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We <3 Katamari (and another expansion pack bonus review) by FABIO 09/22/2005, 3:01am PDT
When something becomes a runaway success, one of two things can happen: the makers can either go on to make something else great, or they can become smug and crank out some self-serving, self-referential mess like so much Wachowski.

We Love Katamari falls somewhere inbetween.

The plot to the game is the history of the game itself: The Katamari Damacy game was hugely popular and now the people of Earth (KD fans) worship the King of All Cosmos (Namco) and beg him for more. Just like someone milking a joke that people found funny once, the King plays up his mass populairty and in the process loses a little of what made him great before. It's almost like his dialog was written by someone trying to imitate the original rather than the creators. The intro is also disappointing. What was once a crazy Monty Python cartoon acid trip is now some generic looking 60's Laugh-In montage. The music change doesn't help either (more on that in a bit). They also finally succumbed to the obvious pothead joke and have you roll up flowers and calling it an "herbalicious katamari".

Back in real life, Namco honors us with a marginally improved expansion pack at $30 as opposed to the $20 original. I can't chalk up the increased cost to anything other than economics; you charge what people will pay. It certainly can't have costed more to develop, it only took a year to make, it's the same engine and everything,

The music is the one area that took the biggest hit. There wasn't a single song in the original that wasn't immensely catchy. In WLK, far too many of the songs are lame remixes of the original's (the title song works when sung by an upbeat Japanese hippy, not mellowed out lounge music from the lungs of a Tom Jones soundalike). A few are outright grating (the school level), and only a scant couple come close to matching the quality of the original. Where are all the completely awesome artists from the original? What the hell did my extra $10 go towards? Instead of all these inferior remixes, I'd rather they just gave you the original unchanged soundtrack.

Improvements? The loading screens are funny (although the game now has to load every time your size increase grants you access to a new area of the level, which is odd since the levels aren't any bigger than the no loading original), as are the story cutscenes (a huge improvement over the rather boring tale of a family's ride to the airport). A few more mission objectives keep things creative. One level you get a sumo wrestler instead of a ball, with the object being to roll him over as much food as possible until he's big enough to take on his opponent. The entire level is rolling a fat person around and having food (people too!) stick to him before being absorbed into his body, which is pretty much the mission objective for real life fatties.

Another misguided add-on was the belief that rolling up huge things was the highpoint of the original, which was only half true. The real joy was starting out as a tiny scrub and gradually rolling your size up until suddenly you're toppling objects that seemed like untouchable behemoths before (an allegory of the RPG level treadmill?). They miss the mark by having you roll up the biggest object imagineable, the sun, but failed to provide any buildup or context. They just set you loose in a rather empty solar system rolling up all the stars you've made throughout the game, which only amount to less than two dozen objects, before you make an attempt on the sun. Not nearly the rush it could have been.

On a final note, while the sales staff was working hard to squeeze every penny out of fans, the marketing department was asleep and murdered on the job. Holy horrible box art. The original was great for showing a minimal, pictaresque landscape only to pop your monocle out when you spotted the giant ball of ocean liners, ferris wheels, and whales in the background. What the heck is this? Better check the back of the box.

Now for WLK we have:

Note the large triangles that draw the eye to...a lot of empty space. Meanwhile at the bottom we have some sort of clutter we can't make out. A tiny giraffe? Some...mushrooms? What does a tiny steepled house in the woods have to do with this game? Did Sony finally license David the Gnome? This box is too empty and too cluttered at the same time.

In the end, it's worth getting if you're a fan and want something new, but for a first timer I'd definately recommend they pick up the (cheaper) original first, which shouldn't be the case because a game sequel should always be an improvement on the previous installment. On the scale of phenomenon followups, I'd rate this a Terminator 2.

Bonus expansion pack review: Freedom Force vs. The Third Reich

All I can really do for this section is review EB's used games. I bought this one used for $15. It was sealed in the box so I couldn't check out the condition beforehand. When I opened it at home, not only was there no manual (no real big), but there existed a scratch on the CD so large that at first I thought it was some sort of caterpillar (big). Can't be read by the CD drive.

I guess I can also give my impression that kept me from buying this when it first came out. I loved the first Freedom Force for its original setting (when was the last unlicensed comic book game?) and color palette (bright colors on a PC!). Irrational did their best to send my boner for a sequel crashing down when they revealed that they would replace the original setting with one of the most worn out cliches in videogames, World War 2 (which would nearly ensure that the color grey would get a starring role). It took them three years to come up with this? Were they too busy taking down websites for horrible pipe dream games? Anyone want to post odds on a pre-2008 release for Bioshock?
We <3 Katamari (and another expansion pack bonus review) by FABIO 09/22/2005, 3:01am PDT
    Re: We <3 Katamari (and another expansion pack bonus review) by QB 09/22/2005, 1:24pm PDT
        Re: We <3 Katamari (and another expansion pack bonus review) by FABIO 09/22/2005, 2:24pm PDT
            Man, I totally forgot to mention all the time travel cliche's you have to sit NT by through. 09/23/2005, 4:24am PDT
        got it working :( by FABIO 10/05/2005, 12:37am PDT
            Re: got it working :( by bombMexico 10/05/2005, 3:35pm PDT
    Have you tried Vs. yet? I haven't because I'm alone, like that dog. NT by Worm * BIG FUCKING FROWN * 09/23/2005, 4:35pm PDT
        versus mode sucks too by Flavio 09/11/2006, 5:23am PDT
    :( NT by MM 09/23/2005, 4:52pm PDT
    final impressions by FABIO 09/25/2005, 2:33am PDT
        Re: final impressions by Ice Cream Jonsey 09/28/2005, 1:44pm PDT
            I'm just worried people will take the Terminator 2 comparison as a positive NT by FABIO 09/28/2005, 2:10pm PDT
                Terminator 2 WAS better, dickhole NT by AHNOLD! 01/15/2006, 5:50am PST
                    Congratulations on being stupid NT by Fabsy 01/15/2006, 6:18am PST
                        He now knows why you cry NT by BUT ITS SOMETHING HE CAN NEVER DO! 01/17/2006, 5:12pm PST
                            That is a great line to say to people out of nowhere. NT by Creexul :( 01/18/2006, 12:33pm PST
                        This Witty Rejoinder brought to you by by Fabsy 01/17/2006, 11:10pm PST
                            That's me holding up my Best Looking Caltrops Poster award by Fabsy 01/18/2006, 8:49am PST
                                Re: That's me holding up my Best Looking Caltrops Poster award by Zsenicorpse 09/10/2006, 5:49pm PDT
                                    I never bothered because I heard the soundtrack wasn't good. by Fullofkittens 09/10/2006, 8:12pm PDT
                                        It isn't =( by Flavio 09/11/2006, 5:16am PDT
                                            IHNTS, IJWYTK it's "kawaii" by Zsenicorpse 09/11/2006, 1:08pm PDT
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