i Love Katamari for iOS Review

By on July 10, 2011

Insanely Addicting, only if the controls don’t kill you first.

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First Impressions
My reaction is

It’s hard to get involved in most games that are intended for the Japanese market, sure there is a small group worldwide outside of Japan that loves these titles, but it is rare for these games to get noticed. Once they are noticed it’s even harder to find mainstream love for them. Katamari Damacy is one such title, while the original PlayStation 2 title didn’t gain momentum until it was available outside of Japan, the demand for it simply exploded!

What makes this game so good? Well sometimes it’s the simplest concepts that make the best ideas, you are a prince that gets sent to Earth to collect a special item that the King of All Cosmos requests, the Katamari is literally translated as a “clump”, that you push around picking up random objects that stick to it and increase its overall size. You continue in this fashion until your clump is large enough to capture whatever item it is that the King has asked you to collect. Mind you the King doesn’t seem to know what this object seems like, the only clue lies in its name. Now while you are reading this you must be thinking, “What the heck? Why should I give a damn?” Well dear reader I ask you, why do people play Plants vs. Zombies or Angry Birds and anything else along those lines? It’s because the premise behind the game is simple, do this to accomplish that, and make it easy to get into.

The original PlayStation 2 title would work with both analogue sticks, this mechanic substituted with tilting the screen to move in the direction you want, holding the left or right side of your character will help you side strafe and there is a quick u-turn button to help you make that snap turn. Now it’s great in principle, however with most games that require you to tilt forward to move forward it can get annoying when the accelerometer requires you to tilt the screen until you can barely tell what you are doing. I know this is a minor issue since it can simply be mended by keeping your iOS device closer to yourself but it does get annoying. Turning can be just as frustrating at times when a slight tilt turns the Prince too far, or a strong tilt at times will not turn at all. For the sake of fairness, at this point I would like to say perhaps this is just a matter of perception, you do have a time limit to accomplish your task, in some of the modes and that plays critically against your sense of urgency and concentration.

This title still manages to retain its physics based capture system, anything you can grab with the Katamari sticks to it, and you will be able to keep gathering smaller things relative to its size. If you collide in to obstacles too large for you it will knock pieces off. However eventually as the size of your Katamari increases, those obstacles can now be picked up. If you happen to pick up a pencil at the wrong angle early on, it can severely impede your speed because you are now lob sided. This absolutely critical during the early bits of any level when you are trying to increase your size as quickly as possible, once you do have that size, anything and everything is up for grabs.

I have to admit, while the game is nowhere near a visual marvel like Dead Space or Infinity Blade, it certainly is good to look at. It feels and looks just like a straight port of the PlayStation 2 titles, which is not a bad thing considering the limited power and ability of the current iOS devices. New levels are unlocked by beating the story mode on the previous level for a total of 6 levels together. Each level has 4 modes, Story, Time Attack, Exact Size Challenge and Eternal Mode and these are available as soon as you access the first level and unlock subsequent levels. This Katamari title is also Game Center enabled and has several achievements to be won, one such achievement that immediately stood out was the Big Pyramid achievement, and what that means is while we may not have seen everything in the game, it does scale to the same level of insanity that its console brethren have displayed.

So far that I’ve experienced, the music is catchy and taken from the various console releases, including Katamari Damacy in the very first level. The sound of picking up things is still there, cats will meow, dogs will bark, and cars will honk, people will scream….well you get the picture.

Overall this is a neat title that deserves to be on the iPhone and iPod, if there is any recommendation is that they try to improve the control mechanism. Perhaps add two virtual transparent analogue sticks on the screen for those that want to enjoy the game without having the hindrance of tilting the screen not being able to see what the heck is going on. Outside of this it’s a great title to own and try out, currently available on iTunes for $4.99.

The Scorecard
Fun but the controls kill any enjoyment you could actually have.
It’s not bad to look at, its goofy style and gameplay complement the overall presentation of the game.
Great tracks to keep you in an upbeat mood, although listening to the same across the different modes in the same level does tend to get boring.
Game needs more levels, 5 levels with 4 modes each can keep you occupied, especially Exact size mode, however once you are done with it, then what?
Addicting modes, especially Exact Size where you cannot exceed or be too far below your target.
It can be better, definitely deserves another release but you can’t go wrong with the price tag.
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  • Guest

    lob sided -> lopsided

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