Whenever some self-described family values advocate implies that merely standing in close proximity with a video game will turn someone into a bloodthirsty, gun-toting, murder factory, I generally have two reactions. First, I wonder why they’d find that a problem as the bloodthirsty, gun-toting murder factories tend to vote for family values candidates. Second, I want to give them a Katamari game and challenge them to hate anything after playing one of the best video games of all times. But I don’t do that. Why? Well, as bright, colorful and happy as the game may be, I’ve never heard anyone scream with as much sheer terror as a cubic representation of a Japanese citizen as they’re crushed under the weight of the continents rolled up and shot out into space.
Normally when I come to the part where I describe the game, I do my best to use colorful similes and goofy language to come up with a sort of police sketch of what you should keep away from. I suppose that may work with Katamari, if you first understand that the police artist and the witness are both drunk, and the witness is trying to describe someone he saw on an acid trip while watching Sesame Street. There are just too many layers of weird to do anything except talk about the game exactly as it is. More or less.
We Love Katamari follows the original Katamari Damacy, and while the plot isn’t exactly the second incarnation of Donnie Darko, you need a little of the original story to understand the plot. The King of All Cosmos, a high ranking celestial warden and clear product of the Burger King fucking the Statue of Liberty on top of a gay pride parade, had destroyed the stars. He then heaved the burden of fixing the sky onto the Katamari Prince, a sentient Tic Tac with a torso. Stars, as the creationists will ruin their pants when they hear, do not come from gravity pressurizing nebula gases until a fusion reaction occurs, but instead from rolling up piles of junk with a sticky tennis ball (sorry to ruin your post-orgasm delight, creationists) starting with small items and working your way through to larger ones.
Apparently, something about amassing a collection of spherical garbage really resonated with people’s souls, though. It spoke to them on a personal level that other lesser complex games simply couldn’t. And the players demanded a sequel. The developers, caught by surprise, decided to work We Love Katamari around a similar presence, assuming that the humans who populate the world in the game want to be crushed under the weight of a planet full of junk and then shot out into space just as much as the players wanted to crush them and then deprive them of the only known habitable speck of rock in the universe. And so We Love Katamari gives them the horrible deaths they so desire, as the King demands the prince perform tricks and feats in exchange for the ego-stroking adoration of the common, little folk, and also making the planets he forgot about in the last game. Just picture Donald Trump, but without the malice, and with a more natural skin tone.
While the original focused on rolling up as many objects as possible to create a star that satisfies the male size obsession of a 10,000 km tall man with a David-Bowie-Labyrinth bulge and facial hair that makes his chin look like two pair of testicles facing off in an Old West gunfight, the sequel…pretty much does the same thing. But it dresses it up differently, so you don’t have to roll around the same levels doing the same thing. You still collect enough junk to fill thousands of rednecks’ lawns, but with each request from a fan, the game adds a challenge to keep it interesting. One level asks you to keep a fire burning on your katamari, while another asks you to look for valuable objects instead of progressively larger ones. Another task replaces your katamari with a skinny sumo wrestler and makes you look for food, force feeding him until he’s big enough to fight the yokozuna (and athersclerosis). The assignments sometimes feel too easy, but Katamari isn’t about winning or losing. It’s about that obsessive-compulsive need to pick up every item in sight, growing larger and larger and listening to the satisfying pop of ordinary objects suddenly joining the mass and the screams of terror as dozens of innocent people are crushed into oblivion. And then you get to ride a rainbow! But hey, if you still feel the game is easy, the King will gladly mock and belittle your katamari at the end of each level unless it’s large enough for his liking. But as a man with a package large enough to be granted a name by the International Astronomical Union, he’s tough to impress.
I have yet to play a bad Katamari game. The series is like masturbation; yeah, there will be some people who don’t like it, but you can safely assume those people either have no hands or have actually, legitimately gone blind (as opposed to, I suppose, illegitimate blindness?). We Love Katamari adds a wider variety of levels, tasks, and cousins to the original game, multiplying the pleasure of wandering like a tourist through contemporary Japan, picking up any random objects and marveling at them like you’ve never seen a toilet before.