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Jan. 2, 2006
We Love Katamari - Preview
Release Date Publisher Developer Anticipation Players Price
2/2/2006EA GamesNamco1-2$49.95

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One of the underwater levels.
PAL territories suck. One reason - gamers here never got to play, and enjoy, Namco's stunningly brilliant Katamari Damacy. For those fortunate enough to import the game from America (such as us) you would have discovered a game so offbeat, so simple, and yet so enjoyable that days of your lives would have vanished without a trace. The game premise is simple. You play the prince who must roll a katamari (or 'sticky ball') around a world picking up objects. As you progress your katamari gets bigger, allowing you to pick up larger and larger objects. While you may start out with things like pencil sharpners and batteries within a few minutes you'll be picking up cats, trees, houses and then clumps of earth! It's whacky, sure, but this is one of the most addictive games of all time and now PAL territories getting the sequel, We Love Katamari, thanks to Electronic Arts.

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Even more underwater.
We Love Katamari does have a story which follows on from the first game, but considering there was only a couple of pages of text and a couple of very short cuts scenes in Katamari Damacy you haven't missed too much. In this game the King of All Cosmos grew to stardom after taking all of the Prince’s katamaris and replacing the stars. His fans knew no bounds and wished to see more katamaris fill the sky. The King of All Cosmos desired to appease all of their requests and recruited the Prince and his cousins to help. Now they are tasked with rolling up even more clumps, each larger and more different than the one before.

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Only 9cm, 1mm wide.
In the game you play as the Prince or as any of his cousins to complete the tasks given to you by the King’s many fans including travelling to new locations from rolling up starfish under the sea to picking up the Eiffel Tower. One of the most interesting aspects of this game is the skill required. Most of the levels are timed and you have to build the biggest ball possible, but picking up objects requires some thought. If you pick up, for instance, a lamp post your ball will have a large pole sticking out of it making it very hard to roll it in that direction. This can slow you down considerbly so you must be wary of what you will pick up. Also, crashing into objects too large to pick up will make you lose objects, and reduce the size of you Katamari.

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Picking up.. ermm.. things.
The big addition to this title is the all-new 2-player co-operative mode - something which was missing, but never really missed, from the original game. In this mode gamers will be able to complete missions by working together. As expected We Love Katamari also allows you to particiapate in a 2-player battle mode, which takes place in three different stages. There's no online mode sadly, but given that we hardly even missed multi-player in the original the co-op and battle mode will be an interesting inclusion and one which is likely to see many more hours of your life consumed. Another new addition is the fact that you can now score according to the value of objects picked up in the game world rather then the size of your katamari.

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See the tiny prince?
As you can see the graphics in this title are pretty basic, almost cartoon like, but it works well and the game holds a steady frame rate as you rip hundreds of objectes out of the ground and attach themselves to you large Katamari (ball). It will be interesting to see if the developers add in any cut scenes which weren't present in the original game.

I can't emphasize enough how exciting it is that We Love Katamari is coming out in PAL territories. The game is certainly wierd, but it's very original and probably the most addicitve thing we're likely to play this year (and that's a massive call given that it's only January 1st as I write this!). Even at full price I would recommend this title until the cows come home, but at a budget price of $49.95 I'll personally bitch-slap anyone that ignores this game when it hits shelves in February.