Only the Japanese could devise a concept as determinedly weird as "katamari," giant balls of earthly miscellany that can replace missing heavenly bodies when rolled together and offered up to the King Of All Cosmos. As in the cult hit Katamari Damacy, it's impossible to fathom many of the sights and sounds in the bizarrely addictive We Love Katamari, such as why the King suddenly starts speaking in Esperanto, or why an inanimate deer would surface in a grade-school bathroom stall. And yet these discoveries, along with the unaccountably therapeutic act of ball-rolling, lend the game its mysterious allure, because the next oddity lurks just around the corner. While it doesn't take a skilled roller much time to complete the game, there's incredible variance and depth within the individual levels, which each have their own quirky textures and hidden surprises.
In Katamari Damacy, the enigmatic King Of All Cosmos (whose voice sounds like a DJ scratching records) sent his Prince to replace the empty sky with beautiful new stars and planets made of katamari. That mission has been accomplished, but the Prince's miraculous achievement has earned him a dedicated legion of fans, who all want their own personal demonstration. As the Prince and his numerous cousins, you carry out these ball-rolling missions in various modes and environments, from common locales like a schoolhouse or a bedroom to more whimsical adventures like trolling underwater or picking up food for a hungry sumo wrestler. If you don't expand your katamari up to a certain size before the time limit expires, you're left with a mightily disappointed fan and an angry King who shoots lasers out of his eyes.
Beyond the gameplay: Wacky incidental details are a good part of the fun in the Katamari series, and We Love Katamari provides plenty of them, including an infectious theme song that sounds like a Japanese Tom Jones track, adorable but useless presents like a scarf or an antenna, and distant roll-able cousins tucked away on every level. ("Who's that in the giant soup bowl? It's your cousin, Miso!")
Worth playing for: The thrill of momentum. As your katamari gets bigger, it's capable of picking up larger objects at an exponential rate. Once the ball gets large enough to scoop up people—who wriggle around in comical helplessness—there's no need to practice a more nuanced rolling technique. At that point, the world is yours.
Frustration sets in when: Perhaps it's encouragement to keep getting better, but even if you complete a level, the King—and, more so, the fans—are terribly hard to please. The King eventually gives your katamari its rightful place in the universe, but the sour grapes diminish your triumph.
Final judgment: In an age where games maximize every conceivable stick and button on the controller, there's something quaintly satisfying about rolling a ball around. And it tidies up the universe, too.