We Love Katamari

(Namco, Playstation 2)

It’s been a quiet old time for games on Demon Pigeon. I’d like to think it’s because we’re all such busy cosmopolitan wankers, but I’m afraid it’s pure laziness. And christ, it’s not like we pretend we’re above games or anything. Well Noel does, but he still plays Borderlands ’til ridiculous times in the morning so he’s a hypocritical doo doo head.

So because I have a free evening and very little to do, I thought I’d add something to the games section. No idea what though. I have Dante’s Inferno but that’s far too uninteresting to write about. Apart from all the titties. I also have Bayonetta but that’s too overcomplicated and deep to write about. Apart from all the titties.

So I decided to write about a nice titty-free game that I bought recently, and that game is a second hand copy of We Love Katamari.

The premise for Katamari is very simple. Because I’m stupid, this simplicity is a godsend. It’s also got an endearingly silly backstory. You play a little fella called The Prince (he is 5cm tall, so he’s just about tall enough to pass for actual Prince), who is the son of the King of all Cosmos, who is a dunderhead. Seriously.

The King you see, makes an utter bollocks of the universe at the start of each Katamari game, and it’s up to the Prince to sort it out, by rolling up stuff on Earth (with the titular katamaris) and turning the accumulated junk (which ranges from pencils, to cats, to people and eventually entire continents) into planets and stars to refill the universe. Whilst you do this, you get little slide shows explaining why the King of all Cosmos is such a colossal fuck up, and it basically boils down to child abuse. The King you see, was treated pretty badly by his dad, who was a pushy bugger who got angry whenever the King lost at anything like boxing. It leads the King to run away from home to try and fend for himself. One particular scene, where he is accosted by a couple of street punks, results in his pompadour haircut being chopped off at the front, which made me laugh so much I had to go to the toilet.

Aaaaaaanyway, it’s up to the Prince to clean up after his dad’s neurotic tendencies, so off he goes around Earth to fix the universe, and this is where the game proper kicks in. It’s brilliant. As I waffled earlier, all you do is piddle about in loads of different environments and roll things up in a series of challenges. Nothing else. It’s horribly addictive, charming and original. The first time I played it I had a great big gloopy grin. It’s big and daft and colourful, and far more engaging than you’d expect, with deliberately simple, big graphics and excellent music. It may seem like quite a spartan premise (all you’re doing is rollin’ rollin’ rollin’) but that’s what makes it so good. It’s the game equivalent of a 40 minute album, with no filler and 10 brilliant songs.

It’s also difficult to master. Despite the deceptively simply premise, it’s infuriating. One challenge involves you rolling a little flaming katamari up a hill to light a camp German man’s campfire, and I can’t do it. I ikeep messing up and the King of All Cosmos gets pissed and fires shit at me. Thing is, it’s infuriating in a good way though. Like all the best games, if you mess up, it’s because you’re doing it wrong, and you just need to knuckle down and get better.

As far as I can tell, there’s a fair bit of game here, and it’ll probably take you around the 10-12 hour mark to play the whole thing. It’s best played in short bursts though, otherwise the King’s wacky monologues and the loading times will get on your tits, but the core game is so good, you won’t give a shit that you have to skip through reams of (often very funny) nonsense, and it all adds to give the game it’s…er…soul.

In an age where games constantly try to prove that they’re grim and adult and worthy of artistic scrutiny, it’s lovely to see something so flagrantly stupid and funny. People don’t play games to have an epiphany. They play games to piss away a few hours and escape from the numbing inevitability of mortality. We Love Katamari is almost peerless in that regard.

I reviewed the PS2 version, but there are also versions on Xbox 360 and PS3. I’d imagine they’re basically all the same, so go have a looksee.

I’m off to play with my own katamari now.*

9 Sumo Wrestlers out of a Cosmos

*That’s a wanking euphemism if you didn’t get it.

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