A Review of Katamari Forever (Namco, 2009 for the Playstation 3)

 

Were you, Dear Reader, raised by parents who never seemed to be happy with your performances and achievements in life? Or at least, do you know somebody who has? Going through life constantly browbeaten and berated; being told that nothing you will ever do will ever be enough. It’s not a great way to live, to say the least.

Katamari Forever might as well be titled: The Life of James Corbett, Ages 1-18. Minus the physical abuse, I should add (unless that’s some kind of DLC that I missed).

Like the last two games on the Playstation 2 (yes, I know that there were two others; one on the XBox 360, the other on the PSP. I just like to forget that they exist, is all), it’s still a game about a microscopic alien rolling things up into a larger and larger ball while Major Gaming Outlets make really fucking tired jokes about Japanese people doing drugs. On the surface, at least. Underneath the kind of pretty HD graphics though, is the ugly, hateful core. One of the minor cathartic activities in the original Katamari Damacy was to roll a Katamari twice the size of the minimum passing requirement and getting told how great you are by an otherwise arrogant and selfish King. “We are moved to tears by the size of this thing!!” He cries, a change in pace of the usual, “you should have made it bigger” response that barely passing that minimum gets you. It made replaying the levels worth it (other than the fact that they were actually fun to play and it was always worth it to hear that soundtrack play again) just to beat those old records. Katamari Forever replaces the somewhat vague size requirements with an actual scoring system. Each level is scored out of a possible one hundred points. This score is, of course, given its own scolding remark by the King of All Cosmos. Getting a sixty? Barely passing. Getting eighty? Still not good enough. Getting a ninety-six? Still room for improvement. Getting a full one-hundred? “We could’ve rolled a better Katamari!”

Oh really?

This game flat out told me that getting a perfect score was still not fucking good enough! 100 is 100 is 100 is 100. There is no 101. This is no 200.6. 100 is as good as you can possibly get. Especially in this game, where the requirements are already bordering on asking too much of the player. Example: in Katamari Damacy, the final level was to roll up a Katamari roughly the size of Earth’s Moon (800 meters). You were given twenty five minutes to accomplish this. It sounds daunting at first, until you realize that the entire game’s world is literally available for you to explore and roll objects up in. Katamari Forever gives you about ten minutes for a similar stage. The difference being this time is that 800 meters apparently doesn’t count for shit. Make it three thousand meters! Even with the entire world open to you, it’s still easier said than done. And when I finally finished, the game more or less told me to go fuck myself. I imagined a post-level conversation between an enthusiastic Prince and his father. “Dad! Dad! I just rolled up the entire planet!” “That’s great, son, but maybe next time you’ll go all the way and roll up the whole universe!”

This ties in to my topic sentence. As a kid, I would remember being ecstatic over getting a B on a very difficult math quiz or something, only to get reminded that it wasn’t an A, was it? I still have two papers I typed up my senior year of high school. These papers were given perfect scores. An A+! Well, that’s fine, I guess, but I certainly didn’t graduate Valedictorian, did I? Years later, I would get a managerial position at a high-ranking corporation that once threatened me that “there would be problems” if it turned that I was actually gay and not just overly flamboyant (kind of kept me in the closet for a bit longer then expected). Despite getting those ambiguous numbers from Red to Green literally in one week, it was completely overshadowed by the fact that my desk was a bit disorganized. Around that time, I’d start a website centered around writing, something I was once really passionate about (in fact, you are reading this site right now). The only problem was that I was having a difficult time getting an audience. I couldn’t even get my own friends to pretend to care about the whole venture. The ones who did eventually end up reading the thing would immediately comment with, “do you really need to use so many words? I couldn’t get through it all!”

What I’m trying to get at here is that after spending my life being told that I am not good enough, I don’t need a fucking video game to chip in. Especially one that is, itself, not perfect. For all of its brow-beating about perfection, the hate-ridden assholes at Namco couldn’t be bothered to not have the framerate slow down to a crawl when there are too many large objects on screen- which would be absolutely terrible if this were a video game about taking several small objects and trying to turn them into one large object or something, or pop-in that’s so bad objects would appear out of nowhere inches from my face. Or, as I mentioned earlier, the ridiculous level objectives you are asked to fulfill. Example: One level has you trying to only pick up objects that are hot (i.e spicy food or microwaves) without picking up objects that are cold (i.e Slushies or fire extinguishers) only to accidentally run into the power-up that magically attaches all nearby objects to your ball, meaning that now you have too many cold objects and now your Katamari’s temperature is too low and now you get to sit through a bunch of loading screens to replay this stupid level. And considering that this is a game about becoming bigger and bigger, this will happen. I don’t really ask for much; I don’t expect Namco to roll the universe up into a ball. However, I don’t think it’s too out of the ordinary to ask a multi-million Yen company to make a game that’s actually good.

Kazuhito Udetsu is the producer for Katamari Forever. I know very little about this man, other than the fact that he is a complete son of a bitch. Unlike the various naysayers in my life who I had to deal with, seeing as they were usually members of my own family, I don’t need to deal with Udetsu. He is only a producer, he’s not my father. And I hope, for the sake of future generations, that he’s nobody else’s, either.

Begrudging Addendum: If there is one thing Katamari Forever did right, it was, somehow, get Buffalo Daughter to contribute to its soundtrack. Thanks to YouTube embedding, I can listen to this song whenever I want to without violating my Playstation 3 by putting in a copy of this game.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *