Katamari Forever

On July 9, 2010, in General, by Neil Stevens

Blah blah, blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah, Katamari Forever.

Yeah, I’m told that earlier games in this series are not like this game, and in fact not like the Playstation 3 version of this game in particular, but this is the game I have, and the one game of this series I’ve played, so this is all I can assess. And my assessment is not good.

At the start of the game, elements conspire to suck any bit of fun from the game at all. The controls are deliberately awkward, and yes I know it’s physically realistic but that doesn’t make it less awkward. The camera is broken and easily blocked so that you can’t see where you’re going, and yeah I know it’s supposed to do these cutaways to let you see through obstacles, but it fails to do them more often than it does. The time limits are tiny, taking away most if not all margin for error. The field of view is severely limited, making moving obstacles too often difficult to dodge, and requiring memorization to know where to go in a map. All of these are livable with the right maps, but the kicker is that the maps early tend to be small, obstacle laden, and all around unforgiving.

Once you’re past the beginning of the game, the maps open up, the scales increase, the time limits blow up, and the game begins to feel more fun. To roll from a 1m scale to a 10,000 km scale on a wide open map is much more interesting than rolling from a 1cm scale to a 1m scale in a tiny house filled with pets. The “Danger” level is by far the best in the game for that reason.

But unfortunately it doesn’t quite stick with that. There also begin to be gimmick maps where you have to avoid cold things, avoid water, make a ball of a specific size, gather all of a kind of item, find a specific item within a time limit, or a number of other tasks which have little to do with making a small ball into a large ball. They damage or even destroy the core mechanic, and again we get back to the frustrations of a control system ill-suited for precision maneuvers. The worst of all of these levels is a level where you have to keep a fire going in the ball and avoid water. Of course, there’s a river running all through the level. I nearly quit the game playing it the first playthrough, but on the Katamari Drive second playthrough I gave it a couple of tries and gave up on the game, which is why I’m now writing this instead of playing.

Maybe the original game is much better, but the innovations of Katamari Forever are just terrible. The jumps could not be clumsier, the gimmick levels are a disaster, the early regular levels highlight the game’s problems without giving the player a real taste of how fun the game can be, and then there are the music and interface issues. Certain songs are just awful, annoying, and can’t be changed. The dialog goes on forever and while some of it can be skipped with a secret Start button trick, it still takes many Start button pushes and much waiting to see your score at the end of a level. And yes, it’s not always easy to just restart instead of letting a level end, because sometimes the game is talking to you while you play, and pressing Start clears that mid-game dialog without letting you pause, instead keeping the timer going!

Some games compel me to completionism. I never felt a twinge of that with Katamari Forever. I’m done, forever. Maybe I’ll get Katamari Damacy sometime and see how an older, purer version plays, but I’m just so put off by the frustration of this incarnation that I might not even bother.

Comments are closed.

Nima Jooyandeh facts.