TGS '07: Beautiful Katamari Pre-Show Hands-On

We're rolling in Tokyo with a look at a new downloadable level for the Xbox 360's Beautiful Katamari.

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TOKYO--During a visit to Namco Bandai's Tokyo headquarters just before this year's TGS, we managed to get some hands-on time with a now complete version of the Xbox 360's first Katamari outing, Beautiful Katamari. The game--as you've probably read in our previous looks at both the single-player and multiplayer aspects of the game--is still as strange as ever. In Beautiful Katamari, the King of All Cosmos is once again causing chaos after accidentally creating a black hole with a massive tennis swing. Seriously. As the small Prince, you're once again tasked with rolling around in large open environments, collecting increasing amounts of junk to help refill the universe.

The game controls similarly to previous Katamari games, with the 360 controller's two sticks used to navigate the rolling junk ball. The game's developers tell us downloadable content will play a big part in this game, with plans for new levels, themes, and even Katamari cousins you can buy. No word yet on exactly how soon after the game's release this content will be made available (or approximate costs), but Namco Bandai reps say an announcement will be made soon about downloadable content.

We played one new downloadable level during our time at the Namco Bandai offices. This level--called Fancy and Schmancy's--takes place inside a large supermarket. Instead of collecting as much junk as possible, you are tasked with getting as many items as possible for a set amount of cash. Each item lying around the supermarket has a cost, with that cost being subtracted from your overall "budget." For example, fish cakes only cost $50, while cameras cost $1,500. The trick is to collect as many cheap items as possible without having too many expensive objects thrown in as well. Rolling the Katamari ball also requires some pretty fine control.

Graphically, while Beautiful Katamari retains the clear and stylized looks of the previous games, it doesn't look like a massive leap from others in the series (albeit the 360 can output in HD). What the 360's increased power has allowed the developers to do instead is allow even more objects onscreen, as well as decrease load times previously experienced in last-generation versions of the game.

Beautiful Katamari is out on the Xbox 360 on October 15, 2007.

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