The Wonderful End of the World

By Alec Meer on January 25th, 2008 at 6:05 pm.

First thing I do in any game is go the settings screen. It’s a complusion; I don’t know why it’s so very important to me that I check anisotropic filtering is at a required level and EAX is turned on before I begin playing, but, as with an open bag of smokey bacon-flavoured crisps placed before me, I just can’t help myself.

When doing so in the demo of freshly-released indie game (and another IGF entrant, but not one of the shortlisted ones so this is a worthless aside, sorry) The Wonderful End of the World, I found simply this…

WIN.

(Well, except for the music, which was annoying enough for me to coldly select ‘nope’ for that particular option.) I mean, I do really want to be able to change the resolution and stuff, but it’s charming enough to hold off my rage for a little while.

Anyway, it’s a Katamari clone, inescapably so. I have mixed feelings about this: on the one hand, it’s brazen copying. On the other hand, Katamari isn’t on PC and I’d very much like it to be. Plus, it chucks out all that amusing-but-headache-inducing gibberish about the King and his pornographically tight leggings in favour of letting you get straight on with merrily trashing stuff and absorbing the world into your mass. The Wonderful End of the World elects to have you stomp rather than roll, and it’s a good fit. More importantly, it goes to visual places Katamari doesn’t reach.

The first level is pure Katamari, though – in someone’s home, picking up cans and bottles and spiders and chairs and sofas and dogs and bigger and so forth. It does a great job of auto-managing the zoom, adjusting the camera to your ever-embiggened scale, and of that turning point moment where you hit just enough size that everything which has hitherto been an obstacle suddenly becomes your victim. If it is going to copy something, at least it’s done it well. “Still”, I thought, “bit shameless, innit?”

Then I hit the second level. Suburban chintz and tchotkes were replaced by neon-wireframe walls and floating cubes. Hmm. Well, let’s stomp around a bit and try and work out what’s going on. There are two big oblongs over there, moving up and down. And some of these cubes seem to spell out numbers. Oh. OH. I’m in Pong, aren’t I? I’m eating Pong. I stomp and I stomp and eventually I’m big enough to absorb pieces of the wall, where I break out and find a maze. A maze full of dots. With coloured ghosts roaming about. Can you tell what it is yet? I grow and grow, and eventually those ghosts become part of my mass, and I break out of the maze, and I see mushrooms. I see Space Invaders. I see Tron light cycles. I see Tetris blocks. It’s silly and it’s one note and it’s exactly the same videogames every other post-modernish game references, but it’s a total hoot.

Major criticism I’d level at it is the conflicting aesthetics of its menus and stuff – it bounds carelessly from smilies to goofy voices to skater rock to 1920s ragtime to too-close-to-Katamari’s-music-to-whatever, and feels a little confused as a result. Most of this stays out of the levels themselves, thankfully. (Also, it would lose 5% from the score at the end of imaginary review in my head for not alt-tabbing without crashing, but that’s a personal bugbear of mine).

I’d love to tell you more, but that’s all there is in the demo. I ordered the full game an hour ago (a mere $20), because it was pretty much exactly what I wanted to for a couple of hours on a Friday evening, but the email with the download details got gobbled up by my spam filter and I only just found it. Boo. Still, it’s there for when I roll in home all sozzled later tonight, a state for which it should prove even more appropriate. Give the demo a spin, anyway – let’s see how enraged it makes the more devout Katamari fans amongst you.

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23 Comments »

  1. Kast says:

    Congratulations, you’ve linked to an image when you meant to link to the demo.

  2. Alec Meer says:

    It’s quite a nice image, though.
    (Fixed, ta).

  3. Cruz says:

    I’ve been jealous of the console crowd’s Katamari as well, so this just makes me happy in the pants. I downloaded the demo and it totally sold the game for me. I’ll pick this up as soon as I clear up one little issue. I’m experiencing a bug that usually happens when I have a joystick plugged in, where my toon veers forward and to the left with no action on my part. I plan to email to the support address at work today, but I’ll be watching for a solution on the internets also.

    Even with that little hitch, the game is excellent. I wholeheartedly recommend it.

  4. Cruz says:

    This also strikes me as a game I could get my (non-gamer)girlfriend to play. Always a plus.

  5. malkav11 says:

    I have that same compulsion. I even go into the settings menu on console games that provide one, even though it’s almost never anything more than “vibrate? Yes/no”.

  6. Lorc says:

    Wow. This is actually really good. There’s something about it I find more satisfying than the katamari games too. Possibly the ease of control, possibly just the stompiness.

    Also the music’s ace, especially the title song.

  7. nimble says:

    It’s powered by the same engine as another game “featured” on RPS, which had an even simpler options page. Though rather than charming, that options page was more… well, like the rest of that game.

  8. Matt F says:

    Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. I tried to purchase the full thing, but their ordering website refuses my business because my primary email address is with Gmail.

    Until they fix this, they’ve lost at least two orders (mine, and my friend’s).

  9. Jeremy says:

    My options compulsion is due to having to invert the mouse on every FPS game ever.

    Will give this a try, always wanted to try Katamari, and this sounds like fun.

  10. Jolson says:

    Is the camera supposed to rotate around you constantly, or am I getting some kind of glitch?

  11. Dejobaan Games says:

    Glitch! Should be fixed now. :) Thanks for trying the game.

  12. Jolson says:

    Yay! I helped!

  13. Adam Hepton says:

    Sorry, Dejobaan Games, but I hated it. After playing the Katamari series to death, I just felt an empty feeling playing your version. There’s nothing wrong with it per se (except, perhaps, it feels a little bit too slow), it’s just not Katamari – but it obviously wishes it was.

  14. 2ds says:

    Loved the game,

    What the hell is the library donut trophy for though!?!

  15. Matt F says:

    Obligatory followup – I emailed the marvellous peeps at Dejobaan Games, they resolved the issue to enable gmail users to purchase.

    I purchased and enjoyed greatly.

  16. alex wojtak says:

    The library donut trophy is for getting all the donuts in the bibliotheque level. Quite tricky, as most of them are hidden under the tipped over bookshelves, and you quickly grow too large to get under there. You have to avoid collecting anything too large until you’ve got them.

  17. Nahual says:

    Old, old post, and probably no one will read this, but it’s out on Steam now and in offer for US $8.99

  18. barf says:

    “Look, I copied a game! Pay me!”

  19. terrydean says:

    i bought it on steam and beat it in a sitting, but it was a lot of fun.

  20. Thirith says:

    barf says:

    “Look, I copied a game! Pay me!”
    Worked well enough for Interceptor Micros back in the day…

    (Also, it’s not as if a) so many big budget releases are thinly veiled redesigns of earlier games and b) the Katamari games exist on PC.)

    • Annoying Internet Person says:

      I know, ancient thread is ancient… but really, I’d rather just support the Katamari people through buying it and running in an emulator. It was doable back when this was posted, too.

  21. impeus says:

    I played the demo yesterday, loved it.

    I then bought the full game from Steam, as it’s 50% off (or 75% off as part of an excellent package that I already owned most of)

    But it doesn’t seem the same game. In the demo I became made of everything I picked up. In the full game I am constantly made of what appears to be cereal. Is this right? It’s not as fun…