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katamari.jpgKatamari Forever

Get ready for more weird surreal fun and giant garbage balls then you can shake a tiny fist at.

Katamari Forever seems a bit self-aware, basking it its own strangeness and charm rather than working on retaining the feel of being something new and unique. However, those who liked the other games will still be thrilled to get back behind a Katamari ball and take it for yet another spin. Somehow, wreaking cheerfully animated havoc with impossibly sticky rolling mounds of death never seems to get old.

The picture book pop-up look to the menus is delightful and whimsical, even if it did make things a bit small and hard to see at times. The helpful new additions of power-ups and the ability to hop around eliminates some of the past frustrations of being an unwieldy pile of living garbage.

The King of the Cosmos returns again in a half-asleep stupor to deliver his usual abuse to his pint-sized son, only this time he is also joined by a neurotic mechanical doppelganger. More than a few times upon being dished out an embarrassingly low score and one of Robo-King’s glib remarks I felt compelled to yell at the screen, “Shut up, you’re not even my real dad!“ Honestly though, I found myself actually really liking the trash-talking, overly-emotional, manically insecure metal guy. You would be a bit wound too if you were made constantly aware of your existential redundancy. Which made systematically dismantling him at the end, part by part, and removing what could only be described as his robotic soul that much harder.

The rest of the game though seems very familiar. What does an egg carton and Katamari Forever have in common? They both are made of 80% recycled material.

The game seems short. I beat it the first time through in about a single day of casual gaming, though unlocking all the material and completing the collection list might take a bit of time. Half the stages are directly lifted from previous games and reused after being stripped of their usual fun, bright colors. Who thought this was a good idea? The unlockable graphics modes are also kinda awful. The game seems to think rewarding you means giving you more ways to send everything through terrible Photoshop filters. However, the “Katamari Drive “ setting, which sends you hurtling through stages at break-neck speeds does do a fairly decent job at providing a new level of gameplay and having you re-think your approach, making some formerly innocuous stages maddeningly difficult while in turn making some of the more tedious stages giddly easy and fun.

Katamari Forever feels like being in a recurring dream- It was more fun the first time, too bad you’ve already slept though it all before.

–Laura Gaddy