Developer: Namco Bandai Games
Publisher: Namco Bandai Games
Genre: Third-person action puzzle
Console: PS Vita
ESRB Rating: E10+ (Everyone 10 and Up)
Hours played: 6 hours
Progress: Completed main storyline and replayed all levels in K Drive and Endless modes where applicable, earned most trophies
Another Sony system, another Katamari game. This time available at launch for the PS Vita, the latest entry in the cult-classic Katamari series Touch My Katamari gets a chance to shine and show off the new bells and whistles of this next generation portable. With Keita Takahashi having left the game series in 2005 after We Love Katamari for the PS2, the Katamari series has been fairly hit-and-miss. My favourite entry in the Katamari series was Me & My Katamari for the PSP (the first Katamari game made without Takahashisan), so I was all ready and set to love its PS Vita incarnation. Did Touch My Katamari end up being one of the stand-out games in a series with a fairly rocky history? Read on to find out.
- The story, while ludicrous, is par-for-the-course for Katamari games.
- The King of All Cosmos is insulted by a random family’s mother claiming that the son’s teacher was as cool as the King. You then have to go and prove to various individuals that the King is the most awesome at something by rolling up a big Katamari for him to eat.
- There’s a side story shown through cutscenes at various points in the game involving a very negatively depicted otaku man who has an epic quest to decide whether he’s going to buy hottie magazines or a practice book to help him get into a good school.
- The blocky Katamari graphics that have been present throughout the series are here in there usual form.
- No effort was made to spruce up the graphics this time, there are no special visual filters or exaggerated depth of field as was featured in the PS3 and Xbox 360 games respectively.
- Virtually all of the sprites and locations are recycled from previous games except for the King’s face, which has become creepily “realistic” for no particular reason.
- The PS Vita’s high resolution screen does a good job at fighting away the “jaggies” most of the time, though, so what you’re seeing is at least crisp and shiny.
- Many of the songs that have made Katamari popular throughout the years make a pleasant return.
- An enormous exclusion in this fairly expansive list of Katamari songs (that can also be expanded with DLC packs) is the “Katamari on the Rocks” original theme song. By far my favourite Katamari song, I was very disappointed to discover that it is nowhere to be found in this game.
- Sound effects are basically the same as previous entries in the series as well, the King still sounds like a record scratch when he talks and all of the menus make the familiar popping sounds.
- The NPCs that give you the levels all have their own small sound-byte that is an actual voice, but aside from that there’s nothing particularly special or bad about the game’s sound effects.
- I was looking forward to using dual control sticks to control Katamari on the go and they end up working in roughly the same manner that they always have on the consoles.
- Both the system’s physical buttons and the touch screen can be used to navigate the menus.
- The controls fall a bit short when using the system’s back touch panel, which was surely something that should have been a main focus during the game’s development. It’s really uncomfortable to be stretching your Katamari back and forth while keeping your thumbs on the micro control sticks, and this leads to hand fatigue much faster than should be possible.
- Touch screen can also be used to stretch the Katamari back and forth, but you have to take your thumbs off of the sticks in order to do so, so there’s usually no point.
- Actions like reversing directions 180 degrees and jumping have specific gestures that can activate them when using the sticks and the like, but it’s far more reliable and easily repeatable to just use the buttons assigned to those same actions.
- There are thirteen main levels in the game, most of which can be played over in K Drive mode (which speeds up the action and reduces the level’s time limit) and Endless mode (which gets rid of the time limit altogether to let you try and pick up everything possible within the stage).
- Shared between these thirteen stages, though, are maybe 7 unique environments at most, so even when you’re not replaying the levels (also largely recycled from past games) get stale very quickly.
- When you complete levels, you are rewarded with candies that are used as in-game currency to buy new clothes for the King (which he sometimes requests specifically), as well as unlock the K Drive and Endless modes and new background music.
- The candies you earn for each level factor in whether or not you pick up any special presents, cousins (other playable characters), Fan Damacys, and how good you were at exceeding the level’s requirements for size or Katamari content. There are also use items to multiply your entire candy haul for a level by up to eight times.
- Fan Damacys are special large red characters with heart-shaped heads that are used as a kind of second currency to buy access to “free” DLC levels or are trade-able for more candy currency.
- “Free” DLC levels are available for the game as well, and encompass either favourite missions in unique locations from past games or new and interesting challenges. What make these levels more freemium than free is that you need to collect Fan Damacys to unlock them. I recovered about 10 Fan Damacys during my extensive playthrough of the game and that was enough to unlock one of the DLC levels. So, they’re fairly rare to find for free in the game, but Namco Bandai sneakily offers them for purchase at a price that equates to paying about $6 for each “free” DLC level that you want to unlock.
- Touch My Katamari really has a limited Usagi Factor. Sure, you’ll want to replay the levels in K Drive and Endless mode if for nothing else than to get enough candies to buy the things that unlock trophies for the game, but when you’re done all that you’re left with the practically quite expensive DLC levels and a bit of an empty feeling wishing that the game contained even half the content of its more current console siblings.
Even though I was really excited for Touch My Katamari and ready to love it with all of my heart, I was rather disappointed by it’s relative lack of content and depth. At it’s core it’s just a collection of recycled levels, items, songs and missions from past Katamari games and it didn’t even copy most of what was best about the series. At the moment, your $29.99 can’t really be spent on a more entertaining experience on the PS Vita, but it could certainly be spent on many much longer ones. It’s fun while it last, but that is unfortunately not very long at all.