Touch My Katamari is a great introduction for PlayStation Vita owners to the crazy world of Japanese gaming. Fans of the quirky franchise are going to feel right at home with this portable iteration because, like just about every other version of the game, Touch My Katamari doesn’t deviate from the ball-rolling inspired gameplay and unique art style. While not much has changed since the PlayStation 2 Katamari Damacy days, it’s still just as fun to do the biddings of King of the Cosmos. Even if the mind-bending obscurity in the game’s premise doesn’t inspire you to pay attention to the storyline, the simplistic and rewarding gameplay is as addicting as ever.
Like a lot of the other games available on Sony’s new handheld, Touch My Katamari is based on a popular franchise. But, unlike the other games in the launch line-up, Touch My Katamari is based on a franchise that on superficial levels should only be successful in Japan, yet the games have found success in the west thanks to the cosmic insanity packed in each level.
Touch My Katamari represents the best of the franchise’s gameplay thanks to the second analog stick on the PS Vita and a slight addition to the gameplay via the rear touch pad. Despite the simplest of changes, this new gameplay mechanic makes a big difference. If you are weak of heart, you may want to take a few deep breaths before you hear this—the rear touch pad allows you to stretch out your ball to make it into oblong shapes. Crazy, right? It seems so simple, but the change gives you the ability to grow tall and pick up bigger items, or flatten out and pick up more items at once. Believe me, this is a small change that actually plays a role in making the gameplay feel fresh, if only slightly.
Talking about a plot in a Katamari game is pretty pointless, but here it goes. The King is depressed because he thinks gamers have changed, or evolved—the King believes he is irrelevant. So, in his flamboyant star-creating brilliance, he calls upon the prince to once again roll up random objects to impress people, or something like that. I will be honest, the plot is extremely irrelevant, but how it’s presented is interesting enough; of course, it could just be my ADD and all the bright colors that kept me stimulated. There is another story that runs alongside the main narrative, and while it involves a dazed gamer, it’s probably as awkward as you would expect.
My biggest complaint about Touch My Katamari is in its brevity. You can probably blow through the levels in two hours. The ability to spend candy (the game’s currency) at shops helps give the game some legs as you’ll want to revisit levels to score more points and find more collectibles. You can buy new clothing and music, which is pretty great given the game’s excellent soundtrack. Still, there just isn’t that much of a reason to play again to warrant such a short game. In addition, this is another case of a been-there-done-that kind of game. Do you want your Katamari on the go? Great, this is the game for you. Do you want something new from your Katamari? If that’s the case, you should probably wait.
In the presentation department, this looks very much like it has for the past several years. The art style has simply not changed—for better or worse—and the blocky objects make a triumphant return. There is something both charming and disturbing about the overall presentation.
Rolling a ball around to collect random junk works so much better with the second dual analog stick, so this is easily a better game than its original PSP counterpart. There are different control options, but I found using one analog stick to control the movement of your ball, while the other stick controls the camera, to be the best option. Touch screen controls work alright, but I was really impressed with how the game almost requires you to shape-shift your ball via the rear touch pad in nearly every level.
While Touch My Katamari doesn’t provide ground-breaking changes to the franchise, it’s a great entry into the PS Vita line-up. Veterans of the series will probably get bored before the woefully short campaign ends, but newcomers will find it just quirky enough to warrant a full play through.
-The Final Word-
Touch My Katamari makes little changes to the core gameplay and art style, but it's still so much fun.