Me and My Katamari

August 25, 2006

[i]Katamari Damacy[/i] has become the stuff of legends. The wildly popular franchise has legions of fans all over the world. Now, in its third (and supposedly final) incarnation, has it still got the Katamari magic?

Fans of the previous games will already be intimately familiar with the King of all Cosmos, a ‘stark raving loco’ deity, who craves attention. Following his rise to fame in [i]We Love Katamari[/i], the King and his family enjoy a nice day out at the beach. However, the King gets a little over excited (as per usual) and ends up obliterating a string of islands. The islands inhabitants are understandably upset by this, so the King orders his son, the Prince, out to collect objects to make new islands. So that’s where you start; grab a blank Katamari and start rolling.

The Prince’s tool of choice, the Katamari, is an odd rubbery ball thing, which sucks up anything smaller than itself. The more stuff which gets stuck to it, the bigger the Katamari grows, and so the bigger the objects you can collect. This means you start out rolling up paper clips and coins, but eventually you can grow large enough to absorb people into your ever growing behemoth. That’s where the game’s irreverent humour comes into play, as you roll screaming children into your Katamari alongside cows, stationary, buildings. The combined sound of chickens, children and cows all crying out at once is, frankly, hilarious.

On the PS2, the Katamari games utilize both analogue sticks, to control the ball like a tank. Unlike its PS2 counterparts, Me and My utilizes the Directional and Face buttons, owing to the fact that the PSP has only one analogue stick. These controls aren’t as slick as the PS2 games, but they are easy enough to get to grips with. In a short while, you’ll take to rolling like an expert.

The areas you roll around in gradually grow in scale, as you grow with your Katamari. To begin with, you’re confined to rolling around a small room indoors, but eventually, you can break out into a large city, rolling up all manner of buildings. The world and the items in it are very colourful, and your Katamari adopts a sort of twisted beauty as it collects all manner of pastel coloured objects. The graphics aren’t far removed from the PS2 version, but there’s a trade-off, in that there are some annoying load times, and the physical appearance of the Katamari holds far less objects than the PS2 version.

The soundtrack is just as crazy as the PS2 version. There’s plenty of Japanese pop music, salsa, rock, and even lounge music. The music tends to get overbearing at times, even distracting, but the occasional piercing scream helps break up the music nicely.

The downside is that [i]Me and My Katamari[/i] is far shorter than the other Katamari games. Returning players from the previous games will just breeze straight through in a few hours. Also, there are far fewer environments to play around in. That means you end up playing in the same areas over and over again, which can get quite dull. There’s a multiplayer mode, allowing for up to 4 people to compete with each other, but given the scarcity of PSP’s, and the fact that each player needs a copy of the game, this’ll be a seldom used feature.

Despite its shortcomings, [i]Me and My Katamari[/i] holds true to what Katamari’s all about: short bursts of random insanity. And it’s pretty damn good at it. It belongs in the collection of any Katamari fan, and it’s good enough to introduce people to the series too.

Score: 5/5

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