As much as people may complain about used games, I can say that I’ve certainly reaped the benefits of having a used game store built in my town. It’s like going on a treasure hunt; you never know what you’re going to find. You can find all sorts of hidden gems. Heck, they even have some NES & SNES games. So it’s always fun to pop in on one of my off days just to see what’s there.
On my last visit, I snagged a copy of Beautiful Katamari, which I believe is the only game from the Katamari franchise available on the 360. After seeing all the quirky fun that the original Katamari Damacy provided gamers, I was eager to try this one out as my first experience with the franchise.
Sadly, so far I’ve been disappointed.
Let’s get the good out of the way first, though. Beautiful Katamari seems to perfectly capture the crazy WTF-ness that has been the franchise’s hallmark. The basic premise is that you are the Prince of the Cosmos & you have to keep fixing your father, the King of the Cosmos’, mistakes. I believe in the first game the King went on a bender & knocked all the stars out of the sky. In this version, the King creates a black hole that sucks up a bunch of planets & stars while playing a tennis match with his family. And like the in first game, it’s the poor little Prince who has to roll up items using his katamari to replace the stars & planets.
While not the most technically impressive, Beautiful Katamari’s style matches with its quirky sense of humor. The graphics are simplistic, but they’re bright & colorful. The music is much the same, keeping everything lighthearted. And picking up increasingly large pieces of crap is strangely satisfying. Especially when they cry out, like with the animals & people. Which is a little morbid when you consider they’re going to be compressed into a new planet.
Beautiful Katamari also includes versus & online features so you can play with & against other people.
But for all these positive aspects, I just couldn’t get into the game. I think the problem for me comes from two issues. The first is that the controls feel very stiff to me. You move in the four general directions with the left analogue stick & turn with the right. It felt very stiff to me. I just couldn’t get turned fast enough, even with the ability to do a quick 180. The second issue I had was that you’re supposed to pick up specific types of items to make your katamari. For example, early in the game the King tells you to pick up drinks to make a juicy Mercury. But at the same time, to beat the level you have to get the katamari to a specific size before time runs out. So you can’t exactly be picky about what you’re picking up. I don’t know if the game penalizes you for having more stuff you weren’t supposed to pick up or not, but I know the game kept yelling at me for picking up the wrong things.
I won’t say that Beautiful Katamari is bad, but I was disappointed that the game ended up being more frustrating than whimsical. I was expecting a fun, lighthearted romp, but just ended up annoyed. Perhaps I just suck at the game & need more practice, but I was under the impression that this wasn’t the sort of game that required a lot of “skill.” I suspect the best part of the game is playing with other people. But sadly I have no friends to play with (& I’m not paying Microsoft to play with strangers).
I may eventually give Beautiful Katamari another chance, but for now it shall remain hidden in my gaming ottoman.