Katamari Damacy was a game that came completely out of the left field, and it's a game that's hard to forget. Nobody had any idea what the name meant, nor did they have any idea what to expect from the gameplay. Despite this, Katamari Damacy became a cult hit that quickly moved into the public eye and since then, there have been a slew of Katamari games on nearly every home console system. Namco Bandai has decided to get into the handheld scene with their newest release, Touch My Katamari, on the newly released PS Vita, but it somehow loses the magic a bit.
The story in the Katamari games have always been, well, a bit on the strange. In the first game, the King of the Cosmos had a raucous party, and in his drunken stupor, lost all of the stars in the galaxy. In Touch My Katamari, the King has let himself go and has become lazy, flabby, and out of shape. As a result, the King decides that it's time to get back in shape and you, the Prince, are in charge of rolling Katamari's into stars. Each level comes from a "fan" of the series who has lost faith in the franchise and wants to have their belief restored by having the Prince make a Katamari for them. It's unclear whether this story arc comes the disappointment that fans in real life have harbored for the franchise or whether this is just a goofy idea from Namco. Either way, be ready for both the king and the fans to subject you to countless insults and put-downs for sub-par Katamaris!
While playing through the game, you'll find cutscenes in between the levels that focus on Goro the Slacker, a student in school who is struggling to keep his mind focused on his work rather than watching a popular anime series. With the help of the King, you'll be able to see if Goro get's his life back on track. The story is pandering to anime fans in the worst possible way, but it's still very funny and entertaining.
Story aside, the gameplay is where it's at. If you've played a Katamari game before, you know that everything revolves around the two joysticks. The same is true here. However, Namco made use of the touch screen with this installment and you can actually control the Katamari entirely just by using the screen and your finger. It works decently, but takes a while to get used to. In the end, I found myself just going back to the regular controls that I was a bit more accustomed to.One of the newest additions is the ability to morph the Katamari. By using the back panel touch screen, you stretch the Katamari horizontally to collect rows of items in one pass or you can squish the Katamari to make it super tall and collect those items that would normally be out of your reach. It's a cool mechanic that definitely comes in handy. It can be a little cumbersome at times if the rear panel doesn't register your touch properly, but once you get a feel for it, you'll be stretching and squishing with ease.
The game itself is fairly quick to play through, however, each level can take a long time to master and reach the highest possible score. By performing better, you're awarded with candy which acts as the currency in the game allowing you to buy different things like costume pieces for the king, music from the game to listen to, and different Katamaris to use in different levels. It adds a little spice to the game after beating it. There are a couple different collectables in each level for you to try and find that will give you more candies and such, but none are crucial to beating the game.
The presentation in Katamari, like the story, has always been quirky. Touch My Katamari is no different and stays true to the fun and weird art styles. Honestly, the only way to understand the art and graphics of the game is to play the game. However, the textures, models, graphics, etc were not up to par with the previous installments, especially when considering how powerful the Vita is. It wasn't terrible, but it felt like it could have been better.
The audio in the game has as much quirk as the rest with the sound effects of the items and people you're rolling up being quite funny. Katamari Damacy has always been known for its fun/indie style music, and Touch My Katamari brings its A game with lots of fun new songs.
In all, Touch My Katamari is a fun title, but it never really got itself to the level that its bigger brothers are at. If you're a fan of the series, you'll certainly enjoy it, but if you've never really gotten into the franchise, Touch My Katamari will not give you a sudden revelation to start playing. The quirky story, gameplay, and music are great, but it's not quite enough to get it past the moments of subpar graphics and the hit-n-miss touch controls. It just felt that the game could have been a bit better. If you have a Vita, Touch My Katamari is a prime candidate for renting.
|Great music production.|
|Story is rather wacky, which is good depending on why it was chosen.|
|It still has the core Katamari gameplay.|
|Graphics aren't that great.|
|Doesn't really do anything to change the formula.|
|Touch controls are hit and miss.|