We Love Katamari
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|We Love Katamari|
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We Love Katamari (or We ♥ Katamari), known in Japan as Minna Daisuki Katamari Damacy (みんな大好き塊魂 Minna Daisuki Katamari Damashii, lit. "Everyone Loves Katamari Damacy"?), is a video game published by Namco for the PlayStation 2. It was released in Japan on July 6, 2005, in South Korea on July 28, 2005, in North America on September 20, 2005, and in Europe on February 2, 2006. It is the sequel to the previous year’s sleeper hit, Katamari Damacy. This is the last game in the series that had involvement by the series creator Keita Takahashi.
The concept for this game is as idiosyncratic as its predecessor. Since the release of the original game, the King of All Cosmos and his son the Prince have acquired a fan base. The Prince receives a request from a fan at the start of the game. The objective of the game is to have the Prince fulfill each fan’s request, which will make more fans (stages) appear until the whole game is mobbed with fans. Upon fulfilling each fan’s request, the Katamari is given to the king, which he uses to create a new planet in the cosmos, this continues until there are enough planets in the cosmos to roll up the sun using the Earth as a katamari. Constellation data can be loaded from Katamari Damacy to help with this task.
The gameplay follows the same core mechanic: To gather material, the Prince pushes around his katamari, a magical, highly adhesive ball capable of grabbing anything smaller than itself. Initially, the katamari can only pick up smaller items like loose change and discarded pencils. As more items accumulate, the katamari’s power grows, allowing it to pick up “vaulting boxes, pencils, erasers, postcards, ramen, robots, cows, sheep, this girl, that boy, moms and dads, bicycles, motorbikes, homes, buildings, rainbows, clouds, islands, hopes and dreams”. Once the level is successfully completed, the katamari is launched into space and becomes a planet, satellite, or other celestial object. If the planet has already been created, the katamari can replace it or be shattered into “stardust”.
The sequel adds many new objectives, including: making the katamari as large as possible with a limited number of objects, collecting objects for their monetary value, rolling a sumo wrestler over food items to gain body mass (and then into his opponent to win the match), pushing a snowball around to create the head of an enormous snowman, and a number of “fast as possible” time attack challenges. Many levels have both a “big as possible” and a “fast as possible” objective, and some even have three similar objectives of increasing difficulty or size.
In the previous game, finding the prince’s cousins only unlocked them for use in 2-player mode. We Love Katamari allows the player to switch to the cousins in the 1-player game as well. Additionally, two Royal Presents can now be worn: one on the head or face, and one on the body. The appearance of presents may differ depending on the character that wears them.
In addition to the standard, single-player mode, this game features a two-player cooperative gameplay option, in which each player controls half of the katamari. Players must work together to effectively maneuver the ball. Any stage in the game can be completed in solo or cooperative mode; however, in cooperative mode, some extra time is usually added to the game clock to compensate for the difficulty in coordinating the players.
In the Snowman level, which has no time limit, this method of play is eschewed in favor of a more traditional one: each player rolls one half of the snowman. Similar to the single-player version of the stage, the snowman is completed as soon as the two players collide; however, because the bottom half is also being rolled by someone, players are not limited to forming the snowman in the middle of the area.
In the Japanese and PAL version of the game each player’s gamepad is depicted on-screen, illustrating how each player is currently manipulating the dual-analog sticks. This feature was omitted from the American version due to copyright issues.
As in the original game, there is a two-player competitive mode, wherein the opposing players each control their own katamari. Control of the katamari is identical to the regular game, and the objectives are similar. The winner is the player who most fulfills this objective, which is either to collect the most of a small object (such as pencils in the House, or pudding in the Town) or to have collected a single large object at the end of the game (such as a Ginkgo leaf in the House or a ghost in the Town).
Unlike Katamari Damacy, battle mode maps are drawn directly from the single-player world (albeit with fewer objects due to technical limits as to how many polygons can be rendered at once), offering a wide variety of diverse regions in which to compete.
We Love Katamari tells two stories: a self-referential story of how the King of All Cosmos is reacting to the unexpected success of Katamari Damacy, and an origin story of how the King of All Cosmos became the King of All Cosmos, met his wife, and had his son.
Reaction to the success of Katamari Damacy
After completing his goal to recreate the stars in the sky, the King of All Cosmos was surprised to discover that he had many fans down on Earth. Thus begins We Love Katamari, where the King of All Cosmos seeks to help fulfill the wishes of his fans—with the help from his son and his son’s cousins, who again travel Earth, rolling things up into a Katamari.
The King of All Cosmos’s origin
The King of All Cosmos’s history is told in We Love Katamari’s cut scenes, interspersed between the game’s stages.
The King of All Cosmos was not always the King. His father was the previous King of All Cosmos (also called Emperor of the Cosmos, or Papa). The future King of All Cosmos grew up either on Earth itself or a planet very much like it, in a giant castle on a hill surrounded by green fields. (Though, early in the game, we are to believe all action takes place in a world called “The Great Cosmos”.)
His father was a strict person, always pushing his son to go further, a trait which his son would inherit. Whenever the future King would fail a task, or do it incorrectly, he would be punished harshly by his father. Despite being strict and harsh to the future King, he cared so much about his son. He was a boxer in his younger years. While good, he was not the best, and in one telling scene, after losing first place in a boxing tournament, the Emperor throws his son’s second-place trophy into the river out of disappointment.
Later in life, after an argument concerning a strawberry shortcake, the future King of All Cosmos runs away from home. During this period of rebellion, he gets into fights with street punks who in one altercation slice off the front of his pompadour haircut. In the next scene the dejected future king meets the woman who would become his queen, after the severed end of his pompadour is pieced with her half-eaten loaf of bread to create the shape of a heart. During a subsequent date, the father shows up, as disapproving of his son as ever. In frustration and anger, the son lashes out, knocking his father to the ground.
Later that evening, the son inadvertently spies his father deep in thought, staring at the second-place boxing trophy. Recalling the incident from his childhood, and imagining his father stooping to fish the trophy back out of the river, he suddenly realizes the love underlying his father’s stern exterior all these years. He bursts into the room, crying, and kneels before his father to beg forgiveness. In the most demonstrative gesture of affection to date, the father places a hand on his son’s head.
After this reconciliation, all is well between the Emperor, the son, and his fiancée. But soon afterward, the Emperor falls ill, and calls his son into his bedroom. Upon entering, the father crowns his son as the new King of All Cosmos, and then collapses into a deep sleep.
Moving forward, we see the King as a grown man, pacing back and forth in a waiting room. Suddenly, he hears the sound of a baby crying in the delivery room, as he rushes to investigate, and a nurse appears from a doorway to call him. Later, the King and the Queen are then shown happily looking down at their son, the Prince of All Cosmos, newly born and wrapped in a blanket, the character that the player controls during the game. This scene, although deeply emotional and considered beautiful, is the final cutscene in the game, preceding the epilogue.
Secrets and easter eggs
Being highly non linear, We Love Katamari lends itself easily to numerous easter eggs, in this case, the deliberate placement of in-game items to create humorous scenes. Since the environments are typically very large, and a player’s current katamari size determines what objects a player can physically see, these “hidden” situations can be found literally anywhere. For example, in one level, the player can find the Prince sitting on a photocopier, with Slip (the Cousin who is a flat 2D clone of the Prince) emerging from the paper tray. Other combinations of objects or situations derive their origins from folklore. For example, in one of the outdoor levels, there is a female ghost that rises up and down out of a well, like the character Okiku in the Japanese folktale Banchō Sarayashiki. (This is also reminiscent of the character Samara in the American horror movie The Ring.) Another example is the Tsuchinoko, a snake which can be found in the flower bed stage. As in reality, only a few people claim to have seen this snake, and so it is very hard to find in the stage. Also, if the player continues to collect every object again and again in the “credits level” the ending movie will change slightly each time. Another secret is there is a creature very similar to a Kappa in the game (actually named as a Kappa in the Japanese version). In fact, there is a level where the “kappa” creature is found swimming in a pool near children. In the flower level, a lady titled 'God' when rolled up can be found in the pond with a bear.
After collecting all of the cousins to be found in the game and sequentially rolling them all up in the level represented by the Hoshino boy, a level opens up, telling the player to roll up 1,000,000 roses, which are only scattered about the level as single roses or bouquets of 10 roses, both types respawning after a short time. At first, one may think it is a joke, but it is possible. The roses do not all have to be rolled up in one play session; the player can return to the select meadow, save the game, and come back where he or she left off. The rose “fan” in select meadow appears to grow taller and taller as more roses are collected. When 1,000,000 roses have finally been rolled up, the level will be “completed”; that is, the King will take the prince back and give him a little speech, after which the entire clump of roses will be thrown up. The main screen meadow will now have roses scattered throughout and during loading screens, the glowing orb in the bottom right corner will be replaced with a spinning rose.
Gamers have created makeshift inventions to help them in completing this time consuming task, such as positioning the analog sticks of the DualShock controller in a fixed position with rubberbands in order to automate the collection of the million roses.
As this is the first game in the series to be released in the PAL regions, two bonus movies from the original Japanese Katamari Damacy can be unlocked: the introduction movie from the game, and the Hoshino family cut scenes edited together as a single movie, along with the dubbed versions in English, Japanese, and Korean. These scenes are also included in the Japanese (NTSC) version.
The NTSC U.S. Greatest Hits release has a Japanese spoken and a second unlock Korean spoken English subtitled version of the Hoshino family episodes.
The official soundtrack album (catalog number COCX-33273) for the game was released in Japan on July 20, 2005. The soundtrack consists of eighteen songs from Namco composers Yuu Miyake, Hiroshi Okubo, Hideki Tobeta, Asuka Sakai, Akitaka Tohyama, Yuri Misumi, Katsuro Tajima, Yoshihito Yano, Tomoki Kanda, and Jun Kamoda.
There is a mentionable tribute to the original Katamari Damacy on the soundtrack (titled “Sunbaked Savanna”). The song is a medley containing many of the songs found in the original game using “animal noise” samples as the main instruments.
Another tribute can be heard in the song "DISCO★PRINCE" with a short clip from “The Moon and the Prince”. Both songs were performed by Kenji Ninuma, one of only two returning performers from the original game.
We Love Katamari was met with positive reception upon release. GameRankings gave it a score of 86.65%, while Metacritic gave it 86 out of 100. It sold over 116,000 copies in Japan by the end of 2005.
The Sydney Morning Herald gave the game all five stars and stated that "The way the scale changes seamlessly is incredibly cunning with areas becoming accessible and later off-limits again according to the size of your flotsam-encrusted orb." The Times gave it a favorable review and stated that "what's most important about We Love Katamari is that it represents a move in which Electronic Arts, the world's biggest games publisher, has been prepared to release a title that is new, entertaining, and ultimately original." Detroit Free Press, however, gave it three stars out of four and stated that "The new game is very much like the old, or I would give We Love Katamari four stars."
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- Interview with developer Keita Takahashi on 1UP.com
- We Love Katamari soundtrack at MusicBrainz (list of releases)
- Japanese TV commercial on gameads.gamepressure.com
- We Love Katamari at MobyGames
- We Love Katamari guide at StrategyWiki
- Racketboy Katamari Series Review