You start off small by snagging items like thumbtacks, candy and butterflies. Once your katamari is big enough, you can upgrade to grabbing yogurt cups, salt shakers, and rolls of coins, then on to lamps and soy sauce bottles. The madness begins in earnest when you're able to roll up furniture, small children, and pets. The sense of scale continues to accelerate on up to buildings and trees, giant squid, islands and clouds... It's difficult to properly convey, but the joy of Katamari is undeniable.
The controls are even simpler. You use the thumbsticks like tank controls: push both up to move forward and in opposite directions to turn. Beautiful Katamari is simple, addicting, and infectiously fun. If you're even remotely amenable to J-pop, the soundtrack will instantly have you in a bubbly, bouncing mood.
The wonderfully insensible "plot" is recycled from previous Katamari games. Your father, the King of All Cosmos, has effed up again, and accidentally created a black hole with an overzealous tennis serve. He's a demanding, capricious prick who leaves it to you to roll up balls of stuff to replace the lost planets and stars. The nonsense I just wrote should give an inkling as to the tone of the game. The King of All Cosmos is pure comedy, and the entire game oozes that wackiness that only the Japanese could possibly muster.
There are a few Xbox 360 style features, most notably the leaderboards. If you want to take this leisurely game seriously to the point of hardcoreness, you can take on the scores of the greatest Katamari players in the world. Also, you can purchase additional content for the game in the Live Marketplace, but get this: the shit is already on the disc. When you pay, it just unlocks content you already bought. Microtransactions for downloadable content are here to stay, but Namco - You're Fucking Kidding Me. I do give Beautiful Katamari a cautious recommendation, but please, I exhort everyone not to support this kind of financial fleecing practice.