"Let's roll up some more stuff" the king of all cosmos said, and so yet another Katamari game was born, this time appearing on a non-Sony platform. I'm sure you all know the story of Beautiful Katamari's development. It was to appear on Sony's PlayStation 3 and on Nintendo's Wii, but when Microsoft couged up some cash, it became an exclusive to the, almost ignored in Japan, Xbox 360.
This game was given to me for my birthday and what a fine present it made. I didn't stop playing it untill I completed the game and uncovered some of the extras. I even took my time to collect some of the crazy cousins [you should know that the main character in the game is Prince, son to the King of all the Cosmos. The Prince has plenty of cousins scattered all over the game, and when you collect them, they become playable characters].
Before Beautiful Katamari came out, there were three other games released [not counting the DoCoMo P904i 塊魂モバイル Phone version which I discussed HERE] in the series. The first, Katamari Damacy, followed by the sequel We Love Katamari and a PSP title Me & My Katamari. As you can see, the series has so far been Sony exclusive.
Beautiful Katamari broke the Sony chain of releases and brought the game as an exclusive treat for Microsoft's Xbox 360. Japan wept and the rest of the world rejoyced. Aside from being the first non-Sony installment, Beautiful Katamari is also the first game in the series to feature full HD resolution support up to 1080p, downloadable content and online multiplayer in both cooperative and competitive modes via Xbox Live.
What about gameplay? Unfortunately, despite being a great game with tons of fun and humor packed into it, Beautiful Katamari seemed rather short. I have managed to complete it faster than any other Katamari game, and that includes the PSP version, again not counting the mobile phone one. Unlocking secrets, collecting various objects and cousins, aswell as beating your own high scores will keep you occupied, but the amount of core gameplay falls short of the previous titles. Luckily, there's the previously mentioned online mode, which makes the fun last longer, gtanted you're a Live subscriber.
Xbox 360 is a powerful gaming platform capable of pushing an impressive amount of polygons per second. How does that affect gameplay? For starters, if you own a LCD or Plasma screen, you'll be able to enjoy crispy crisp, high resolution graphics. This might not be the most important feature, since most objects in Katamari series are low poly, because the game is forced to manage hundreds of bric-a-brac you roll up. While playing in lower resolutions you won't be missing out on the details. Let's just say that the high resolution modes make the image easy on the eyes on quality screens.
More processing power and more video memory made it possible to remove the loading times when the scale is changed. In previous Katamari games, each time your katamari ball would grow and allow you to roll up larger objects, the game changed scale. The scale change came with a few seconds of loading time and a head of King reminding you how much you suck. This time you can just roll and roll and you won't be bothered by the gameplay stopping for a while.
Now, onto the soundtrack. The music throughout the series has been great and was always one of the major selling points. Large portion of Beautiful Katamaris audio content is or feels recycled and the original compositions aren't as catchy as the ones hears in previous titles. Still, the soundtrack is enjoyable, especially for those who haven't played Katamari before and are unfamiliar with its original sound.
So what can one complain about? The first thing would have to be the additional fees that we're forced to pay for the downloadable stages. This has been pointed out by many reviewers. The are exactly six downloadable levels in the european version of the game and none of them exceed 400kb in filesize. Yet, we're forced to pay 200 Microsoft Points for each one of them. This, after you bought the game and pay for your Xbox Live account, is a bit too much. If this wasn't enough, you won't be able to unlock the 1,500,000 km katamari achievement if you don't download the additional levels.
As usual, it's all about profit. The separate content you're forced to pay for would make the game a more complete katamari experience if it was present on the disc from the get go. However, I assure you that what you get on the disc is still worth your money and whether you're a katamari fan or are completly new to the series, I highly recommend this fun and weird game.
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