A lot of people seem to have taken umbrage at Katamari Amore’s pricing structure. It’s a free download, which gives you access to one level in time attack mode. Essentially, it’s a demo. What’s wrong with that? Honestly, people have been spoiled by the level of freeness on the App Store.
What this one level lets you do is discover that, as you probably suspected, Katamari doesn’t really work on a touch screen. Tilt controls are hideously unresponsive, and virtual stick(s) lack the weight of control you need to manhandle a Katamari around. It’s also prone to a smidgen of slowdown.
But if, like me, you choose to throw some pence Namco Bandai’s way to get some more levels, you might not be crushingly disappointed. Incidentally, I eventually settled on the single virtual stick controls, unfortunately finding twin sticks a bit fiddly on a touch screen.
There is still fun to be in the basic task of rolling up the occasionally curious assortment of objects you find, and the satisfaction in the shift of scale is undimmed: from rolling up scraps off the floor in one tiny area at the start of the level, to consuming the entire environment with your building-dwarfing Katamari.
What is slightly dimmed is the game’s personality. It’s telling that I was soon skipping virtually all of the dialogue – once a selling point of the series. Maybe it’s the law of diminishing returns, but it just didn’t grab me.
The levels are all new to this game, and unfortunately they’re not great. I’m talking to you, Space Center – a sprawling yet sparse level, which is staggeringly unsuited to the small screen and slightly fiddly controls of the iPhone. It really is a thing of horror.
The Pac-Man mini-game is similarly unsuccessful: rolling Pac-Man around is a nice idea, but surely someone might have noticed that the walls of the maze rather get in the way of your view.
Not a disaster, then, but neither is it particularly worth playing. Just dig one of the PlayStation 2 titles: they’re loads better.
I was kind of hoping a touch screen would open up the possibility of being able to roll the katamari around with your fingers or something (similar to Namco’s own underrated Pac’n Roll for the DS) – if not that you’d think they could have come up with *something*. I mean, tilt controls? *virtual joysticks*? really?
Great idea: rolling the Katamari with your finger would have been neat, swiping your finger in the direction you want to roll it. It might even have breathed a little life into a rapidly tiring franchise.
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