Beautiful Katamari Review
Who the heck would have thought a game where you just roll a ball around picking up stuff would be such a gigantic success? Well, the Katamari Damacy series has become a favorite – it is a fun and easy to pick up game, is colorful, has awesome music and, best of all, comes at a budget price. The original for the PS2 can be a bit hard to find now since it wasn't quite produced in huge numbers, the second one is a bit easier to find and the PSP version isn't too hard to find either. However, if you're totally new to the series and own a 360, you're in luck – Beautiful Katamari was recently released for your white (or Spartan Green or Black) system from Microsoft.
Beautiful Katamari picks up where the past Katamari Damacy games did – you're still in the shoes of the Prince, taking orders from the King of all Cosmos. Generally, these orders revolve around you going and rolling up all sorts of various knick knacks on earth to rebuild the galaxy, ranging from planets, to moons and stars. It is a concept that, while done multiple times, is still really fun. The neat part is that you're tasked with picking up certain items this time around. See, you will have certain stages that want, say, expensive items. At the end of the level, you're given a score based on your performance. The size of the Katamari plays a part, as does the amount of correct-type stuff you picked up. The system actually works pretty well – most of the time, the levels have a ton of the stuff you need.
Of course, with being a 360 release, come achievements. Some of these are pretty simple ones you'll get as you play through the levels – build a certain size Katamari, do a lot of dashes, collect a certain percentage of items and the like. However, some of them are going to require an insane amount of play time. One requires you to play for upwards of 100 hours! Of course, there are others that you'll get for completing your collection, which is cool. The whole collection aspect is here in force – you can read up on the items you've collected, which is a neat little touch.
Really, Beautiful Katamari plays a lot like the other games in the series. Though, to be honest, I found some things harder to control with the 360 thumbsticks being at different horizontal planes on the controller. Being offset like that made it harder (at least for me) to do things like the dash and quick turns. Even if you're very used to the PS2 version, though, it won't be too hideously hard to shift over to the 360 controller for this one.
So, then, just what is so awesome that makes the 360 version worth getting if you have a previous version? Well, for one, there's the downloadable content option. Now, the actual game will only run you 39.99 in a store, which is a nice price, and has a good chunk of levels to play through. For those that want more, there are four extra downloadable levels to pick up. While I've seen some arguments that the content itself is already included on the disc, I can't really fault Bandai Namco for that – they're giving you the option to pay 39.99 for just the basic game or pay $10 more if you want more content. Plus, nothing says that there won't continue to be more DLC stuff developed as time goes on.
This isn't the biggest addition, though. By far, the most fun and biggest addition comes in with Xbox Live play. Yes, folks, you can take Beautiful Katamari online. Now, this alone would be enough to make the game worth a purchase on the 360. Thing is, Bandai Namco didn't cheap out in the online experience. From the moment you jump into the lobby waiting area, you're greeted with a Katamari style lobby. You can run around with the Prince and kick a ball around, even scoring 'goals' if you kick it through a rainbow. A flower nearby will keep track of goals. You can also eat cookies that you've earned by playing in actual multiplayer games. It is all pretty fun and definitely enhances the Katamari experience.
Overall, Beautiful Katamari is definitely a game I recommend to anyone with a 360. For Katamari fans that made the move to Microsoft's system, here's a chance to play your favorite series once more. For those that bought the system and are trying to get a non gamer friend into things, this one is easy to pick up. And for those that are gamers but never heard of the series, this is a chance to see just what you've been missing out on. Really, there's no way you can go wrong with this purchase, especially considering it is only 39.99 for a complete package. And at 2.50 a stage, the downloadable content really isn't all that badly priced, either.