Thanks for reading and for the well thought-out and thorough reply!
I agree with you that overall aesthetic and charm are Knack’s biggest and most-obvious weaknesses. I think a little of this is down to personal preference, and the rest is just due to budget/time priorities during development.
Although I have no direct inside knowledge or insight, I would place a reasonable bet on the entire artistic concept of Knack being borne out of a conversation that went something like this:
“Hey, we can throw a lot of realistic physics objects and particles around with this hardware! What kind of game should we make?”
“How about an action platformer…where the character is made out of tiny physics objects?”
“O…okay that might look cool but what does that even — “
“That’s what we’re doing!”
It indeed has the weird stench of tech demo upon it, and I would leave it at that if the rest if it weren’t so technically competent and decently designed. The sheer amount of stuff in Knack, and from what I hear Knack II, shows that they cared a little more than the base level, and sometimes that’s all I personally want. I don’t need every game to be life-changing, and every now and then I’m happy to just play a solid example of a genre.
But I recognize that my tastes are most certainly not everyones’!