Touch My Katamari: Rolling around all over the place

March 9, 2012

The story of Katamari Damacy is one of the most surprising successes in Namco’s history. A budget import title becomes a cult hit and leads to nine sequels and spin-offs, including the Vita launch title Touch My Katamari. There hasn’t been much evolution in this beloved franchise, but Touch My Katamari makes a strong debut on Sony’s new handheld, proving that the series has  a lot of life left.

If you’ve played a Katamari game before, you’ll feel right at home here. You play as the Prince, son of the King of All Cosmos, whose is tasked with creating new stars by rolling up as many things as possible with the Katamari. Each level has a set size you need to reach and a time limit, and as your Katamari grows, you can pick up bigger objects. The gameplay now feels right at home on a handheld thanks to the dual analog setup the Vita provides. It controls as good as it ever has and the gameplay is still quite fun (and quirky) all these years later.

Each level also has a slightly different goal as well as the size of the Katamari: you must pick up as many objects that fall under certain category as you can. For example, one level will have you picking up as many “workers” as possible. What actually falls under these categories is sometimes hard to define, but it’s a nice additional goal to have. There are bonus levels as well; they have you doing specific tasks like trying to clean a person’s room in as little time as possible or picking up as many food items as possible before reaching a calorie limit. These levels are few and far between but offer a nice break from the norm.

At the end of each level, you are rated based on how big the Katamari is and on how well you completed the specific goal for that level. You also earn candy, which is essentially the currency system used to buy items of clothing for the King and other goodies. These levels aren’t too long, so you’ll probably find yourself replaying them for better ratings and more candy. Thankfully, every level is entirely new, making this feel less like a rehash and more like a brand new Katamari title.

The touch controls are the biggest addition, which allow you to stretch your Katamari to make it wider, or squeeze it to make it taller. You can do this using the touch screen or the rear touch pad, allowing you to pick up more items more quickly, which will help to improve your scores immensely. Using the touch screen to do these can be tricky while you’re rolling your Katamari, so I found using the rear touch pad to be much easier; you can stretch the Katamari while still rolling around and collecting items. It’s a basic function, but it serves the gameplay well in the long run.

It’s a bit on the short side and the gameplay is not-so-shockingly reminiscent of the previous games, but Touch My Katamari is a pleasant surprise. The levels are all entirely new, the soundtrack is still as much of an earworm as it has always been, and the basic changes to the gameplay are a nice touch (no pun intended). This is the best in the series since the original and if you’re looking for some Katamari on the go, you won’t be disappointed.

Pros: Small gameplay additions add a surprising amount, highly replayable levels, still as quirky and addictive as ever
Cons: Very short

Score: 4/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.