Decorating a tree for the holidays comes with the risk of getting sap on your hands. Once the sticky substance has made it your fingers, it seizes every object in sight - everything sticks to your digits from the pages of a magazine to ornament hooks and even your own clothes.
I Love Katamari adheres to this analogy, decorating the iPhone library with a surprise hit. Like sap, though, it runs a little slow and has its own sticking points.
By decree of the King, your job is to create new celestial bodies by rolling up random stuff on planet Earth. You do this by manoeuvring a sticky ball called a Katamari.
The brave little prince you control rolls Katamari (the plural, we assume) that grow in size with each object passed over. Perfect use of the accelerometer makes rolling along a breeze. Calibration isn't even necessary thanks to automatic sensing of the handset's position relative to when you begin the game.
The controls work phenomenally, although it's partly a factor of how slow the Katamari rolls. Manipulating the direction of your Katamari is easy because you're never moving fast enough to really make a mistake.
Incidentally, the larger it grows in size the slower it moves. Clearly, a limitation on speed has been placed here to prevent the technical performance from taking a hit. That, however, has the unintended effect of depressing the pace. I Love Katamari is much too slow and borderline boring in spots.
Each of the five stages - Takeda Residence, Backyard, Park, Town, and Island - are built in such a way that you have to pick up every object to complete the goals established in Story mode. In some cases, this requires scrounging about half-empty stages.
This wouldn't be so bad if the Katamari moved with greater haste. Depending on the size of your Katamari, you may end up having to slowly roll across a level wasting precious seconds just to pick up a few objects. Once you learn the levels, though, the pacing problem ebbs slightly since you know where to roll.
Although the game only packs a handful of stages, it brings an assortment of modes that assure its value. Along with the main Story mode, there's Time Attack, Exact Size Challenges, and a free-roaming Eternal mode.
In Story mode, all you need to do is build up your Katamari to a size large enough to roll up the King's desired object. Time attack gives you a specific amount of time to roll up the largest possible Katamari, while exact size charges you with building a certain diameter.
The value in I Love Katamari also comes from the great presentation. While the objects lack a lot of detail, it's easy to forgive for the sheer amount of stuff shoved into each stage. Quirky, catchy music definitely helps round out the package.
Despite some stickiness, I Love Katamari is a worthy ornament with which to decorate your iPhone. It's festive and fun - a nice holiday release even if its as slow as the sap running down the trunk of your tree.
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