Review: Touch My Katamari (PSV)

Title: Touch My Katamari
Format: PlayStation Network Download (660 MB) / Game Card
Release Date: February 14, 2012
Publisher: Namco-Bandai
Developer: Namco-Bandai
Original MSRP: $24.99 (PSN) / $29.99 (Game Card)
ESRB Rating: E10+
Touch My Katamari is exclusive to the PlayStation Vita.

Gameplay:
The Prince is back along with the King of all Cosmos, but it’s been a while and people have forgotten about the King. In fact, in some people’s minds, he’s as cool as the school principal?!? Well, the King is having none of this and it’s time to do something about it. As the game progresses, you’ll walk around the King’s head, talking to fans and heading out to do what you do best, ROLL. The object of the game is to roll around seemingly mundane areas, a bedroom, a kitchen, a yard picking up all sorts of random items with your Katamari. As you collect more objects and your Katamari grows, you’ll be able to access more areas and grab even larger objects. This is all done with a timer ticking in the background and a specific diameter you need to achieve before the time runs out. There are plenty of hidden objects to find and challenges to overcome making repeated playthroughs worthwhile.

Katamari arrives on the Vita with a plethora of control options, not the least of which is DUAL STICKS. For anyone who tried Me and My Katamari on the PSP, you’ll understand what a difference this alone can make. While playing, you can use any combination of touch controls or the sticks, everything is available to you. All the controls work quite well, but of course, the touch takes a a bit of getting used to for Katamari veterans. The other new wrinkle here is the ability to stretch and squeeze the Katamari. By sliding your fingers apart on the back touch pad, you’ll be able to stretch the Katamari like a rolling pin, allowing you to gather a large number of spread out objects in your path. You’ll also be able to slip underneath sofas, tables and more places that were previously inaccessible. The same goes for squeezing the Katamari into a tall, thin wheel. You’ll find that you move faster this way, but you’ll need to be more precise in your handling or you’ll miss a lot of items. It’s a cool touch that adds to the game in a good way. Many of the hidden items and curios are in places where you’ll need to stretch or shrink to find them.

Completing the tasks assigned to you will net you Candy from the fans. Essentially the in-game currency that you can use to exchange for various items with the people on the left side of the King’s head. There you’ll find the Fashion Stylist who has clothes for the King that you can buy, the Music Clerk who has background music to buy and use while playing the game and the Mode Clerk who lets you unlock Drive Mode and Eternal Mode for each mission. You’ll also have access to the Store Clerk and the High Rollers Club. The Store Clerk send you right to the PlayStation Store where you can download free and paid content. The High Rollers Club ranks you based on how much candy you’ve collected in the past three weeks. As your rank increases, you get a multiplier to increase your candy count and if you’re not playing, or playing poorly, you rank can go down as well. It’s a clever way to keep you coming back for more.

Depending on the level, you may be tasked with gathering specific items, such as Sports Equipment or “Rich Things”. Gathering more of these items will help you grow the Katamari quicker allowing you to complete the level more easily. The humor of the original games is present here and the references are even quite up to date. The King complains that the “99%” just doesn’t understand him. There’s also a side story running throughout the game told in motion comic cutscenes about a superfan trying to turn his life around like the King. It’s all wonderfully bizarre with great visuals.

Visuals:
The Katamari series has always been a contrast between vibrant, rich colors with the King and the Prince, Royal Rainbow anyone?, and the more muted color palette of the world where the Prince rolls his Katamari collecting items. Everything translates perfectly to the Vita. The craziness and colors pop off the screen during the King’s sequences. He’ll dance, laugh and cry with effects streaking across the background in a riot of color and the OLED screen of the Vita brings it all to life in a visual feast for your eyes.

It really makes the switch to the “real world” that much more striking as everything looks more washed out and boring in a way. I’m not saying it looks bad, it’s a stylistic choice to present the real world as slightly more bland and mundane than the King’s world and it works. As you can see in the screens below, the real world has it’s own unique design with blocky people and animals. It’s a style unique to the world of Katamari Damacy and makes the games instantly recognizable.

Audio:
The quirky Japanese music, the record scratch voice of the King, the warning siren in the last minute of the timer, it’s all here and it all sounds just as good as it did in the original games. Having the ability to change the background music is a nice option but I was kinda bummed out that a number of choices appear to only be available for purchase in the PlayStation Store rather than in game unlocks. I was also disappointed to see that those tracks, once purchased from the store, could only be played in the game or in the game’s Media Player.

Online/Multiplayer:
While there’s no proper online multiplayer aspect to the game, it does include Near functionality allowing you to send and receive Candy and Gifts from players that you find through the service. Each one becomes listed as a Buddy, with the ability to have up to ten at a time. You can try to beat their records on certain levels and check their High Rollers Rank as well.

Conclusion:
If you’ve played a Katamari game before, you know what to expect. Beyond the touch controls and stretching/squeezing of the Katamari, everything will feel pretty familiar here, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s really nice to have a full featured, proper control scheme Katamari on the go. The minor changes in controls and some quest specific tasks point more to a slow evolution of the game rather than anything revolutionary. If that’s what you’re looking for, you’ll find that spark of fun that flared to life back with the original Katamari Damacy on the PS2.

Score:
7.5

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Vita’s built in screen capture feature.

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Written by Josh Langford

Josh Langford

Josh has been gaming since 1977 starting with the Atari 2600.
He currently owns 25 different consoles and 6 different handhelds (all hooked up and in working condition) including all consoles from the current generation – minus the Switch.

Josh is currently the US PR & Marketing Manager for Fountain Digital Labs and has recused himself from any involvement on PS Nation arising from posting or editing any news or reviews stemming from FDL.

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  • Ok, Yup..  added to amazon cart..

  • I’ll pick this one up eventually to be sure.

  • Really great review and awesome game… if you don’t like Katamari this game is not going to change your mind but if you do, this game reduces the not so great controls and strange camera turns of the psp version. Also there is a lot of replay value here.

  • Love the Katamari games, I will buy this when I get a Vita, but perhaps not a day one purchase.

  • Have been thinking about picking this up, I tried to demo and loved it. 

  • way2easy

    This took me 4 and a half mins to read.  Therefore I have disregarded everything you said and bought a fighting cock instead.  Mr. Fu is going down!