Note that the
original v1.0 version of i Love Katamari reportedly had framerate and
control issues. This is a review of v1.0.1 of the game, which was
released to patch those issues.
has never really been one to tread lightly with sequels, remakes and
what I like to call “requels” (not quite a sequel, not quite a remake).
The cult hit Katamari series is no exception to this. After the
first sequel, creator Keita Takahashi was no longer involved in the
series and yet it has continued to see several sequels without him. I
must say as a gaming purist who believes games should remain as
intended by their creator, things like this always make me a bit
uneasy. That said, I do believe it is possible for a work to be taken
on by another party and still remain true to itself. It’s debatable
whether the Katamari series has departed from the creator’s
original vision, but the core gameplay and spirit has remained alive.
Even if one can only call these sequels akin to “expansion packs,” it’s
good to have them.
i Love Katamari is the latest sequel in the Katamari
series and one of the first iPhone-exclusive games to be part of a
well-known series. It’s also the first Katamari game with motion
controls. For those not familiar with the series (why not?!), the Katamari
games are 3D action/puzzle/platformer games with a hilariously bizarre
storyline and simple but attractive LEGO-like 3D graphics. Typically,
the King of All Cosmos creates a problem that the Prince must always
somehow solve by rolling up objects on Earth using a big sticky ball
called a “katamari.” The giant clumps of objects are then usually
turned into stars (depending on the game). The gameplay is centered
around rolling a katamari around picking up objects scattered around
each area of the game until it grows big enough to pick up larger and
larger objects, eventually reaching a goal imposed by the King. In
short, get bigger to get bigger. This simple concept leads to great
gameplay. You’ll be rolling and balancing your often unwieldy katamari,
trying to figure out what to pick up and when and trying to find the
best paths. It’s a lot of fun.
So does i Love Katamari
live up to its predecessors? I never tried v1.0 so I’m unfamiliar with
its reported issues, but I’m happy to say v1.0.1 runs impressively for
the most part. Performance wise, I experienced only occasional
barely-noticeable hiccups and some rare crashes. The framerate isn’t
silky smooth but it’s definitely adequate. Please note, my iPhone is jailbroken
or “hacked.” While I doubt this has much, if any, effect on the game, I
can’t claim it doesn’t. Also, it’s not always apparent when crashes are
the fault of a game or the iPhone’s OS. Regardless, I’m happy with the
game. It’s a good game that captures the necessary core gameplay quite
well. This is what counts most.
I found annoyances in the game
to be rare but present. Some sound effects played too often and
collisions with moving objects often yield some punishing yet odd
physics. i Love Katamari is a bit no-frills. The interface is
rather simple, the storyline feels a uninspired and the music seems a
bit too recycled but the necessary core gameplay is alive and well and
the game is not without its charm. Anyone might be understandably
concerned when hearing the game has motion (tilt) controls. Rest
assured the controls work quite well (at least as of v1.0.1) and give
the game an interesting new feel never before experienced in the past Katamari
games. It also seems the game difficulty is tweaked to fit the new
control scheme, a wise decision. Sadly lacking is the ability to
configure the controls, which leads to being unable to play the game
laying down or in positions other than sitting or standing. I’m hoping
for a patch to fix this, but for now the hard-coded controls work well
enough. I’d have also liked to see a touch controls-only mode, possibly
using the faux dual analog control scheme found in Dropship or the ball-rolling controls found in the first Newtonica game. Still, it’s not broken, so such tweaks aren’t totally necessary.
I love the Katamari series but I can’t quite bring myself to say I love i Love Katamari.
Still, I definitely like it. It’s not only fun and impressive but worth
buying for fans of Katamari games, iPhone games, and action/puzzle