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    Feb 9th, 2008 at 02:01:14     -    We Love Katamari (PS2)

    We Love Katamari Gamelog Entry 2
    Gameplay

    For the second round of gameplay, I got a friend to play the versus and co-op mode with me.

    We Love Katamari’s versus mode allows you to compete against your friend on three different levels where you try to collect as much of a specific item as you can. While it would be nice if you could play the story levels in versus, the versus mode in this game is an improvement over the first game’s mode because of the multiple levels and objective. Despite its shortcomings, the versus mode is fun to play due to the social aspect that arises in trying to roll up your friend and much trash talking.

    The co-op mode, on the other hand, allows you to replay all the story levels, but the catch is each
    player controls one analog stick. It’s rather tricky to do at first, but once you and your friend figure out how to work together, it’s rather fun to roll the same katamari. In the Japanese version, they have a little icon that shows which analog stick is moving where, which would have made this mode much easier to play with and possibly more enjoyable.

    After progressing through the game’s story line, I came across perhaps the greatest feature of this game: you can roll up the entire world! Not the katamari world, but every country on earth. Infinite enjoyment could be had simply by replaying this level to see how fast you can roll up every country. My hope would be that in the future they make another katamari game where you can roll through every country starting as a tiny katamari, but nevertheless this level makes the game a dramatic improvement over its predecessor due to its novelty.

    Design
    While there was nothing new to learn in terms of controls, We Love Katamari managed to feel new and exciting by adding in new scenarios. In one level, you roll around a sumo wrestler, get him as big as you can, and then roll up his opponent at one place in the level within five minutes. While the level played like any katamari level, by giving the player more purpose to their rolling and even getting to roll something besides the same katamari made the game more exciting than before. One problem in the first game was that the objectives and levels were pretty similar and monotonous; the sequel solved this problem with more innovative level design as well as more levels in general.

    The creation of two objectives (as large as possible and as fast as possible) was clearly done to delay the inevitable game exhaustion that, for many, came to quickly in the first game. The new “as fast as possible” objective creates for some interesting emergent gameplay. As you play in this mode, you go from just rolling around until time runs out to trying to figure out the route around the level that leads to the most growth potential as well as trying to do it fast via dashes and skilled analog stick usage. The benefit of working on these levels is dramatically improved katamari rolling skills; trying to roll around as fast as possible tightens players’ rolling as well as their proficiency with the dash ability (you move the analog sticks alternating each up and down rapidly to get a burst of speed).

    Another thing to note is that this sequel was clearly made not to be innovative but to give more of the excitement of katamari to those who are enamored with the series. Since the game introduces no new mechanics, the game simply added more levels, variety, and absurd narrative for the fan base who loved the original game.

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    Feb 9th, 2008 at 02:00:32     -    We Love Katamari (PS2)

    We Love Katamari Gamelog Entry 1

    Summary
    As the sequel to Katamari Damacy, We Love Katamari retains its original gameplay mechanics, but introduces a number of new scenarios and areas to roll around in. The game has players roll around a round ball called a katamari, which collects items smaller than in the game world as you roll over them. Objects as large as the katamari require you to hit them before you can roll them up, while others require you to become larger before you can roll them up.

    Gameplay
    From the first hour of gameplay, I found We Love Katamari to be more engrossing than the first game because it had more of a story than the first. The cutscenes between levels told the story of the king of all cosmos; there was no dialogue, but the images depicted the king’s hillarious ascent to the throne and enriched the game world in a way that the first game didn’t.

    Additionally, each of the game’s missions are accessed by talking to different people in this meadow on earth called the select meadow. The peoples’ stories behind needing the prince to roll the katamari gave the player more of a reason to roll a katamari other than to just roll one as big or as fast as you can, which kept me more engaged. The conversations between the king and prince that took place before the start of a mission were entertaining as ever, and provided a nice humor break between rolling.

    Another new feature of the game was that the prince’s cousins are scattered throughout the levels and if you roll them up, you can play as them. While they don’t have any special abilities, it’s nice to be able to change your character to vary things. They come in all shapes and sizes and extend the game’s replayability as you try to find them all. Apperantly, there’s a level where you get to roll them all up in one level once you find them all, which leads to other unlockable content that extends the game.

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    Jan 25th, 2008 at 14:49:35     -    Katamari Damacy (PS2)

    Katamari Damacy Gamelog 2

    Gameplay
    For the second round of gameplay, things started picking up as I got a better handle on the controls. After the first few levels, I realized that many of the levels had these long lines of items that you could follow with some careful maneuvering. They allow you to grow much faster than if you aimlessly wander the level and opened a new level of strategizing to the game as I tried to find the most efficient route that grew the katamari the fastest.

    Although the game has a rather short set of ten story levels, there are a number of consellations like Ursa Major that the player can recreate by fulfilling certain conditions, like roll up only one bear or roll up as many crabs as you can. These variations on the story levels add more content to the game and prolong the inevitable game exhaustion one will run into after rolling up everything on a level. Despite the variety, they don’t add too much more to the game; a longer set of story levels and more varied locales to roll about are the only suggestions I could make to improve the Katamari series.

    Design
    When playing Katamari Damacy for the second hour, the simplicity of the game leading to complex, emergent gameplay came to mind. While the game control of the katamari and object of the game are very straightforward, a lot of strategy develops out of the fact that you have to race against the clock to reach a specific size during the story levels, which force one to determine the order to go to different areas of the world as well as finding ways to roll around the level to maximize growth within that time limit. Thus, this simple rule brings a level of strategy to the game that is not explicitly created by the game rules but an emergence from the game’s rules.

    Another emergent feature of the katamari experience lies in the challenge factor that ai controlled objects add to each level. Until large enough, the cars, people, and large animals on each level slow down one’s growth when hit by them because they knock you in the direction they’re headed and knock some of your rolled up objects off the katamari. This forces players to maneuver more carefully around levels, especially when trying to reach the required size faster than before or roll up everything on the level before time’s up. Without this aspect of the game, only time would be a challenge for the game; the annoying ai controlled objects give the game a random factor that keeps the game challenging even if you know the best route to take on a level.

    After completing the final level to make the moon, the eternal mode is unlocked, which allows you to replay 3 levels with unlimited time. This mode was probably created to allow players to leisurely roll up the entire world and figure out the best routes through the game for the timed levels, which adds more replay value to the game. While the time levels can eventually become too tedious to play for the 50th time, the eternal mode allows players to just enjoy the game at a less frantic pace and allow completists to get every object on the level.

    This entry has been edited 1 time. It was last edited on Jan 25th, 2008 at 14:51:36.

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    Jan 25th, 2008 at 14:48:09     -    Katamari Damacy (PS2)

    Katamari Damacy Gamelog 1

    Summary
    In a category of its own, Katamari Damacy is a cross between a puzzle and platform game where the player controls a “katamari,” a small colored ball that picks up anything smaller than it runs into as the player rolls it around the world. The story progresses from a person’s bedroom rolling up erasers and pencils to rolling up skyscrapers and superheroes.

    Gameplay
    Another nostalgic game, Katamari’s simple to learn yet easy to master design drew me in again as one could spend hours finding the best way to roll through levels to maximize size and score. My friend described the game as “zen like,” and this seems rather fitting because the player is constantly starts small, rolls up a masterpiece from his environment, and lets it go, which goes against the typical gameplay structure which has a player constantly building up his character or score throughout the game.

    The reward structure of the game lies in the satisfaction of rolling up continually bigger objects, and becomes quite sadistic yet entertaining as you begin to roll up people and entire buildings. There’s also gifts and different princes you get access to as rewards for playing, but the real attraction lies in the satisfaction of eventually being able to roll everything in the katamari world.

    The story really adds to the quirkiness of Katamari Damacy with its numerous drug references and silly dialogue. Essentially, the player plays the little prince rolling around a katamari because his father, the king of all cosmos, decided to destroy all the stars in the universe. Along with the amount of mushrooms and rainbows present in the title screen, I wouldn’t be surprised if the creators of this game were on a lot of drugs when they developed this game. Nevertheless, the eccentric story line evokes much laughter and at least can be quickly skipped through if you wish to replay previous levels, which helps encourage replay.

    In addition to the single player story, I also played the versus mode with a friend to see if Katamari Damacy could be enjoyably played with multiple people. As it turned out, the game is a blast between friends, even if they’re just watching. The oddness of watching a player roll up gradually larger objects and the sweet satisfaction of rolling up your friend’s katamari should you grow bigger than him make for much enjoyment and trash talking. The down side to Katamari Damacy’s multiplayer is the fact that you can only battle in this one circular room and not roll around the rest of the world to get as large as possible, which would have more replay value; the three minute battles in the same area get tedious after 4 or 5 games.

    This entry has been edited 1 time. It was last edited on Jan 25th, 2008 at 14:50:54.

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