I've just sunk my gaming thumbs into Namco's We Love Katamari for the Playstation 2, the sequel to the surprisingly successfull Katamari Damacy (unreleased in Europe and Australia). And it's absolutely brilliant.
I cannot recommend this game highly enough. First, it sells (new) at the budget price point of between $40 and $60, depending on where you get it from. So second-hand you're looking at probably not more than $25.
Secondly, don't be fooled by the kiddie packaging and the G rating. There's something in this for everyone. The game places you in the role of the Prince of Cosmos, the son of the flamboyant King Of All Cosmos (a giant with handlebar moustaches, a love for frills, and a head shaped like a horizontal rolling pin). During the last game, the King destroyed all the stars in Cosmos, and challenged the Prince to use a magical ball called a katamari to roll up conglomerations of matter on earth into giant spheres which the King could use to replace the stars.
Don't worry. I don't understand either.
But the plot's really not important. In fact, even the game itself pokes fun at its completely off the wall characters and stylings. The important thing is, you get to push a ball around and roll stuff up. And by "stuff", I mean paperclips, cookies, milk bottles, ducks, flowers, books, dogs, people, the Eiffel Tower, and, eventually, the Sun. Your ball grows in size with every item you roll up, but you can only roll things up once your ball is big enough to accept them. Luckily, there's no shortage of items lying around... you're averaging multiple items per second most of the time. Everything you touch sticks to the outside of your katamari, and you can see each item actually on the ball, at least until it gets covered up. It's a blast rolling up a little dancing gnome and then seeing him get repeatedly crushed as you roll the katamari at the next target.
It would be a really simple, amusing game, were it not for the control scheme, which challenges you to push the katamari with "both hands". In practice, this works out to having to use both of the PS2 controller's analogue sticks simultaneously. Up on both moves the ball forward, while up on one and down on the other lets you move the Prince around the outside of the ball to push it in a different direction. A quick push-in of both sticks does a 180 degree turn, and so forth. It's highly non-intuitive, but it could be argued that this constant battle with the controls is part of both the charm and the challenge of the game.
It's multiplayer, too, but I haven't had a chance to try that yet, and I suspect I may have a little trouble. The control scheme makes it probably not casual enough to tempt my girlfriend into a session, but the essential wierdness and lack of the ability to shoot things in the head may make it difficult to talk my gaming friends into giving it a serious try.
It's a horribly addictive game, and I might have to go have another session of it right now. In fact, I think I will.