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Review: Katamari Forever

Party Time

Info:

  • Developer/Publisher: Namco Bandai Games
  • Release: September 22 2009 (NA)
  • Modes: Single Player, Offline VS mode, Offline Co-operative
  • Availability: Online stores (Amazon for $20)

Story:

The story begins with the prince show the King of the Cosmos how high he can jump. Eager to show the prince what he can do, the king leaps into space, but a space object knocks him in the head and gives him amnesia. So the prince and his cousins decide to make Robo King to temporary replace the King of the cosmos, but Robo King goes out of control and destroys the cosmos. So it is up to the prince and his friends to fix the cosmos and cure the King's amnesia.

It's a silly and charming story that you don't take seriously. The rest of the story is filler of what the queen does in the mean time, and the jumbo man team's antics. These story movies can be re-watched in the movie theater option. Quirky dialogue is what makes up the rest of the game and adds to the charm of the game. You have characters like the Robo King is a sympathetic character who's self depreciating dialogue is charming and silly. It's not grating or obnoxious so it can be appreciated by anyone. The writing adds plenty to the quality of the product that would not be the same without it.

Graphics:

Imgur There are four graphical filters chose from once you complete each level once. The default filter is called New, which is a pastel colored pencil sketch theme. It's soft, bright, and colorful style is is inviting and suits the game. The second is called Classic style that you get when beating a level in classic mode. Classic style has no filters and weak lighting that looks like a PlayStation 2 game that was up-scaled. The colors are dark and flat looking. It makes the levels look like they are taking place in a dark day. Comic Book mode is a mix of New and classic modes. The colors are more vibrant then Classic mode, but it isn't as bright as New mode and lacks the pencil sketch style. Finally you have wood style which give the game brown lighting and wood textures on everything. All of this is presented up to 1080p resolution.

There is a one time grey-scale filter for when you first play one of king's levels. The objects you pick up gain color and makes objects of that type that you haven't picked up, also gain color. The grey-scale hurts the visual design of the levels by making everything look flat. All of the models are simple polygons with very little in textures which is not surprising considering levels can have over hundreds of thousands of objects to role over. There is quiet a noticable amount of pop up of models at clse range which isn't an issue, but you notice. Despite being simple, the models do a great job in conveying what the model is and create a detailed world. All of these models have their own descriptions that you can read in the object collection.

Game-play:

Imgur Katamari Forever has you play as the prince or his cousins and roll up objects with a magnetic ball to create a space object. The game has 36 levels with 4 game modes to play. The 36 levels are mostly from previous console games in the series with four of the levels are brand new. We love Katamari and Beautiful Katamari having the most remade levels. These levels have been remade and have there layouts adjusted slightly with new items, but will be familiar. The game's menus are interactive area's that you can walk around in.

When you first start the game, the first game mode is Katamari forever, which is the default mode where you have power-ups and can jump. The second mode is Eternal which allows gives you no time limit. The third mode is classic mode where you have no powers and can't jump. The final mode, which you unlock once you beat the game, is Drive mode where you move at super fast speeds. Not all levels have every mode, but most do. The game has vs mode and co-operative mode, with their own maps, but it is local only compared to Beautiful Katamri's online mode. You can't try them out if you don't have a second controller, which I didn't.

The levels vary in settings and size. Some levels are small and quick to complete while others are huge. As you grow your Katamari, the size of the level changes with it becoming smaller, or expanding on a universal scale. It is quiet impressive to go from a tiny ball on aside walk to rolling up stars in the universe. Some levels you are in a town, some take place in various homes, and some take place on continents. Many of the levels have details to help make the levels feel like a living world like kids playing musical instruments in a music classroom. There are also plenty of quirky easter eggs hidden within the levels like three guys in duck costumes playing poker in a bathroom stall.

While there is plenty of variety, many of the maps get reused 2-3 times with some alterations in layout. With the multiple game modes, this can repetitive after while as many of the alterations are not distinctive enough to feel different. Beating the Katamari forever and the Katamari drive modes unlocks simple mini-games that you can play. They are easy to play and beat, but are good for a quick session. For additional replay value, you can try to reach the top scores in the online leader-boards.

Katamari forever has plenty of customization options in the form of cousins and presents. Each level as a number of cousins and presents hidden within the level to find while you play. They are not easy to find so you need to explore all corners of a level. All the cousins play the same, but have a different looks and animations to them. The presents you find in a level unlike items that the cousins can wear. You can have your cousin where a giraffe hat, a royal cape, and sunglasses as your avatar. Other customization includes When you replay a level, you get a choice of what music and graphical style you want. This can help spice things up a bit. You can even take pictures and save them the ps3 for latter. Not many games support that feature.

Each level and each mode have a scoring system based of the requirements for the level. Some levels will require you to get a certain size in a certain time while other may have you only picking up a limited amount of items. While getting a high score in each level is not required, it does play a part in when you unlock a new mode. Unlocking each mode is somewhat random combination of retries, level completions, and your score. Getting 90 to 120 points will almost always unlock a new mode right off the bat. You get a lot of re-playability with the 4 different modes and going for the 120 point score.

Difficulty:

Imgur Difficulty varies quiet wildly depending on how you want to play. If you play just for fun then it will probably be quick to complete. However if you want to collect item then it will take you longer period of time. Now if you want to score 120 points in every level and in every mode then it will be incredibly hard. Some levels are quiet easy to get 120 points on your first try while other levels can be so hard that you barely make the minimum threshold.

This is due a to a very tight time limit, Katamari speed and control issues. The tight time limit means you have to plan your course and make very little errors in the processes. From what I have read, previous PS2 Katamari games had more generous time limits and a faster speed. The levels that were ported over kind of show what an issue it can be. It's not impossible to do it, but it will be very tough.

The second issue is the speed. It varies quiet a bit between each level. Some levels you will move as slow as molasses while other levels with you moving at a good pace. This seams to be because the frame-rate as while it can do 30 frames per second, it often drops in larger stages. The speed doesn't stay the same in a level though as you get bigger, you might slow down a lot and it makes a few of the levels really tough when there is a lot of ground to cover. This contributes to the issue of the tight time limits.

The third issue is the controls. The tank controls make it so you can't adjust the camera while moving. You will encounter plenty of times where you can't see your Katamari as an object will obscure your view. Most 3D games never had this issue as they would make the object transparent so you can see your character. There is also the problem of the jump button. By default they suggest you use the six axis motion controls for jumping, but it rarely works and you will have to furiously shake it so it will respond. What they don't tell you is that you can press R2 to jump instead which works much better. It's not prefect though as it will only work if you are flat on the ground and don't bounce, which you do often. Lastly, using the control sticks in opposite direct to boost is cumbersome and rarely work when you are moving. With the strict time limits, you can't stay still so tying the boost to the control sticks that is used for movement is bad. It should have been assigned to a button which would make it more reliable to use and thus making the strict time limits more bearable.

Technical:

Imgur A technical issue you may encounter in a few of the levels is the game soft locking. This happens when you repeatedly retry a level after you completed it. My guess is since the game doesn't save when you complete a level until you go to the lobby, it is storing your progress in the memory. With the large levels having 100 of thousands of objects and plenty of rapid transformations, the game probably can't keep everything in memory and thus you will reach a point where you can't grow despite when you should. Trying to leave for the lobby will only leave the game hanging in the loading screen. You can still quit the game through the PS3's OS, but you will lose all your progress. So remember to return to the lobby occasionally so this doesn't happen. Another technical issue is the frame-rate drops. Some levels will drop quiet noticeably when it involves levels with ton's of objects on screen at once. This does affect you movement speed turning, and jumping responsiveness making getting high scores difficult

Audio:

The soundtrack is a vibrant J-pop style that is light heart-ed and puts you in the mood. Many of the song were from the previous games have been remixed. While the song are nice, there are not enough of them as many get reused in different levels about 3 times. When you have to play these levels multiple times in different modes, it can get old after while. Despite not having enough music, they are done well in contributing to the charm of the game. All of the music can be listened to in the music room option.

Thoughts:

Imgur Katamari Forever was a game I had never played before. It was a game that I had ups and down's with, but had a great time with in the end. The controls and the problems they create were slightly difficult to get use to, but once you learn the levels, the control issues are not as bad. I enjoyed the writing as it was silly, but not in your face obnoxious style. It's something that people that people of all ages and humor preferences can enjoy. The music was charming and memorable to listen to. This was my first Katamari game and I can see why people love the series. I would recommend this game to anyone who wants a fun game to play and are new to the series. For those that have played previous games of the series, it really depends on if you haven't played the previous games in a while, or want to play the old levels in HD.

Gameplay

The overall impression on playability, mechanics and features.

Good
Graphics

The overall impression on visuals, effects and framerate.

Good
Entertainment

The overall impression on the entertainment level of the game.

Good
  • I have completed all levels in all modes with mostly 100 and 120 points for them.
  • I have collected 97% of objects and almost all the cousins and presents found in the levels.
  • I don't have a second controller so I couldn't play multi-player
  • I'm new to the series

These are pictures I took with the game's camera mode. I uploaded them here. https://imgur.com/a/jGEiC

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I like all kinds of videogames from many genres. I've been playing videogames since I was three from the SNES, Genesis, and Atari. I like to write videogame reviews for fun and to test my writing skills. My blog were I host my reviews is http://justforfungamereviews.blogspot.com/

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