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Katamari Amore

For: iPhone   Also on: iPad

Love alone is not enough

Product: Katamari Amore | Developer: Namco Bandai Games | Publisher: Namco Bandai Games | Format: iPhone | Genre: Casual, Puzzle | Players: 1 | Version: Europe | App version: 1.0.0
 
Katamari Amore iPhone, thumbnail 1
The observation that iOS just isn’t suited to certain games is one that’s frequently made – often incorrectly. In the case of Katamari Amore, the observation is spot-on.

It’s perhaps telling that Namco has seen fit to include three control methods, but whether you opt for single or dual virtual sticks or accelerometer control, Katamari is just not as fun to play as it once was. The freewheeling spirit of the PS2 originals has been lost in this touchscreen translation.

It’s not the first time: PSP title Me and My Katamari struggled without a right stick, too, and one of the three solutions in this case – the twin-stick option – is arguably a more convincing alternative with (quite a lot of) practice.

Control gripes aside, the chief problem is that Katamari Amore feels like a cover band version of the real thing. It might look like a convincing approximation, but as soon as it starts you realise it’s not the same.

Scorn free

It creates a poor first impression thanks to Namco’s apparent misunderstanding of the freemium pricing model. All you get for your initial investment of zero pence is a two-minute time attack of one level. Fancy playing more? That’ll be £2.49, please.

That gets you six worlds to roll around in, with four different modes. The objectives might be different, but all play the same way – you roll a sticky ball which gradually increases in size as it picks up objects.

Story mode sees the cracker-headed King of All Cosmos issue a demand to collect a certain large item within a fairly strict time limit. Time Attack, meanwhile, simply asks you to grow your Katamari as large as possible before the clock reaches zero.

Endless love

Exact Size Challenge Mode is pretty self-explanatory, while Eternal Mode is probably Katamari at its best, letting you roll to your heart’s content without any kind of pressure, time-related or otherwise.

The iPhone is a powerful device, so we know it can do better than the sparse environments here. Katamari has never been a technical powerhouse, but its worlds formerly felt busy and full of life, crammed with myriad items to attach to your ball.

That’s not really the case in Katamari Amore. Bland, featureless environments house a variety of collectables, but there isn’t the sheer range and breadth of the previous games’ best levels.

Picture imperfect

The camera can be awkward, too. Often it’ll climb above the Katamari when you’re in a corner, making it difficult to emerge without having to wrestle with the virtual sticks.

One level even takes place within a network of narrow streets, not only exacerbating the issue but making the Eternal mode much less fun. Losing chunks of your Katamari from repeated bashing into walls is a recipe for frustration.

Even the dialogue feels forced. What once was witty now only seems wacky in a very self-conscious way. The King’s insults just don’t have the same bite they once did.

It’s Katamari, then, but not as we know it. Perhaps Namco should leave the series to die, lest our fond memories of the first two games be undermined by less successful follow-ups.
 
Katamari Amore
Reviewer photo
Chris Schilling | 11 October 2011
It might be Amore for Namco, but our love affair with Katamari is all but over
 
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Joined:
Oct 2011
Post count:
1
kklyc | 09:31 - 12 October 2011
this game is riddled with horrible usability issues start to finish unfortunately
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