Anyone who has played the Katamari series will know that it’s a quirky series, with an over-the-top story and gameplay to match. With two years passed since the release of Katamari Forever on the PlayStation 3, Namco Bandai has unleashed the next addition to the series upon us in the form of Touch my Katamari for the shiny new PlayStation Vita. Is the release worthy of the King of All Cosmos or should it be rolled up and never been seen again? Read on to find out.
Game: Touch My Katamari
Developer: Namco Bandai
Publisher: Namco Bandai
Touch My Katamari features the same quirky presentation of its predecessors, featuring a rather odd yet strangely compelling story. The King of All Cosmos is having problems, people that were once in awe of him have grown tired of his ways and they want a change. To rectify the issue, he gets the Prince to collect items that restore his confidence and quiet the people that doubted him. You, of course, play the role of the Prince, with the sole aim of collecting various materials to create or replace stars using a Katamari (a huge ball shaped item that objects stick to). The story is odd and, for the most part, shallow as hell, but an in-depth story has never been the series’ strong point. It’s crazy and over-the-top, complimenting the style of gameplay.
As you’d expect, the Katamari is the main focus, as your number one priority is to collect as many items as you can and stick them to your giant ball, or whatever shape it eventually becomes. You start off by collecting small items, but as the game progresses the objects will become bigger and bigger. The game uses the Vita’s touch screen and rear touch pad very well, whether you’re trying to turn the Prince and your Katamari with the appropriate gesture or boosting forward thanks to a swipe of the touch screen. You can play the game entirely using the touch controls, but if you prefer the traditional analog sticks and face button method, that option is supported too. If you’re worried about getting confused by the touch controls, you can rest easy as they’re very simple and you’re introduced to them via a a tutorial at the start of the game. One particularly great touch control feature enables you to stretch or squash your sticky ball, allowing you to navigate a tight space or narrow gap with ease. It’s works just as well as you’d expect, without any problems whatsoever.
As you progress through the game, you’ll find that the level design changes in various different ways. Some levels require you to get your Katamari to particular size within a time limit, whilst others task you with collecting on type of item only, such as food. For the most part, this change in objective is welcome, as it helps the gameplay from getting stale and repetitive. Complete a level and you’ll be rewarded with candy (the game’s currency), which can be used to purchase extra challenges. The game also uses the Vita’s Near application, pointing you in the direction of a scoreboard so you can compete with other players. It doesn’t add much in the way of an online experience, but is still a nice addition to the game nonetheless.
The core gameplay is certainly fun and the physics are great, both elements make the transition from previous iterations without any problems whatsoever. However, if you’re a fan of the series, once you get over the touch controls, you’ll come to the realisation that Touch My Katamari doesn’t do anything particularly new or innovative. On the other hand, if you’re a newcomer to the series, Touch My Katamari is a great entry point to the series, as you’ll be able to take in and enjoy the game from a fresh perspective.
Touch my Katamari’s visuals compliment the over-the-top nature of the story and gameplay very well. It certainly won’t blow you away with it’s simplistic yet colourful look, but the series has always sported a unique visual style, making it stand from the crowd. Some will be put off by its odd look and expect more from a title on a powerhouse handheld like the Vita, but technical oomph isn’t what the series is or has been about.
For the most part, Touch My Katamari is a worthy addition to the much-loved series. If you’re a newcomer, you’ll enjoy this fresh approach to gaming and a title that uses the Vita’s touch feature extremely well. However, if you’ve played other titles in the series, then apart from the touch controls and a few other minor additions, Touch My Katamari doesn’t really bring anything new to sticky table. When you take into account that it’s not a particularly long game, you can’t help but feel Namco Bandai could’ve done better with their first outing on Sony’s new handheld.