symphony's Beautiful Katamari (Xbox 360) review

A short-lived yet enjoyable ride

Katamari Damacy was a sleeper hit that turned heads because of it's originality, excellent soundtrack, crazy characters and good, innocent fun. The IP quickly became one of Namco-Bandai's flagship products, with sequels being created on a yearly basis. It came as no surprise that a continuation was released on the next generation of consoles (though perhaps a bit of a surprise it would be on the 360 and not the PS3).

 

He's back and sober!
Beautiful Katamari revolves around the same cast as previous Katamaris did -- primarily, the King of the Cosmos, the Prince, and his cousins. This time around, the king hits a tennis ball a bit too hard, causing a black hole to suck everything in the sky into its void . It's your job, as the prince, to repopulate the sky and stop the black hole by rolling anything and everything up.

Giving newcomers a quick introductory level, the game's explanation is simple -- roll things up and when you're big enough, stop. The bigger your ball, the bigger the things you can roll up become. The controls are easy to learn and feel virtually identical on the 360 controller as they did on the PS2.

 Graphically, there isn't a lot of difference between Beautiful Katamari and its predecessors, aside from a better frame-rate, some polished anti-aliasing, and more objects able to populate the screen at any given time without slowdown. For the most part it feels like a cleaned-up PS2 game and while underwhelming, keeps to the style of the Katamari series.

The music is the standard randomness of strange jpop and experimental electronic (for lack of a better term), that fans of the series have come to know. I enjoyed the score, with a few pieces standing out more than others. Being able to select which song played when you replayed a level was certainly nice, though nothing new.

The biggest issue with Beautiful Katamari is the content. The initial game consists of about a dozen levels, mostly requiring you to create gradually larger Katamaris, starting from rolling up objects in a house in the first level, all the way to rolling up the world, stars, and the sun in the final level. A few levels offer a different objective such as "roll up a ball with as many of X object as you can", but nothing that really broke away from what previous Katamari's offered.

Beautiful on the left ; We
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