Beautiful Katamari Impressions

Last night, I went on a brisk walk down to Gamestop to pick up Castlevania and Phoenix Wright, but unfortunately I was a day too early..  Apparently games come out on Wednesday these days..  On the way back I stopped off at Circuit City, Shopko, and eventually found myself at Blockbuster.  What luck! They had copies of Beautiful Katamari in stock, which was released for the 360 last week.

I probably would've already owned the game, except $40 is entirely too much for this game, even without knowing if it was any good.  The rental price of $8 seemed the perfect fit.

Unfortunately, every aspect of Beautiful Katamari seems inferior or par to its previous console title, We Love Katamari.  There are two things that are identical to We Love Katamari, the graphics and the loading times.

Par Graphics

Beautiful Katamari looks identical to We Love Katamari..  The same blocky environment and 3D models are all present in this new "High-Def" presentation.  The same solid color lack-of-textured items cover the environment for you to roll up into your Katamari.

With the power of the 360 behind this game, you'd think they'd do something innovative with the graphics..  Perhaps add a ton of objects into the universe, rather than the slightly more than you'd find on a PS2.  Why not extend the graphics just a little more, or have more diverse objects?  Beautiful Katamari has 1000 unique objects.. the same amount as We Love Katamari.

Par Loading Times

Also on with PS2 are the loading times..  Does it really take the 360 the same time to load a Playstation 2 quality environment as the Playstation 2?  When you move from area to area why does it load on occasion?  Why is there still a little bit of loading when you grow to a certain size?  It doesn't make sense why you would need so much loading for this game...  This is pure laziness..

Inferior Gameplay

The main gameplay concept of Katamari is to roll around, pick up objects, and increase your ball larger and larger until your Katamari's diameter meets the goal for the level before the timer runs out.  We Love Katamari added some new innovations by having other goals, like rolling up food, clouds, fireflies in some beautiful environments.

Beautiful Katamari takes both these concepts and rolls them into the main goal of the level.  You still have size requirements and a timer, but on each level, your katamari must contain a majority of a certain group of items.  One level, you begin rolling around in a Casino and the majority of items must be expensive things.  In every level I've played, this has been the goal.

Once you complete the level, you are scored on how big your katamari is and how well you followed instructions.  It's basically a percentage though, since the max score is 100 points.  You score dramatically drops if your Katamari isn't majority of that group.  I think you need to score, at least, a certain amount of points to open up new levels.

Inferior Controls

The placement of the sticks on the 360 controller really hurt the comfortability of Katamari.  It doesn't feel terribly awkward, but it gets in my way every now and then.  There's no balance of symmetry with the 360 controller like there was on the Playstation 2.  This works great for 360 games where the right stick always controls movement, but not for Katamari.  Katamari requires both sticks be used in unison and without balance, it can slow down your movements.  Cross Chatter between hemispheres.

Also, the sticks are more rough than the Playstation 2 sticks.  The ps2 sticks used a very small swivel radius which made the stick move very dramatically.  On the 360, the radius is quite a bit larger, so when you move the stick up, it doesn't change its angle too much.  This is probably more of a personal preference though, since I played the Playstation 2 titles to death.

Inferior Level Design

I haven't quite put my finger on it yet, but I really suck at most of these levels.  In most cases, when starting out, I can hardly pick up anything.  I have to search around for little things to pick up, rather than having an equal abundance of all items.  It always seems like I'm always one step behind of what the level designers want me to be picking up.

Inferior Story

The story in Katamari was pretty simple.  The King of all Cosmos broke all the stars and you must replace them in the night sky.  So, as the prince, you roll around crap to rebuild stars in the sky.

We Love Katamari expanded on this by the King accidentally knocking out all the planets.  So, you roll around crap to replace planets, meteors and other things in space.  As you rolled along, though, you would find out more about the King, and yourself as well.  The story was actually pretty fun, and told in hilarious Katamari style, with vocals and cutscenes.

Beautiful Katamari starts off with text, no vocals, about how the King, yet again, broken the universe, and you must roll up the planets again.  Really?  Could you not think of a better story or at least a different story?  and then tell it in a worse more boring fashion?  jesus..

Inferior Price

Despite all its failings, the number one problem with this game is price.  Katamari Damacy was release at $20.  People bought the crap out of it, and loved it.  It was the perfect price point.  We Love Katamari annoyed people with it's $30 price tag when it came out a year and a half later, but it wasn't too bad.  We Love Katamari offered much more than the original and was still a joy to play.

Beautiful Katamari is $40..  The same cost as a new Playstation 2 game.  With the $30 We Love Katamari price, people took a step back and considered their purchase rather than just buying it as they did with the $20 Katamari Damacy.  $40 is certainly cheaper than $60 or $50, but for Katamari?  That is expensive..  especially those people new to series looking at the back of the box.

After playing it for 2 hours last night, the innovation doesn't even stack up its previous version.  You can't charge more for a worse product, even if it is on a next-gen machine.

But wait there's more..  With the release of Beautiful Katamari, the Xbox live marketplace has 4 new downloadable levels already, for 200 points each.  Already more levels to download, huh?  So, what you're telling me, is that you shipped an unfinished game and now I have to pay an additional $10 for 4 more levels to complete it?  That's bullshit.

So Beautiful Katamari is really $50 for the full game..  which is more than anyone should spend on a Playstation 2 game these days.  $40 is almost too much for a Playstation 2 game unless it's fully featured and kick ass.

Verdict?

This game is crap..  it's a more expensive inferior version of its Playstation 2 predecessors.  I want more Katamari, but this game is annoying to play and not worth the price of admission.  If you really want to play, definitely rent it and see for yourself.




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