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Critical Reception: Namco's We Love Katamari

This week's Critical Reception, a regular column that looks at how the gaming press has received a particularly notable recently released game, features the sequel to Nam...
This week's Critical Reception, a regular column that looks at how the gaming press has received a particularly notable recently released game, features the sequel to Namco's critically lauded Katamari Damacy, in the form of Keita Takahashi's cheeky PlayStation 2 'object aggregation simulator' We Love Katamari. Though the original was critically acclaimed and borderline beloved as being among the most innovative games of 2004, the sequel, although showing a sense of humor about it, basically follows up with more of the same. Still, the video game press received the game quite favorably, with an 85% rating, according to review aggregation site GameTab. As a sequel, Ivan Sulic of IGN describes the game in the following manner: "Since we're talking nonsense, think of Katamari Damacy as a shouting redheaded naked person in desperate need of a hug ... We Love Katamari is the same shrieking redheaded thing that wants a hug, only it's got a pretty blue shirt on ... In any event, does it make the naked yelling person more entertaining, or less?" Still, more of a good thing is still good, according to Sulic, scoring the game a 80%, as he reflects in his customary semi-gonzo style: "It's like the second bar of Twix that comes in those lovely two bar packages. Katamari is a tasty treat like that. It's a warming, wonderful snack. But then it's the same sweet we just finished. And though we still adore it, we can't help but feel like more candy-coated Katamari will shake our teeth loose." The chief criticism of this decidedly unconventional sequel stems from the multiplayer co-op mode, which GameSpy's Sterling McGarvey explains: "...screams 'afterthought.' Trying to sync up two people to roll the ball is cumbersome. With time, one can get used to it, but most people aren't going to have the patience to enjoy it. It's an experience akin to trying to have a 100 meter three-legged track race. In the end, it hurts more than it helps the story mode." But McGarvey still gives out a 90% equivalent, suggesting: "Katamari Damacy's numerous fans shouldn't question whether or not this one's a must-purchase." Of the major sites surveyed, GameSpot's Alex Navarro provides the lone dissenting opinion on co-op, even while scoring the title an 84% equivalent, stating: "It's pretty confusing at first, but if you and your partner can communicate effectively, it can eventually become quite a bit of fun to roll that crazy clump around together, making for a pretty good party game." The conclusion seems to be that We Love Katamari is, as Navarro voices, "basically just a big, happy love letter to the fans that contributed to the first game's success", offering more of the same gameplay that fans enjoy, but with just a few more tweaks along the way - and that's no bad thing. Plus, benefiting from a higher profile after the first Katamari's cult success, the game may do well for Namco, especially at a $29.99 price point.

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