My journey into the PS2 back catalogue in search of fresh gaming experiences inevitably drew me to We Love Katamari, but it was surprisingly difficult to get hold of. I couldn’t find it in any regular shop obviously, and after waiting over a month with an online shop constantly promising that it’s back-order would take only ‘another week to ten days’ to fulfil I gave up and bought it on eBay, against my better judgement. Luckily I managed to find it through one of those ‘Buy it Now’ options so I didn’t have to endure the usual pointless cycle I have on previous regular bid-based eBay encounters - i.e. twiddle my thumbs for a couple of days and end up being outbid by some muppet who is willing to pay in excess of the RRP - which I just flat refuse to do for second-hand goods. As it happens I managed to get a brand new one for a decent price and avoided the tedious bidding process.
So, the game itself. Well, it has to be one of the most surreal games I’ve played in a long while, with dialog and background music appearing to originate from people who have been sucking down a bit too much of the ‘magic happy smoke’. “WTF?” moments are a regular occurrence, but somehow it all fits perfectly within what is an unashamedly cheerful, brightly coloured, fun-but-I’m-not-sure-why kind of game. It’s kind of like kids TV on acid, which is to say kids TV from the 70’s. I feel right at home.
Basically at its core it’s a tidying simulator. You wouldn’t have though that would be fun, but running around trying to mop up all kinds of detritus, maintaining both momentum and ball shape is strangely compelling. It also has probably the most directly observable and thus highly visceral power progression curves of any game I’ve encountered - that is, you increase in size as you progress further in a level. Sure, every game has a plottable progression, whether it’s gaining a new weapon in an FPS or grinding your character up the levels in an RPG, but none have such an obvious, deep-seated connection as this I think. At the start of a level you might be 5cm high, getting your arse kicked across the floor by miniature frogs and kittens, and by the end of the level you’re larger than a house, cackling manically as your apocalyptic girth consumes squealing people and their pets / bicycles / newspaper stands, slaking your need for vengence upon them for bouncing you around earlier when you were smaller. It’s a really quite surprising power trip, whilst still being wrapped up in a completely non-violent, super-happy colourful package. It’s good, clean, family-friendly world domination. Who needs giant killer robots?
I’ve only played it for a few hours but it’s a lot of fun. Recommended if you like oddball games or just want a breath of fresh air.
And speaking of oddball games, remember de Blob, that city-painting game made with Ogre a while back? Well, Blue Toungue and Helixe are now re-making it for the Wii and DS, published by THQ - not using Ogre unfortunately but that’s understandable since we don’t have official ports to those consoles yet. Pretty cool, here’s a video of the Wii version, and below there’s an image comparison.
Could this be an emerging trend?
- Make interesting independent game with Ogre
- Get noticed
Let’s hope so. 😀Maybe even such exposure might encourage the console manufacturers to spot us a devkit or two eventually. Maybe. 😉