When it comes to quirky, kooky and flat-out bizarre games about collecting as much random crap as you can by rolling around equally random settings in order to appease a body-less space king, the Katamari series is among the best. Bandai Namco’s next installment in the famed franchise, Katamari Forever, features a new story, new modes, new maps, new graphics filters, a remixed version of the original game’s soundtrack, runs in 1080p, and will be released exclusively for PlayStation 3 this Fall.
Katamari Forever tasks you, the Prince, with satisfying the outrageous demands of not one, but two collect-o-phile kings, King of All Cosmos and Robo King. Robo King assumes the throne after the King of All Cosmos falls into a coma and loses his memory. It’s therefore up to the Prince to traverse the game’s various maps, including five new Robo King maps (bringing the game’s total level count to well over 20) in an attempt to revive the fallen king and help him regain his tainted crown.
The first level I played during my hands-on time with the game at E3 2009 was a classic Katamari map and played out in typical Katamari fashion (I rolled around for a bit, grew my katamari ‘til she could holds no more, etc.). Nothing too spectacular to report other than it’s definitely the Katamari fans are used to, so I guess that’s a positive. The second level, however, featured one of the game’s new mechanics, flower and terrain formation. At the start of the level, a barren desert-scape lies ahead of you. And instead of an item-gathering katamari, you control a water-absorbing/transporting katamari that brings life to the desert scene wherever it goes. As you roll around, flowers, grass, and trees sprout up in your wake. When you run out of water, you refill your katamari by jumping into a pool at the beginning of the stage.
Flora sprouting is just one of the new modes present in the game that offers something unique and new in addition to the franchise’s classic collection design. I didn’t get to play it, but one of the other new levels requires you to load up your katamari with paint and recolor the completely black-and-white map, de Blob style.
The game looks great running in 1080p, and it makes the game’s new presentation styles (cel-shaded, pencil-drawn and wood-carved) pop off the screen. Control-wise, everything’s as it should be, with the addition of a new hop feature that includes SIXAXIS support. Hopping around helps break up the typical rolling mechanics, but it didn’t really add anything substantial, at least on the maps that I played. However, I could definitely see it making things a bit more fun on multi-leveled maps.
Fans of the franchise will be pleased with the newest offering, especially since seeing the zany world of Katamari come to life in crisp 1080p is quite a treat. If you can’t get enough Katamari and you own a PS3, you won't be disappointed when the game is released later this year.