Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPod touch 4
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
One of gaming's strangest franchises returns to iOS with the new freemium release Katamari Amore. The goal of this game is the same as other Katamari games - players control the Prince of All Cosmos, who must roll around levels picking up items, trying to get as large as possible, steadily growing in size as new size milestones are reached. There's a time attack mode where the goal is to get as large as possible in the time limit, an exact size mode where the goal is to make a Katamari of a certain size, an endless mode, as well as a story mode where players must roll up a certain item in order to complete the level and unlock a new one.
The elements that make this series what it is are in play here. Everything from the whimsical style, to the massive sense of scale that the game provides as the Katamari gets more massive are here. Fans of the Katamari series will be instantly familiar, and newcomers to the series will quickly catch on to the game, thanks in part to the game's new simplified single-joystick option. Experts will prefer the tilt or dual-stick controls, though.
Now, approaching Katamari Amore as a freemium game is a dire mistake. This is more of a Lite version with the ability to upgrade to the full version built-in, as the only content that comes from the free download is a single 2-minute time attack stage. Otherwise, it costs $3.99 for the initially available level pack, which comes with 6 standard levels, and a Pac-Man bonus stage. Yes, there's a brilliant extra stage that is the Katamari take on Pac-Man, as players collect pellets, avoid ghosts, and eat power pellets to eat the ghosts. Other level packs will be made available in the future, according to Namco.
The thing is, I don't quite see what's so different from other Katamari games. A lot of the mechanics are identical to what they were back in the original release of the game; I don't just mean the original iOS version, I mean the original Katamari Damacy on the Playstation 2! The Pac-Man stage is probably the most original thing in this game, especially considering that even the graphics and menu art are directly lifted from I Love Katamari. This game does have Retina Display and universal app support, though.
While fans of the Katamari series who can't get enough of the gameplay will love this one, and newcomers will get a chance to see why these strange little games keep getting made, this is hardly fresh. For a series that's so original in design, isn't it time to toy around a bit with the game design? Just mixing up new levels isn't going to cut it.