Review – Touch My Katamari
It’s Katamari! Doo do do dooo do do do dooooo do do!
We’re singing the Katamari song because 1) we’re professional games reviewers 2) it’s brilliant, we love Katamari and it’s everything we like about videogames. Original idea. Eccentric design. Emphasis on fun. It’s not a game that wrestles with an emotional plot nor subjects you to a thousand cutscenes nor gives in to the latest trend du jour weighing games down. It’s just a game. And a bloody good one at that.
If you’ve somehow avoided the Katamari cult, the idea of the game is that you roll a ball into things. Small things at first, which makes the ball grow, which lets you collect bigger things, and so on. You roll around the world collecting rubbish. You’re a glorified binman with sugary Japanese pop rattling around your green cyclinder head. That’s it.
And yet, collecting things to become bigger and bigger is strangely addictive. It’s partly because you never quite have control over the ball you’re rolling around the world, which is supposed to be round but winds up distorted and twisted into unpredictable shapes by all the rubbish you pick it.
Crucial moments where you tumble off the level isn’t blamed on wonky controls or bad luck. Instead, you feel like it was your inability to control the weirdly-shaped asteroid of rubbish you’re rolling around. You always feel like you can improve.
The other side of it is you want to see what weird and wonderful designs Katamari throws up next. It’s a surreal, boxy world filled in with pastel colours and with more personality on a single level than most dare to attempt across an entire game.
As the levels get bigger, so do the designs and you’ll revel in what you can roll up as levels progress and the scale increases – dice, playing cards, food become people, trees, buildings. Grow your Katamari enough and everything is a target.
Oh, but look at us, talking all serious about a game where you can roll up a dog while doo doo dooo dodododo doooo songs play. It’s just fun. Touch My Katamari has the option to stretch your ball (ahem) flat or squash your ball (ahem) into a thin shape using the rear touchpad yet they add little. Nice they’re there but not necessary.
Likewise, it’s not perfect. We wish you could skip the text when the King of Cosmos is rambling on and on about how to play Katamari, but we suppose he has to be there, given unskippable warnings to people wondering why they’re playing as a little man trying to roll a massive ball into a dog.
It’s not the game you want to justify your purchase of a Vita, as it won’t have you signing the merits of its various technical features and thanking the Lord for a rear touchpad. But it’s something more important than that – fun. And isn’t that the main reason you bought a Vita?